Compass
Box 1748 Conway, NH 03818
Phone: (603) 447-2344 Fax: (603) 447-8377

Pole/setup instructions for big wall tents

The following is an explanation of what we do when we build a pole system for our wall tents. The reason we use the interior pole system is twofold. One, it is easier to transport and erect a tent with this configuration and, two, we could find no original documentation for exterior pole systems in evidence until the mid-19th century. We realize there are folks using the exterior pole system at rendezvous but that does not make it authentic. We think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy these tents are erected and how strong they are in a good windstorm. You will find two sets of instructions following, one set for the smaller wall tents with ridges seven feet tall and shorter, the second set for anything wider, longer or taller.

What you will need for LUMBER:
Height Wall Height Ridgepole Uprights Perimeters
8’6″ x 14′ 7′ 3′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 12 – 2″x2″x3’2″
8’6″ x 14′ 7′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 12 – 2″x2″x4’2″
8’6″ x 14′ 8′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 12 – 2″x2″x4’2″
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 3′ 1 – 3″x3″x12′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 10 – 2″x2″x3’2″
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x12′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 10 – 2″x2″x4’2″
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x12′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 10 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 11’3″ 9′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x12′ 2 – 3″x3″x9′ 10 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 14′ 8′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 12 – 2″x2″x4’2″
11’3″ x 14′ 8′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 12 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 14′ 9′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x15′ 2 – 3″x3″x9′ 12 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 16’10″ 8′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x18′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 14 – 2″x2″x4’2″
11’3″ x 16’10″ 8′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x18′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 14 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 16’10″ 9′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x18′ 2 – 3″x3″x9′ 14 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 19’8″ 8′ 4′ 1 – 3″x3″x20′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 16 – 2″x2″x4’2″
11’3″ x 19’8″ 8′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x20′ 2 – 3″x3″x8′ 16 – 2″x2″x5’2″
11’3″ x 19’8″ 9′ 5′ 1 – 3″x3″x20′ 2 – 3″x3″x9′ 16 – 2″x2″x5’2″

Larger Wall Tents

WOOD: We use Douglas Fir 4x4s or 3x3s that we spend a little extra time picking out. We like the look of the large dimension lumber in the bigger tents. It is possible to use 2x4s if you do not have access to Douglas Fir or do not want to spend the extra money.

Rip your lumber to 2 5/8” x 2 5/8” for the uprights and 2 5/8” x 2 7/8” for the ridgepole. Plane the surface to finish at 2 ½” x 2 ½” and 2 ½” x 2 ¾“. Set your joiner fence at 45 degrees and drop the feed table to allow the joiner to remove enough stock to make the uprights octagonal after four passes. Stop. Read on before you place anything on your joiner table.

UPRIGHT POLES: Determine whether you want full octagon uprights or the fancier look of poles left in the square at the bottom. For octagonal poles pass each edge of your upright poles across the table. For the fancier version with a “stop”, mark where you would like the “stop” to be or use the edge of the fence on the joiner table, stopping the pass when the end of the pole stock reaches the near end of the fence. If you are planning on using sleeves on your poles cut the poles to the desired lengths first. This allows you to pass the poles across the table leaving the very top and bottom of the pole in the square.

Drill a ½” hole into the center top of the pole six inches deep. Cut a ½” steel pin 12” long if your tent has grommets in the peaks or 8 ½” with no grommets. Touch up the ends with a file to remove any burrs that may cut you or your tent fabric. Place one pin in the top of each pole.

RIDGEPOLE: Pass your ridgepole stock across the joiner table removing the top two edges only. (Please see the ridgepole end drawing below) Using the dimensions filled in below mark and cut your pole to length. Measure back from the ends and mark for drilling your pin holes using the “set back” dimensions given. Drill a 9/16” diameter hole completely through the stock.

SLEEVES: Shortening any pole is best done with a sleeve. The sleeves we supply are made to be placed over your pole with very little, if any, stock removal. After cutting your pole into two pieces place a mark 6” for uprights (or 7 ½” for ridgepole) from the cut end. If your stock is too large to fit the sleeve, remove a small amount using the joiner. Slide the sleeve over the cut end until it lines up with the mark. Drill a hole and place a nail or small screw into the sleeve to lock it in place on one pole.

WALL POLES: Use standard 2x2s for wall poles. You can make a quick set by cutting stock to length and drilling a 3/8” hole for a steel pin. The pin should protrude 3” from the end. You may want to leave the ends in the square for a few inches and remove the remainder by passing a router along the edges making the pole lighter and more “finished”.

PAINTING: It is necessary to seal the wood. We use paint. From the information that can be found, paint is the most appropriate finish. Any flat, or semi-gloss paint will do, but look for one with old colors. There are a number of companies that sell colonial color paints. Stulb Old Village paint is a favorite of ours. Their oil paints are incredibly tough.

Pole sleeve Pole sleeve
Shape of an Upright Pole Shape of a milled 4×4 Ridge Pole

YOU CAN ESTIMATE THE DIMENSIONS OF YOUR POLES FROM THE CHART ABOVE. For example, your 11’3″ x 11’3″ wall tent with a 9′ peak and 5′ walls, will have a ridgepole that is approfimately 11’3″ (give or take an inch or two). The overall height of the tent is 9′. To find the height of your upright poles, we first need to subtract the thickness of the ridgepole. We can see that this tent uses a milled 4×4 for a ridgepole, which should finish at 21/2″ x 2 3/4″. By subtracting 2 3/4″ from 9′, we know that our upright poles will measure approximately 8′ 9 1/4″ (again, give or take a an inch or two). Grommet setback should be 1 1/2″ (give or take a 1/4″ or so).

BECAUSE EACH TENT IS UNIQUE, DO NOT cut your poles to final dimensions before you receive your tent. Leave an extra couple of inches on your uprights and ridgepole, until we can give you precise final dimensions. DO NOT drill your ridgepole for the holeplacement for your upright pins.
You will also need:

8’6″ x 14′ STAKES: 18 Small, 12 Large DOGBONES: 12
11’3″ x 11’3″ STAKES: 16 Small, 10 Large DOGBONES: 10
11’3″ x 14′ STAKES: 18 Small, 12 Large DOGBONES: 12
11’3″ x 16’10″ STAKES: 20 Small, 14 Large DOGBONES: 14
11’3″ x 19’8″ STAKES: 22 Small, 16 Large DOGBONES: 16
What you will need for ROPE:
Height Wall Height
8’6″ x 14′ 7′ 3′  12 sections @ 6′,
8’6″ x 14′ 7′ 4′ w/poles: 12 sections @ 7′
8’6″ x 14′ 8′ 4′ w/poles: 12 sections @ 7′
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 3′ w/poles: 10 sections @ 6′
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 4′ w/poles: 10 sections @ 8’
11’3″ x 11’3″ 8′ 5′ w/poles: 10 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 11’3″ 9′ 5′ w/poles: 10 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 14′ 8′ 4′ w/poles: 12 sections @ 8′
11’3″ x 14′ 8′ 5′ w/poles: 12 sections @ 9’
11’3″ x 14′ 9′ 5′ w/poles: 12 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 16’10″ 8′ 4′ w/poles: 14 sections @ 8′
11’3″ x 16’10″ 8′ 5′ w/poles: 14 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 16’10″ 9′ 5′ w/poles: 14 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 19’8″ 8′ 4′ w/poles: 16 sections @ 8′
11’3″ x 19’8″ 8′ 5′ w/poles: 16 sections @ 9′
11’3″ x 19’8″ 9′ 5′ w/poles: 16 sections @ 9′

Setting up your wall tent

To set up your tent, lay the canvas in the location you want the standing tent. Locate the reinforcements on the front door. You will find one stake loop at the bottom center of each reinforcement. Stake the two reinforcements with one stake. Using large stakes, if you have them, do the following; pull the left front corner of the tent square and stake it. Pull the front right corner square and stake. Stake the right rear corner making sure the right side is tight, straight and makes a right angle at the front right corner. Stake the left rear corner making sure the left side is tight, straight and makes a right angle at the front left corner. If you do not have a rear door the wall will help to hold everything tight. If you do have a rear door, check to make sure a stake can be driven through the two rear door reinforcement stake loops. Do not place a stake in this position at this time.

Slide the ridgepole under the canvas, inside the tent. Put the rear vertical pole into the ridgepole. Put the front vertical pole into the ridgepole. Place the ridgepole into the ridge of the tent making sure, if you have grommets, to place the pins through the grommets. Now walk both vertical poles into position at the same time with two people (or alternate if working alone) until the vertical poles are vertical. Step back to make sure everything is square and snug. If it is not remove and restake to make the base square at this time.

If you are using wall poles, place a wall pole in place in one of the guyline loops near the center of the tent wall. Place a guyline over the protruding pin and, pulling from the tent at a ninety-degree angle, stake the guyline using a large stake. Repeat this on the opposite side of the tent. Place a pole in one or the front corner guyline loops. Place a guyline on the pin and pull away from the tent both to the side and front. Stake using a large stake. Repeat on the remaining three corners. Place the remainder of the poles and guylines in position and stake. Using small stakes, stake the bottom of the tent walls. Your tent canvas should be tight, not baggy and wrinkled. If it is not tight, fix it! You are not trying to stress the fabric, the object is to get the fabric tight enough to shed water and wind quickly.

If you are not using wall poles the operation above is completed using the guylines secured to the guyline loops.

When taking down and packing up your tent remember to remove as much vegetation and dirt from the canvas as possible.

It is always best to lay your tent out when you arrive home to ensure every part is dry before long term storage.

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