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Old 08-14-2009, 08:32 AM   #1
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Hail

We went tent camping in Pennsylvania for my wife's birthday (Blue Knob State Park). During the last night of our stay, we had a pretty heavy storm.

We have a great tent from REI, the "Hobitat." The tent has two very long flexible alloy poles. The poles are actually short sections held together by shock cord, a pretty common design. The tent uses an "X" configuration. The long poles bend 180 degrees, anchoring in the corners of the tent, crossing at the peak. We have a rainfly that goes over top and also anchors at the corners.

I've been thinking about Airstreams and hail (having seen some recent pictures of hail damage). I've also been thinking about how our tent "flexes." We haven't tent camped in a hailstorm (yet), but I would imagine the flex of the poles and the resiliancy of the high performance rainfly would absorb the impact of all but truly monster hail.

Think of the design of a Conestoga wagon, the old "prairie schooner." What if instead of wooden ribs, they were made of flexible alloy or carbon and instead of canvas, a extremely tough, very light, rainproof fabric?

Let's say a person fabricated mounts that would accept a carbon or flexible alloy tent pole. Let's say these mounts were located three or four feet apart at the "knuckle" where the Airstream roof meets the exterior bulkhead. If you had a tent pole of the proper length, tabbed so it wouldn't flop over, you would have a series of flexible "ribs" that might remind you of a Conestoga wagon without the canvas... or a dead fish.

Now, let's imagine the rainfly from our tent except making it about 26' long and about 8' wide. If there was a grommet on each corner, this long piece of fabric could be stretched over the ribs. If you used shock cords to secure it to the front hitch and the rear bumper, it could be pulled taut enough to have a nice "bounce."

To set up this contraption would require two people and something to stand on to insert the poles into the mounts. Once the poles are in, you could "walk" the rainfly over the ribs... kind of like we walk our rainfly over our tent.

This may be a silly idea, and it is no doubt an expensive one. Carbon tent poles aren't cheap nor is a custom rainfly. But would it provide protection from hail? When we get the Overlander back, I'm thining of making a prototype... and just wanted to solicit opinions from the wonderful folks here. Now, where did I put my Mr. Wizard beanie?
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:55 AM   #2
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Not to poo-poo your idea, I've also pondered different ideas. But what about the trailer's sides? Our recent hail storm was wind driven - the hail came sideways, not directly down. Also, it came up with little warning, at night...I doubt you would have a chance to deploy the "Airstream rain fly" in time.

I wish there was a magic cover with a hail sensor. Keep us posted on your prototype...maybe something will come of it.

Shari
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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"Shields up, Mr. Sulu"...

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Old 08-14-2009, 08:58 AM   #4
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it might not stop all hail but it would sure help in the intense sun!
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:12 AM   #5
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No doubt, the rainfly would great reduce the heat on the coach and the "conductive" heat issue of aluminum. The trailer would be "in the shade."

As for sideways hail... wow. About the best my contraption would do is minimize the damage coming mostly from above, absent some sort of "eaves." That's something I would have to think about.

My basic thought was... the whole shooting match would take up very little room. Set up would be a pain, but what isn't? The whole idea is to use the abilty of the flexible poles and the fabric to absorb the impact of the hail rather than dent the aluminum. The shade thing would be an added bonus. Oh, and I would sort of do the "weather channel" thing. If thunderstorms were expected (or it was just darn hot), I would set up. Otherwise, it would be a matter of motivation.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:23 AM   #6
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I can see the advantages of keeping the hail and sun off, but 8 by 26 feet is 208 square feet of sail. Even a small breeze would make putting it up exciting to say the least. Once it is up, how would you secure it?
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:49 AM   #7
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Hate to be a "nay sayer", but I think in the long run the best defense against hail is going to be a good insurance policy.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:52 AM   #8
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perhaps a net with openings sized smaller than dangerously sized hail would be the middle of the road solution?
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:52 AM   #9
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It might be difficult to deploy this Hailfly cover in a timely manner but a prototype would be interesting. Would this be a miniature hailfly and would you be testing it with perhaps ice cubes?

BTW, insurance is mitigation not defense.

Carol
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:32 PM   #10
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All I know is that a hail storm in February left our beloved "Changes in Latitudes" with tiny dimples all about the end of the oncoming storm and across the length of the roof. A temporary hail guard might have protected all but the windward end.
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:55 PM   #11
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Let me describe how I think it would work. Step one, assemble the carbon "ribs." With a helper place the rib ends into the mounting hardware. Once all of the ribs are in, unroll the rainfly. Secure one end of the rain fly to the rear bumper. Person "A" takes a corner on one side. Person "B" takes a corner on the other side. Then they "walk" the rain fly over the ribs by walking towards the front of the trailer. This is essentially what my wife and I do to install the rainfly on our tent, albeit on a much smaller scale. As long as the rainfly goes over (above) the ribs, the two remaining corner move forward until they can be fastened to the tongue. I wouldn't want to do this in gale force winds, but a little breeze would allow you to "flap" the rainfly to get it over all of the ribs smoothly.

I guess it's time to draw something in SketchUp.
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