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Further Refinements

The instructions so far have shown how to make the basic ger, complete in itself and ideal for most uses. However, if you wish to use your yurt as a permanent home or in extreme weather conditions some further refinements may be desirable.

Door

A solid wooden door which can be locked greatly improves the security and comfort of the ger. A double brace and rail door, made with tongue and grooved pine and permanently fitted to a frame of 2"x2" (50x50mm) pine can be made in less than a day at a cost of about £25 (refer to a carpentry book for instructions). Make the frame the same height as the yurt door frame with its inside width 2 inches (50mm) narrower, so that it overlaps the door entrance by an inch (25mm) either side. Screw four blocks onto the back of the frame so that they fit snugly into the inner door frame (with the cover fitted). Attach bolts or pieces of wood on pivots to the blocks to hold the door firmly in place.

Windows

Windows can be sewn into the wall or crown cover. A wall fitted window is easiest to make separately and then sew it into an appropriately sized hole cut in the canvas. Make the clear plastic window with a two inch (5cm) frame and reinforce it with canvas or webbing sewn horizontally and vertically every six inches (15cm). A canvas blind which can be held open with tapes and shut with Velcro is a simple and useful addition.

Insulation

Thick felt is the traditional insulating material. Old carpets, underlay, blankets, horticultural fleece, or bubble wrap can also be used. The insulation is sandwiched between the frame and cover. The insulation is held firmly in place and need only be cut roughly to size.

Decoration

The crown, roof poles and door are typically painted in bright colours using traditional patterns (Douglas, 1962 shows good views of these designs). The khana may be painted or hung with wall hangings. Traditionally, rugs are placed on the floor and there is an alter at the rear.

Extreme weatherproofing

For summer use the ger will stand up to most weather without being anchored to the ground. for extra security three or four ropes can be tied to the roof cover securing rope. These ropes can be tied down to strong wooden tent pegs driven into the ground. On an exposed site or in preparation for winter gales three foot (1m) wooden stakes should be driven into the ground inside the yurt near the door and at the khana junction. The frame can be securely tied to these stakes. To secure the cover four ropes 25 feet (7.5m) long should be tied together in the form of a giant noughts and crosses grid. This can be thrown over the yurt and pegged down tightly at eight points.

If the ger is likely to have to bear the weight of a thick snow covering two upright poles with 'T' shaped tops (which can be tied to the crown) should be fitted to support the crown. These poles are

traditionally brightly painted and always kept in place.

Fire

A fire or stove is a pleasant luxury during the summer and a necessity for winter use. It is however, as with any tent, potentially very dangerous to light a fire in the yurt do so at your own risk. A few precautions and modifications can reduce this risk. The fire or stove is traditionally placed in the centre of the yurt directly below the crown, in a small yurt this location might prove too intrusive so a stove can be placed towards the side. A traditional open fire with smoke leaving through the crown seems like a pleasant idea but the yurt rapidly fills with thick smoke and so is completely impractical, this problem can be reduced slightly by using charcoal but make sure there is plenty of ventilation.

A metal woodburning stove is a much more practical solution. The smallest stove will provide more than enough heat. Both the stove and the flue-pipe will become extremely hot during use and any combustible material (wood or canvas) in contact with these will catch fire. Wood or canvas within a few inches of the stove or flue-pipe will rapidly char. To reduce any fire risk it is necessary to keep the flue-pipe separated from the frame and cover. This is achieved by making a collar of aluminium sheet. For a central stove remove one of the eight crown spokes and fill the gap with a piece of aluminium with a hole cut in it to take the flue-pipe. A similar aluminium sheet must be sewn or joined with Velcro to the crown cover. The use of Velcro allows the aluminium to be replaced with waterproof canvas or plastic if the stove is not in place. For a side mounted stove leave a space of at least 12 inches (30cm) between the stove and the wall. Remove one of the roof poles above the stove to leave a gap, cut a hole in the canvas in this space. Cut out an 18 inch (45cm) square of aluminium sheet with a round hole in the centre to take the flue-pipe. Smooth the edges and corners and bend the sides down slightly with the fold two inches (50mm) from the edge. Use Velcro to join this sheet to the canvas, make a flap in the cover to overlap this plate and allow water to run off ( Fig.11).

Aluminium collars to prevent hot flue-pipe burning yurt

Figure 11. Aluminium collars to prevent hot flue-pipe burning yurt.

Steam bending

If you prefer the Kirgiz design of yurt with its bent roof and wall poles you will need to do some steam bending. A steam box consists of a long wooden box or large diameter plastic pipe with a small hole at one end to let the steam out and a pipe at the other to let steam in. The steam is provided by a very large water filled kettle or five gallon (20 litre) metal drum place over a fire, a pipe carries steam from this boiler to the steam box. The poles are placed in the box and steamed for 40 minutes to an hour. While still hot the poles must be bent to the require shape around a former and held or clamped there until cool. Make sure the steam has somewhere to escape from the system or there will be an explosion, also guard against burns from hot water, steam and fire

Timber floor

If the yurt is to be used as a semi-permanent dwelling a timber floor raised two inches off of the ground on bearers of treated 2"x2" (50x50mm) timber will improve comfort greatly. Make the floor to fit exactly, from plywood, chipboard or toungue and grooved pine. By drilling holes in the bottom of the door frame and in the floor in front of the stove air to feed the fire is drawn under the floor, rather than through any gaps in the yurt, reducing draughts and further improving comfort.




"It is just a delight more and more to discover and to settle in the yurt. We feel finally arrived home." K&L (Austria, 2003)

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