22 Pole Oval 13 foot deep – 22 ropes, 22 side and 22 rope spikes
The heavy-duty oval marquee series tent is set-up using poles, ropes and long spikes, two 12 foot center poles or a ridge pole and one or two uprights, and small spikes around the perimeter to hold down the walls. Walls are removable, and attach with hanger clips. There are 2 roll-up-style doors opposite each other that can be positioned about anywhere, with ties and a threshold strip to make setting up easier. This is different that other manufacturers which call the wall-ends, doors. Our wall-ends also have double ties, but the doors are in the middle of each wall panel with double ties inside and out. This allows you much more flexibility if you are a merchant, or want to set up in unusual ways. The roof is reinforced with webbing for strength and has very strong straps and hand-sewn grommets to allow for various configurations and modifications. The straps at the wall base are large enough to accomidate a 2x3, if you like to use the slide-up wall method to dry your tent from the morning dew. Regular spikes can be used by simply putting them in the strap and twisting them once or twice before putting them in the ground. 6" landscape spikes are normally used at the wall base. Hand-sewn grommets added to the roof near rope tie points for the inside poles. The fabric is waterproof and mildew resistant, 20 ounce canvas that breathes well. The outside valance is attached at the top only, and can be easily modified in many ways. There is an inner valance the same size as the outer one, which helps to seriously block any horizontal rain that dares to blow under the outside valance. Tip disks are available for a pin-type or plumbing-pipe pole. When using a pole without a tip disk, it is best to have a fabric or leather pad at the tip. Even though there is a wood disk sewn in at each tip point, your tent will wear better with a pad of at least a couple layers of canvas. Ropes, Poles, and Spikes are generally not included, but are easy to make. Side poles should be about 6’-9 to 6'-10"”, and aluminum sliding-type modern poles simply aren't strong enough! I use 2x3's which are at the larger lumber stores in 8' lengths but 2x2 without knots are not too bad, but sometimes crack if you drop them hard. Always have an extra pole and a pin or two, they fall off at the most inconvienient times! I have seen people use 30d nails, but 3/8" pins are much better. cut them 5-6" long, drill a 3/8 hole in the end of the pole, and use a waterproof glue to hold them in. Silicone GLUE (not sealer) is the best, but can be hard to find.
3/8”, 5/16”, or ½”
sisal, manila, or cotton rope, may be purchased in 50 or 100 foot coils at most
The other end of the rope should be tied to an loop on the roof of the tent, or even better: slide a good strong knot over you pins. You can use meathooks to make the lines removable, and this was VERY common in period. To make a “meathook”, take a 2” S-hook and squeeze one side closed, and squeeze the other side half-closed. If you know a blacksmith, they can forge you period ones with a bit of a point on the open end, and the closed section welded shut. Any knot is fine as long as it holds under strain. Continue with the other ropes. Additional 2 long wind lines may be constructed to go from the peak to the ground for extremely windy conditions, or to help raise the tent if you use that method. If you camp in open areas on the prairie, it may be a good idea to have wind lines handy if the wind could be in excess of 30mph or so.
There are many different ideas on what makes a perfect pole. I have seen everything from a drill core pipe (too heavy!) to PVC used (won’t work, not even close!). I find that the best poles are made from fir, pine, or poplar. Many hardwoods are brittle, and what you want for center poles is something that bends slightly under heavy loads. Typically, a 12 foot 2x4 with the tip beveled a bit to a blunt point will work, but is not very medieval. If you are the only one that’s going to see it, go for it! A 3x3 octagon can be ripped out of a 4x4 (untreated is better), and works well. Some people use ¾”-1" iron pipe so they can take it apart and transport it easily. If you do this make SURE you bring a couple of small pipe wrenches. You should be aware also, that metal is a good conductor of lightning, and an ungrounded pipe sticking up in the middle of a field is ground zero. That said... I use a single 1" plumbing pipe (blackiron). Just get pieces and couplers to make up 12' minus the thickness of your ridge pole. I have two 5' pieces, one 18" pieces per pole, and 1 extra of each: 2", 4", 8" per pole to allow for irregular ground and such. Also you will need two floor-flange plates, one for the top and one for the bottom, and the couplers to join the pipe pieces - I figure about 4 per pole should be enough. Start by measuring the distance between you peak grommet holes, and add about 3" and cut your ridge pole from a 2x4. The actual measure is a bit more than 10', so you will have to get a 12' 2x4 to start. Drill a 3/8 hole the long way through the 2x4, about 1.5" from one end, and another at the other end, but measure from the first hole to make sure it is the same distance as the grommet holes are apart! If you are using the pipe method, screw a floor flange each place you want a pole on the underside of the ridge pole. The flange is wider than the ridge, so only 2 screws will go into the ridge, and you can use scraps of wood (such as the 2x3 ends you had to whack off the side poles) on either side of the ridge and screw them to the ridge and flange plate. Now lets set this thing up... I use eyebolts, about 6" long stainless steel is best, to attach the ridgepole to the tent while its still on the ground. Put a washer on the eyebolt, stick it through the ridgepole from the bottom, and through the fabric, securing with a large washer and nut. You can put a painted croquet ball on the protruding bolt to finish it off (usually they were painted gold in period). The reason I use an eyebolt, is I can hang stuff from a rope extended from the eye, like lanterns and such. You can also add a few more eyescrews or hooks whereever you want them along the ridge.
Wood spikes are period. Most other spikes, in particular, metal, are somewhat rare on non-noble medieval tents. In fact, until the 1950’s, wood spikes where the most common on all tents! It is easy to hack out some stakes from scrap wood or even old shovel handles. A sharp axe and a handsaw makes quick work of it. Guy line stakes can be landscaping spikes in solid soil, but if the ground gets wet, you had best keep an eye on them. Wood stakes give a good medieval look to your encampment. You will need 24 long stakes (about 12-18”), and 24 short stakes about 9” max for the walls. Always keep a few extras on hand… you WILL lose some! Heres a helpful hint: if you use landscape spikes, spraypaint the shafts WHITE, so you can see them while they are laying on the ground. I lost dozens before I started doing this, now I very rarely ever lose one. Washers are also a good idea, not only to help hold the rope on the stakes, but make the stakes easier to see after you pound them in... (I also used to lose quite a few in the weeds!) Also give your metal pole pieces a coat of clear Krylon to keep them from rusting. Paint chips off, so clear is best to keep them looking good.
The first time putting up a new tent is a learning experience and a good time to take some measurements once it is up. The first time, get a helper, you are going to need one. Here is the method that I prefer to set up:
Cleaning of treated canvas should only be done with the mildest of detergents. Dishwashing soap used sparingly and diluted with cool water is quite effective against most dirt, but just water and a soft brush is best. The goal is to “float” out the grime, and not to scrub it out if possible. If you use too much soap, it can be difficult to get it all out, but it must all be washed out or may cause accelerate break-down of the fabric if allowed to dry in. Sand and dirt, left in canvas fabrics, has a sandpaper effect on the fibers, and can cause premature wear. If you need to use a brush, we recommend something that is safe for a car finish, such as a soft car-wash brush. You can pitch the roof low to the ground without the walls on a 6 foot pole, instead of the 12 foot one, to aid being able to reach all areas. It is best to let the tent air out for at least a day or two to get real dry. Mildew stains are the most difficult to remove and are caused by packing a tent damp. Don’t pack your tent damp! Bleaches and harsh cleaners will remove waterproofing, and require the area to be retreated with a waterproofing agent. Never use bleaches on colors or off-white canvas.
Repairs can be made with cotton or cotton-poly thread. Synthetic threads should only be used in areas where leaking won’t make a difference, such as stake loops or the bottom of walls. Colored canvases need to be tested to make sure they do not run before you sew them on.
Fold the tent by folding the roof in half, then fold in the oval ends, then blanket fold. A longer shape may be easier for 2 people to carry. The wall panels are easier to fold or you can even roll them on a dowel. Tie the door shut on each wall before folding to make it easier to control. A neatly folded tent will last much longer than one that is mistreated.
ONLY STORE A TENT ABSOLUTELY DRY!!! When you have your tent dry dry dry, pack it in a plastic bag to keep it that way, and don’t store it on the floor of your basement. Keep it on a dry shelf in a dry room. Ropes mildew too, and you should make sure to dry them and treat them in the same way as you do your tent. Don’t store the ropes with the tent, as they can have dirt on them that will transfer to the fabric, and if they are manila ropes, they will transfer oils that will stain the tent. Spikes and poles should also be stored apart from the tent for the same reason.