How to Pitch an Old Canvas Tent

How to Pitch an Old Canvas Tent
The canvas tent used to be the main source of shelter for outdoor enthusiasts, military personnel and boy scouts. They were simple affairs that got you out of the rain and weather, and provided a place to sleep and store your gear. With roots in simple cloth tarps hung over a rope, the canvas tent evolved over time into various shapes and sizes. Even today, outfitters often use large canvas tents supported by frames and replete with wood stoves and bunk beds for their remote outposts.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Two-Man Tent

Things You’ll Need:
  • Canvas tent Frame Stakes Ropes 3-lb. hammer Water repellent and brush
  • Canvas tent
  • Frame
  • Stakes
  • Ropes
  • 3-lb. hammer
  • Water repellent and brush
Step 1
Stand the two center poles upright and set the ridgepole on the center posts. The ridge pole fits onto the small rods that protrude from the top of the center posts. Have one person hold the center posts and ridgepole upright.
Step 2
Place the two center post ropes onto the center post rod and take each rope out at a 45-degree angle from the center post about five feet, one to the left and one to the right. Pound stakes into the ground with the hammer and tie the center post ropes to the stake. Repeat for the other center post.
Step 3
Unfold or unroll the canvas tent across its width. Center the tent over the ridge pole and finish unfolding it. Align the top seam with the ridge pole and have a helper hold the center post.
Step 4
Remove the ropes from the center post and position the grommet in the canvas seam onto the center post rod. Place the ropes back on the center post rod. Repeat for the back of the tent.
Step 5
Attach short ropes to the rings along each side of the tent. Pull these ropes out away from the ridge pole until the canvas is somewhat taut and the tent has shape. Pound stakes into the ground in a straight line and tie the ropes to the stakes.
Step 6
Stake the bottom edges of the tent by placing stakes next to the rings along the bottom edge and pounding them in, fitting the stake rings into the hooks on the stakes.
Step 7
Tighten all the ropes and make any adjustments necessary to remove wrinkles from the canvas. If required, coat the canvas with canvas water repellent and allow it to dry.

Large Dining Tents

Step 1
Unfold the tent completely and stretch it out. Position the tent canvas where you want the tent to stand.
Step 2
Set out the side poles at each position for them; at the corners and in between, at each post grommet.
Step 3
Pound in stakes five to six feet straight out from the sides, one for each grommet except at the corners. Corner grommets get two stakes set at 90 degrees from the tent sides.
Step 4
Set the side posts in the grommets at one end of the tent, raising that end of the canvas under the posts. Pull the ropes on the grommets tight out to the stakes and tie them.
Step 5
Place one side post in the next grommet on the left and right sides. Pull the ropes out and tie them to the stakes.
Step 6
Set the first center pole into the grommet inside the tent. Stand it up and get it straight. On very large tents, this may require two or more people.
Step 7
Continue setting side posts and tying the ropes to the stakes, working along the sides of the tent. As each center pole grommet is reached, add a center pole to the tent and raise it up.
Step 8
Complete the setting of side posts at the opposite end from where you started. Tie the ropes to the stakes. Go back and make adjustments by tightening ropes, adjusting stake positions and straightening side and center posts.
Step 9
Tie the canvas tie downs that hang from each post grommet to the bottom ring on the posts. Some systems have blocks with eye bolts in them that fit under the posts. These blocks keep the posts from sinking into the ground and the eye bolts are for tying the canvas down.

Tips & Warnings

 
The old two-man canvas tents were somewhat user unfriendly. It takes two to easily pitch these tents. Once the two center posts and ridge pole are assembled, one person holds them in place while the other attaches the ropes and stakes. Inside there is enough room for two bed rolls and two backpacks and not much else. The larger dining type tents are surprisingly easy to set up--if you work from one end, put all your stakes in first and make sure those corner stakes are straight out and aligned with the tent edges. On large dining type tents, a common mistake is to set the corner stakes wrong. They must be aligned as shown in the illustration in Step 1 for the Large Dining Tents.
 
The old two-man canvas tents were somewhat user unfriendly. It takes two to easily pitch these tents. Once the two center posts and ridge pole are assembled, one person holds them in place while the other attaches the ropes and stakes. Inside there is enough room for two bed rolls and two backpacks and not much else.
 
The larger dining type tents are surprisingly easy to set up--if you work from one end, put all your stakes in first and make sure those corner stakes are straight out and aligned with the tent edges.
 
On large dining type tents, a common mistake is to set the corner stakes wrong. They must be aligned as shown in the illustration in Step 1 for the Large Dining Tents.
 
Damp or rainy weather can cause the canvas to shrink, possibly pulling stakes, snapping ropes or causing the tent to collapse or tear. In damp or rainy weather, loosen the ropes a little to give the tent some stretch.
 
Damp or rainy weather can cause the canvas to shrink, possibly pulling stakes, snapping ropes or causing the tent to collapse or tear. In damp or rainy weather, loosen the ropes a little to give the tent some stretch.

Article Written By Michael Logan

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.

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