Thursday, August 30, 2007

Upgrading to a better canopy - Part 3

My Trimline tent arrived a few days ago, and I've had a chance to set it up. Well....sort of.

Like building the jugsaw puzzle?

Not at all. Assembling the pieces and figuring out what goes where wasn't so bad. I've heard lots of reports that it's quite confusing, even after you've done it many times. In fact, at one show earlier this year, there was an artist working on his trimline when I arrived, and by the time I set up my entire booth (almost 2 hours) he was STILL working on it because he kept putting it together wrong.

So, after this I was expecting it to be a bit of a horror. I was thus relieved that it wasn't so difficult. In fact, I read through the instructions once very carefully, and then went about assembling it. I immediately knew where every piece went and didn't have to refer back to the instructions at all.

Granted, my spacial perception and mechanical assembly abilities are quite adept. I'm good at visualizing things and assembling them in my head. That may give me an edge in the process, and may explain why it was so easy for me. Other's experiences may vary.

First assembly

First off, my goal for building it my first time was to do so on my own. I will be doing a show by myself this weekend, and I wanted to see if I'd be able to handle the booth on my own.

Putting it together for the first started off pretty good. I had the roof frame fully assembled in about 15 minutes. It took another 15 to attach the sta-bar, unroll and align the roof, and play with the vents to see how they worked. This all went pretty much without a problem.

Next step was to attach the legs. This is where things didn't go so well, at least not by myself. I think this wouldn't have been so bad for a 7 foot tent, but I got the 9 footer. Getting it raised that last foot or two was the really difficult part. I finally managed to get it on my 3rd try, but it wasn't easy. Hopefully this will be like most things and get easier with experience.

Next, I put on stabars, the awning frames for the front 30" and the rear 54" awnings. I attached the rear awning. Zipping it on was a bit of a pain. The material is quite heavy, and it's hard to hold up while getting the zipper started. Once the zipper starts, it's a piece of cake.

This is as far as I got. UPS arrived laster than I'd hoped, and after unpacking, reading instructions, and getting oriented, I had only a few hours before sunset. In fact, by the time I got the poles bundled up and ready to carry inside, it was almost dark enough to require a flashlight to check the lawn for left behind parts. So I didn't get a chance to attach any of the walls or zipper strips.

Issues I had

I only ran into a few small snags during setup. The first was that the canopy roof changed slightly, but the instructions haven't been updated to match. It seems they replaced some adjustable clip straps with velcro instead, but the instructions say nothing about it.

I also screwed up putting the roof on. I didn't notice until I had it up on all 4 legs, but the roof was slightly crooked. I didn't lay down the material perfectly. I wouldn't have even noticed it, except that the zippers (for the walls and awnings) don't lineup correctly, and my awning didn't go on right.

Attaching and detaching the sta-bars was also a little tricky. It was just a matter of finding the correct angle. Something I'm sure will get easier with experience.

The only other problems I had were failure to follow directions properly. I put the easy riser L brackets on backward (extremely minor...had no ill effect), and I forgot to attach the riser poles before I put on the roof material.

Using the canopy at a show?

So now the question I ready to use this canopy at a show? I was hoping to use it at my show this weekend. However, plans have changed, and I'll be handling the show by myself, including setup. So far, the weather is looking good for the weekend, so I'm debating if I want to try setting it up by myself, or just use the easy up for another week. After that, I have a few more weeks before my next show. That will be a little extra time to practice setting up.

Any Doubts?

Before I started, I realized the first setup was going to be extra difficult while I learned correct techniques. However, even taking that into account, it was still more difficult than I imagined. I'm wondering whether the 9 foot height was overkill.

I'm hoping my doubts will quickly subside. After all...when I did my first couple shows last year, it was a lot of work, and I do remember thinking "my god...what I have I gotten myself into". I wasn't sure whether I'd want to continue on doing shows, considering how difficult it was. Yet this weekend I did my first solo setup for a show (my wife was sick). In addition, I did it in the morning of the show, not the previous night, and I had only 2 hours to get it done. The surprise is that I managed to get it all done no problem, without any sign of panic. Hopefully, with time, setting up this new canopy will become as routine and unstressful.


CY said...

Thanks for the comments on the tent we are looking for a good one.

want to sell your?



Larry said...

Do you have any more observations to report on your Trimline Canopy? Yesterday, I did a local show and we had 2 hard showers. My EZ-Up leaked so badly I probably would have been drier standing out in the rain! Luckily, I sustained only minor damage to product since I was able to get most things under cover quickly.

Anyway, I'm done with EZ-Ups now and willing to invest some $'s in a new canopy. Better to spend $'s on something that's going to protect my product than see product get ruined.

I've been searching the web today and, like you, have pretty much come to the conclusion that Trimline is the way to go. I've noted the same things you reported on the other guys... especially the website frustrations.

I'm planning to order something about mid-week. Any further comments you may have would be highly appreciated.

Ron Frazier said...

I've only used it twice so far, but I'm thoroughly satisfied. It rained both times and stayed totally dry inside. I plan to post some additional thoughts on the booth sometime in the near future, but in short...if you can afford a trimline, I'd highly recommend it.

Make sure you check out my "part 2" post from Aug 2007 for a list options I went with. The one option I didn't add which I may order now after the fact is the special frame for the rear door. As it is, I have a door in the rear but you have to step over the stabar. I'm afraid a customer is going to try and walk through the door and trip.

If you go to order one, I'd appreciate you mentioning my name (Ronald Frazier Photography) when you place the order. It will earn me a small referral fee, which helps me with the time I spend to post info on this blog.