|Portable garage strength enhancements
This portable garage is 24' long and 10' wide. It was purchased at a wholesale club. Tents like this are
used widely in this area and fail regularly during the winter. Our typical winters yield 75"-100" of snow,
ever year has at least one 12" storm and 20"+ inches in a single storm probably every other year.
Furthermore, the snow does not melt so the snow pack frequently reaches 36" at some point during the
I thought the tent would fail with a heavy snow load by pushing the point of the tent toward the ground.
A close friend of ours had one that failed due to snow load and it failed in a different mode than I would
As the snow slide off the roof it piled next to the side, causing a load on the side that failed the tent with
the point getting farther from the ground and the sides collapsing inward.
Like many projects there was no original intention to put the amount work that ended up being put into
the project. But once you're started, for just a little more work you can do it right. Repeat this thinking
several times and you can easily double the time it takes to do a project. Alas it will be done right or it
least better than it would have been if you didn't do the extra work. In this case the inspiration was not
having the tent collapse; wrecking the tent and the contents.
I clear the snow around the perimeter of the tent on a regular basis. I pull the snow off the roof with a
push broom and then clear that snow away.
You didn't address the failure mode where the walls collapse
If by now if you might be thinking no modifications have been made to address the failure mode stated
above where the walls collapse in and the point of the roof gets higher. You're right, I made no
modifications to address that failure mode. Outside of adding rigid members to the inside of the tent I
didn't think of a good way to modify the tent. By the time I thought about putting rigid members across
the peak of the tent (forming little triangles at the top of the tent) I had the tent largely constructed and
was unwilling to drill bolt holes so close to the tent cover and risk puncturing the cover. Fortunately I
have found clearing the snow from the perimeter to be sufficient.
Expected failure mode
It is clear to me the first thing that will fail on this tent is the cover itself. While it is not in a sunny location,
the sun is still brutal to anything that has to withstand it day after day. November 2006 marks the second
year the tent has been up, I'll be surprised if the cover makes it four years. Maybe I'll have that real
barn constructed by then!