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GKlose

old tents: restoration?

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I miss equipment discussions, so I'll toss out a volley:

 

The other night, our troop dug deep into storage (in the previously-flooded basement of an old church building) and came out with some old nylon tents, some of which are Eureka (including some unknown number of Timberlines) and others which seem to be department store specials. One was definitely mildewed, and smelled that way. Most of the others weren't so bad. I think after maybe a washing and an airing out, they might still be usable. After setting things up, and working through issues such as missing flies and broken poles, we're down to maybe 8 or so that might be able to be salvaged. Anyone with any firsthand experience at this?

 

I looked it up online, and what was suggested was a washing with a non-detergent cleanser (e.g., Nikwax Tech Wash, which I know is kind of pricey), drying in sunlight, and killing mildew (if any) with a mixture of lemon juice, salt and water. Proper storage.

 

The Timberlines intrigue me (and we didn't have time to set them up at the meeting) -- I've heard they are near bulletproof, and I know you can get replacement parts for them.

 

Thanks --

 

Guy

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By the way, we haven't really needed "troop tents" all that much -- before I arrived on the scene a few years ago, the troop had mostly settled into a pattern of using personal tents, which most of the older scouts still do. Younger scouts, however, don't necessarily have their own tents, so we're interested in getting these older ones back in service, if possible.

 

Guy

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If you can clean the mildew without tent damage, great.

Timberline parts are still available - however the product has undergone a major redesign so how much longer those parts will be available is in question.

 

If there is plenty of good thickness to the material and only a thin skin of mildew the TSP Tri-Sodium Phosphate will kill it for good - but it will eat away any of the mildew and thus the potential for holing the tent is high. Patching on the tent body is a definite option but if the mildew is on the fly I definitely recommend the milder approach.

 

While you want to use the sunlight to help with the mildew, any additional "airing out" can be accomplished in the shade, and should be just as effective on odor AFTER the tent is dry.

 

Still using some now about 15 year old Timberline 4 OF's as part of our stock of 10.

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Our Troop got a couple Timberline T2's that had been in storage over 10 years.

 

We took one home (all were lightly moldy and smelly).

 

I rinsed it out with a hose, to get any loose dirt/mold off, then used a 5 gallon bucket with some dish sop and a cap or 2 of bleach. Started with the fly, squishing it and flushing water thru it in the 5 gallon bucket. The water got so dirty I refilled the bucket for the tent. I also turned the tent inside out and re-zipped it back up.

 

This bucket's water got changed twice on the tent.

 

Then I set it up (inside out), and hosed it off with a hose and hit it lightly with some simple green, rinsed and turned it back outside in. Another dose of simple green and good rinse. staked it down to air dry.

 

It cleaned up well, and got rid of the visible mold and moldy smell. Once it was dry, I used floss to fix a hole in the screen and gave it a couple squirts of odor remover.

 

I know a couple boys slept in it on a rainy weekend a couple weeks ago and were fine with it.

 

The others did not get the cleaning job my son and I did on this one. They still look and smell moldy.

(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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I too am a big fan of the dawn + bleach (10%) water cleaning solution.

 

We use dawn on many hazardous waste sites to break up oils and tars and emulsify them for removal. Bleach is great at killing all kinds of viruses, milds, and fungus - permanently.

 

It is a little hard on the hands for extended exposures (wear gloves). In my experience, it is gentle enough that any fabric / material that will not stand up to it is not worth saving. But, do watch out for bleaching cotton fabrics with it.

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We have some solid recommendations for handling the mildew and crud.

Any ideas for re-waterproofing?

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It's not cheap but the aerosol Camp Dry for the fly's is common. There is a warning on the can it can discolor, so a test patch is a good idea.

 

The cheap tents our Troop uses don't last much beyond 3 years (mostly zipper issues). Course, that's expected for $39 tents.

 

Older Scouts usually have better personal tents.

 

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Depending on the degree of degradation the Nikwax wash in products are highly recommended - but so far unused by me...

 

If major degradation - visible peeling away of the coating - try thinning silicone caulk sealant with mineral spirits until you have a thin "paintable" solution - I've never heard anyone give a ratio on this.

Paint it on the underside(coated side)of a taut tarp and let it dry while taut. It is commonly used in seamsealing ultralight tarps and should work in this application also, but is another one I haven't personally tried in this application, yet.

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I have found, though not extensively tested, that a couple sloshes of bleach in a 5 gallon bucket of water is not enough to stain your clothes. That is unless you are suprised and drop the bottle on the ground, then everything is gone.

 

Bleach is definitely awesome at killing mold and getting rid of odors, as is vinegar, but I don't know what affect vinegar would have on the tent material. For cleaning the tent I would suggest putting together a couple spray bottles of diluted bleach and using those. You end up using less bleach, and it is a little more environmentally conscious.

 

If you do use the bleach in the spray bottles please make sure the is very good ventilation. It in no fun to be standing in a bleachy fog.(This message has been edited by sailingpj)

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Thanks guys, I really appreciate the input.

 

I've seen, in the past, tents and things like nylon packs that have disintegrated when they are stored in a hot attic. As far as I know, the seams are in good shape on the ones we have, and we don't have coatings that are sheeting off, or anything like that. I'd probably toss out the cheap tents in that circumstance.

 

The Timerberlines: I just learned about them at the end of the last meeting. There was at least one, possible more, in a old canvas bag. I don't know their condition, but we'll be checking that out sometime soon. I hope they are still usable. I'd guess their quality is much higher than the department store specials we have.

 

Thanks again for your help.

 

Guy

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Not the cheapest stuff, but for waterproofing tents, try out Scotchguard spray, with any seam sealer for the seams.

 

Both have worked well for me, and are easy to apply.

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One observation on "troop tents" versus "personal tents". The use of personal tents can become problematic if some of your scouts cannot afford a tent. Peer pressure may push a scout to purchase a tent that he or his family can't otherwise afford. Our troop has opted for 100% "troop tents", to the point of not permitting any personal tents - even for adult leaders. Every scout gets to sleep in the same tent - no tent is fancier than any other and family economics do not enter into the equation.

 

Just an observation.

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In terms of personal vs. troop tents, our troop requires below First Class Scouts to use troop tents. After First Class, they can use personal tents.

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Our troop uses Eureka Timberlines exclusively for our scouts. Probably have 25 or so in service. We use a magic marker to write the year and a tent number on the tent body and fly to keep track of them. We just retired some from 1982 this past year.

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