After five years, the vinyl windows in our Super Ger toono (the compression ring or dome) finally gave out. We had a little spring hail storm roll through and the brittle vinyl couldn’t take the abuse. With more rain in the forecast, we had to hustle to make the fix. Check out the step-by-step below!
We set up our Groovy Yurts Super Ger in June 2016, so we were just shy of hitting the five year mark with the original outfit. At the time we bought our yurt, they had just started offering the plexiglass panels, but we decided against the added expense. The traditional ger doesn’t have any panes, so we compromised with the basic upgrade. Now, there are a variety of configurations for the Groovy Yurts toonos.
With 50-degree temperature differentials commonplace here at Sahalee, the extremes of Northern New Mexico weather finally broke down the integrity of the clear vinyl so we brought the three window frames down to the garage for an overhaul.
Ben was called out to work a fire, so Carey got busy tearing off the old flashing and vinyl. There was a lot of sticky adhesive residue to remove and a good portion of the weather-beaten wood had cracked. After scraping off the chunks with a 5-in-1 and rubbing paint thinner over the frame with a denim rag, a good sanding with 80 grit paper gave us something to work with.
A couple of the joints on the wide ends needed a little tap with the hammer to make tight again. This was the first time I tried wood filler out of a tube and it worked pretty well to apply and really filled in the large gaps. I left the filler to dry overnight and it sanded off nicely. We did have a little of the original orange paint saved somewhere, but I ended up just using some barn red stain that we had on hand from another project.
The original flashing was pretty nice, some sort of thin aluminum-covered shingle material that was easy to cut and conform to the curves. We weren’t sure where to find that here in the states so we tried to work with what we had available. I was toying with the idea of cutting strips off of the old wall paneling that we started taking down in the casa, but then thought the interior material probably wouldn’t hold up very well in the weather. Instead, it seemed like a perfect fit to use the painted wood furring strips holding up the acoustic ceiling tiles since we had them available from previous demo. Though they were a little more rigid, the were already the perfect width and pliable enough. I used the old trim pieces from the frames as patterns to cut them to size and put a clear coat on the new pieces to help make them a little more weather-resistant.
Before I cut the new clear vinyl pieces to fit, I used the frame to trace and cut the shape from an old dog food bag. We found the vinyl at Joann Fabrics for $8.99/yard. It’s not marine grade but was labeled as being good for outdoor applications. I’m not sure of the specific thickness, but it was the heaviest type they had in clear and seemed real close to what was used in the original panels. There was also a grey-tinted clear vinyl at the store, but I figured ours would turn that color naturally after sitting underneath the stovepipe. We bought a yard and a half which was probably twice as much as this replacement required, but at least we’ll have a supply on hand for if and when another repair is needed.
Camping Gear & Food
There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors than by packing up a backpack and hitting your local hiking trail.
Carry enough food and water to see yourself through the entire trip.
The original flashing was attached with upholstery tacks and while I tried to be gentle and save them during the strip-down, many were rusted and came out bent. We didn’t think to pick up any new fasteners while we were in town, so I just worked with what was on the shelf in the garage. The salvaged roofing nails were too thick in my estimation. I ended up pre-drilling holes and using the pan head wood screws. I found an old unopened tube of some multi-purpose adhesive to glue the vinyl onto the frame before adding the furring strips, and I used it like caulking to seal the seams on the backside.
All-in-all, the job went pretty smoothly and didn’t cost a bundle. I did split the wood in a couple of places when putting the screws in too close to the edges, but I reset the screws, filled with glue, and the frames did fit back in to the toono just fine. We are planning to glue them in this time around anyway to help stop water leaks in heavy rains. Originally, we left the window frames unsecured so we could pop the windows up to vent the yurt in the summer, but we found we never really did that and experienced some water dripping in places where we couldn’t draw the urgh (canvas toono cover) completely over the windows.
With any luck, we will have a good monsoon season, so it was fortuitous that we could make the necessary repairs before the rains arrive. As ‘Yurt Daddy’ Yves said in the video at top, the toono is a yurt’s most sacred part and the most important. Living in the round under an open skylight for these past few years has really instilled in us a sense of connection to the natural world and universe above. We watch the sun travel overhead during the day and sleep under the starlit sky. The tree branches waver in the breeze and the hummingbirds have at times been brave enough to fly in the front door and out through the roof. Our home at Sahalee is a sacred place, and it feels really great to give it some careful attention so we can have an enchanting view for another several years to come.