Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

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Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Dusty Mark » Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:31 am

We finished our 5' x 10' teardrop camper build in July 2016. We've camped in northern MN, WI, MI, and Ontario with a trip to FL on the near horizon. We're hoping to travel to AK in 2018. These locations can be both wet and buggy.

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During our first season of camping we used an old EZ-Up style canopy to shield the galley when the weather turned rainy. We purchased a 6' x 6' Clam screen shelter to provide protection on those buggy days. This configuration worked alright, but it was a pain to put up and stake down two items and this setup didn't provide wind protection for the stove. It's hard to do good stir fry when the wind is blowing away all the heat.

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I made side shields for the stove from scrap aluminum to block the wind. These were pretty effective, but I had to add top shields for the even windier days. I began to mull over designs for a galley tent.

My first idea was to fabricate a "tunnel" that connected the back end of the teardrop to the 6' x 6' Clam shelter. This would provide wind, rain, and bug protection to the galley area. I would sew a zipper on the front edge of the Clam to connect in to the tunnel and the tunnel would strap around the teardrop forward of the hurricane hinge. However, as we used the small Clam shelter, we realized it was a little too narrow for our plan and it would still involve setting up two structures. We switched gears and decided to build a stand-alone galley tent.

My objective is to fabricate a stand-alone galley tent that will:
1. Protect from rain.
2. Keep out flying insects.
3. Block the wind.
4. Provide shade from the sun.
5. Allow plenty of ventilation.
6. Be a pleasant place to hang out in any weather conditions.
7. Be relatively easy to pitch.
8. Withstand winds up to 25 mph.
9. Be completed by December 21st.

So, here we go...
Last edited by Dusty Mark on Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Beginning Materials Selection and Sourcing

Postby Dusty Mark » Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:59 am

My teardrop was a pretty expensive project as I took a pretty high-quality approach to the build. I'm taking a similar approach to the galley tent. I recently selected, sourced, and ordered all of the materials.

Tent Poles
There aren't many sources for a DIYer to purchase quality aluminum poles. I ordered 3/4" diameter aluminum poles from Quest Outfitters http://www.questoutfitters.com/Tent_Poles_742.htm in Sarasota, FL. I also purchased connector tubes, shock cord, and grommet tips from them. The tent pole parts totaled about $200 with shipping.

Thread
I ordered two 4-ounce spools of V69 polyester thread from Sailrite http://www.sailrite.com/Thread-V-69-Cadet-Grey-Polyester-UV-4oz-1-350-Yds in Columbia City, IN. Polyester thread does well in the elements and is more UV resistant than nylon thread. I'm not sure how much I'll use, but have a gut feeling it will be just over one spool. The thread totaled $33 with shipping.

No-See-Um Netting
I found a military grade no-see-um netting from Skeeta http://store.skeeta.biz/no-see-um-netting---60-wide-x-10-yards-long in Bradenton, FL. This is a 70 denier fabric that should hold up well. 10 yards of the netting totaled $60 with shipping.

I'll cover the main fabric order in my next post...
Last edited by Dusty Mark on Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Tomterrific » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:50 pm

I'm very interested in your project. Loretta and I set up our last camp similar to how you describe. We have a pop up canopy with a perimeter screen. We put the hatch down and moved the canopy to the back of the camper until we could lift the hatch under the screened in canopy. Our back is open so the effect was a private screened porch off our bedroom. Hillbilly luxury! Cheap HF tarps could add privacy and wind protection. I keep thinking up ways to put a small wood stove under the canopy.

Tt
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Dusty Mark » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:12 pm

A person can definitely make something way, way cheaper than what I'm fabricating. Your plan to use tarps to provide extra protection on an existing canopy is a good one. I plan to set up this galley tent behind the teardrop and scoot it forward as you described until I'm able to open the galley lid.

There are products on the market that attach to the side of the teardrop, but nothing that is designed specifically to attach to the galley. Paha Que http://www.pahaque.com/pq/product.asp?pid=77876&ret_id=1455119 makes some very nice shelters and screen houses that could work well with some modifications. I'm surprised they don't offer a teardrop galley tent, but I guess the price point would be "brutal" with the extra materials and labor. I gave serious thought to purchasing their 10' x 10' shelter and fabricating my own sides and galley sleeve. However, I wanted to stay at an 8' x 10' footprint and elected to start with the raw materials.
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Further Materials Selection and Sourcing

Postby Dusty Mark » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:05 pm

I ordered the rest of my supplies from Seattle Fabrics. They have a great selection of outdoor fabrics and associated products.

Tent Fabric Options
I ordered samples and considered five options for the tent material. These are listed in the order I ranked them.

Weather Max 65
I eventually chose a polyester product called Weather Max 65 in a charcoal color. http://www.seattlefabrics.com/nylons.html#weathermax It comes on a 60" wide bolt and runs $14.50/yard. Here's their description: "100% solution dyed polyester incorporates UV resistant characteristics for long-term color and strength retention along with excellent breathablity and abrasion resistance. The HydroMAX finish raises the bar of hydrostatic performance and delivers unsurpassed water repellency, mildew and oil resistance without relying on environmentally unfriendly coating compounds. WeatherMAX 65 has anti-microbial properties and a minimum UV resistance of 1000 hours but only weighs 6.5 oz./sq. yard due to the use of a filament rather than a spun yarn like acrylic fabrics. Excellent for anything from horse blankets to tough outerwear to marine grade tarps."

1.9 oz FR and UV Coated Ripstop
Rockywoods, in Loveland, CO also has a good selection of outdoor materials. They offer a UV and fire resistant coated ripstop. http://www.rockywoods.com/Fabrics-Kits/All-Ripstop-Nylon-Fabrics/70D-coated-Ripstop-Nylon-Fabric-with-FR-and-UV-Treatment It comes on a 60" wide bolt and runs $9.59/yard. Here's their description: "This light 70 Denier (or 1.9oz/sq yd) ripstop nylon has 3/4oz of polyurethane coating to make it impervious to wind and water. It has been treated with a flame retardant and UV inhibitor. Flame retardant to pass ASTM6413D. The UV inhibitor makes this fabric suitable for longer term use out in the sunlight. It will still fade and weather over time but at a slower rate than our standard 1.9 oz ripstop fabrics. If you are looking for a permanent awning or covering, we'd still recommend using a Sunbrella, marine fabric or our exterior blind fabric as they are engineered to withstand the sun's UV rays." UV performance steered me away.

Super K-Kote Ripstop
It comes on a 60" wide bolt and runs $11.50/yard. Here's their description: "4 oz. per sq yd. 140 Denier with 1.5 oz coating. This heavy weave of ripstop with an extra heavy urethane coating makes the fabric extremely waterproof and durable." The sample felt very sturdy, but nylon doesn't hold up as well over time to UV exposure.

1.9 oz Silicone Coated Ripstop
It comes on a 60" wide bolt and runs $8.50/yard. Here's their description: "1.9 oz. sq yd before coating 70 Denier. The silicone coating is lighter than a polyurethane coating and the silicone coated ripstop has a 16-18 lb tear strength making it more tear resistant than the polyurethane coated ripstop. Uses include tent rain flies, light weight tarps, ponchos, pack covers, vapor barrier liners for sleeping bags, kites, wind socks." This is lighter in weight, less expensive, and yet durable. However, UV resistance steered me away.

Storage Tarps
Storage tarps are available in various weights and are quite durable and inexpensive. If I were to build a galley tent on a tight budget, I would seriously consider buying tarps for raw material and using fiberglass tent poles instead of aluminum.

Miscellaneous Items
The remaining project items included zippers, webbing and grommet tools.

Zippers
I'll use #10 coil zippers with double sliders for the six windows. These are purchased by the yard and cut to length by the user. The windows will be formed in an arc shape and the coil zipper will handle the curve better. I'll use an 84", #10, one-way, Vislon, marine-grade, separating zipper for the door.

Webbing
One-inch nylon webbing will hold the sleeve around the galley, provide stake-out points, and connect clips from the tent body to the frame.

Grommet Tools
Here's an area that's a bit of a "rub" for me. I needed to install 9/32" spur grommets to provide a solid attachment point for the tent frame legs to the tent body. These four grommets will cost me a total of $95 by the time I purchased the specialized tools...OUCH! Oh well, now I've got them.

The order from Seattle Fabrics cost $680 before shipping. This brings me to the "insane" total of about $1,000 counting special tool purchases! :shock: We're looking at this galley tent as a "game-changer" since we do a lot of gourmet cooking in the galley no matter what the weather is doing. If it keeps us from upgrading to an Airstream down the road, this is money well spent!

I found out today that Seattle Fabrics only had 23 yards of the Weather Max 65 in stock out of the 33 yards that I ordered. This could mean I'll be taking a partially completed galley tent on our FL trip. I overbought, so it could be close...
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Ordered Floor Material

Postby Dusty Mark » Fri Dec 09, 2016 6:11 pm

We definitely want a galley tent floor. Our plan is to make the floor a separate piece that integrates with the tent body. RV awning mats are fairly compact and will help keep a clean camp. We ordered a Carefree Dura-Mat from the local RV dealer today. This mat is also available at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Carefree-181071-Dura-Mat-10-Gray/dp/B00C5TD64Q

I'll sew 1" nylon webbing loops at each corner of the floor mat and install grommets to capture the legs of the tent poles at each corner. This will form the foundation to fabricate the tent poles and then the body of the tent. The tent body's corner webbing loops will align with the floor webbing lops and both will receive the base of the tent poles through brass grommets and share the same stakes.

The floor mat could arrive on Monday and the order from Seattle Fabrics is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. I could be fabricating the tent frame by Tuesday evening! I wasn't able to find clips that would attach to 3/4" tent poles, so this weekend I'll make eight custom aluminum clips to tighten the tent body to the tent legs.
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby S. Heisley » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:57 pm

Thanks for giving us all this information! I'll be interested in how the sewing goes. (Years ago, when I tried to sew Ripstop nylon, I had trouble with needle-skipping and thread raveling. I was told that it was because I was using nylon thread and should have used cotton. )
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Hopefully the Results Look Good From Ten Feet...

Postby Dusty Mark » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:26 pm

Sharon,

I agree, those thin nylons looked like they would drive me crazy trying to feed huge panels through the sewing machine. The salesperson at Seattle Fabrics recommended using polyester thread for increased UV resistance and to match the characteristics of the material. I bought a Sailrite Ultrafeed sewing machine last year when I was making duck blinds for a few layout boats I built and it worked great with polyester thread when I was sewing 500D and 1000D Cordura as well as mil-spec mesh. The Weather Max 65 material for this project is polyester that seems like it will sew similar to the Cordura I've been sewing lately.

I've built seven boats over the years and I grade them by how far away you have to stand back for them to hide the flaws and look real clean. My goal on this project is to look good from about ten feet! :lol: I'm a rookie when it comes to sewing and settle for function and strength over appearance. I'm hoping the thread color I bought matches the material well...

Mark
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby drhill » Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:37 pm

Mark, the total might seem insane, but on a dollar per square foot basis the upgrade to your kitchen/living room will be much cheaper than the bedroom was. When you do get caught in rain it will be nice to cook a gourmet meal in the dry while the tenters watch with envy. On our last month long trip we cooked pizza in the rain twice. Starting to think mixing pizza dough brings rain.
I look forward to seeing some pictures and/or sketches of the design.
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Dusty Mark » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:06 am

Dr. Hill,

I like your logic on the price of the bedroom versus the price of enclosing the kitchen. This galley tent is actually pretty cheap! I'll sketch up something in the next day or so. That will help me plan how to use material most effectively.

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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby swoody126 » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:26 am

when we encounter foul weather with our chuck wagon we set the BIG FLY

this allows us to place the entire wagon under it and close it all in keeping everything dry and out of the wind

the side curtains were created to be able to fit to the side of the wagon or completely close it in

have you considered being able to enclose the entire TD or are you just looking at enclosing the kitchen?

i would think it could be handy to be able to get out the door and navigate to the kitchen area without getting wet

as in the OP, free standing to allow the TD to be roled in and out of one end as needed/desired

we also had a wood burning ground stove that was vented thru the fly for warmth as well as cooking

so many of the accoutrements of different types of camping can be adapted from one to another with just a bit of imagination

just ponderments

sw
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Dusty Mark » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:25 am

I agree it would be nice to walk out of the teardrop protected, but we're wanting to keep the footprint of this down to 8' x 10'. We camp in areas prone to strong prevailing winds along Lake Superior and even stronger winds from thunderstorms. I've used cabin tents this size that did well in those conditions in the past. Your idea of a heat source sounds luxurious for early and late season activities under the galley tent. We ordered a propane Big Red Campfire https://www.amazon.com/Camco-58035-Campfire-Propane-Camp/dp/B00G258GPI/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1481466824&sr=1-1&keywords=big+red+campfire a couple nights ago and will have to explore if we can safely operate this in the galley tent. This is the beauty of custom made products; each of our slightly different parameters yields a different final product.

I prototyped a tent clip yesterday and hope to crank out the final ones today. I also hope to sketch out the plan today...
Last edited by Dusty Mark on Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby Tomterrific » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:53 pm

A friend had a large canvas tent like we used in boy scouts in the 60's. In it was a sheet metal wood burning stove. The stove vented through the roof of the tent. The tent roof had a sheet metal square with a hole where the stove pipe stuck through so the hot chimney would not burn the canvas. I still think this is such a cool tent. The sheet metal stove even collapsed for storage.

Tt
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Custom Tent Pole Clips

Postby Dusty Mark » Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:17 pm

I made eight aluminum tent clips to secure the tent body to the legs. I used 1/16" aluminum scraps from the roof of my teardrop build.

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I cut out each piece to a final dimension of 3 1/2" by 1 1/2" and drilled 1/4" holes to define the nylon strap channel.

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A fret saw made a clean cut.

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Eight clip blanks carefully filed and sanded, including the prototype clip.

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A 3/4" trailer axle made a good bending form and the dead-blow mallet worked well to bend the aluminum.

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The axle provides good leverage to bend the clip back to the correct shape.

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Eight fairly similar tent pole clips.

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1" nylon webbing will run through the slot on each clip and two clips will tie in each leg to the tent body.

This was tedious work that is nice to have in the rearview mirror. I may do some simple sketches while I wait for the materials to arrive in the next couple of days.
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Re: Fabricating the Ultimate Galley Tent

Postby KCStudly » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:57 am

Nice work. I'm not sure I can picture how this fits into the big picture or what the expected loads might be in use, so I feel compelled to ask... do you have any concern about them opening up under load, or is that not at all a concern?

I am enjoying following along and the research you have done on materials is admirable. I wish I had an industrial grade sewing machine, even just for the few small projects that I have done.
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