Author Topic: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?  (Read 11054 times)

Offline ScottyK

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Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« on: October 20, 2013, 03:06:57 PM »
I dug out of storage our old family tent from the 70's. It's a Coleman Villa Del Mar - Model 8455-823. After a few attempts last weekend, I finally got it set up and let it sit through a decent round of rain.

Once the storms passed, I discovered a couple of puddles inside. I also discovered that the "teeth" of the zippers were so brittle that they were coming off as I zipped and unzipped the door and windows.

Is this old of a tent worth fixing? If so, where does one go to get new zippers installed?

The major reason I'm even checking into repairing it is because it's been in the family, and it would be fun to take my boys out camping. But I've been looking at the Academy website, and they have some great tents for around $100!


Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2013, 03:34:07 PM »
Probably not.  By the time you buy new zippers (http://www.zippershipper.com/tent-zippers , $8-$18 each, not counting the installation hassle/cost) and scotchguard everything into waterproofness, you may have a useable tent but you'll also be closing in on the cost of a new big-box dome tent.

If you do decide to repair, look really hard at the canvas and where it's sewn into the frame loops.  I had my family's 70's-era canvas tent get soaked and rip apart in a rainstorm about 20 years ago.  It's funny now....  but if you're trying to introduce the kids to camping, it's best not to traumatize them the first few times out.

Also, the new domes are lighter to haul around and they go up much, much easier.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2013, 04:30:43 PM »
The Green Pepper has zippers on sale. I would sew them in myself over the top of the old zipper and remove the old one. Use waxed dental floss to zip.

Repairing:
But a fellow SCAian has put together a awesome article on tents.. "When Good Tents Go Bad".
http://midtown.net/dragonwing/col9901.htm

Waterproofing:
http://midtown.net/dragonwing/waterproofing.htm
Recipe:
 "Dissolve a pound of laundry soap in two gallons of water. This can be done easily by first shaving the soap, then dropping it into the hot water and stirring it until it is completely dissolved. Soak the tent in this mixture until every fiber is completely saturated. Then squeeze out some of the surplus water, and hang it up to dry. If it's a large tent, you may spread it out in the sun."When it is thoroughly dry, prepare the second bath by dissolving a half pound of alum in two gallons of hot water. Immerse the tent in this solution and again saturate it thoroughly. It's best to leave it in this bath for a couple of hours. Then squeeze out the surplus and hang it up to dry again. Your tent is now ready for use."

Cedar

Offline trekker111

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2013, 06:42:56 PM »
Were it mine, I would order and replace the zippers myself. Once that is done, and the canvas retreated, it will probably outlast several of the nylon tents from the big box stores, and you can't beat them for truck or car camping in cool to cold weather.

Your tent looks if fairly good condition in the pics, and since it didn't rip or tear getting it set up then I think it would be worth fixing.

I have several 70's era canvas tents that I still use when bear hunting in the mountains, or hog hunting in late fall to early spring. That tent, a tarp, and a propane heater will have you camping like a king in weather that would reduce a nylon tent to an ice box.

Offline spartan

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 10:21:33 AM »
Given the cost and family history, and a my own love of repairing old things, if it were mine I'd fix it and hold onto it.  You might find reasonably priced nylon tents for sale, but canvas can hold up for a long long time and is field repairable with a couple of hand tools and some spare squares of canvas. 

To tell a bit of a tale of this, if you don't mind my rambling, I used to work at a Renaissance, as well as other craft fairs and folk-type festivals.  Many of the vendors I knew used canvas wall tents as their shops, both at semi-permanent sites and when on the road.  If a grommet tore, they'd find a leather vendor with spare grommets and a setter who could put a new on in place.  If a tree limb fell through the top, which happened to more than one person I knew, they'd pull out heavy waxed thread and an awl and lace it back shut, then stitch a patch over top of it and keep on going.  If damage got too bad in a section on the road, they'd cut it out, buy some canvas from a local fabric store, and make the repair on the go.  The resiliency of canvas tents, and the ingenuity of the people who relied on them, was incredible. 

I think you'll be well served to make the repairs, even if it costs you more than a modern new tent.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 11:04:04 AM »
I agree with the others that say to repair the tent.  There's likely some  great memories in there.  Do like Cedar says, sew in the new one then cut off the teeth part of the zipper.  That gives a very reinforces connection. 

After attempting to waterproof it, carry a tarp with you when you camp.  If it is going to rain and you aren't sure of the waterproof-ness of the tent, put the tarp over it.

Offline ScottyK

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 08:45:22 PM »
Thanks for the info everyone! I have no sewing skills whatsoever, so I might be a better use of my time to find someone who could do it.

I live in Oklahoma, so cold isn't that much of a problem. Heat is the thing we really deal with.

I like the tarp idea.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2013, 09:18:31 PM »
Thanks for the info everyone! I have no sewing skills whatsoever,

You know what the 4-H motto is? "Learning by Doing". Today is a good day to start learning to sew. And a perfect project.

Cedar

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2013, 04:07:26 AM »
You know what the 4-H motto is? "Learning by Doing". Today is a good day to start learning to sew. And a perfect project.

Cedar
+1  this is a perfect way to learn a new skill.

I taught myself how to use a sewing awl to repair the awning on my camper.  This sounds like a perfect use for one.

[shameless plug]
Wrote it up on my blog, how to use a sewing awl

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2013, 09:58:14 AM »
As someone who lives in the rainy pacific NW and does a few camping trips each year with young kids, it's my opinion that a quality tent is money well spent.
A few years back I splurged for a 6 person REI tent, to replace a basic 4 person Coleman I got at a big box store a decade ago.

The first time I had to use it in the field, it was at sunset in a rain storm.  I was able to set it up by myself in 15 minutes while my family sat in the car watching me :)

That all said, I also have an old canvas tent from the late 1960s, and a variety of others I keep for boy scouts to play in.  Before you toss this out, I suggest you ask a local scout unit if they could use it.

Offline LittleOwl

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 11:19:22 AM »
Absolutely! And learning skills is the greatest form of prepping. Even if u don't use it a lot for sleeping in when camping, those big ol' things are an absolute god-send in ugly weather for kitchen / mess hall. Make your own canvas treatment with paraffin wax and clear oil (canola, mineral, neatsfoot, linseed, etc) (And replace the zipper with industrial Velcro from a chainsaw shop or highway truck shop)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 11:25:21 AM by LittleOwl »

Offline LdMorgan

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2014, 10:24:00 AM »
Thanks, Cedar, for the great waterproofing recipe. Gotta try that.

I'd probably repair the tent myself, but here's one additional thought:

Those nylon dome tents are GREAT--until they rip, or tiny sparks from the fire melt a few holes in them. Or the flexi-poles break.

I've bought many dead nylon tents for a few bucks (or got them for free) because the bottoms make great tarps, and they are chock full of high-quality zippers.

And they have lots of bug screen, too, which also has its uses. And re-uses.

As do the poles.

Etc.


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Old Canvas tent worth fixing?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2014, 01:58:47 PM »
Today in my current situation I wouldn't bother with a canvas tent.  I have come across so many modern nylon tents in excellent condition for so little money I can't justify more tents.

A possible exception might be if it had some historic or nostalgic value.  e.g. civil war replica, etc.