Every winter I watch in frustration and sadness as my poor lil' tractors have to endure the snow and cold. I've managed to adopt some out to kind, caring souls who will see that they have plenty of nutritious hydrocarbons to eat, and healthy exercise in all seasons.
Still, my CC 1862, Case 444, Dayton 3Z68, and good ol' Troybilt Horse were looking forward to another dreary winter. (The Bolens is too tough and proud to worry about any snow--plus I need it in the front clear the drive way when the city plow trucks leave a 2 foot berm across it).
I've been batting around ideas for a couple years now as to how best to house and shelter my lil' darlings.
I priced out putting up a shed on the back of the house or along the side of the garage, but felt my money was better spent on um.... new members of the family.
Then the idea hit me... I'd seen the canvas "garages" at Harbor Freight-why couldn't a person do the same, but use trampoline frames and canvas??? (See I do have a thought ever now and then)...
I didn't want no "blue" tarp, as they generally last about a year before they're in tatters and leaving little blue pieces throughout the yard...
I did some checking in our local online classifieds--much better than CL, BTW, and found people that sell billboard tarps... The old days of billboards made of paper glued up in sections is rapidly fading in the past... remember the old song "Smoke Coca Cola cigarettes, drink Wrigley's Spearmint beer, and Kennel Ration Dogfood keeps your wife's complexion clear...." (Now that's dating myself) Nowadays a billboard is made from a large printed canvas and stretched over a frame. When the canvas is taken down, it often is in usable shape, and quite large-- approx. 15' x 40'.
Many people here are starting to use them to cover haystacks, etc... The only stipulation is that any advertising on them has to be facing inward... no problem... Prices are reasonable, too-- $50 bought me a 15' x 40' white PVC billboard tarp with no holes--the ad is for a local consumer advocate......
So, I went about trying to collect some trampoline frames....
I'd thrown out a couple of frames over the years, so I put in an ad offering to remove old trampolines, and even pay a small amount ($20) for it. This was in September--winter was coming, and I figured a lot of people wouldn't want to keep their tramps over the winter... wrong... I didn't get one call.
So I started looking for tramps for sale. I decided to look for 14' models as this would give me a shed 14' wide, and, 9+feet tall if I used some of the legs for the sides.
Within a week I had rounded up 4 of them with a total expenditure of $150... not too bad. I stacked them alongside the house to wait for a time when I could get too it... our garden had come in, and we spent a couple weekends digging potatoes and picking squash, and putting up shelving in our "cool room" downstairs to hold our harvest.
I finally started to lay out the shed 3 weeks ago.
I first put the frames together to get an idea of where the leg sockets were as I wanted to use them to hold the ridge pole, and some on the side for rigidity.
I had originally planned to put up 8 half hoops at approximately 2 foot intervals, but found this to be overkill after researching other similar structures... those made with plastic often have 5 feet between the hoops. I settled on 50 inches as this is the distance that resulted when using the legs as stringers. I also planned to have the half frames face each other with the hope (in vain in one case) that the leg sockets would line up between the frames. It worked okay on the square socket frames, but not the round ones.
I learned a several of major lessons at this point.
1. Tramp frames with square sockets are easier to work with than those with just round swaged pipe ends. The round sockets allow the frame to twist every which way but loose--making it very hard to assemble them and have a reasonably straight line.
2. Check out the distances between legs on the different tramp frames--this makes it easier to line up the leg sockets from different frames when putting stringers between them.
3. A 14 foot tramp is a relative dimension--on some, it is the OD of the assembled frame... on others it's the diameter of the mat. When I set up the two frames I wanted to use, one of them was a foot higher than the other... Oooops! Fortunately I had a frame that did match the diameter, though it had round leg sockets.
4. You need some means of holding the sections together... I settled on self--tapping screws about 1" long. They easily went through the walls of the tramp tubing and snugged down good.
5. If you don't block all the spring slots and other holes, you'll have a hornet apartment house in no time at all... We dealt with this problem by wrapping 2 turns of electrical tape over each slot... since the hornets and wasps have all snowbirded south for the winter (or wherever they go) it remains to be seen if this method is adequate.
After clearing off the back patio, I finally went to work on the shed the weekend after Thanksgiving. I was racing the clock now--though we'd had weather in the 50's and 60's, a snow storm was in the forecast for Monday. My back yard is on the north side of the house, with large trees along the east and west fencelines. The area immediately behind the house often has snow all winter long. A heavy snow can bury the rest of the backyard for weeks, making it hard to move things around...
I got the frame assembles and screwed together on Friday, and the wife helped me with it on Saturday...
I still haven't settled on how to anchor the shed down. I thought of using 4x4 treated lumber for the foundation and drilling holes in the concrete patio for lead (zinc) anchors and lag screws. However, the city tends to look at anything bolted down as a permanent structure and regulates it accordingly--building permits, inspections, etc.
I also wanted to keep my location options open in case we wanted it somewhere else.
Also, being pressed for time, I finally settled on the interim measure of welding3" long pieces of 1" black pipe to some 2 1/2" steel plates, then bolting the resulting piece into the bottoms of the hoops. I drilled two holes in the plates, and used 5/16" x 3" lag screws to hold it to the 4x4 lumber.
We can get some strong winds here, so I needed something substantial to hold everything down. Since I would be storing several of my GTs in the shed, and probably wouldn't use them until spring, I hit on the idea of using ratchet straps to secure the shed to them... If the winds wants to move 2,000 lbs of tractors and blow the shed away, I'm not going to be able to stop it.
After getting the 4 half hoops up we put the 4' legs in the sockets between the sections. Since each section faces the other half of the frame, there were no sockets to run stringers and a ridge pole between the two sections. I remedied this somewhat by putting a length of 1" PVC pipe on top of the hoops.
One of my SILs came over, and we pulled the tarp over the frame. One of the advantages of the billboard tarp is that there is a 4" wide pocket running around all 4 sides. It has slits in it at certain intervals to allow running a rope through the pocket and connecting to it through the slits.
We cutout a 3" section on the bottom of the pocket at 30" intervals, then attached the rope to a a broom stick with electrician's tape and pushed it through the pocket. The cutouts allowed us to grab the broom stick and push it further down the pocket until it came out the other end. It also allows a small loop of rope to be pulled through the cutout and attached to an bolt, nail etc.
I ultimately will run a piece of 3/4" plywood cut 12" wide along the tops of the 4x4s, and bolted to the hoops. I'll hook a tramp spring (I have about 300 of them) through the rope loop at the pocket cut outs, and the other end to an eyebolt secured to the plywood.
Since the tarp is 40 feet long, and we only need 23' to go over the hoops, we cut off one side. Fortunately, you can use regular PVC cement to repair the tarp, so we will make a pocket on the cut end by folding part of it over and gluing it with the cement. We'll also make the rope cutouts on this pocket and secure it with tramp springs.
By now it was about 9:30 at night and colder than a brass girdle, so we had to find a quick way to secure the ends of the tarp. We folded the end of the tarp 180 degrees over the outer hoops on the open sides of the frame and used large spring loaded clamps and wood clamps to hold the canvas. When the weather warms up a bit, we'll run a rope along the pocket on these end as well, with cutouts and secure the loose end of the canvas by tying the rope to the hoops.
We pulled the rope on the long sides of the shed up tight and tied it down.
We'll ultimately use the remainder of the tarp to close off the ends, leaving a slit in the door--tent style, that will keep the snow out, yet allow the canvas to be tied back when we need to get things in or out of the shed.
We spent most of Sunday moving things into the shed and tying it down to the GTS there... It snowed 3" that night, so we finished it just in time.
The weather has been in single digits overnight, and hasn't got above 20 during the last week, so I haven't been able to do much more on the shed. Even so, my GTs seem content to have something to at least keep most of the snow off them, and haven't griped once about it, at least not to me.
I'll keep you posted on our remaining work on the shed as we get it done.
Edited by Utah Smitty, December 07, 2013 - 01:03 AM.