Thursday, October 23, 2008

Custom Fit Tyvek Tarps for my Friggin' Rad Dome

Well, this post goes under the FAILURE category, at least most of the way. It would also gain the title of BIGGEST WASTE OF TIME, and maybe earn an award from some Big Loser Academy.

Keep reading if you are interested in building a dome and some sort of cover. This is good info for what not to do.

For a more successful story, see a post (if I ever get to writing it) about a dome cover made out of shade cloth. I rocked that thing for 4 years so far.

So, here's the deal. The dome is only worthwhile if it acts as the support for some protective material. Many people fit tarps loosely about the dome and then cinch them down with webbing. Given the wind speeds on the Playa (up t0 70 mph?!), I figured the loose bits created by trying to fit a square on a round structure wouldn't be too awesome in high winds and flap about creating a ruckus impossible for sleeping and thinking.

So I found this website called Geodesic Dome Covering Patterns. It shows one how to use a giant compass (i.e. a string tied to a pencil) to make good triangles and then sew them together. The standard 2 frequency dome will need 10 tarps, five of each type described on the page.

But what do I make them out of? This took a lot of research and I ended up trying Dupont Tyvek Home Wrap due to its UV resistance, waterproofness, price, dust filtering capability, and apparent softening of the material upon washing or bundling. 

So what I did is I made a pattern for each tarp and then extended the edges 6 inches so that I could create a double rolled hem of 2'' using polyurethane glue. The idea was that the rolled hem would provide the fabric strength for the placement of a standard grommet. The grommets would be fitted with parachute chord and the chord then tied to the dome.

Note mistake #1 that I can think of: I think I should have added 4'' to the pattern that way after folding over twice for the hem my tarp would have exactly matched the poles and the stretching involved would have provided just the little bit of overlap that I wanted instead of the bunching I observed on trial runs.

I made one tarp to ensure my pattern was correct. This tarp can be seen on the picture of the completed dome on the previous post.

I made the rest and grommeted the shit out of them. It may not seem like it should have, but this project took upwards of 80 hours of my time and some hours of Pete Cav's and one or two of Sam Freeman's. This was a bitch of a project and I had very little space t work with and therefore could only make on dome per day as I let the glue sit overnight.

Plus it was super expensive. I spent around $100 on the Tyvek, and probably another $100 on glue, grommets, Tyvek Tape and paracord. Shit.

So, the trial run of the concept involved tightening the testing tarp that had been on the dome for a month or so and upon pulling the cord taught, the F'n grommet ripped out of the Tyvek. No, the grommet didn't rip out, the fibers of the tarp came apart, not a clean rip. It was so weird. And I thought, oh man, I'm screwed.

But it was all done and almost time for the burn. By this time I had gotten in on a big group and my dome was a for fun thing instead of an essential shelter. So I gave it a try.

Right when we got there, we set up the dome in the rising sun on the nearly empty playa to provide shade for the camp while we set up the big stuff. But then we ended up moving camp and the dome had to be moved later and a wind storm came and the tarp we were using was so big it might have flapped so hard as to take off someone's head.

So the dome sat lonely and naked behind our camp until one night I was drunk and emotionally in a very very bad place and needed a distraction. So I tried putting up my tarps. Not a good idea in high winds! Or if you are depressed drunk! 

One, I almost fell off the ladder several times.

Two, as soon as I got the top of the first tarp tied it started flapping like a flag, I got one corner puled down and loosely tied. While tying the second corner a gust came and my tarp billowed rapidly and started whipping about until snap! the corner grommet ripped out. So I said fuck it, I hate these fucking tarps. And I may have cussed out a whole list of things and people too. Anger can get displaced. you know how it is.

I have full confidence that the remaining tarps would be just fine for a Eugene Summer day, but they are so F'n ugly I wold never want to put them up. Why did DuPont feel the need to put giant branding stamps in red and blue over the product?! Bastards!

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