Apr 7, 2006 at 2:37 am #1218256
This forum is normally about fabrications and modifications which worked. Good,keep them coming, but lets also hear details of a few failures and why they didn’t work.
Benefits of this would be both in saving many of us from spending time making the same mistakes, and occasionally allowing someone else to suggest a modification which would make the original idea work.
Those who find this embarrassing could use the “post anonymously” feature.
DavidApr 7, 2006 at 5:52 am #1354330
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
My biggest failure was an attempt to create my own version of an HS Squall TarpTent, but without a door, rather an elongated extension of the main tarp canopy. The idea was to fold the opening down when closing off the entrance. What I ended up with was a shelter that was about 15 feet long! Granted, after making about eight hammocks, it was my first real sewing project. When my wife saw it set up in the nearby park she said, “Well, at least we can both get away from one another when we want to be alone!”Apr 7, 2006 at 8:19 am #1354336
I like the confession of mistakes idea. But in the interest of brevity, I only mention my successes. But seriously folks… My mistakes are numerous enough to organize into categories:
1) Over-elaboration (OE) – this might be called over-design – or complexification. In every design project, I notice that I start with something too complex but nowadays I try to hone it down into something simple. At one time, I left things over-designed with predictably disasterous results. Examples: attempting to make alcohol stoves with closable reservoirs (a la Trangia) or remote fuel supplies(as in “call the fire department!!!”); Solution, Pop can stoves. Bivy tents – bivy sacks that erect like small tents to create a little headroom. Internal framed and external framed packs (various ingenious designs including carbon fiber framesheets); solution, go lighter and eliminate frames entirely. Multiple use sleeping bag with zippers to turn it into vest to replace jacket around camp. This had a huge fiddle factor and never worked to my satisfciton. Solution, serape-type neck hole in center of quilt (from Jack Tier of Jacks’R’Better).
2) Combining incompatable materials. Imagine a light day pack made of 4 ounce nylon with seat belt webbing straps and reinforcements. The bag hung like wet toilet paper from the almost rigid straps. Any combination of a heavy, stiff fabric with a lightweight, flexible one. That kind of thing. But usually more subtle. The worst mistakes of my ‘mature’ period were putting excessively heavy zippers on things – until I learned that #3 coils will handle almost anything.
3) Over-reinforcement. Strengthening items beyond the general capacities of their materials or design use. This one is a little subtle, but generally, reinforcements are useful only when failure at that point will preceed and/or cause failure elsewhere in the structure due to the limits of the dominant fabric. If you made a tarp of tissue paper, no amount of corner reinforcement would save it from disaster. Over-reinforcement makes stuff too heavy and less packable, obviously, but it can also weaken a structure by directing stresses to the wrong areas or by concentrating stresser that would be spread out by a weaker reinforcement.
4) Over-building in general. With modern materials it is entirely practical to make gear that will last several generations. For the last 50 years most backpacking gear has been retired not because it is worn out, but because its design becomes obsolete. Losses are due primarily to accident, abuse, misuse or getting lost in the garage. The exception is gear coated with polyurethane – which deteriorates sooner or later. Manufacturers overbuild because it is the easy way to avoid returns. Heavier fabrics also have a better ‘hand’ or feel. Rarely does performance dictate their use. So, yeah, I have a lot of excessively heavy gear. It gets used for utility duties such as storage bags and covering the lawn mower.Apr 7, 2006 at 12:55 pm #1354357
I made a Fuzzy’s Lil’ alcohol stove.
I left the pot off, though, and burned it up. To see if I could make it sturdier, I decided to try leaving part of the top on and just make a medium-sized hole in the top. I used a syringe and shot the alcohol into the hole. When I lit it, the top of the stove rocketed into the air accompanied by a large blue fireball. Fortunately my face wasn’t very close to the stove. Lesson: either make a really small or covered hole as in the Cobra or Penny stoves, or make a really big hole, as in the Pepsi-can or SuperCat stoves, not a mostly-enclosed combusion chamber.
BTW, Lil Fuzzy is a good stove design to know how to make, because all it takes is a single soda can and a knife. If you ever step on your alcohol stove, this is an easy field replacement (assuming you can find a can somewhere, which is often depressingly easy).Apr 7, 2006 at 2:27 pm #1354363
Here’s one of my favorite screw-ups: http://www.freewebs.com/jasonklass/paintedstove.htmApr 7, 2006 at 3:12 pm #1354369
Gee, Jason. If we are going to confess about stoves how about the time I melted the front off my microwave oven when a photon alcohol stove disintegrated rapidly (not to say, exploded). The holes were too small and it overpressurized. But the big mistake was playing indoors.Apr 7, 2006 at 3:24 pm #1354372
That’s a pretty good one Vick. I haven’t caused any property damage yet. Mostly I work with low pressure or open flame designs indoors. I’m not so sure I’d be brave enough to try a pressurized one inside. A while back I lit one of Tinny’s SST stove in my kitchen (now discontinued for safety reasons). Picture a tiny alcohol stove made from small V-8 cans that sounds like a white-gas stove! this thing was a jet engine! As soon as I lit it, I just got this eerie feeling and grabbed the hose from my kitchen sink just in case. As soon as it burned out, I wiped the sweat off my brow and made a vow that if I was going to test out something that powerful, I’d do it outside. Thanks for the reminder.Apr 7, 2006 at 7:03 pm #1354385
Close call, huh?
But those Fuzzy stoves are pretty good and very adaptable. I make them from V8 cans and make them shorter than Fuzzy recommends. They work well – like any do-it-yourself stove – with some tweeking.Apr 8, 2006 at 9:16 am #1354414
Huh, you couldv’e simple marketed it as a new ‘all-in-one’ solution… never lose your stove again… ;)Apr 8, 2006 at 11:00 am #1354420
I’ll make you a deal on on right now.Apr 26, 2006 at 11:42 am #1355494
I heard about a tent company (in the UK I believe) who offered carbon fiber tent stakes with their tent. Thinking these might be the lightest things going, I got some broken carbon fiber arrow shafts really cheap and made myself a few stakes to try.
First problem: they’re hollow, so when you slice an end at an angle to make a point that will enter the ground decently, you end up filling the silly thing with dirt, thereby negating the weight saving you started with. So I filled the end with a bit of epoxy–fairly heavy (relatively speaking), but lighter than dirt.
These worked OK to start with, but I soon found that the heads mushroom (or just plain split) when I pounded them into really stiff soil. I also snapped a couple getting them in/out.
I “solved” the mushrooming head problem by epoxying a small bit of aluminum tubing on the end–the aluminum withstood the pounding better, but added more weight. I never did figure out why some of them snapped.
I finally gave up on the whole idea since I ended up not saving that much weight over titanium skewers which is what I currently use.Apr 26, 2006 at 1:07 pm #1355500
You had the same experience I had. Except you left out getting your hand skewered by fine graphite fibers. Mine went into the Bad-Ideas-Are-Us file.Apr 26, 2006 at 3:16 pm #1355508
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I bought 8 ray-way carbon fiber stakes a while back. He does not appear to carry them any more however. The 8 stakes weight 1.2 oz, so 0.15 oz a piece.
I like the design of these and they work pretty good and don’t seem to have the problems of these other stakes described. They have a pointy turned aluminum point in the business end, and the other end has a bright yellow plastic button end that besides making the stakes visible allow you to grab them to pull them out of the ground.
I prefer them to ti skewers for softer ground, since they hold better due to the larger diameter. I have not used them in real hard soil however. The instructions indicated they could be carefully tapped into hard soil.Apr 28, 2006 at 7:13 am #1355577
Yeah, I heard about Ray’s version, but by the time I decided my homemade ones weren’t all that great, his weren’t listed on his website any more. Glad to hear yours are working out….
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