For anyone following our weekly updates, this post will seem redundant. Still, I want to compile the various parts of this project into one post for future reference.
As we were finishing up our wall tent build, we started discussing the logistics of living life in a tent. Something that came up quickly was the amount of traffic our tent entrance was going to have. We will have bunk space for up to 11 people, and we will be doing life in this cabin style tent. The more we talked, the more we disliked the idea of everyone having to use the zipper/buckle system every time they needed to go in or out. Not only would this be difficult — especially in the dark at night — it would be hard on the zipper.
We also started pondering issues of security: how to keep our dogs in and other critters out, since the front flap just sat on the deck.
Early in our research process, we had been impressed with the tent entrances on several YouTube videos we watched. Both Dalton Off Grid and Den For Our Cubs built clear polycarbonate walls with real doors for their tent entrances. We loved this idea, but since we were in a hurry and on a budget, we planned to use the tent as is.
As we contemplated making the leap back to tent life, we decided the extra time, money, and effort would be worth it. So, we took the plunge, bought the supplies, and tackled the project.
First, I drew up a plan with Sketchup, using our saved measurements from our rafter build. I knew these measurements would be close but not perfect. We would take better measurements and adjust on site.
Plans in hand, we ordered our supplies. We purchased wood and a Larson storm door from Menards. We picked up Tuftex polycarbonate panels, fasteners, and closure strips from Lowe’s.
We used 2×4 framing, spacing our studs 24-inch on center. We cut our pieces and laid out our project in the tent. It was a tight space, but we made it work. Because the wall was so long, we built it sort of in two sections. Because we didn’t have a continuous bottom plate, it was very tricky to keep things square. That’s a mistake I will never make again!
We ended up having to trim and shim some things to make everything fit, but we did finally manage. We double checked the fit when we were done by raising up the wall temporarily.
We added some temporary bracing at this point to make sure things didn’t shift too much when we laid the wall back down.
Next, we added the foam closure strips recommended for our Tuftex panels. These have to be in the exactly right spot, or the panels don’t line up correctly. We attached the panels as well, but just along the top of our wall, since this spot would be difficult to reach once the wall was in place. We left the middle and bottom loose so that the panels could move freely and not snap during the wall installation.
To install the wall, we took down our first set of rafters. After sliding (and shoving, and lifting) the wall into place, we paused to take down the front tent pole. Finally, we pushed the wall so that it lined up with our side walls. We nailed and screwed everything into place. We replaced the rafters just inside the wall. We also took down the braces and finished fastening the polycarbonate panels.
Last of all, my dad and I installed the door. It was toward the end of the day, and we were in such a hurry, I didn’t stop for pictures! It was quite a little project in itself, but we were very pleased with the results.
We completed this project in the dead of winter, fighting weather and cold season. Due to several delays, finishing this build was especially satisfying. We cleaned up that night feeling rejuvenated. We can’t wait to start living full-time in this place we call home.