Saturday, November 1, 2008

Winterizing a 20 foot yurt for 40 below (F and C)

First model gertee waits for spring rescue

RadiantGUARD roof insulation

Extra layers along the walls and floor

It's been getting down to 20 below F. every night and it was freezing in here even with a roaring fire and the fan on. This new yurt is sitting on a 20x24 foot wooden platform with no insulation and was originally designed to be used as a summer museum at Camp Redington. I moved in here at the end of the summer. I've had some serious challenges, what with the big wind and the foot of leaking snow, but I think I've managed to avert any future crises in these areas. One thing is for sure, these little huts were absolutely designed to stand up to the wind. I have a lot more confidence after that last big storm. It blew shingles off people's roofs around here and sent some pretty big things flying across yards. Everytime I run into one of the old locals out here they make sure I know they noticed I didn't blow away. (They notice I have wood now too.)

The RadiantGUARD arrived and changed everything. I order it direct from the manufacturer in Texas. It cost me $129.00 for 1000 square feet plus $20 S&H. There is nothing comparable on the local market and I made sure I looked. Insulation is VERY expensive normally so this stuff is a real find. Once on the ceiling it warmed up 10 degrees at face level, but then the cold air rerouted itself downward and came hissing across the floor and froze my feet. So next I put a layer of RG along the walls and floor and then covered it with another 18 inch wide layer of wool (the ironing board covers we got from the military). Next I'll cut pieces of carpet and secure the edges. It's already amazingly warmer inside tonight (14 below outside at 9pm) and it's incentive to keep working on this cumbersome job. I feel like I've been building and rearranging for over 2 years, because I have. And of course we'll be moving it somewhere else after break-up.

Now I think I understand how to layer the materials, even though I still can't do it properly since everything outside is frozen stiff. Put the RG on top of the ceiling beams (rather than slide it under the beams like last winter) so there's an inch or so of air space behind it. Now the outside roof covers will stay frozen until spring so there shouldn't be any more leaks. The key is (for those like me who didn't know this already) is to make sure the outer layer of the roof stays the same temperature on both sides. Then, ideally I would have a layer of plastic on the inside of the RG (for a vapor barrier) and another layer of materials over that. I'm going to just cover the RG on the roof with a patchwork of materials I cut up or find. In the spring I'll try to get the new roof tarp up before it gets warm enough to melt and drip through again.

The ACL is ready for Trick-or-treaters!"

first of the recycled RG going up on the roof

Laying up sheets of RG, attached with 1/2 inch staples

I have one more layer to put up over the RG because they say it can combust if there's direct sunlight on it and I'm assuming there's some degree of danger from the woodstove heat too. So if anyone has access to 3 to 20 yards pieces of materials (felt and wool will hold more heat but any fabrics I get are going up) then we'd sure appreciate your sending them to us USPS Parcel Post or Priority Mail which is the cheapest way for most shipped items out here. UPS can be outrageous! My mailing adress here is:

Niki Raapana
HC 60 Box 326-A
Copper Center, AK 99573, USA

My blessings come in the most unusual ways. I'm pleased to say that Philip Jones and I have not only reconciled my angry reaction to his articles, in the course of working things out we've found we share the same basic reasons for doing our work. He's a very nice man and I'm honored to say we have another contributor to 2020, the next time we go to print it will include a British/Danish/European perspective. I'll also make pdf copies of the additions and make it available to everyone who has already purchased a previous edition.

We're working on Jack's book again, and I think we may just be warm and comfortable enough to relax and work on it together, in peaceful harmony. Heh. We love his book idea and it inspires me to think about the ways this work has changed my life, and what it does to the soul.


Larry said...

I feel like a wimp reading this stuff. My wife says I'm nuts just because I camp out in the tent for a couple of days in the winter here in Connecticut.

the tent lady said...

It get's nasty cold where you are too, I went to UMass and spent a lot of time wondering why I didn't go to Arizona state instead.

As for wintercamping, tell your wife there's no bugs in the winter besides the occassional spider. If you have an inside tent stove you can be outside long enough to be happy you have a warm tent waiting. and there's nothing like listening to the stillness on a cold, clear, starlit night when the northern lights appear. You oughta try it in alaska sometime, not many people can say they've camped up here in 40 below. It's spectacular.