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Portable Shelters


My first stove tent was a Sears "backyard" thing made from flimsy materal. It was very compact and since it had a rainfly, never leaked even in prelonged rain. Due to its light construction I had to be careful where I set it up. I cut the floor out and sewed a sleeve in the end wall to accept a metal flange that held the 3" pipe. I made this particular stove in 1986 out of galvanized sheet metal, and still use it.  It uses three elbows for the three sections of pipe, and I usually added another short section and another elbow to direct the smoke downwind.

I used it mostly for kayaking in the off-seasons, but it also worked on snow. I pulled the tent, stove, pipe, and presto logs on a plastic sled behind my skis. To set the stove on the snow, I put two foot-long one-inch dowels in the packed snow and then laid a small wire rack over that. Then aluminum foil covered the area and the stove sat on that. All of this insulated the snow so well that it melted faster around the aluminum foil area than under it. These pictures were taken on Mazama Ridge at Mount Rainier, where we stayed two nights. Though it was well below freezing it stayed in the 60's inside, requiring about three presto logs to heat it for the evening.

Later I went to a Eureka Mountain Meadow 4, and set it up similarly, except that I cut out a small area of the floor for the stove, leaving the rest of the floor in place. I still use this one for kayaking in the winter.

Stoves: Left:Ice fishing shack stove from Nuway in Wisconsin used in the hut, Vanagon and camper. Center: stove I made for tent use. Right: Stove made of 4" square tubing with 2" gutter downspout for pipe.


The Portable Hut I also drove my pickup up logging roads in the Cascades to near the snowline and camped in my stove tent. That was fine except when it was windy or in a heavy snow. I started designing something like a rigid tent that wouldn't flap in the wind and could take some snow-load without sagging, and had windows. The result was my portable hut, which weighted 135 pounds, took about 15 minutes to set up, and stowed in the back of my pickup leaving plenty of room for camping gear on top. It was made from eighth-inch plywood ("door skins") on 1x2 pine framing, in hinged panels 40" by 60" or smaller to fit in the truck. Half of the roof was a plexiglass skylight, so it was very bright inside.

I used the hut for about three years, in the Cascades or as far away as the Steens Mountains in Oregon or the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. It was very stabile in wind and comfortable inside, except that, having no floor, snow or frozen ground soon turned into mud after the stove was started. I put a roll-up table in one corner and at bed time fitted a cot with one end under the table. But being only 5'6" wide and seven feet long, it wasn't big enough to accomodate my wife too.

Today the hut is a firewood storage shed in my backyard, now permanently screwed together.


The Vanagon Vestibule

We bought a 1987 VW Vanagon Syncro (4WD), which had a rear seat converting into a queen size bed, and was very comfortable for the two of us. I removed the middle seat and put up a folding table for dining and working during the day. But the downside was - no heat other than from the engine.

Next I started thinking about how to add a vestibule that would attach to the side of the bus without altering it, and putting the wood stove in the vestibule, so that the bus would be heated when the sliding door was open, which worked very well.

I used 1x2" pine and eighth-inch plywood panels that hung on a frame that was attached to the rain gutter on the roof of the bus. The edges and under the bus were sealed with pieces of grey plastic tarp velcro'ed to the panels and hooked to the bus. All of the panels were attached with webbing straps. There was no floor in the vestibule. Most of the roof was Lexan polycarbonate roofing, so it was very bright inside.

The first version was only four feet wide - the width of the sliding door, so there was room for only one person in the vestibule and little room for cooking. Later I added another addition the made the vestibule 8 feet long. It could still be set up in the four-foot configuration too. All of these panels were stored on edge in the bus in a stack about a foot wide, so it left plenty of room while traveling.

The downside was that it took an hour to put up the four-foot section, Best Replica Watches and almost as long to add the other section. Once in place, it couldn't be moved. It was also not very resistant to wind, so I had to be careful where I put it.

Finally the Vanagon developed so many mechanical problems that we sold it, and that was the end of the vestibule.

The Tacoma Camper

After selling the Vanagon and my old pickup, I decided to buy a 2WD Toyota Tacoma pickup to serve both as utility vehicle and RV by building a plywood camper for it. I wanted to make sure the Tacoma would be available for other uses so the camper would have to be easily removable to store in the carport, which has 7 foot clearance. So for that reason and efficiency on the highway, it would have to be a "pop-top" of some kind.

The Tacoma Camper

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