Friday, March 20, 2009

New shipment arriving!

Our Spring container is due in port today. We should have all our new tents unloaded and ready for shipment before the end of next week. Lots of activity right now... people are thinking about getting out after the long winter season.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Making an interior storage shelf for the Columbus...

Rigid Tent Accessory Shelf Concept© for the Columbus Variant
Submitted by Wade Holguin

The forward end of the Columbus provides an excellent location for a convenient rigid accessory shelf. This design, submitted by Wade Holguin, leverages the two inside vertical lift struts and locking screws as anchor points and spans the inside width of the tent. This accessory shelf requires only seconds to setup. It is constructed using common hardware store materials, and can be stored inside the tent when closed.

This handy shelf is simple to construct with basic tools and weighs only 3 lbs. The shelf is very useful for storage of shoes, flashlight, water/beverage container, or other small items. The use of the shelf concept assumes, of course, that occupants sleep with feet towards the hinged end, and allows ample room for stretching out.

Although the following materials list and instructions are optimized for a medium size Columbus tent the simple concept should be adaptable to both large and small sizes as well.

Note many design variances are possible so feel free to get creative anywhere you deem useful. Enjoy your Columbus more by building a simple shelf to hold your stuff!

Patio latches secure the underside of the shelf on each end to a hole drilled into each strut inside the tent. Either style J hook will work. The shorter one shows how it will look after the excess is cut off from the shelf bottom once installed. Hardware on the far right is all #8-32 x ½”. 


Quantity and  Item

2 J Bolt ¼ x 4” (opening must be at least 5/8” or the loop of the bolt will not easily seat over the strut lock inside the tent). Be sure bolt has threads nearly all the way up the long side.

1 ¼” birch plywood or similar cut to 47” x 9” (for a medium size Columbus) and finished as desired

3 90 degree aluminum angle (offset) 1/16” thick, - ¾” x 48”

2 Patio door latches for sliding glass door - this type has a sliding pin that engages a hole to lock

7 #8-32 x ½” machine screws, star washers, and nuts (I used acorn/cap nuts)

5 #8-32 x ½” pan head bolts, washers, star washers, and nuts (I used acorn/cap nuts)

2 ¼”-20 washers, lock washers, and nuts (I used acorn/cap nuts)

Basic Instructions:

1) Cut each of the 3 pieces of aluminum angle to 47”. Slightly under size is OK so ends don’t protrude beyond the ends of the shelf and snag the inside of the tent. Remove any burrs and round the corners slightly with a mill file.

2) Using 3 machine screws (w/countersunk heads), star washers, and nuts, secure one piece of aluminum angle to the “center” of the shelf across its entire length (see Fig B & C). This will provide additional strength and prevent flexing. Put one screw in the center then two additional screws spaced apart from each side of center sufficient to secure the angle. Note there will be two additional screws (J bolts) one at each end of the angle (1/2” in from each end) in a subsequent step so you may want to account for equal spacing of 5 screws total. I found that I did not need to drill countersunk holes – simply tightening up the nuts on the bottom side was sufficient to pull down the machine screw flush with the shelf top.

3) Measure in ½” from each end of the shelf along the center line where you installed the angle strip and drill a hole large enough to accommodate each of the 2 J hooks. Install the bolts with the J loop at the top of the shelf pointed towards what will become the back of the shelf (Fig B). Critical for the opening between the J hook and shelf to be 1-1/4” to allow sufficient space to slip each hook over the round strut thumb screw shafts inside the tent. Once you secure the bolt to the underside of the shelf cut off any remaining length.

Side detail front of shelf is left. Note I added a plastic tip cover to the J bolt end to help minimize snag points when moving the shelf around inside the tent.

Upper photo - Right side detail showing latch mounting position. Shelf front is left so this is the right end of the shelf. Lower photo - the J bolt fits over the lift strut thumb screw shaft with the open end facing the front of the tent.

4) At this point you should have one angle attached to the center underside of the shelf spanning the entire length with the J hooks in place. Test fit the shelf in the tent (Fig F & H).

5) Attach another piece of angle to the shelf front using 5 machine screws, star washers, and nuts (Fig D). This provides a stop lip to keep things from rolling off the shelf plus gives it some rigidity and strength. I found that the top of the screws countersunk themselves flush with the top as I tightened up the nuts on the underside.

6) Repeat step 5 for the back of the shelf but arrange the angle so that the lip is on the underside of the shelf and the longer part of the L shape is on top and flat (Fig H). This adds rigidity and strength but keeps the lip from interfering with things like shoes and other items you store on the shelf. Use 5 pan head screws, flat washers, star washers, and nuts to secure.

7) At this point the shelf is nearly ready so be sure you have a nice fit inside the tent before you proceed to install the 2 patio door latches and drill into each tent strut. Note: if you do not want to drill into the struts (it won’t hurt anything if you only go past the outside first layer of the strut and DO NOT PENETRATE THE INTERAL PART WHICH MOVES AND IS ATTACHED TO THE TENT ROOF) you can mount the latches so that when extended they simply serve as stops against the struts to keep the shelf from tipping forward or backward.

8) PROCEED VERY CAREFULLY AT YOUR OWN RISK WITH THIS STEP. MEASURE SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE YOU DRILL INTO THE TENT STRUTS OR YOU MAY END UP NEEDING NEW ONES. THIS MAY VOID YOUR TENT WARRANTY. For this step placement of the 2 latches, one on each end of the shelf underside, is somewhat critical as you will be drilling one hole into each strut for the latch to penetrate (Fig E & G). I suggest positioning the shelf, leveling it, then hold the latch on the underside and adjust its position to where you think it needs to be secured to the shelf. Be sure to extend and retract the latch several times until you have the spacing right. It won’t be able to go very far inside the strut so keep this in mind. Once you think you have the latch position on the shelf correct drill two holes and use 2 machine screws, star washers, and nuts to secure each latch to opposite ends of the shelf. When you are happy with the placement of the latches then you can extend them until they touch the struts, mark your holes, and drill them out CAREFULLY using a bit size that will accommodate the latch pin.
Getting ready to push latch pin into strut hole drilled out for this purpose. This keeps the shelf from swinging.

At this point the shelf is complete and will easily store inside the tent even with the J hooks attached if you just cover them with bedding or similar material for padding. Enjoy!