Quonset shelters?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Rocket75377
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Quonset shelters?

Post by Rocket75377 » Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:49 am

I'm tinkering with the idea of building a simple quonset-style structure out of maybe PVC or EMT conduit and tarps. It would be my shelter for the week. Has anybody tried this? Any plans, suggestions, pointers, places on the web? A step-by-step would be nice, but I think I can figure it out with a nudge in the right direction.

I found this: http://www.efn.org/~clif/Seasons/burningman.html .

Not complete by any means, but it's about the best I've come across.
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stargeezer
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Post by stargeezer » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:36 pm

You would be better off with a dome than a quonset hut. Desert domes has all the info you would need.

http://www.desertdomes.com/

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Dork
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Post by Dork » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:57 pm


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Rocket75377
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Post by Rocket75377 » Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:57 pm

I've looked into domes, and although they are amazing, I feel something simpler is better. Dork, the thank you for the link. I have some brainstorming to do.
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Post by MikeVDS » Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:08 pm

You would be better off with a dome than a quonset hut.
Why do you say that? We've done domes and they work out well, but different is sometimes better. Just make sure you can take the wind and you're golden.

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Fex
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Post by Fex » Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:35 pm

I was originally totally fired up about domes, but between the expense, the weight, and the time needed to put it up (let alone construct the parts), I shelved the idea for a quonset myself. Seems a lot easier in a lot of ways. I'll end up doing a dome someday when I have a crew of helpers and not just me and one friend. I think I came up with a pretty groovy quonset design, I think I'll focus on that for my first burn (KISS principle lol)
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MikeVDS
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Post by MikeVDS » Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:43 pm

Two people can set up a 22' v4 dome in half a day. The first time you do it will take longer and the lower the frequency the less to put together. You'll probably spend $500 to build a 20 footer unless you have some good hook-ups on material.

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diane o'thirst
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Post by diane o'thirst » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:10 am

Domes are fine for math whizzes, big camps and people with workbenches in their garage. Quonset huts are perfectly fine if somewhat dark.

Maybe if you did a cruciforme one, like the OCF Embassy has?
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MikeVDS
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Post by MikeVDS » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:46 am

You really just need the workbench. They work fine with small camps and the internet will do all the calculations for you, and if you really still need help I and I'm sure others could help someone figure out a design.

I would not build a dome without a drillpress and chopsaw or dedicated people willing to use a handdrill and hacksaw (but I wouldn't do that). Other than that you just need a hammer and you can make the thing work. It won't be ideal, but it will be fine.

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Post by robotland » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:55 am

I can't believe that I'm actually advocating a qounset hut over a dome, BUT....A simple and effective structure CAN be made quickly and cheaply with some tarps and a dozen sticks of PVC. (And some rebar, of course.)
I love domes, and have done something dome-based every year- BUT that initial construction cost in time AND materials is NOT insubstantial. Steel prices are down a little from the horrible highs of last year, but you'd still have to expect to lay out about two bills for EMT and hardware to make a simple "2V9rad". (A dome with two lengths of struts, sized to optimize use of standard 10' lenghts of EMT so that you get a dome that's about 9 feet of radius.) The fastest I've been able to fabricate all of the necessary struts for a simple dome is about six hours, counting from Home From The Hardware Store to In Finished Dome, Beer In Hand. And I could barely use my hands the next day. Once built, it's Tinkertoy Time and lots of experiments can be performed, unbolting and reconnecting struts to find new and fun ways to make doorways, overhangs and such without sacrificing structural integrity...If you're into that.
Meanwhile, in an hour you can drive a bunch of 2' rebar stakes into the playa (in pairs), slip PVC over and anchor, add a tarp and secure same, and be cold chillin', dawg.
Of course, in a perfect world you'd do.....BOTH. I plan to, in fact- This year's structure combines a three-story geodesic structure (two spheres and a dome) with PVC-arch tunnels creating an "airlock" and the "evacuation tube" through which the "escape pod" travels. Y'all come and play! We'll be somewhere around the 3 0'clock Keyhole.
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Post by stargeezer » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:21 pm

MikeVDS wrote:
You would be better off with a dome than a quonset hut.
Why do you say that? We've done domes and they work out well, but different is sometimes better. Just make sure you can take the wind and you're golden.
While I have not yet been to BM, I do have some knowledge about structural design and extreme environments. I suggested a dome over a PVC quonset hut for the following reasons:

1: Going with a dome usually implies a metal frame, which is much stronger.

2. Combining a quonset hut with wind provides either a wind tunnel or a wing, so something in between. This can be rather frustrating.

3. If there is a strutural failure with PVC it is catastrophic. PVC can generate sharp edges when it breaks. Add to this, it can actually explode during times of great stress. Unexpected rapidly flying sharp objects do not mix well with people.

My concerns are mostly with safety, I would hate to see anyone hurt out of ignorance. Knowing the issues, if one decides on using such a shelter, at least it is with the knowledge of the dangers.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Post by falk » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:26 pm

Rocket75377 wrote:I've looked into domes, and although they are amazing, I feel something simpler is better. Dork, the thank you for the link. I have some brainstorming to do.
I'm not so nearly enamoured of domes as I was two years ago. While I was assembling my 32' dome with a team of six people, some of my camp-mates built a 40' quonset shade structure with a team of four in a tiny faction of the time.

Domes are the ideal structure for the environment, and they look really cool, but they're considerably more hassle to build than most other structures. Making a cover for them can be a huge issue.

I've never seen PVC fail catastrophically like that, but I have seen it break. PVC certainly does not stand up to a wind storm; you can count on the thing being completely flattened on top of you when the wind blows. Luckily, once things calm down, it's usually pretty easy to put it right again. This applies to domes as much as quonsets, btw.

A steel dome can generally weather the worst the playa has to offer without breaking a sweat.

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Post by skeetsh00ter » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:55 pm

i too thought about doing a dome for a good while, but then decided on the quonset style instead for several reasons already mentioned:
1. its just going to be me and one camp-mate doing the set up
2. I'd rather not spend too too much on my shade
3. I don't have all the tools (or patience) for the fabrication necessary for a dome.

While we are on the topic of quonset shelters. How do y'all that have used them before orient them. I was thinking of having it run length wise (tunnel way) NNE to SSW...that way i could have the wind pass through the structure instead of beating on the side. I figure if winds get to heavy i can attach another tarp and anchor it to the ground or park my car in front of the north side. Another advantage is that the sun shouldnt be coming in the structure too far. Is this a reasonable assumption? 07 will be my first year so i'm not sure how things really work out there.

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Post by robotland » Thu Feb 22, 2007 7:54 am

Because of their flexibility, PVC structures can often benefit from guying or bracing against your vehicle. But remember that the advantage is like that of a palm tree in a hurricane- It can move in a windload, unlike a light wooden or metal stucture, so allow it do still do so. My experience confirms your supposition that allowing the wind to flow through the structure instead of pushing sideways against it will probably be most effective. This is also true of dome coverings, although their rigid shells can withstand a much greater load.
Is your structure primarily designed to provide shade, or shelter from the wind and (to some small degree) the dust? Bear in mind that to keep any significant degree of the dust out is VERY challenging, even with an RV. Something that just keeps the sun off doesn't have to be so enclosed as to provide a dangerously effective windsock. Will you be sleeping in it? Does it need to provide visual privacy?
I've been experimenting with car-based structures, and found something simple that provides shade while withstanding a fair degree of wind- Ideally your car would have a roof rack, to which you lash a 2x4 down the length of one side of the car. To this you lash (or mechanically fasten in some other fashion) a number of 1/2" or 3/4" PVC tubes and then bend them down to corresponding rebar stakes. A crossways tube or two, zipstripped to the verticals, adds reinforcement. Cover with tarp, securing with clamps or zipstrips. You could completely enclose your car this way, but really just doing the sunny side and roof keeps the whole car quite cool. Remember to leave room for doors and (if applicable) the tailgate to open- I didn't, and as a result spent the whole week smacking my brains out on the 'gate.)
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Post by Fex » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:55 am

My idea (it looks good on paper anyway) is to have one end of the quonset closed off by sealing it off around the end of my pickup's shell. The visual I keep thinking of is a queen ant or termite with the head and thorax at one end attached to the long fat abdomen segment. Thus the truck's gate is like a big locker accessible from inside. And I'd set my hammock frame at that end to sleep in.

The attachment to the truck would be integral to the framing so even if the wind is so hellacious it tries to squash the structure it wont be able to totally flatten. The transition covering would be windbraking tarp so wind would ramp off it and flow around the body of the tunnel instead of funneling through it. The center roof of the tunnel would be a good sun tarp (like Silvicool), and the shadecloth skin goes on over the whole thing, keeping the tarp from flapping and giving 4-6 foot sidewalls of breathable mesh fabric so it's not a giant parachute.

Like I said, on paper it looks good. Jeebus knows what'll actually happen set up on site, but I think I covered the design bases. Anybody seen this sort of setup out there?
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Rocket75377
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Post by Rocket75377 » Thu Feb 22, 2007 7:21 pm

As far as shelter and shade goes for me, I'm still fooling with ideas. A quonset seems reasonable, but so does a carport. It really will come down to a matter of cost. Have you priced tarps lately? A 30 x 50 is close to $100. Figure in struts and rebar, I can see the cheapest quonset costing around $150. Realistically, I can get a carport or prefab shade structure for around that price. But then I wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing I built it myself.
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Post by diane o'thirst » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:55 pm

Fortunately I have a discounter near me where I can get big tarps like that for around $40.

My first Burn, I wound up making a makeshift shelter that could best be described as a half-Quonset tied into the utility van I brought everything out in. I stuck PVC pipes on rebar, tied a crosspiece to the ends, and lashed that to the roof of the van. Cover with tarp, close in and off with bedspreads, and I had a shelter serviceable enough to be in until I got the yurt up a couple days later. It was actually a fairly comfortable little den and I could conceivably have run out the Burn in it, but I was bent on getting the yurt up after hauling it that far...

I'm getting a carport for this year's shelter but I'm holding aside a bamboo Half-Quonset as a backup in case the budget doesn't hold out. I'm not a PVC fan anymore, which is why I'm using bamboo; anyway, that would be a little more in keeping with the theme. PVC has been identified as a carcinogen and yes, PVC pipe can explode into exceedingly MOOPaciousness under pressure.

Tip for the flexible pipe Quonsets; ziptie crosspieces at the 10, 11, 12, 1 and 2 o'clock positions, looking at the arches end-on. They'll help brace the whole structure and keep whatever covering you're using from sagging.
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gyre
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Post by gyre » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:02 am

There are more quonsets than domes out there, mostly for shade.
Many use steel construction.
Domes generate lift just as any curved surface.
Much of the advantage of a dome is lost if all joints and dimensions aren't right.

I saw a pvc dome that was flexible yet worked.
The key was joints that flexed with the dome.
It was floppy and it survived.
I think it cost about nothing for the frame. (No rigid joints)
Not very stiff diameter either.

What is Silvicool?
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Post by robotland » Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:08 am

Rocket75377 wrote: It really will come down to a matter of cost. Have you priced tarps lately? .
Aha! Hie thee hence to B&G Surplus, down past Schoolcraft about a mile on the West side. I always get my tarps from them, unless Menards is doing one of their better sales. And B&G also has doublewide duct tape in mant colors for cheap, bulk bags of zipstrips, rope, and lots of little blinkytoys. There's another place up in Wayland that I like to visit, but it's a bit farther afield.

(for you Westies and others, these are places around the Greater Metropolitan Kalamazoo Area.)
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Rocket75377
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Post by Rocket75377 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:59 am

[quote="robotland"][quote="Rocket75377"] It really will come down to a matter of cost. Have you priced tarps lately? .[/quote]

Aha! Hie thee hence to B&G Surplus, down past Schoolcraft about a mile on the West side. I always get my tarps from them, unless Menards is doing one of their better sales. And B&G also has doublewide duct tape in mant colors for cheap, bulk bags of zipstrips, rope, and lots of little blinkytoys. There's another place up in Wayland that I like to visit, but it's a bit farther afield.

(for you Westies and others, these are places around the Greater Metropolitan Kalamazoo Area.)[/quote]


Ha ha. I haven't been to B & G in years. The last time I went in, I saw "Brent Gowan, owner of B&G Discount in Schoolcraft," and asked him what the B&G stood for. He said He got the idea from "M&M Enterprises" in the book [i]Catch-22[/i], and essentially means "Brent & Gowan." I have the day off today, perhaps a quick trip is in order...
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Post by Fex » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:34 am

gyre wrote:
What is Silvicool?
Silvicool tarps are a super-reflective tarp that professional growers use as sunshade... I've heard people call them "space tarps" cuz they look very NASA...its nice and soft (not crackly like cheapie tarps) and it has an almost mirror surface; reflects not just visible but also IR, making the shade very cool. They are pretty pricey as tarps go tho... prolly a little rich for my blood now that I think about it..
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Post by wedeliver » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:47 am

A bunch of tarp supply places comes up with a google search. here is one.

http://www.tarps.com/

Info, prices lots of stuff there.
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Post by skeetsh00ter » Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:46 am

hmmm...i really like the barn-style one they have

http://www.tarps.com/Barnstyle.htm

if someone would like you can just buy it for me and i'll pick it up from you on the playa. thanks.

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gyre
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Post by gyre » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:30 pm

Where can I get Silvicool?
It sounds like the 100% aluminet I've been looking for.

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Post by skeetsh00ter » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:57 pm

hey robotland, I like your idea about using the car to support the structure. I toyed w/ something similar, but i don't think i would have enough room. My structure will be primarily used to provide shade...i think keeping out the dust would be too difficult. Shade really is the only concern because underneath the structure will be our tent for sleeping in and privacy. I won't really need to worry about visual privacy or anything of that sort. All i need is somewhere to take a nap comfortably during the day.

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Post by lapeer20m » Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:17 am

i've helped to erect a giant quansa hut out of pvc (i referred to it as the airplane hangar...it was HUGE) , and a good sized 16 foot? geodisic dome.

I think a dome requires far too much effort enerygy resources weight people tools and thought to really be practicle

i much prefer a pvc quansa hut.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:48 pm

A-frames are easier, and more Scandinavian.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Post by Hoolie » Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:04 pm

Here's a good step-by-step look at building a PVC quonset hut:

http://www.maxicon.com/Burning_Man/PVC_ ... _playa.htm

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axolotl
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Has anyone tried doing something like this?

Post by axolotl » Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:30 pm

Image Image Image

(& did it work?)

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gyre
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Post by gyre » Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:20 am

Particle accelerator?

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