Jan 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm #1284316
I'm thinking about trying my hand at making a Roger-Caffin-style tunnel tent to replace my Double Rainbow that comes on the majority of my companion backpacking trips – the idea being to get something a little bit lighter, but more importantly, more weather-proof and with better interior space.
I've already done a fair bit of design work in SketchUp and have what I think is my final design. My immediate concern right now is the pole system. I'm planning on using carbon fiber tubes for the poles, but these will require elbow bends at each join because of the tight radius of each hoop. Looking around online, I can only find 45 degree elbow bends – does anyone here have any suggestions on how I can get connectors for my poles at different angles (15 and 35 degrees, if I remember my dimensions correctly)? Thanks.Jan 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm #1826431
The Quest ones are 145 degrees, or 35 degrees from straight, which is what I think you mean.
If you are willing and able to install the elbows on the tent, rather than on the poles, Ti tent pegs can be carefully bent with a large radius to wider angles. The 3/16" Ti peg material will hold the bend, the smaller diameter ones – not so much. You can even use good quality ALU pegs, if they don't have to be bombproof. However, this approach does not allow all the sections to be shock cord connected, even if the elbows are left on section ends of the poles. But there is some advantage in not cording ALL the sections – less cumbersome.
For cording ALL the sections, you need the hollow, tubular elbows you are probably looking for. Montbell and some other tentmakers have them, because they are on their tents. I have made them out of Adventure 16 tent pole tubes by using a tube, not a rod, bender and heating with a burner.
When they cooled off, they still had enough temper to hold. That older tubing was probably the less tempered grade.
If the Quest (Easton) elbows are heated, they lose their temper and will no longer hold the angle under stress.
You could try a cold bend with a bender on other ALU tube that is not as tempered as the Easton.
You could email email@example.com and he might have some suggestions.
He has been very helpful to me on a number of occasions.
If I think of or spot a lower angle bent tube elbow, will post it here.Jan 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm #1826865
Another possibility would be to not use elbows, but instead use a more flexible composite tubing for appoximately the middle third of each hoop pole.
Here is an example of what you get with A16 ALU alloy poles for roughly the outer thirds of the hoop pole, and more flexible Early Winters Omnipotent fiberglass poles (1/4 oz/running foot – same weight range as carbon) for the middle third:
As I recall there were two alloy pole sections at the end of each pole, and three slightly shorter FG sections in the middle. The EW sections are 1/4" thick and fit perfectly into the ferrules of the A16s. The resulting hoop is a little wider at shoulder height than a the usual parabolas, so quite roomy.
You could do the same thing with lighter and stiffer carbon instead of ALU for the outer thirds (roughly). The EW poles were very strong, and a lot more flexible than alloy or carbon, maybe too flexible for the entire hoops of the Omnipotent tent.
Now the engineers among us might say that the transition point from the stiffer carbon to the more flexible FG will be ripe for breakage. But for a hoop tent, you will probably want side guys for high winds, and if you put the guy points at those transition points, butressing the hoops at those points in high winds, that might go a long way toward addressing that concern. That pic was taken well above tree line on Mount Madison in the NH Whites – pretty windy, and no side guys on the poles. How could we legally pitch there? – we did, but that's another story.
You can probably find good quality FG tube at kiting and fishing supply sites; but if not, you can PM me about purchasing a few of the EW poles. I promise not to soak you. (Unlike modern day manufacturers, EW sold the poles separately, as much as you wanted – so I ordered a bunch and still have a few left.)
Coupling the larger O.D. carbon poles to the smaller O.D. FG ones is an issue that also must be addressed. Some hunting, luck and serendipity will usually suffice. More on that by PM if you like.
Dare I say, to me the hybrid pole shape looks nicer than elbows. Easier to thread into the sleeves, also. Hope Roger doesn't see this, though.Jan 22, 2012 at 11:41 am #1828125
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure I would be able to find tent pegs that are big enough to serve as connectors for the carbon poles I have. I'll look into the composite pole idea, though that might require a redesign of the tent panels.
Your thoughts did give me another idea – aluminum tubes can't be cold worked without a loss of strength, but the same wouldn't be true for titanium, if I remember correctly. I might look at bending titanium tubing to the necessary angles.Jan 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm #1828160
Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/DIY_RNCTents.htm as well.
CheersJan 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1828163
Daryl and DarylParticipant
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Fibraplex also has 145 degree elbows. You might call them and see what else they have. They must have replicated the pole sets for most tents by now.Jan 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm #1828164
> Hope Roger doesn't see this, though
> Easier to thread into the sleeves, also.
I have both straight and with-elbow poles. Can't say I have noticed any real difference in threading, even in bad weather.
In response to others: It IS possible to use aluminium tubing as an external sleeve over the CF tubing, and it has been done. Pictures in the FAQ. Easier to bend maybe.
CheersJan 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm #1828197
Daryl and DarylParticipant
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Fibraplex uses aluminum elbows that fit over hollow carbon fiber ferrules that fit inside the carbon fiber poles.
I had one Fibraplex pole break and it broke at the ferrule. Break was due to overflexing of the hooped pole set. Fibraplex fixed it for free and changed the bend of the aluminum elbows to reduce stress where the ferrule broke.Jan 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm #1828299
If Fibraplex could change the angle on your alloy elbows for carbon poles, they could probably provide Aaron with whatever angle he wants. He might have to buy some poles from them, though. Hope the rumor about them increasing the strength of their poles is correct.
Now I will go to Roger's site and see if there is any new info about making elbows. When I made some 3/16" ones from Titanium tent pegs last year, it was painstaking. Don't try it in a cold room or with a short radius rod bender – snap!
Aaron – Just a quick session with a protractor and some graph paper suggests to me that a 145 degree angle would be AOK for building a tent with Roger's design. Just sketching the three angled pole out on graph paper makes it look like there will be too much spread of the poles toward the tent bottom; but that is OK, because you are going to bring the bottoms tips of the pole together, flexing and arching the whole assembly. That creates tension to keep the floor spread taut, and just right for enough angle to both the upper and lower walls to shed rain and snow, with lots of shoulder space. Am wondering if you are reading 145 degrees to be 45 degrees, or perhaps are not considering that the pole assembly will be flexed.
[Edited to remove application of Quest .340" O.D. elbows that will not work].
There is an application for the Quest .340" O.D. elbows that might work well for you; in that the ferrules on these elbows fit well into the Easton Carbon FX pole sections that one poster PM'd me are now available from poleforyou in smaller than wholesale quantities. The FX weigh a little under 12 grains per running inch, compared to the 8-9 grains of the arrow shaft sized carbon poles. But the FX are quite a bit stronger, and will make your tent sturdier. The only downside would be the long length of the Quest elbows, since they include ferrules at both ends, so would be a little more unwieldy to disassemble and fold up than poles with shorter elbows. The Easton elbows from Quest are really well tempered also, and will hold the angle upon which the tent structure depends.
The Fibraplex elbows are sized for carbon tubes, but if they fit over the tube as stated above, would be too small to fit some larger shafts, Victory 300 for example.
So, for them you would probably have to use the Fibraplex shafts, for which the elbows are made. It would be worth it if you could find some slightly thicker walled shafts the same diameter as the Fibraplex, because additional layers of the wrapped carbon will improve the strength of the poles.
The great thing about tubular elbows, as opposed to solid rod ones, is that you can shock cord the whole pole together, which would be much easier to contend with in Roger's design. The pole set does not fold completely flat, as it would without elbows, but folks have been putting up with that for a long time with elbowed poles on tents. The design I was working with using solid rod Ti elbows was much different – just one elbow connection at each of two tent apexes, and nothing like what you are considering, so maybe my comments about making solid elbows were not apropos.
I'm sure Roger and his site will provide you with lots of help if you are going to make a tent with his design. That improves your chances of success way more than striking off on your own. I have a basement full of failed creations that support that observation.Jan 24, 2012 at 8:27 am #1828927
Roger: thanks for your reply. I'll send you an email when I have some more time to sit down in front of my design. I have spent a number of evenings reading through the wealth of information you have on your site. Excellent stuff.
Daryl: I'll see if I can get in touch with Fibraplex. My only concern is the poles they spec on their website are pretty narrow, so I don't know if they will have anything that is compatible with the larger diameter poles I already have.
As an aside, I don't know why more companies haven't switched to larger diameter, stiff poles in conjunction with bent elbows on tents. With carbon fiber and even aluminum poles, creating a larger diameter, thinner walled tube gives you a much stronger structure for the same weight. The carbon tubes I'm planning on using are noticeably stronger than the DAC or Easton aluminum poles, and are (if I remember correctly) about 1/4 of the weight.
Samuel: When I did my initial design in SketchUp I assumed I would be able to get elbows in whatever angle I wanted and thus designed my pole hoops (and thus the angles between the tubes) to what I though would be an optimal configuration. I might have to reassess that approach. The elbows that Quest has look promising – I'll have to email them to get the full specs to make sure they will fit my poles, which are 0.385 OD/0.346 ID. I'll play around with my design a bit tonight and see what I can come up with.Jan 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm #1829299
The lower diameter Easton elbows that Quest sells are made of the .340 O.D. tubing – tempered. The ferrule, or "insert tube" that comes out of each end of the elbow has an outer diameter of .287". Naturally, it fits into pole sections of the Easton .340 tubing; but also, sections of the Easton carbon FX tubing, as mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, the inserts are bonded into the elbows either by spot welding or some other virtually indestructible process. You can't use heat to remove them, because it will destroy the temper of the elbow, rendering it useless. At an earlier time, Quest's elbows may have used heat release glue – at least that's what the Quest folks thought, but no more. The inside diameter of the ferrule, or insert, snugly takes a 0.21" diameter carbon rod.
The inside diameter of the .340 elbow outer tube is .290". So I suppose that if you have carbon tubing that is below .290", you can cut off the part of the insert that protrudes, and bore it out, being careful not to heat up or damage the .340 elbow tube and thus destroy its temper. Was thinking of boring the insert material out to about .242", so a .240" O.D. pultruded carbon tube or rod could be used to connect a Victory 300 arrow shaft to the elbow. Since only one elbow connection is needed for my purposes, I would probably use a piece of solid carbon rod for the extra strength. It is a tricky business, though, because any point where the elasticity of the joint changes greatly – that is where there will be a break.
Don't know what you have in carbon that is 1/4 the weight of alloy poles like DACS, yet stronger. Forgive me for being skeptical. The Easton carbon FX is over half the weight of DAC-FLs, and is a lot stronger than nearly all lighter arrow shafts. When Easton brought it out, they said it was similar in strength and flexibililty to its .340" alloy tubing.
Quest also sells larger Easton elbows that are .433" O.D. with an inner diameter of .373". The insert for those is .370" O.D. Don't see a match for your carbon tubes, but maybe you can figure out something. Easton's .344 O.D. tubing is not as sturdy as the .340", but if they have elbows made of it, it would fit inside your carbon. A couple years ago, a customer service person for Easton at 801-526-6243 was kind enough to send me some samples of some connectors.
Good luck.Jan 25, 2012 at 1:45 am #1829344
> Don't know what you have in carbon that is 1/4 the weight of alloy poles like DACS, yet stronger.
The CF arrow shafts I use are similar in strength to the Easton alloy poles, but only half the weight. Not sure about getting as far as one quarter. That would have to be a larger diameter tube with a very thin wall, and there are real problems there.
I do know that my poles are significantly lighter than the Carbon FX.
CheersJan 25, 2012 at 8:29 am #1829431
@ckrusorLocale: Northwest US
Roger, are the details (source, specs) for the carbon tubing that you use on your website (I haven't had a chance yet to look)? Is this the 5-layer lay-up tubing that you have referred to in the past? I take your expertise seriously and I would be interested in knowing if I can obtain these tubes somewhere for my own tent project.Jan 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm #1829719
Hope you don't mind if I share with Colin my attempts to find your pole material, and eventual choice, with your assistance, of Victory arrow shafts. I believe we concluded that the Victory 400s were closest to what you were using. I am using the 300s, slightly heavier and slightly stiffer, because they break-tested for me with some additional strength, and fit perfectly into Easton .344" tent tubing that is readily available at Quest to use to make external ferrules. They make a nice hoop, about 40" high and about 87" wide at the base, but I would not try to stress them with any radius tighter than that. Victory has several lines of shafts – am talking about the V-Force V6, not the much lighter High Velocity, and not the X-Killer. Don't think there is any reason to spend more money for higher tolerances when it is just for tent poles. I am told they are available on eBay.Jan 26, 2012 at 1:14 am #1829833
Happy to assist.
I can't give exact specs for the arrow shafts I use because the importer won't cough up any details. But I can sure speculate with some confidence.
To the best of my knowledge, there is ONE machine in China for making this 2D wrap stuff. You can see the machine at http://www.pulwellpultrusions.com/applications.htm Again, as far as I know, all 2D wrap arrows come from this machine.
As far as I can judge, the Victory arrows are essentially the same as the SkyShark and GoldTip arrows, not withstanding their expected protestations. All these tubes have an ID of 0.245", with small variations in OD, thus (using the Vistory web site data purely as an illustration):
VForce 300 – .304"
VForce 350 – .298"
VForce 400 – .295"
VForce 500 – .290"
VForce 600 – .285"
Why 0.245"? My guess is that is 1/4" (0.250") rod precision ground down.
There is a wide range of Easton tubing in very fine steps of ID and OD, so you pick the combo you want. I find an OD of about 0.295" works fine for me. Sam went for something a shade stronger.
I do bend the poles in my tents, but I limit the design radius to 1.8 m. That leaves some leeway for extra bending in a storm.
So, can you buy this stuff? Dead easy, from any of the usual channels. Archery shops, ebay, Amazon, etc.
Elbows: that's harder. I make mine from 1/4" SS tubing, turned down to about 0.240" in a lathe. You do need some clearance! Then having machined the two ends of an elbow, I bend it in a custom bending jig to within about 1 degree. My typical angle would be a 31 degree bend. But you use any bender able to handle 1/4" tubing if you get a bit of practice at reaching the correct angle. Finally, because the shoulder at the end of the machined section is NOT large enough to block the tube from sliding up over the bend and jamming (and breaking), I cover the middle of the bend with heavy heatshrink tubing with an adhesive core. I use too much heatshrink and cut it back to the right position while it is cooling. The result can be seen in the FAQ at
However, while I favour my internal SS elbows, others have used a softer aluminium tube to make an external elbow – for this see
Two details I will emphasise:
You MUST have strong bungee cord through the pole or the parts WILL fall apart while you are handling them! Especially when threaded into the sleeve.
Pole feet should NOT have knobs on the end, even though many vendors have them. Get mud and grit around that knob and you will have a LOT of trouble extracting the pole foot from the grommet! And the knob is NOT needed to keep the pole foot in the grommet.
It is left as an exercise for the reader to work out why I say these things… :-)
CheersJan 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm #1830248
Thanks for posting in detail.
Here's been a problem:
When the poles are attached to the elbows, they can exert quite a bit of leverage on the elbow. If the elbow is highly tempered, or made of very strong material, like 3/16" O.D. titanium (from tent pegs), it will resist the leverage quite well.
If not, it can bend out of shape, especially when high winds on the canopy are trying to distort the poles at the elbows. And repeated bends = failure.
All of that is more critical where my one elbow per pole design depends on maintaining the elbow angle in order to maintain the integrity and function of the structure – it might be less of a concern where there are three elbows on each pole, as on your designs – don't know.
Since you venture into much more blasphemous weather than I do, it would be interesting to know if you have had any issues involving your shop-made elbows' failing to maintain a constant angle.
P.S. I have been experimenting using kite maker's high quality plastic dihedral fittings to connect carbon rods in a pack frame. They are at an angle of about 30 degrees from 180, or 150 degrees, and have a hole in the center for a third rod to pass through at a right angle to the plane of the 150 degree angle. Although the fittings are stopped to prevent the rods from pushing into the center hole, they could easily be drilled out so that shock cord could pass through.
The size rod/tube they accommodate can go up to as high as 9mm. They might have an application here. One site is:
The hole in the middle is troubling in terms of the strength of the joint, but necessary for the kite makers. But the fittings are designed to hold the angle. With the larger dihedrals, the strength might be acceptable, and carbon tubes might be adapted to fit. Just a thought.Jan 31, 2012 at 6:12 am #1832128
I think I've got a solution worked out to my problem using the 145 degree elbows that Quest sells. They are designed to work with 0.340/0.344 diameter poles meaning the inserts, that are sized for the proper poles would be too small to fit my poles. However, I confirmed from Quest that the total length of the 'elbow' part (not the inserts) is about 4", meaning there is about 2" between the end of the insert and the bend. Since this part of the elbow is made with the 0.340 OD tubing, it should fit perfectly inside my tubing (0.346 ID) to form an elbow join. I can then cut off the inserts, or bond a small length of 0.340 OD tube to the insert to give me a bit longer connection surface. I can probably even do a bit of cold bending of the elbow to get the exact angles I want. Hopefully this all works out.Jan 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm #1832320
> they can exert quite a bit of leverage on the elbow.
The bending forces on the elbows are the same as on the CF tubing. Actually, that force is not that high in calm conditions, so you should not experience any problems at all. Certainly I have never seen any problems undeer calm conditions.
In a storm there are some extra forces but how that plays out depends very much on whether you allow the tent shape to distort. Allowing significant distortion of the original design is inviting disaster, so I don't. If you do allow the tent to distort significantly there will be problems: elbows could bend and poles could break. The reason I don't get a lot of extra bending is that I make very serious use of guy ropes. The myth of 'free-standing' is a total joke in a storm! If you preserve the design shape of the tent then most of the increase in loading manifests itself as compression of the CF tubes, and they can handle that *just fine*.
Key to a good elbow is the very snug fit between the CF tube and the elbow itself. With a sloppy fit the forces are transmitted over very small areas of CF, which is not good. How many elbows you have is immaterial to the physics.
The difference between tent peg wire and tubing is quite high: increased diameter is everything. That is why one can use commercial Al tube over the outside of the CF tubing as an elbow.
I'm interested in that bit abou the kite fittings. Where does one find the angle of the dihedral? I looked, but could not see. I use 31 degrees right now, but the design culd be adjusted to 30 degrees I think.
CheersJan 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm #1832389
What are your normal tolerances between the elbow and tube diameters to ensure a "sung fit" yet still allow the tubes to separate relatively easily?
AaronJan 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm #1832392
(sorry for the threadjack but I thought other DIYers might be interested…)
A question for Roger:
I've been looking at making a simple straight carbon pole for my trailstar. Do you think that the wrapped tubing (e.g. the skyshark stuff) with an OD of 0.319" (8.1mm) and ID of 0.244" (6.1mm) is strong enough for a straight pole 48" long to support a trailstar or similar? I'd probably make it in 3 sections with one of the solid carbon ferrules joining the sections.
Also, would larger (and obviously heavier) pulltruded tubes be stronger? For example I could used a 14mm (OD) x 12mm (ID) tube with a 12×10 tube as internal ferrules.
Any advice on how to make a *strong* straight pole for the trailstar would be appreciated.
StuartJan 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm #1832534
I've done a fair bit of research into this when I was looking at pyramid tents – my overall conclusion was that the poles (I found) available on the market don't represent very good solutions for mid center poles.
For a mid pole, you have a fairly long unsupported span that has relatively high axial (compression) loading and almost no bending loads – unless you bump into of course. You want something that is as stiff and light as possible for a given length. Unfortunately, the available tubing tends to be either: thin-walled (light) but small diameter (bendy) OR larger diameter (stiff) but thick walled (heavier than necessary). I think this is because the thick walled tubes are designed to be multi-purpose, and resist both bending and axial loads. My ideal pole would be 0.5-0.8" in diameter, but still with a relatively thin wall.
Roger I believe had a wealth of information about CF manufacturing processes, all of which is very interesting.
AaronJan 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm #1832543
Here is what my 15+ year old Choiunard (Black Diamond Pyramid has for a pole.
It weighs 8 ounces (Gasp!). You could fight off an Angry griz with it or pole vault the river Nile.
The one thing this pole never did was collapse. Even under some nasty high wind storms and heavy snow loads in excess of 6 inches.Jan 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm #1832569
Thank you for that response. I note that you have several poles on your design, so that it must take quite a few guys to stabilize them all. But that is what I also see often on European tents used for high winds – lots of guys on the poles.
A while back someone posted a link to a video of a Warmlite tent in high winds without guys – frightful.
About the dihedrals – Just ordered a few and measured them with a protractor. That's where the 30 degrees came from. The kite folks don't seem to think in terms of degrees, so it has become necessary to order and measure. Same with the angled fittings. Makes for great cries of either delight or cursing at the kitchen table. Dearly hope the larger ones I ordered are the same angle as the two little ones ordered first. Expect so.
The size difference between tube and ferrule for both the Easton .344s and .340s is .003". You are thinking about a difference of .006" when the .340 tube is inserted into your carbon tube. Please note Roger's comment, above, about the result of having the tube too loose in a connector.
So I suggest you need a snugger connection, no more than .004" at the most, and ideally, .003".
Also, even if a .344" O.D. tube elbow were available, inserting it inside, rather than over your carbon tube as Roger does, will put a lot of pressure on the lip of the carbon tube. Not so good.
But anyway, I tried cold bending an Easton .344" tube with one of those cheap 3-slot benders that you get from the tool outlet sites ("Pittsburgh – made in China). But the fit was snug, and the tube broke almost as soon as it started to bend. Was in the basement at about 50 degrees F. temp, so will bring a tube upstairs and try again tomorrow at room temp. Will post if that makes a difference. As earlier noted, if I heat it, it will lose the temper – no good for an elbow.
You could talk to a machinist, who might know how to bend the Easton .344 to your desired angle and preserve the temper. Otherwise, the problem is that most of the 5/8" ALU stock, as well as the more tempered but bendable Jansport 5/8" tube, is closer to .4" I.D. than the O.D. of .387". If you drop to 1/2" stock, it is too small.
I guess what I would do, if I wanted a strong elbow and therefore didn't want to play with the softer plastic pipe fittings, would be to get the 9mm (.354") dihedrals , and fill the end holes with high quality epoxy, maybe a putty, and drill them out to .346". Then I would cut 3" inserts of Easton tubing and glue them 2" into the ends of your carbon tube. The protruding 1" should then fit into the dihedrals, and the carbon tubes would be less likely to break because the snugly glued inserts would spread the force over the 2". Sorry I don't have a better suggestion. Consider calling polesforyou.com before making a choice.Jan 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm #1832616
Depends on exactly what material I have at hand.
For CF tube into Easton arrow shaft for straight coupling, 30-50 microns RADIUS clearance.
The inside bore of the easton poles is very smooth, and the OD of the CF arrow shafts are ground to dimension.
For SS elbow machined down into CF tube, hum, about the same.
The ID of the CF tube is very smooth (ground SS mandrel), so the machining on the SS has to be good. A quick polish with fine wet&dry is normal after turning.
CheersJan 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm #1832618
Yeah, I'd give that a go. I am assuming you are not trying to handle a storm on the Main Range though!
Ferrules: I would recommend finding an archery shop and seeing what they have from Easton. Be worth trying an Easton 2317 shaft I think.
I would not use pultruded!!!
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