Thank you for your selection of the DRAGONWING Octagon (11' Round) Pavilion. We are sure that your pavilion will weather many years of service, if you care for it properly. In this manual, you will find details on how to assemble and erect it, and how to care for it.
The frame provided with your DRAGONWING pavilion is a semi-rigid structure designed to keep the tent up in all but the greatest storms, with a minimum of structure and transportation problems. The result of years of continuous refinement, it can be set up by one person in much less than an hour (even in winds), is lighter and easier to transport than those of other manufacturers, and is extremely stable in winds. It consists of a center pole, a ring.made of steel tubing (to define the shape of bottom of the tent’s canopy) and four ropes to tether the ring and center pole together.
FINISHING THE POLES
We have left the finishing of the poles to you, since it reduces your costs and it gives you the opportunity to stain or paint the pieces as you desire. Whatever your preference, it’s worth it to buy the very best finishing medium you can afford. Scrimping on the cost here is always false economy, not only because it gets unsightly a lot quicker, but also because a frame unprotected from the elements will warp and deteriorate very quickly. The friendly attendant at your neighborhood hardware store will be happy to advise you on what you need for the conditions you’ll face in your part of the world. I usually use a good marine "spar varnish" or a polyurethane varnish on the poles I use for my own tents. You may wish to go for a more "period" effect with linseed or tung oils. Whatever you decide to do, do it now, right away, while the wood is still fresh and new. Remember to sand the poles first, to remove any collected grime and give the finish a good surface to stick to.
SETTING UP YOUR PAVILION
Decide where you want to pitch the tent. You want a fairly level, well drained area cleared of rocks and debris. If possible, orient the tent so that the prevailing wind will be coming from behind. That is, the doorway should be on the downwind side of the tent. This orientation allows the tent to resist the wind most effectively.
Lay your ground cloth on the ground exactly where you want to have the tent set up. Assemble the ring and lay it over the ground cloth, making sure that it is centered over the cloth. Please notice that half of the segments have eyebolts attached to them and the other half don’t. When assembling the ring, be sure to alternate the two types so that the eye bolt eyes are evenly spaced apart. Orient the ring so that one of the flat sides is over where you want the door to be.
Spread out the canopy, right side up, over the ring (the apex ball should be on the outside, and the canopy plug should be on the inside. You’ll notice that as you go around the canopy, you’ll see a pair of rope pins with two ropes apiece, followed by a pair of rope pins with one rope apiece. The spaces between the single-rope assemblies are where the doors are going to be. Orient the canopy so that single-rope assemblies are on each side of the flat areas that indicate your doors. If this confuses you, see Figure 3 on the next page..
Remove the cinch pin from the rope pin (that thing that looks like an unthreaded eye-bolt). Put the rope pin through the hole in the ring, from the outside in, and secure the rope pin with the cinch pin. Figure 2 shows what you’re doing here.
Repeat this operation with the other seven rope assemblies.
Now sort out your tent stakes. You’ll find seven long (16") stakes and a larger number of short (12") stakes. The long ones are for the tent guy ropes, and the short ones are used to stake the sidewall to the ground. Set one of the long ones aside for the moment. Untangle the ropes and stretch each one out from the canopy … not directly out, but off at an angle to the right and left. As you follow each rope out from the rope pin, you’ll notice that there’s a handy knot to measure with along each of the guy ropes. Take the ropes from adjacent rope pins so that they cross at their guide knots. The place on the ground underneath the place where the two knots touch is the place where one of the long stakes goes. Drive in the stake there, angling the top of the stake away from the tent as
you drive it in. Loosen the slider a little and slip the loop at the end of each rope over a stake, but don’t tighten anything yet. What you’re doing should look like figure 3.
While you’re looking at figure 3, you’ll notice an extra set of ropes and an extra stake location marked out. These ropes are for the special higher-wind ropes that come with the tent. You probably will never need these lines in normal camping, and it’s nice not to have a stake right at the back door. But if it’s windy, just use the S-hook to attach the wind rope to each of the single-rope assemblies at the back door, and put the extra long stake through the rope’s loop at the bottom. (You did set up the tent with its back to the wind, didn’t you? If you didn’t, or the wind changed, make your front door your back door so you’ll have those wind ropes upwind where they need to be.) Since there’s no adjustment to this rope, don’t drive the stake into the ground until the entire pavilion is set up. I’ll tell you when.
The distance from the ring that the rope knots define is a minimum dimension, by the way. If the winds are strong, make it a little more. (There are additional knots on the other side of the slider which may have to be loosened and retied. Their function is to keep the sliders from sliding down too far.) And for the greatest holding power, remember to drive in the stakes at a 90° angle to the rope, not the ground.
Continue around the ring, stretching out the ropes, using the guide knots to locate where the other five long stakes go. Drive the stakes in and slip the rope’s loop over the stake.
Find the center pole. If it’s in two pieces, put the pieces together. With the top of the pole in hand, crawl under the canopy and locate the wooden plug that the apex ball screws into. That plug goes into the hollow at the top of the pole. Raise the center pole to the vertical position. Don’t be afraid that the whole tent will fall over, because the guy ropes on the stakes will keep the tent stable.
If you have a wind, lift the windward edge of the canopy first, and allow the wind to help you lift the canopy after you’ve fitted the apex plug into the center pole.
Take a break; you’re more than halfway there now, and it’s time to cool off (or warm up) and hydrate. There’s no sense in making an ordeal of this, is there?
HANGING THE SIDEWALLS
You're ready to put up the sidewalls. These are made so that the stake loops should be on the bottom and facing outward. To help you distinguish inside from outside, all the top and bottom hems are folded inward. And the Dragonwing identification label on one of the sidewalls should be on the inside.
Let’s hang the left sidewall (left side as you’re facing out from the tent). (Which one is the left one? It doesn’t matter. Either one will do.) Start where you’re going to have the door. If you have sidewalls with ties, hang the top corner of your sidewalls just to the right of the rope pin on the right side of the door (that is, to your right if you’re in the pavilion, looking out) As you proceed around toward the left, you’ll notice that the hooks are slightly offset from the seams. You want to hang the sidewall so that the seams are lined up with the rope pin holes on the ring. (This keeps the sidewall from wanting to shift around on the ring.) When you get to the last hook, hang it to the left of the bend.
For the second sidewall, you’ll need to overlap a panel. Remember to note which side the ties are on, so you’ll hang the second sidewall so that you can tie the ties together. If you mess up, it’s no big thing; you’ll just have to re-do the overlap so that what was inside is now outside, and vice versa.
If your sidewalls have zippers, the first sidewall starts right in the middle of the flat area that marks your door. (The first panel is actually a half-panel). As you go around to the left, you’ll notice that the hooks are slightly offset from the seams. You want to hang the sidewall so that the seams are lined up with the rope pin holes on the ring. (This keeps the sidewall from wanting to shift around on the ring.) When you get to the last hook, you should be in the middle of the flat area that’s over your back door. You just start the second sidewall where the other sidewall ended.
Now stake down the bottom of the sidewalls, remembering that the pavilion is designed to flare slightly outward at the base. For neatness, close the doors of the pavilion before you start staking. Each stake should be one foot further outward from where it would be if the sidewall was hanging straight down. This feature helps keep the pavilion stable in winds, which is why it was so common on period tents.
If it isn’t windy and you’re tired, you can probably skip the stakes that aren’t located at a panel seam. They’re there for fouler weather.
Once the sidewall stakes are in, see if lifting up on the center pole makes the sidewalls look less wrinkled and saggy. If it does, the center pole is probably in a depression, so you’ll have to shim it up. I usually carry a few pieces of plywood three or four inches square to do this. (The shim also keeps the center pole from sinking into soft ground).
Re-adjust the tent ropes so as to minimize wrinkles in the canopy and sidewalls, and tighten them. You’ll probably have to re-adjust and tighten them periodically, particularly in changes of temperature or humidity, or in winds. To help the sliders from loosening, loop the rope under the hook provided in the slider. If it’s really windy and the ropes insist on loosening, you can wrap the rope and sliders together with string or tape.
Speaking of wind, now is the time to install the ring tethering system. Locate the spring hook installed in the center of each rope and snap it onto one of the eyescrews installed on the center pole. Then attach the snap hooks at each end of the ropes to the nearest eyebolts mounted on the inside of the ring.
Here’s where I keep my promise to tell you when to stake down the wind ropes with that seventh long stake, if you’re going to use them. Now is the time. It’s true that the stake is directly in the path of the back door but, if it’s windy, that door will always be closed anyway.
Now your pavilion is finished! Have a party in it. Invite your friends.
Taking down the pavilion is the reverse of putting it up, except for these points:
When you take down the pavilion, be very careful not to harm the fabric. Be conscious of where the poke-y bits are. Before you lower the center pole, first make sure that the wind prop has been removed.
To loosen the stakes before pulling them out, rotate them a quarter-turn, then back an eighth of a turn.
To keep the guy ropes organized, keep them with the canopy. Just remove the cinch pins, take the canopy off the ring, and re-insert the cinch pins. To keep the guy ropes from tangling together, loop them into a big coil (or fold them into thirds) and tie the coil with a loose overhand knot.
The sixteen-inch stakes we provide for your tent ropes should suffice in all but the windiest weather, or in all but the loosest soil. But if you have an abundance of either condition, or a combination of the two, here are some things you can do to keep yourself connected to terra firma:
Use longer stakes. Many people have pieces of re-bar, 18" or more. My usual preference is to drive a piece of 1" x 2" furring lumber (at least a foot long or so) into the ground, with the wide side facing the tent, and then drive in the tent stake immediately behind it (that is, against the side of the slat that isn’t facing the tent), so that the tent ropes pull the stake tight against the slat. This works because it’s not so much the depth of the stake that counts, but the area of stake that presents itself to the dirt. The slat effectively triples the size of the stake.
Use more stakes. Tie additional lengths of rope to each of the rope pins and run them out to their own stakes. Don’t get them too close to the other stakes.
Increase your footprint. Extend the rope beyond the radius determined by the guide knots on the guy ropes. Enough rope has been provided to let you bring the stakes out over eight feet away from the ring if necessary. The only trouble with this method is that it creates more of a tripping hazard, so make sure the ropes are well flagged.
Use wind lines. These are special ropes that are attached to the center-pole ball before the center pole is raised. They extend out from the tent and then are staked down as far away from the tent as practicable. The idea is to stabilize the top of the center pole in gale-wind conditions and thereby prevent sway. Obviously, this method isn’t something you can easily employ once the tent is erected, particularly if you have to partially dismantle the tent in a freshening storm. So you need to keep track of the weather forecasts, and have the ropes in place when you set up if it looks like it’s going to be a hurricane. On the other hand, Dragonwing pavilions have been through most of the horror-story windstorms you’ve heard about (the famous "Estrella hurricane" of a few years back, the Twenty Five Year Celebration, the Thirty Year Celebration, and innumerable foul-weather Pennsics and tourneys) without needing wind lines at all. I wouldn’t worry much about wind lines, myself.
ODDS AND ENDS
Some SCA kingdom tourney laws require, and we wholeheartedly recommend, that you attach yellow or white flags to the guy ropes to keep your comrades from tripping on them or colliding with them in the dark.
Period pavilion floors can be made of torn-up rugs available at little cost from thrift stores. If you use a slippery plastic ground-cloth underneath them, secure the rugs well against slipping by driving long nails through the rug and ground-cloth into the ground. (If you use cheap, replaceable plastic sheeting, you won't feel so bad about it.)
If you're going to put an ornament or banner over the canopy of your pavilion, don't make it very large or heavy. Higher winds can put a lot of stress on the ornament, and your embellishment may take flight and become an airborne missile.
CARING FOR YOUR PAVILION
The first rule is: make sure that the fabric parts are free from being abraded by anything, particularly when being transported. Keep the stakes in their own canvas bag when you’re not using them.
The second rule is: don’t store the pavilion wet. Although the fabric parts aren’t particularly prone to mildew, the dirt that collect on them is, and will eventually cause discoloration and loss of water and fire-resistance. Find a dry, large area to air the pavilion if you bring it home wet, and make sure it’s dry before you put it into storage. Also, remember that the ropes are made of a natural fiber that may take longer to dry than the fabric, and which will certainly rot if given half a chance. If you must store the pavilion before the ropes are dry, take them off the canopy and dry them separately.
The third rule is: don’t clean the pavilion with anything harsher than warm water and a mild soap or detergent. My rule of thumb is that if it’s mild enough for your hands to be in (like dish soap or shampoo), it’s mild enough for the pavilion. Using anything stronger may damage the water-proofing and fire-retardant properties of the fabric. Also, be sure to rinse the fabric well. And then rinse it again. (This is because sunlight and soap combined will weaken the fabric far worse than either would by itself.)
We wish you many years of happiness in your Dragonwing pavilion. We maintain a photo album of our tents, and would be honored to include yours if you would be so kind as to send us a photograph of your tent as you have it set up for your activities. We are also keen to hear about any customizing of the design which you have performed. Again, happy tourneying!
If you have any questions or comments, or if you would like to know more about our products, feel free to call us at (916) 922-5501 or write us at Dragonwing, P. O. Box 13322,Sacramento CA 95813-3322. If we’re not in, we’ll have a voice-mail/fax machine ready to take your message.
Contents ©1990, 1997, 2003 by Dragonwing