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Yurt Notes & Calculator

written by Rene K. Mueller, Copyright (c) 2005, 2006, 2008, last updated Sun, September 22, 2013

Erect the Yurt

Here a brief description how to erect a yurt:

Preparing the Ground


Adding some gravel to level the base
Depending whether this is just a tent-like or a lasting erection, more or less ground preparation is required. Consider to read Selecting & Preparing the Site as well.

As next use a small stick to define the center of yurt, use d/2 as radius for a cord which at the end you have a marker, and then walk around the circle to mark the circle to the ground.

Floor

Put up the floor, have it 10-15cm larger than the marked circle, but not more, the reasons:

  • depending whether you use thick thermal insulation (e.g. which adds 10-15cm)
  • at heavy wind your yurt might move, have it have some extra space
  • make sure the rain cover reaches over the floor, maybe even to the ground, and it should be 100% waterproof in order to avoid rotting in humid climate.

2006/10/12 17:25
Adding OSB planks on top of styrofoam
2006/10/17 11:53
And so on ...
2006/10/17 14:47

Depending whether the base level of the floor is elevated or not, consider to extend the rain cover on the ground for another 10-15cm to keep that area dry in case of raining.

Lattice Wall


As next use the lattice wall / khana and extend it the full length. Position the lattice wall to the mark you did, maybe redo the marking since you put up the floor now.

Keep in mind where you want the door positioned, for cold and humid regions avoid to expose the door side to common wind directions; for hot areas it might be wanted.

Take your door frame, and insert it between the open lattice wall, bind and fixate it.

Then use the main rope and put it above and under each top junction of the lattice wall, that rope requires to keep the max weight of the roof (incl. possible snow), so use either a PP rope with 750kg minimum, or a steel rope with 1000kg strength, more the better.

Once you waved it over and under each lattice wall top junctions, make a loose knot end to end - you might like to attach each end one of the sides of the doorframe, yet I won't recommend that unlike other yurt-builders and books recommend, my reasons (pointed out already in the Yurt Notes) but here again: attaching the main rope ends to the door frame poses stress unto the frame, unless you are really certain it can handle expected stress (incl. winds unto the roof) then do it, otherwise tie the ends of the main rope together as I recommend. A detailed knot description follows.

Crown-Wheel


Yurt Wheel Tripod

As next lift up the crown-wheel / toono at the height as calculated, then insert at least three or better four roof poles, evenly distributed. It usually requires two person to do this, one holds the crown-wheel, another puts in the first roof poles. You can also assemble a high tripod, which has the crown-wheel on its top (maybe 20-30cm below the top tied with cords), this way you can erect even a large yurt yourself.

Then insert more roof poles, evenly distribute them, and insert the next one either the opposite side as 180° or 90° and so on.


The roof pole has either a cord at the end, which is put over the inner lath of the lattice wall junction; or the roof pole lies on the main rope of the lattice wall and not on the lattice wall junctions.

At that point you have the skeleton of the yurt put up.


Yurt Wall Positioning
Now start to pull on the main rope, to have the exact diameter of the yurt reached. For lightweight yurts with light crown-wheel and roof poles you can do this by yourself; don't rush here, this adjustment is most important to have the exact diameter: it will reveal whether crown-wheel, roof poles geometry and lattice wall geometry truly fit. Make sure the overall lattice wall is vertical, and does not bend outside or inside on the ground.

Why is this part important? When your lattice wall is not vertical, but leans inside or outside at the ground, or the main rope on the lattice wall is loose - the next wind or storm or heavy snow will crush your yurt. I have seen people not paying attention and have their yurt just not work. The yurt is very stable, but only when the stability is able to work, means, when the lattice wall is vertical, and the diameter on which you built the yurt based-on is applied.

You can extend the diameter (flatter roof, lower wall) or narrow the diameter (steeper roof, higher wall) - just be aware to pay close attention the lattice wall being vertical and not lean to inside or outside after you adjusted the yurt diameter.

You may also consider for that reason a 1-2cm high and full diameter large ring on the floor, in which you attach the lattice wall and prevent from moving; this is recommended in case you have a high floor from the actual ground to provide the lattice wall on the ground some stability.

Layers


As next you attached the layers of wall, of the lattice wall and roof:

  • put interior canvas on the roof
  • put interior canvas outside or inside of the lattice wall
  • put insulation layers on the roof and the wall
  • put the rain cover on the wall and then on the roof; have the roof rain cover reach over the wall rain cover.

Note: the wall layers you hang either on the lattice wall junction themselves, or the main rope on the lattice wall, a hinge or sewed cord (interior cotton layer), or tape (bubble wrap layer) will do it depended how heavy a wall layer is.

Then bind the wall with 3-4 ropes, and maybe 2-3 ropes over the roof reaching the ground, and tie it like an anchor to the ground - recommended at places with heavy winds or expected storms.

First straw filled jute blanket
2006/11/04 12:42
Fixation binder, very useful (Closeup)
2006/11/04 12:42
Starting around the stove pipe, wrap it around
2006/11/25 11:16
All 13 segments put up ...
2006/11/25 12:59
Finished straw insulation with new PE rain cover
2006/11/26 13:59
Pipe ending
2006/12/03 12:16

Ropes & Tension Ribbons


There is a way to tighten the roof / wall connection:

  1. use the main rope or tension ribbon on the top junction of the lattice wall, or one junction below
  2. tighten that main rope, e.g. before you put up the roof poles / rafters
  3. optional 2nd rope or tension ribbon, place it below the roof pole / rafter at the top junction of the lattice wall
    • use it to tighten and release tension of the main rope, e.g. when you need to replace it
    • distribute tension and pressure from the roof to two ropes or tension ribbons
  4. put up all the rest, incl. rain cover
  5. rope or tension ribbon to fixate the rain cover reaching over the wall, it will support the main rope even further, if you tighten it further than the main rope makes the other ropes get loose and replaceable


Especially when you have a heavy roof, e.g. material, thermal insulation or general heavy material of the roof poles or rafters, distribute the force with 2 or 3 ropes or tension ribbons that way - it makes working on the yurt while erected easier and one is more flexible than having just one rope keeping the yurt in shape.

For a more detailed construction, not just erection, of the yurt, see my yurt diary as well.

Interior



I put most of my stuff around the wall, and kept the center free. Also the stove I put aside and used a fan to distribute the heat which was usually 30-40cm above the ground and not mixing with the much colder air on the ground. It is of course personal taste to either do it alike the Mongolians and put the stove in the center, and have the heat radiation be optimized this way, or put the stove aside. I noticed to keep the center free makes the yurt appear grander.

Storm Preparation

While living in the yurt experienced 2-3 strong storms, at my site up to 120km/h I would estimate. I'm kind of a slow learner at first as I had to fix and fasten the yurt while the storm was underway as I often hoped the ropes I used were sufficient, and experienced they were not.

It's worth noticing, the storms affects the roof mostly, no impact to the wall as I noticed, me using 90° lattice angle and bamboo, with stretching the rain wall cover below the floor and use one rope on that height, almost on the ground, all around to fasten it (as seen on a photo above already). Some people put some small laths on the floor to fixate the lattice wall on the floor, or screw the door frame on the floor, both which I didn't do.

Steady Wind


Winds on a Yurt
The force F1 in the illustration is the same force occuring on an airplane wing, the wind goes faster over the roof, creates a lower airpressure, and pulls the rain cover up. Usually the ropes around the yurt a bit below the wall roof junction cannot keep the roof cover sufficiently, but using cords to pull the roof cover down on the ground does it usually - or ropes going over the entire roof.

Usually behind the yurt some whirls occur, I have noticed it quite well at heavy winds the smoke from the stove whirling behind the yurt, and even sometimes forward against main wind direction, but it's also because I'm close on a slope of a mountain, where the winds create a whirl on the entire slope along with the nearby forest. In a way, it showed at strong winds the nearby environment can create large whirls as well.

Gusts

The F2 indicates a swinging force of a gust, pushing down the front roof, and then releasing it and counter balance by going up - there the risk of roof poles falling off their holes in the crown-wheel.

I was told by mongolian woman that in her homeland they use a tub full of water or a heavy stone hanging from the crown-wheel, to add more stability to the roof and limit these swings - I would not recommend to fasten it with a cord direct on the ground, but rather have a floating weight able to give in.

References

  • "The complete Yurt handbook" by Paul King , ISBN 1-899233-08-3
    Covers traditional mongolian yurt, good as a start


(End of Article)

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