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  1. #1
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Techniques For Make Your Own Shock Cord Tarp Tensioners

    Note: The following instructions for making shock cord tarp tensioners were originally posted on the Yahoo Hammock Camping Group by Youngblood. I am posting them in a thread for the benefit of the members of the forum, with Youngblood's permission.

    Self Tensioning Guylines Made by Attaching Shock Cord to Tarp Guylines

    Using small diameter shock cord tied in parallel with guyline for a tarp is easy to do and helps keep silnylon tarps taut when they stretch. I prefer to attach either 3/32 inch or 1/8 inch diameter shock cord that stretches slightly more than 100%. You need a reasonable balance of tension and stretch and these directions are for shock cord that stretches slightly more than 100%. You can tell how much shock cord stretches by grabbing 5 inches worth and seeing if it stretches to a little over 10 inches (100% stretch) or if it stretches to 15 inches (200%) or more.

    I start out tying my guyline to the tarp pullout using a non-cinching knot like an overhand knot or a bowline. A non-cinching knot will give you a loop to locate a stake very close to the tarp when you want to pitch the tarp with that tie-out very close to the ground. At this point I mark where 12 inches from the tie-out is located on the guyline as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1. Marking 12 Inches on the Guyline.


    Next I insert a 12 inch piece of shock cord into the tie-out such that it is doubled over and 6 inches long with two tails as shown in Figure 2. There is no knot used to tie the ends of the shock cord together at this point, that will be taken care of in a following step when the shock cord is attached to the guyline with a clove hitch knot.

    Figure 2. Insert the Shock cord Through the Tie-out.



    Now, we from a clove hitch knot at the 12 inch mark on the guyline, preferably using the two loop method, where you form two identical loops then place the second one underneath the first one as shown in Figure 3.

    Figure 3. Form a Clove Hitch Knot.


    The two ends of the shock cord are inserted in the loops of the clove hitch as shown in Figure 4

    Figure 4. Inserting the Two Ends of the Shock Cord into the Loops of the Clove Hitch Knot.


    Finish the clove hitch knot by cinching it on the two tails of the shock cord leaving approximately 1/2 inch tails as shown in Figure 5.

    Figure 5. Finished Clove Hitch Knot Attaching Shock Cord to Guyline.


    At this point, I attach my stake with a clove hitch to the guyline where I want the stake located for the particular pitch I am using with my tarp. When this self tensioning guyline is initially pulled taut, it looks like Figure 6. In the morning that same line may look more like Figure 5 if it has taken up a lot of tarp stretch.

    Figure 6. FullyTaut Self Tensioned Guyline.



    This technique gives you visual indication of how much stretch the self tensioning guylines are taking out of the tarp and gives you two easy to use stake-out locations when you are pitching your tarp close to the ground, as shown in Figures 7 and 8. Of those two techniques, Figure 8 locates the tarp closer to the ground but does not use the shock cords to take up any stretch in the tarp.

    Figure 7. Using the Shock cord as a Stake Location.

    Figure 8. Using the Non-cinching Loop on the Guyline for a Stake Location.


    It should be noted that self tensioning guylines used with stakes is a loaded sling shot with a sharp projectile. Be careful and hold on to the stake when the self tensioning guyline is tensioned. I use stakes that have smooth round shafts and attach the stake to the guyline using a clove hitch because it is easy to tie with the two overlapping loop technique and the clove hitch knot will simply fall out when I slide it down and off the shaft of the smooth round stake. They also stay attached to the guyline until I slide them off; I personally feel it is safer that way. Be careful and set your stake firmly in the ground so that it doesn’t have a tendency to pull free and launch itself with the self tensioned guylines. The 3/32 inch and 1/8 inch shock cord isn’t particularly strong and you don’t have a long throw with the doubled over 12 inch piece so it shouldn’t be an accident waiting for a place to happen if you take reasonable precautions. I have done this without accident and without losing a stake for many years but I have heard of stakes being launched and lost as well as tarps torn and people getting minor injures from stakes attached to shock cord striking an arm or hand.

    One should be particularly careful when removing tensioned stakes from the ground as they want to shoot towards the tarp like a sling shot and if you are bent down where your face is in range of the sling shot you are putting yourself in a bad position. That is probably your most vulnerable time, removing a tensioned stake from the ground. I try to keep one hand on the stake, one hand on the free end of the guyline, and stand on the safe side of the stake when I remove them… you are on the safe side when the stake is between you and the tarp. Always remember that the sling shot is pointed towards the tarp and it can’t get you if you keep the stake between you and the tarp. I keep that in mind and practice that religiously whether I am inserting a tensioned stake into the ground or removing it from the ground… you need to respect them as they can jump out and get you. If you are not comfortable dealing with tensioned guylines attached to a stake, you should not use them…you don’t have to have tensioned stakes to use tarps, they simply have some advantages in that they help keep a tarp taut without readjustments and less likely to droop, flap or get damaged in high winds.

    (Both the 1/16 inch diameter guyline and 3/32 inch diameter shockcord used in these instructions can be purchased from Speer Hammocks at www.speerhammock.com . )

    December 7, 2007
    Last edited by headchange4u; 03-25-2008 at 19:23.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  2. #2
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Note: The following instructions for making shock cord tarp tensioners were originally posted on the Yahoo Hammock Camping Group by Youngblood. I am posting them in a thread for the benefit of the members of the forum, with Youngblood's permission.

    Two Loop Method of Tying a Clove Hitch Knot

    The two loop method of tying a clove hitch knot is my preferred method of attaching shock cord to guyline to make a self tensioning guyline. It is also how I attach my round stakes to the guyline of my tarps.

    Figure 1 shows the two loops as they are first formed. Note that it is important that both loops are the same and that they are formed in a counter clock wise direction where the last part of the loop is on top of the beginning part of the loop

    Figure 1. Form Two Loops




    The second step is simply to position the loop on the right underneath the loop on the left to form a common ‘double loop’ as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2. Overlap the Two Loops


    The third step is to insert whatever object you want to form the clove hitch onto; in Figure 3 the two free ends of a loop on shock cord are shown.

    Figure 3. Insert Object Into the Two Overlapped Loops


    Figure 4 shows the cinched clove hitch knot finished off by pulling the two ends tight.

    Figure 4. Finished Clove Hitch Knot
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  3. #3
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    This is how I make my shock cord tensioners. It's a little different method than Youngblood's but it achieves the same results.

    Start out with approx. 12" of shock cord and approx. 5 1/2 feet of guy line:


    Tie a bow line knot in the end of the cord. This is what should attach the guy lines to your tarp. About 12" form the bow line also add a loop in the guy line:


    Next take the shock cord through the loop in the guy line and tie a double fisherman's knot to form a loop:



    To finish, stretch the shock cord loop toward the bow line end of the guy line. Once to have found the maximum stretch of the shock cord loop, tie it off to the guy line at this point. This will create a limiter that will keep the shock cord from breaking:


    A set of 4 of these shock cord tensioners (about 5' long each) weighs about .9 oz.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  4. #4
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Great info!

  5. #5
    Peter_pan's Avatar
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    STL length

    HC4U, et al,

    Personally, for a year round solution I prefer lines that are about 9-10 feet long....With this length I can frequently reach a sapling, bush log or rock to make a convient tie out without resorting to a peg.... Also reaching saplings etc is nice in warmer weather when I want higher tarp edges for better ventilation....

    Pan
    Ounces to Grams.

    www.jacksrbetter.com ... Largest supplier of camping quilts and under quilts...Home of the Original Nest Under Quilt, and Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock. 800 595 0413

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    I'm using the last version of these tensioners out here on the AT and they are doing great! Have had lots of folks ask about them and a few have bought shockcord at the outfitters to make their own. Great job HC4U!
    Trust nobody!

  7. #7
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    I can't take all the credit.


    I do like Youngblood's technique better than the one I had been using.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  8. #8
    Hooch's Avatar
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    I finally did it. Yay! I tied in shock cord tarp tensioners on my SWT using Youngblood's method just a little bit ago. Way easy, so if I can do it anyone can. I tied a tight overhand knot on the ends of the shock cord as a little added extra insurance policy against the guyline sliiping off the shock cord. I'll get pics at the Gorge this weekend and post when I get back. Many thanks to Youngblood for sharing his method and HC for making a separate thread so I could see how to do it since my computer couldn't open the document. Thanx again, guys!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Splat's Avatar
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    That's a sweet idea! I'm going to implement that whenever my tarp...and hammock...and everything else gets here!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Annie's Avatar
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    Got it

    I bought shockcord yesterday and I"m going to add these.
    Thanks!

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