Taking care of your Canvas

This section is about day to day care of your tent, if something more serious needs fixing then have a look in < how to fix your Canvas tent >
Leaks (copied from the fixing your tent page). Possibly a big concern for many people buying older Canvas and one that can actually develop into an issue that wasnt really there if you do the wrong thing. If Canvas is stored in a good dark dry place (like a centrally heated house) the fabric will become bone dry. When it is pitched at the start of the season, or when you just bought it in good faith from Ebay/wherever it will probably leak.That is perfectly normal and not an indicator of a poor tent. Do not reproof the tent thinking that is what it needs, once you start reproofing you have to keep doing it and the tent maybe doesnt need it anyhow. Pitch the tent properly (neatly with all rubbers etc in place anbd doors zipped up) and give it a really good soaking. The Canvas will soak up the water, the fibres will swell and it will possibly shrink a tiny bit (thats why you dont peg it too tight or it will tear itself). Leave it to dry out and soak it again, hey presto no leaks. The process is called weathering and is quite normal for Canvas

Zips, keep clean lubricate with wax or silicone spray put on with a little brush so it doesnt go on the fabrics. Dirt at the bottom near the ground usually is main problem, or loose threads getting caught

Windows will normally come clean with a damp microfibre cloth (no detergents!, see chemicals below) but if the material is beginning to cloud (takes a few years of UV damage) then more drastic measures are needed. Halfords do a cleaner for soft top cars with plastic windows that might help but we dont know what is in it or if it works. Other manufacturers like Fenwicks do a range of caravan and related cleaning products that should be safer to use around a tent

Steel poles ones are susceptible to rusting, bending and fittings packing up, see the < how to fix your Canvas tent>article for info on how to cope with that. Mostly, looking after poles is limited to keeping them clean and undamaged between uses. A decent garage is a good place to store them. The main risk to poles is being bent in storage or during pitching of the tent so be sure to take care

A variety of pole fittings will be present on most tents and these are generally very low maintainence. Of a button slip or spring joiner breaks then these are readily replaced (just make sure you get the right size for your poles)

Wooden poles need a bit more care, they wont like being stored in damp places (much like the Canvas) and wont thank you for hot places either (like a lot of attics in summer) They can also bend if leaned against a wall so try to store them flat

Rubbers eventually crack from UV degredation, not hard to replace. You might find black ones last longer (evidence?) and some people prefer the more modern shock  cord style ones

Pegs need to be cleaned, dried and repacked after each trip, they usually come in peg bags but many people prefer to use tool box or tool bag to store them with the hammer/mallet and peg puller(s) for convenience

Some people remove the guy lines every time they pack away a tent (a larks head knot is useful here), if you dont then make sure they are dry though. Over time they will get mucky and frayed. A reel of guy line is cheap enough and the long ones can be chopped up (throwing away the dirty /frayed bits) to make shorter ones. It helps to melt the ends to prevent unravelling but many better guy lines are made from a core and an outer that can seperate over time - sharp knife and a lighter sorts that out

The groundsheet gets to be the really mucky bit of the tent and many people like to have (or make) a 'footprint' for their tent. This is a sheet of plastic or tarpauline that is put down first when erecting the tent. It keeps the groundsheet clean and protects it, it can also reduce moisture entering the tent. If you need to clean a ground sheet the PVC ones come up fine with a wet cloth or maybe a white non-stick scourer (but no washing up liquid!). The woven polythene ones dont tent to clean as easily but the same approach usually works - much better to get a footprint if your tent has one of these. You can get groundsheet cleaner from Fenwicks, be interested to know if it is any good

While on site (depending on your tent) it can be important to be aware of the changing weather conditions and adjust your tent accordingly. If it is windy the fabric needs to be held gently without flapping rather than tightly and risking stress damage. If the fabric is getting wet from rain (or overnight when dew falls) then the Canvas will tend to shrink, again stressing the fixing points so remember to slacken things off a little

Learning the best way to fold and pack your tent will lengthen its life and reduce difficulties when erecting it on site. Mostly this is common sense, some is personal choice. Certainly dont walk on it while packing away and try to make sure zips and windows are being rolled rather than folded. Try to keep all the mud skirts together so the Canvas doest get mucky. Try to roll towards a door or mesh panel so air doesnt get trapped inside. Some people take their guys off when they pack away (larks head knot) other just make sure they arent going to cause harm. Most tents come with some form of bag, though the quality varies a lot (it still amazes that most Cabanons come in a cheap woven polythene bag but even bargain basement Hypercamps have a proper Canvas bag). If you want a new bag the best things to look for are Awning Bags that are reasonably priced, sometimes Canoe shops sell strong waterproof kit bags for similar money

Chemicals !? Dont use detergents anywhere near a tent (thats washing up liquid, bubble mixture etc). And beware of solvents like WD40 which will harm some plastics and fabrics. Cooking right next to the Canvas and splashing grease onto the material wont look very pretty and you will really struggle to get it off but is doesnt normally harm the waterproofing. Some people even think the chlorine in tap water is bad for Canvas and will only use water that has been stood (eg clean water butt water) or bottle water
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