Fifteen years ago, we introduced the first slide-in frame tents tops to the US market. Since then this labor-saving innovation has been copied by nearly every other frame tent manufacturer in the US, and more importantly, has saved countless labor hours for party tent installers.
Despite the now widespread use of slide-in tent tops, we still encounter clients who struggle to take full advantage of this type of tent technology. The following article describes some common pitfalls and tips to make your installation of slide-in tops easier and faster.
Damaged Keder: Torn or damaged keder on your tops can make installation very difficult, and the stresses from pulling tops can quickly lead to additional damage. Tops should be inspected before and after every install for any tears or damage to the keder, and repaired immediately.
The installation of ‘noses‘ to the end of your keder can help prevent damage to fabric keder and aid in pulling, particularly when crossing the small gaps where rafters are spliced or join to crown fittings.
Damaged Track or Crowns: Crushed or dented keder track in your rafters can stop any install dead in its tracks. A keder track repair tool should be in the tool box of every install crew so track can be quickly repaired in the field.
Nicks and burrs in the track or crown can also hang up the pulling process and cause damage to tops. Tracks and crowns should be inspected during frame assembly and any nicks, burrs or sharp edges should be removed using a small file. We like a half inch wide, half round/flat double cut file.
Use of Pull & Return Ropes: High quality pull ropes should be free of knots that might get hung up, be made of a ‘soft’ material that will not abrade hands or gloves, and have a carabineer spliced into the end to save the time of tying and untying knots. We strongly recommend the use of a return rope (clipped to the top while being installed) for dragging the pull ropes back over the tent frame as an important time-saving technique.
Without a return rope, crews will waste valuable time throwing pull ropes back over the ridge or using a lift or ladder to accomplish this task. The length of the ropes depends on the width of the tent being installed. We recommend using 75′ long ropes for frame tents to 50′ wide, made of 5/8″ polyplus rope for pulling, and a 3/8″ rope for the return. Wider structures will require longer ropes.
Use of Keder Feeders:Keder feeders help align the fabric keder with the frame track they are being fed into. Many tent manufacturers offer keder feeders that work with their particular frame system. This additional alignment makes pulling easier and can help to avoid damage to the tops.
Pulling Techniques: An effective install crew needs to work as a team when pulling tops. Typically, two installers will start to feed the leading edge of the tops into the rafter track, then help to straighten and align the top with the track as it is pulled further into the frame
The use of keder feeders may help you reduce your crew size to three installers by eliminating one of these ‘feeder’ roles.
The two installers on the pull ropes should slowly and carefully pull the first 6-8′ of the tops into the tracks to make sure the top is even and square in the frame. They should then pull together using a spoken “1-2-3-Pull” cadence.
When the top is about 1′ from the crown, the pullers should pause, and then prepare to forcefully pull on the top so that there is some momentum as the leading edge enters and passes through the crown.
A common mistake is to miss-time the pull and pause while the leading edge is still in the crown track.
Prior to pulling tops, it is also important to secure the eave straps on the leading edge of the top, so they don’t get snagged on a purlin, ridge tube or roof cable during pulling.
Please call us if you have any additional questions regarding this article. As always, we will provide any technical support you need to increase the return on your Maximizer Tent investment and will continue to drive advancements in frame tent technology as we have for the last 20 years.