Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont understand

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Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont understand

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:26 am

Ok! I am working on a monkey hut, but I need to move it from the east coast and am trying to see how I can minimize space taken in my container share. One thing is I might make it flimsier, and compensate by using more shade clothe and less tarp - so the shade clothe will let wind through. Another way is to use some sort of nesting or collapsable material instead of PVC tubes (I'm still searching for something cheap enough though! No luck so far.).

But this is a different matter- I'm checking about something that I see in all the monkey huts I've looked so far, but I don't know why it exists. Every monkey hut seems to have at least one PVC column going like a "spine" down the pvc ribs. It seems to me, that since you stake out both long sides of the monkey hut, then the ribs are always in tension, so you can just use rope/line instead of a pvc "spine." The spine does not seem to ever be in compression. The rope would take much less space for its given strength.


I am a total newb, and trying to not make major mistakes. I'm building for a group of 4, and we're not terrified of not having a monkey hut, but yeah, I'm trying to minimize my screwups.

Is it OK to be making a specific thread for this specific confusion/question about the monkey hut? Maybe I just haven't found enough monkey hut tutorials or something, but it seems every one I've looked at has this spine that I don't think needs to exist.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by VultureChow » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:18 am

I know there was a thread here where someone mentioned not having rigid connectors in the spine, but I'm not sure one has ever been done without a spine. I would think the robs would have a tendency to move toward each other.

What is your plan for travel to the playa? If you are renting a car, you can make the connectors at home, travel with them and simply have someone at home depot cut the spine for you.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by LowePro » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:53 am

I think the spine is sometimes in compression--when the wind blows and the tarp is catching gusts, the spine keeps the ribs separated and keeps the structure upright. Yes you have the whole hut staked out on both sides w guy lines, but on the playa when the wind gets going, the structure is wiggling and wobbling quite a bit. The combo of the guy-lines and the rigid spine adds stability in 2 directions (tension and compression). If you eliminate the spine and only use the guy line, you have stability in only 1 direction (tension). Or if a guyline slips or breaks....Shit happens out there.

(Also, the spine is only 2 more short pieces of PVC, so I'm not sure how much you'd save by eliminating it. I'm guessing you've seen this: http://www.chromatest.net/Lovemonkey/ )

FWIW, 1 inch pvc fits nicely inside 1.25 inch pvc. So for transport, you could sleeve the 1" rib pieces inside the 1.25" spine pieces.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:00 am

VultureChow wrote:I know there was a thread here where someone mentioned not having rigid connectors in the spine, but I'm not sure one has ever been done without a spine. I would think the robs would have a tendency to move toward each other.

What is your plan for travel to the playa? If you are renting a car, you can make the connectors at home, travel with them and simply have someone at home depot cut the spine for you.
I'll take another look, maybe I can find that thread. I could try some sort of knot to prevent the ropes from sliding- that's a good point. Maybe a prussik knot (=means, fancy knot for wrapping it a bunch of times and relying on friction). I assume by "the robs would have" you meant "the ropes would have" but maybe you meant 'ribs' in which case I don't understand. I understand they would want to move towards each other, but if I'm pulling them from the outside outward, and have ropes between them, my thinking it they will be unable to move inward.

My playa travel plans are up in the air still. I have a potential free spot in an RV from vegas, and the other 3 might be relegated to burner express (2 from san fran and 1 from anywhere.) The RV friends are actually bringing us massive quantities of water, so they are plain simple saints. We would all be open to renting a cargo van and going from san fran, in which case supplying hardware would be *much* easier, but the trouble is we only have 2 of 4 tickets right now and the splitting costs are pretty much no-go if maiden fortune doesn't come through and its only 2 of us. We can't rely on finding 2 more to split from san fran because we're trying to assume if tickets show up for the 2 without tickets they will show up last second.

:). confusing but exciting.

So, yeah, based on my complicated travel arrangements I am hoping I can make a suitable monkey hut that I can also pack into my container share space without consuming it all. I'll definitively share info if this works out.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:02 am

asr9754 wrote:I think the spine is sometimes in compression--when the wind blows and the tarp is catching gusts, the spine keeps the ribs separated and keeps the structure upright. Yes you have the whole hut staked out on both sides w guy lines, but on the playa when the wind gets going, the structure is wiggling and wobbling quite a bit. The combo of the guy-lines and the rigid spine adds stability in 2 directions (tension and compression). If you eliminate the spine and only use the guy line, you have stability in only 1 direction (tension). Or if a guyline slips or breaks....Shit happens out there.

(Also, the spine is only 2 more short pieces of PVC, so I'm not sure how much you'd save by eliminating it. I'm guessing you've seen this: http://www.chromatest.net/Lovemonkey/ )

FWIW, 1 inch pvc fits nicely inside 1.25 inch pvc. So for transport, you could sleeve the 1" rib pieces inside the 1.25" spine pieces.
dang, hmmm. Yeah, I can see the spine going in compression if the lines aren't tight enough. I guess it will also put a lot of stress on those lines if you force them extra tight.

Thanks for the point about the nesting PVC pipes. No reason why the spines shouldn't be a different diameter plastic, or for that matter even the PVC
Maybe I'll do something like have ribs made of 1.25" alternating with 1" pipe.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Ratty » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:05 am

Keep in mind that they won't be straight pieces when you take it down. Nesting may be tricky on the way home.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by LowePro » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:13 am

The standard design on chromatest's website already has the Spine pieces as 1.25 inch and the ribs as 1 inch, so you can nest them without any design modifications
(although thx for the comment about the poles getting a permanently curve during the event.)

1.25 inch is significantly less flexible than 1inch pipe, so be careful if you are considering using a larger diameter for the rib pieces. The 1 inch seems to be the tried-and-true size for curved PVC structures.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:16 am

asr9754 wrote:The standard design on chromatest's website already has the Spine pieces as 1.25 inch and the ribs as 1 inch, so you can nest them without any design modifications
(although thx for the comment about the poles getting a permanently curve during the event.)

1.25 inch is significantly less flexible than 1inch pipe, so be careful if you are considering using a larger diameter for the rib pieces. The 1 inch seems to be the tried-and-true size for curved PVC structures.
Oi! Thanks. Maybe I can use lower cauge if I use thicker stuff.

I found another thread mentioning non-rigid connectors:
https://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic ... 8&start=30

Someone points out that I would have to ratchet down the cent point alot if I wanted to keep it played outside. Or, my addition, I would have to have the guy lines wayyyyyyyy out, which would be a hazard and large use of space. But It's hard to get "sideways" tension on a guyline, when you're mounting it to your most vertical point. So if I do want to get rid of the spines, i'll have to add a center point of something....then what is the point?

Oi-sigh.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Elderberry » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:21 am

My two cents: I feel pretty much the same way about Monkey Huts as I do Hexayurts; the design and engineering of both have been used, tested live on the playa and improved upon by thousands of people for many years now. So you can pretty much be sure that any major change in the engineering design will probably not be a good idea. It's sort of like the wheel or a mouse trap.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:30 am

Elderberry wrote:My two cents: I feel pretty much the same way about Monkey Huts as I do Hexayurts; the design and engineering of both have been used, tested live on the playa and improved upon by thousands of people for many years now. So you can pretty much be sure that any major change in the engineering design will probably not be a good idea. It's sort of like the wheel or a mouse trap.
Well the more I think about it, the more i find it easy to agree. Problems abound with my initial thoughts on how to change it :p. But there's still some space, I think, to make the design smaller without excess compromises. The monkey hut really is kinda bulky for what it offers. A lot of people don't have an issue with the bulk, but that's because they're more local (I am unfortunately not.)

So where they're time-tested, I guess, the biggest thing for me is a reminder there that whatever my first "oh, this would obviously work" idea is, it needs a lot of careful thinking and testing to figure out if it will actually work.

Before I pretty much settled on getting a reinforced cheap'tent, I tried redesigning a hexayurt to be light and more compact [sketching etc, nothing serious]...i ended up with basically a tent :(. Like, only minor influences of the compressive-ring type structure. I'd really like to make a hexayurt-type structure my second BM though, whenever in the future that may be.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by VultureChow » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:38 am

For the record, a piece of 10' 1.25" PVC is under a cubic foot. I think container costs are like $10 a cubic foot.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:50 am

VultureChow wrote:For the record, a piece of 10' 1.25" PVC is under a cubic foot. I think container costs are like $10 a cubic foot.
Good point. I would claim it's a little over a cubic foot, because it can't pack well, but it *is* less than I think. So, as a backup, maybe I'll end up filling a bunch my container space with this stuff. I'm not eager but I also wouldn't necessarily be as crushed as I think right now. Probably $100 in total shipment costs for the monkey hut, and maybe only $50 for anything I could possibly make smaller. Not a big difference...

A much smaller issue, but I also am trying to keep in mind this structure needs to be kept somewhere during the course of the regular year, so that's a minor secondary incentive. In terms of material I've only had mediocre experience with PVC (degrades, annoying, etc.) but the love other people have for their monkey hut should help bolster my confidence.



Everyone you're helping me make some more sensible decisions. I'm going to keep open altering the standard plans but I appreciate the push to keeping it simple and general good feedback.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by LowePro » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:58 am

The original monkey hut recipe is 6 ribs and 2 spine pieces and several pieces of rebar. Sleeve the 2 spines over 2 of the ribs. Pack the rebar into the PVC tubes as well and tape over the openings so the rebar doesn't slide out. Bundle all the pipes together and tape around it up w/ duct tape. You have a 10 foot log that's about 4-5 inches in diameter, not really all that big. Pack your tarp and the PVC connectors and ropes down tight in a box or your luggage, and you should be good to go. On the way out, you might find someone to donate your monkey hut kit to. PVC pipes are cheap.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by tamarakay » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:01 am

Absolutely shade cloth instead of tarp. We use 90% shade cloth and have the best shade there is. Monkey huts are the bomb.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by torrey.smith » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:19 am

Elderberry wrote:My two cents: I feel pretty much the same way about Monkey Huts as I do Hexayurts; the design and engineering of both have been used, tested live on the playa and improved upon by thousands of people for many years now. So you can pretty much be sure that any major change in the engineering design will probably not be a good idea. It's sort of like the wheel or a mouse trap.
As an engineer, I respectfully disagree.

I categorically assume everything out there is shit, and I look for new solutions.

I find that existing solutions definitely come up and often emerge as the best solution, but occasionally you stumble across something entirely new and awesome. More often than you might think.

The assumption that it's all been done and discovered already is stagnant and appropriate for the old guard.

In the meantime, we're going to knock your fucking socks off. Please make way :)
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Fan C » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:25 am

Having been under our 14'x30' galaxy hut in some good wind I can't imagine not having a spine and having it all tied together along the spine.. After'13 we had to replace most of one side they were so permenently bent from the whole hut being pushed on so hard. We were at 7:45 & K and took the wind unhindered straight off the playa. Thing held up though, we're only retiring it because the giant one piece tarp needs replacing and we're going a different direction with our structures.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by tamarakay » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:40 am

torrey.smith wrote:
Elderberry wrote:My two cents: I feel pretty much the same way about Monkey Huts as I do Hexayurts; the design and engineering of both have been used, tested live on the playa and improved upon by thousands of people for many years now. So you can pretty much be sure that any major change in the engineering design will probably not be a good idea. It's sort of like the wheel or a mouse trap.
As an engineer, I respectfully disagree.

I categorically assume everything out there is shit, and I look for new solutions.

I find that existing solutions definitely come up and often emerge as the best solution, but occasionally you stumble across something entirely new and awesome. More often than you might think.

The assumption that it's all been done and discovered already is stagnant and appropriate for the old guard.

In the meantime, we're going to knock your fucking socks off. Please make way :)
Not sure he meant don't try anything new. Just if you are going to use a monkeyhut/yurt there are decades of people ahead of you that have learned certain lessons the hard way. PLEASE bring something new! We can all learn new things.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by torrey.smith » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:56 am

My friend Cam is doing really interesting "hexayurt" stuff with his HyparHuts.

This thing flat-packs, requires zero tape and installs in about 2 minutes, fully rainproof.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by MacGlenver » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:06 am

I do a 20x30 monkey hut with a 30x30 tarp for the cover (1” schedule 40 electrical conduit PVC with bell connector ends). I’ve brought it the last 3 years. I string two strips of rope/nylon webbing down the center (spaced 2 feet on either side of center). The ropes on either end guy out to a center point on the ground. There are a couple tricks with this setup. One is getting the spacing between the many ribs consistent and tight, the other trick is keeping the rope from sliding side to side on the pipes. I’ve never gotten the spacing perfect between the ribs – there is usually some sagging rope inside the monkey hut, but you can tie that off to take up the slack. In order to keep the rope from sliding side to side, we have a somewhat ghetto (but effective) solution – you take 1-2 feet of duct tape (still attached to the roll) and spin it lengthwise until you form a “cord” of tape. Wrap this around the PVC on either side of where the guy rope needs to sit, then tape over it. You’ve now created a ridge on either side of your rope, which will keep it centered.

The biggest issue with the 20x30 monkey hut is that if you use the 1” PVC like I do, you usually have to put a vertical brace under the ridge of one or both of the end arches, cause it’s pretty flexible at that length and can get crushed (to the ground) by the wind). I usually use two 1.5” pieces of PVC, crossed into an X, then staked to the ground and tied to the center of the arch. With the vertical support, that thing is quite solid. Cross strapping over the top of the shade cloth/tarp between the ribs is ESSENTIAL. It’s been through some pretty decent blows and never had an issue.

If I had to do it over, I’d get 1.25” PVC for more rigidity, but for a smaller hut (12x20 or smaller), the 1” stuff would be fine.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by kin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:40 am

This is a kickass forum. I'm soaking in the responses and will try to learn more.

Also, hyparhut? I don't know, but adding "hyper" and alliteration, makes me really excited, but I'll check it out later in the evening and also keep considering the monkey hut basics.


p>S, tamarakay, I'm really glad you responded with the affirmative for shade cloth. I'll be probably looking on ebay for some 70-90% stuff (the 70% seems much more common though.) If you know of any better or cheaper sources lemme know ^_^. Aluminet also seems nice but it's starting to be extra pricey. I wish I could just spray some reflective paint onto the shade cloth but I think I'd make a major mess.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by tamarakay » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:54 am

We get ours at greenhouse megastore and the extra money for the 90% is worth it. We bring two huts, one has all 90% and the other is 1/2 90 and 1/2 75. People will snug in under the 90% side and the 75% side will be empty lol
they also do custom sizes.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by torrey.smith » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:09 pm

90% or better

Let me repeat; 90% or better.

I'm going 100% opaque for my 50x50 this year.

70% is a demented form of purgatory.

One more time, 90% or better.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by VultureChow » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:16 pm

I'm debating a new cover. I have the opaque silver tarp, but want something lighter as I'm crocheting a new cover and it would be nice if the color shone through a bit. So either white 50% (as the crochet will also block sun. Or Full 100% tarp.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Jovankat » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:35 pm

My camp built four 15 foot wide and 40 foot long huts last year, all without solid spines. Worked brilliantly. We used two ropes running the length of the hut at about 10 & 2. The trick/downside is you really need to guy out each end to keep it taught (or you can build one end off something solid like a truck which we did with one hut)

As for the rope sliding we didn't really have a problem. I put that down to two things. The first is the rope was tightened between each rib. I used clove hitches which a. are adjustable once tied to make sure everything is tight and b. can be tied in line so you don't need to pull 40 feet of rope through each knot. The other thing that stopped the ropes sliding down the rib was a bolt through the rib on the "downhill" side of the rope. This wasn't a deliberate choice for the ropes but a feature of how our ribs were constructed. For a 15 foot wide hut we needed ~24 foot long ribs so we had three 8 foot lengths of 1 inch pipe and then on two of the pieces we attached a foot long piece of 1 & 1/4 to act a connecting sleeve for the third and middle piece. The sleeve was attached by drilling through both pieces and bolting them together. That bolt then became the guide for where to run the rope.

Does that make sense?

Here's a link to the instructions my friend Jeremy wrote for this spineless style. His instructions have you drilling holes in the ribs to run the rope through each rib permanently which apparently meant the rope could be used to bundle up all the ribs. I can't comment on how that went for his camp but I thought the knot tying required for that looked too fiddly.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by tamarakay » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:36 pm

VultureChow, we have the white/blue one from Greenhouse that goes over the parachute hut. Lets light through so we can see the tie dye nicely, but still nice shade.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by VultureChow » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:37 pm

tamarakay wrote:VultureChow, we have the white/blue one from Greenhouse that goes over the parachute hut. Lets light through so we can see the tie dye nicely, but still nice shade.
Thanks. I saw that but wasn't sure how opaque that would be. Problem solved.
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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by MacGlenver » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:20 pm

Jovankat wrote:I used clove hitches which a. are adjustable once tied to make sure everything is tight and b. can be tied in line so you don't need to pull 40 feet of rope through each knot.
:o Clove hitches... omfg why didn't I think of that. I've never had a good use for them until now... I hate the knots I have to tie on those ribs, but couldn't think of a better solution. This seriously just made my life better by 1%... maybe 2% even.

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Jovankat » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:15 pm

Yay! Glad to be of help :D

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Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by AliCat903 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:22 pm

I can't comment on how that went for his camp but I thought the knot tying required for that looked too fiddly.
I can! We didn't actually follow those instructions exactly. You're right, tying the knots in the middle was exceptionally fiddly. What we ended up doing was threading the rope through the hole and then tying it in a simple knot around the PVC. This kept it in place while still leaving us able to adjust things slightly.

We actually put them all together before we went out there. We laid the tarp down on the ground and put the PVC on top of it, measured ~5ft between the ribs, tied the rope through. And then we folded the sides in with the pvc inside and rolled the whole thing up. Then all we had to do when we got out to the playa was unroll it, unfold 1/3 of it, and pound our rebar in where the spines were located. We put tennis balls on the rebar so it wouldn't puncture our tarp when we unfolded it the rest of the way. And then just pulled the tennis balls off as we put the ribs on. It went exceptionally quickly. I wish I'd taken pictures of all of this and I plan on doing so when we put them up this year. Ours are big enough that it really required eight people to put up, four on each side. We did it with six but someone almost lost an eye.

We also didn't tie the paracord directly to the tarps grommets. We ran a rope through the grommets on each long side and tied it to rebar on each end. And then we tied the paracord from the rebar under the ribs to the rope. This distributed the pressure so that our grommets didn't rip out.

Our only problem was that when we tried to unroll the first one we somehow managed to turn it inside out. I'd explain in more detail but I'm still not exactly sure how we did it, or how we fixed it. It was dark and we were tired. *shrug*
Last edited by AliCat903 on Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jovankat
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Camp Name: Methuselah's Children
Location: Oakland or Australia

Re: Questioning the "Spine" of monkey huts - I dont underst

Post by Jovankat » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:39 pm

AliCat903 wrote: We laid the tarp down on the ground and put the PVC on top of it, measured ~5ft between the spines, tied the rope through. And then we folded the sides in with the pvc inside and rolled the whole thing up. Then all we had to do when we got out to the playa was unroll it, unfold 1/3 of it, and pound our rebar in where the spines were located. We put tennis balls on the rebar so it wouldn't puncture our tarp when we unfolded it the rest of the way.*
You mean ribs not spines. Things tend to have one spine down the middle and multiple ribs coming off them, that's just how it works. ;)

So you had the centre pieces of your ribs attached to each other with the rope and bundled into the tarp, what did you do with the two side lengths? Were they bundled in too? That sounds like it would have been crazy heavy and awkward to get on and off a truck.

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