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  1. #1
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Default Sun lit shelters, leaky roofs

    Over the years several have praised the skylights on many Maine shelters, that allow the sun into the remote recesses of the Adirondak style leantos used in Maine. Others have cursed the rain that often leaks in around these skylights. Those who think a shelter should protect users from rain have won. This summer the MATC campsite committee has begun removing the skylights because of the numerous complaints of them leaking whenever it rains, and the inability to find a sealant that works. This month the skylights were removed from two leantos -- Pleasant Pond and Baldpate. The skylight will be removed from the Bemis Shelter on August 27. The remaining skylights on nine other shelters will come out within three years, the committee reports.

    The skylights are an innovation that failed. The skylights have "proven to be leaky, fragile, and faded," the committee says in a report in the club's newsletter, the "MAINEtainer." which went to press today. The old corrogated plastic is carefully removed, along with multiple layers of duct tape, and multiple layers of goop, "some white, some black, some gray," providing evidence of the numerous attempts to prevent leaking.

    New metal inserts are being eased in to prevent future leaks. It's not an easy chore. The heavy 4 foot by 12 foot metal replacement panel had to be carried up a steep hill and along two miles of trail from the nearest trailhead to reach the Baldpate leanto in Grafton Notch.
    Last edited by weary; 07-29-2011 at 16:51. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    In 2009, I added to the duct tape collection around several of these skylights. It was interesting to see the duct tape trail growing closer and closer to the back of each shelter roof as the water found its way around the adhesive in each strip. In one shelter, all attempts at plugging the peak were futile, and I used my tent footprint and a bit of cord to construct a channel for the water to run out to the front of the shelter away from the sleep platform.

    I imagine the skylights would have been quite nice on days and nights without rain. Since I had no such experience, I can only imagine.

  3. #3
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    Has anyone contacted the folks who added the "sunroofs" to the shelters in the Smokies? They have greatly added to the visibility in the shelters and none have leaked during the times I have been in them during rain.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  4. #4
    Registered User Carl in FL's Avatar
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    Once there is a hole, there is a hole. The water did not leak through the skylight,
    it leaked around the skylight. It will now leak around whatever replaces the skylight.

  5. #5
    Registered User DLANOIE's Avatar
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    I want to say thank you to all the VOLUNTEERS who help with this project. Not an easy task by any means! I myself have carried a piece of roofing up to the Horns Pond Leanto on the Bigelows. Although I dont think mine was 12' long! OMG!
    skinny d

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by weary View Post
    Over the years several have praised the skylights on many Maine shelters, that allow the sun into the remote recesses of the Adirondak style leantos used in Maine. Others have cursed the rain that often leaks in around these skylights. Those who think a shelter should protect users from rain have won. This summer the MATC campsite committee has begun removing the skylights because of the numerous complaints of them leaking whenever it rains, and the inability to find a sealant that works. This month the skylights were removed from two leantos -- Pleasant Pond and Baldpate. The skylight will be removed from the Bemis Shelter on August 27. The remaining skylights on nine other shelters will come out within three years, the committee reports.

    The skylights are an innovation that failed. The skylights have "proven to be leaky, fragile, and faded," the committee says in a report in the club's newsletter, the "MAINEtainer." which went to press today. The old corrogated plastic is carefully removed, along with multiple layers of duct tape, and multiple layers of goop, "some white, some black, some gray," providing evidence of the numerous attempts to prevent leaking.

    New metal inserts are being eased in to prevent future leaks. It's not an easy chore. The heavy 4 foot by 12 foot metal replacement panel had to be carried up a steep hill and along two miles of trail from the nearest trailhead to reach the Baldpate leanto in Grafton Notch.
    my tent never leaks. shelters just don't belong

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    my tent never leaks. shelters just don't belong
    I'm with LW on this one.
    "Take another road to another place,disappear without a trace..." --Jimmy Buffet

  8. #8
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl in FL View Post
    Once there is a hole, there is a hole. The water did not leak through the skylight,
    it leaked around the skylight. It will now leak around whatever replaces the skylight.
    That was my thought. Short of replacing the roof, how do they plan to seal the patch?

    If they find such a way, they could probably remove the skylights, clean all the layers of sealant, then re-install cleanly using what they find to work. The fact the the patch is now metal and not opaque, probably will not make a difference to the leak.

  9. #9
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
    That was my thought. Short of replacing the roof, how do they plan to seal the patch?

    If they find such a way, they could probably remove the skylights, clean all the layers of sealant, then re-install cleanly using what they find to work. The fact the the patch is now metal and not opaque, probably will not make a difference to the leak.
    I don't know. But the skylights, as I remember, are short sections of corrogated fiberglass, surrounded with corregated metal roofing. It's my guess that they are replacing a whole section of roof, from wall to wall, and working it under the old metal roofing above and overlapping the old metal below. That's how roofing shingles are replaced, and MATC trail maintainers are pretty astute folks.

    The leader of the committee is a particularly savy young woman, who's regular job involves keeping track of water levels in Maine streams and rivers. The tricky part is not damaging the existing roof when raising it and working the replacement underneath.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by restless View Post
    I'm with LW on this one.
    baldpate lean-to. i get there and it looks like a bomb went off. trees knocked down. and this big ass shelter with that stupid wall in front of it with a donated by " LL Bean" sign. awesome

  11. #11
    Registered User shelterbuilder's Avatar
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    Default skylights (and other holes in the roof)!

    I've always had 2 conflicting thoughts about skylights: they are a wonderful way to bring light into a shelter; they are a wonderful way to bring rainwater into a shelter!

    When we repaired the toilet at the Rausch Gap Shelter in 2005, we used corrugated POLYCARBONATE on the entire roof - talk about bringing in the light! This was the 2nd phase of an experiment that began at the composting toilet system at the William Penn Shelter in the late 90's - we used corrugated PVC on the entire roof of the compost storage platform, but it did not stand up to the excessive sunlight at this site and became brittle and crazed/cracked and was replaced with polycarb. So far, the polycarb seems to be holding up at both sites, although you STILL have to fasten it down by punching holes in the stuff!!! (I never liked metal roofs for the same reason, but that's another story....)

    We are currently gearing up to do some "extensive repairs" to the Rausch Gap Shelter, and one of the thoughts that we had was to use corrugated polycarb on the entire front section of the roof (this, to replace an existing "vertical skylight" that's set into the front section of the roof as a sort of cleristory [sp?] window). The problem is that it looks "out of place" on a log structure, so it probably won't happen. Oh, well..."it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness".
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    my tent never leaks. shelters just don't belong
    I've only hiked half the Trail and also prefer to tent most nights, but a shelter on a rainy evening when everything is already soaking wet is sometimes a worthy destination. Just a thought.
    "every day's a holiday, every meal a feast"

  13. #13
    Registered User Carl in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weary View Post
    I don't know. But the skylights, as I remember, are short sections of corrogated fiberglass, surrounded with corregated metal roofing. It's my guess that they are replacing a whole section of roof, from wall to wall, and working it under the old metal roofing above and overlapping the old metal below. That's how roofing shingles are replaced, and MATC trail maintainers are pretty astute folks.

    The leader of the committee is a particularly savy young woman, who's regular job involves keeping track of water levels in Maine streams and rivers. The tricky part is not damaging the existing roof when raising it and working the replacement underneath.
    I did not mean to imply it cannot be fixed; I am certain it can. But if it can be fixed
    with a plate (that does not leak around the edges), then it could have been fixed
    with a skylight that does not leak around the edges, too.

  14. #14
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    I wish I had been able to reach one of the repairs before posting this thread so I would know what I was talking about. But most substances we use in shelters expand and contract at different temperatures. That's why the "plastic" skylights leaked. It's my understanding that the repairs replace the entire piece of roofing that housed the skylight, so now the entire roof expands and contracts at the same rate, making leaks less likely.

    If I'm wrong I hope some MATC member will correct me, preferably someone who has worked on more shelters than me. I'm just the reporter.

  15. #15
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    This was a tough application for translucent panels. The maine shelter design has a relatively low pitch roof and I would expect that there is a significant snow pack on top of the roof for a couple of months in the winter that would put a lot of stress on the joint between the panels. Plastic may also be less rigid and deflect more. Most plastics used for this purpose have UV inhibitors but inevitably, the inhibitors wear out making the panel brittle. Throw in a difference in expansion and contraction from steel to plastic plus possible seasonal building movement due to frost heaves and its predictable that a joint would leak. Its too bad as it did brighten up the shelters.

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