Max Icon's PVC Quonset Hut Shelter Overview - September 2000
Welcome to my PVC Quonset Hut page. These findings are from my own experience. If you have questions or suggestions, let me know. My style is to tell about my experiences in detail and let people decide what works best, so it may get a little long-winded sometimes. Your maya may vary.
I recommend that you test build everything in a back yard or park, as you don't want to find all your problems on the playa. Please be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves while hammering rebar and stuff.
P.S. - Let me know if any of the links are broken...
My main goal is to have a personal living space that will keep the sun off, break the wind, and the rain off, while not ever collapsing under the most extreme conditions. I transport, build, and break down my shelter by myself each year, so it's important to me to be able to handle everything single-handed. To that end, I chose PVC as a strong, light, flexible frame, shade cloth as a foundation fabric, and rebar as anchors. These have served me well for years now, and have never failed yet. Other materials work just fine, such as parachutes and the prefab Costco shelters that have proliferated in recent years, but I have no experience with them (and those Costco shelters are *heavy*). There's some information on them here.
I prefer the quonset hut style structure, as the key structural parts are under tension; that is, they're bent against each other under pressure. The more they flex, the stronger they get, up to the breaking point of the material (I haven't found what that is yet). Another benefit is that no guy wires are needed, though they can help keep the ends from slipping (allowing the covering to get looser) if the winds are really strong and steady. With innertube couplings, I slide them back into place if this happens.
NOTE: PVC gets very flexible as the length increases. I don't believe that this design will scale well to really large structures, except for increasing the length of the quonset hut. Domes or cascaded Costco structures may be the best bet for large open floor plans.