Steel/PVC hybrid canopy?

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Steel/PVC hybrid canopy?

Postby TomServo » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:17 am

I've never used PVC in a main shade structure. I've used these fittings: http://www.creativeshelters.com/Fitting ... kStyle=Low along with steel conduit, with excellent results on the playa. I've been wondering if PVC could be used, in place of the steel tubing, to reduce weight. It would be a rigid structure, and my main concern is the PVC cracking or snapping, under load vertically and horizontally...as opposed to a bent monkey hut or dome structure, that moves somewhat, with the wind. Any of this make sense? And...If PVC is a viable option, what grade should I look for?
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Postby Snow » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:43 am

My gut feeling is that I'd stay away from PVC for those type of fittings/structures. For one thing the tubing sizes aren't going to be the same as steel (they will work but you might have to use a different size fitting). Clamping the PVC with a bolt will crush it (that happens with steel too though). But if you were to try it that I'd say go with sch80 PVC. And honestly sch80 PVC isn't going to be all that much lighter than EMT in the end.

Higher schedule PVC is stronger than lower. We often used sch80 in our water treatment systems. The dark gray PVC (sch 80 and 120) is more resistant to break down by UV light. the white PVC turns brown and brittle with too much UV exposure over time. you can also paint your PVC if its going to be outside a lot. I would't really worry too much about that for burn items as they are only out for a weekish (unless you store them outside in full sun)
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Postby Bob » Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:52 pm

If it worked and were economical, you'd see more PVC awnings and carports on your internets, wouldn't you? Not that 1" EMT is necessarily a much better structural material, just sayin'.
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Postby TomServo » Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:22 pm

Bob wrote:If it worked and were economical, you'd see more PVC awnings and carports on your internets, wouldn't you? Not that 1" EMT is necessarily a much better structural material, just sayin'.


I have, usually its the other way around, with Plastic fittings and metal tubing...but normally so weak, I wouldn't use it in my back yard. 1" steel conduit works just fine on the playa, is just a bit heavier than PVC.
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Postby Snow » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:27 pm

I think if you wanted to use PVC i'd use a shelter designed to use it's properties, like the monkey hut
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Postby TomServo » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:47 pm

Snow wrote:I think if you wanted to use PVC i'd use a shelter designed to use it's properties, like the monkey hut


The aforementioned canopy company, does sell fittings for PVC canopies. The fittings, basically the same ones you'll find at any home depot. The steel fittings accept larger diameter tubing....thus my interest in this idea. Maybe Ill try it out in July. As for the locking bolts, I can pre drill the PVC....and mark each pipe and fitting joint.
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Postby Snow » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:54 pm

I have seen some really nice structures put together with those fittings and EMT. One of our village camps had a huge structure bigger than a barn for all their tents. It worked great.
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Postby peachandpapa » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:53 am

Though heavy, stick with the steel or even the aluminum conduit. We used sch80 PVC on a 30x20 canvas structure and it ended up having a good bend in it after one week on the playa, especially the lateral supports. It worked well, but for only one burn. Why worry...use the steel!
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:57 am

Bob wrote:If it worked and were economical, you'd see more PVC awnings and carports on your internets, wouldn't you? Not that 1" EMT is necessarily a much better structural material, just sayin'.


They don't use EMT either, do they? :)
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Postby ¡Niers! » Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:17 pm

In 2009, one of my campmates made a shade structure out of PVC.
It was a really cool dome-like structure covered with a parachute.
Really neat structure, but after the sun had been out in full strength, the PVC got heated up and started to become flimsy. By about 2pm? on day one, the whole thing collapsed.
We all kept trying to reconfigure it to no avail.
Good thing I brought my emt dome.
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Postby The CO » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:16 am

I did a custom design & built A-frame type structure last year. Frame was entirely 1" SCH40 PVC, except for the legs. It held up fantastic, but it was purpose built for the playa. It's all about how the frame is loaded.
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