Archive for May, 2012

Looking after your marquee

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Looking after your marquees is a fundamentally sensible idea for running a marquee hire business. The longer a marquee lasts the longer you’ll have a return on your investment before phoning those lovely DIY Marquee people to order a new one.

The biggest factor is keeping your kit dry. Putting PVC away wet will age it a lot quicker than necessary whilst obviously any metalwork kept in a damp environment would become tarnished far quicker.

It’s PVC that needs the most looking after. If it’s consistently put in an abrasive environment then it can obviously wear through (parents who have been to an old soft play area will know that one) but the most common way is the coated layers of the fabric breaking down with dirty water getting inbetween and drying – this leads to black marks left inside the PVC which is impossible to remove.

If you see old marquees at country fairs etc then they will often have this ‘black spot’ in their walls and roofs.

How to avoid this aging:

  • Start off with a good quality PVC. For example there are 101 different version of 500gsm, the one we use shouldn’t become brittle or break down as quickly as the cheaper end of the 500gsm  PVC range. This is the same across the whole range of PVC materials, going for a good quality fabric will save you money in the long term
  • Don’t put the PVC away wet if you can avoid it and certainly don’t keep it stored for a long time when damp
  • Don’t fold the PVC in the same place every time. A waterproof coat will leak first on the inside of the elbows, this is because it is forever under stress creasing and re-creasing in the same place. If you keep folding walls and roofs using the same fold lines then that is where the layers will crack first and you’re aging your marquee prematurely – use different fold lines or roll them up.

Thanks for reading, and remember – look after your broom marquee

Spencer

Erecting aluminium frame marquees

Monday, May 21st, 2012

As their companies expand a lot of our customers simply expand their stock of DIY Marquees and take on more jobs of similar size. A lot of expanding customers wish to offer larger marquees than ours and venture in to aluminium frame marquees to run along side their existing DIY Marquees. There are merits to either path and we’re very happy to see people we’ve helped along the way succeed. We also get asked (and are happy to supply) advice on aluminium framework despite not supplying them, it seems there are a lot of suppliers who give you a brief diagram, a pat on the back and send you on your way!

So assuming you can follow the brief diagram for assembly these are some tips to save learning along the way:

  • Buy some hard hats. Do it now. I’ve never seen anyone hit on the head with one of our DIY Marquees. I have seen many people hit on the head using aluminium frame marquees (generally putting purlins in), the likeliest candidates are those new to it. It’s also useful to have whoever’s in charge in a different colour hat.
  • Leave the footplates and eave knuckles bolted on to the legs
  • Have two bolts in each leg so any leg can be used for scissors/cross-braces
  • Have spare bolts for putting the framework together, you will lose some especially if transported in trailers where it bounces around a bit
  • Don’t slide the legs or roof beams on metalwork (especially something like a roof-rack) it scratches the metalwork and ages it rapidly
  • The supplier should have given you a purlin lifter (long pole with a ‘U’ or ‘G’ at the top), one person hooks the purlin in and the other uses the purlin lifter to slot in the other end. When the purlin is in the lifter twisting it slightly will grip the purlin tightly
  • Start at one end of the marquee doing a bay at a time and have the hooks of the purlins facing the bays you haven’t done. This way the person hooking the purlins in can lean the frame back or forth if required (this makes sense when you’re doing it!)
  • Make sure the marquee framework and roofs are completely square, if not your marquee will leak! Trust me I know this from experience (with a lot of head scratching), this is also the reason that all of our DIY Marquee roofs are in one piece (if you’re under it, you’re waterproof). This is probably the trickiest part of erecting aluminium frames to learn, it takes experience to get it right but you must must do it. A leaking marquee is no good to anyone
  • The roofs are pulled on with ropes, your supplier should have given you some but if not just make them out of 8mm rope (spend some money and get nice soft rope rather than polyprop) and tie a clip on the end. You need at least 2 ropes each a bit wider than your marquee
  • Take it easy lifting the frames, especially the larger 12m+ ones so you don’t end up with a back injury like mine. It’s a very very heavy bit of kit and can be tricky to lift without bending your back but persevere.
  • On a similar note invest in a stake puller, our J shape ones can be knocked side to side a bit to take out but the straight ones in aluminium frames are a lot trickier so a stake puller is money well spent (you’re spending a fortune on the marquee just spend a little more!)

That’s all the main points I can remember about the shells of the marquees, no doubt there are a lot more tips to learn when doing it. There are more to do with the linings and once you’re familiar then there’s a few more advanced options – you can put up an aluminium frame (with all linings, flooring & lighting) without any steps for example.

Apologies if this doesn’t make any sense to most of our customers but it’s worth bookmarking for the future in case you’re considering expanding in the future.

Thanks for reading (sorry no blog last week due to family holiday)

Spencer

Seasonal weather

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Working outdoors as a marquee erector you become a little more conscious of the weather than most. As mentioned previously when helping to plan weddings I found it useful to take along a list of that years sunset times to help plan lighting etc.

In my experience (obviously this is purely my experience with no scientific facts to back it up) the year generally takes the following pattern:

  •  Jan & Feb – obviously cold. Allow for maximum heating at all times
  • March – can be surprising and we often have 1 or 2 very good weeks (this year was a perfect example) so heating and wet weather planning is tricky
  • April – showery albeit not usually as bad as this year
  • May – events in early May are pushing their luck a bit, generally the weather is only reliably good by the end of the month (yes I’m aware this could come back to haunt me in 3 weeks time but I’m talking in general terms!)
  • June & July – reliably (as far as British summers allow) good, heating unlikely
  • August – can get surprisingly chilly later in the evening and we would often have heaters out just to take the chill off any non-dancing area
  • September – we often get 1 or 2 weeks of really good weather mid-September but by the end the weather has usually dropped
  • October & November – cold but not reliably so. The last 3 years at The Showmans Show (mid October) have been T-shirt wearing sunshine, then crowded round heaters and last year was rain. You can get anything.
  • December – reliably cold

Why is this useful? Well if you’re doing a business plan and wondering about buying heaters you might consider getting enough heating for March/November weather but hiring in the extra heaters you need for winter. Why do it like this? Well this way your heaters could get used 6-8 months of the year but the extra ones needed to supplement these for winter would only be needed for 2-3 months (also the quietest marquee hire months). Hopefully I’ve explained what I mean but if not please let me know 🙂

Thanks for reading

Spencer