Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Sunday, May 10, 2009


This weekend I hosted the first of what I hope to be a semi-regular occurrence - a workday for the Equestrian Guild to build equipment and tools that we need/want to play medieval games.

Cecelia came out and she and I had a great time - messing around with power tools. Yeah.

I've been thinking a lot about how to built a Tilt -- the fence that separates jousters from each other. There are a number of designs out on the web and I noodled around with it some. Since we have a huge pile of fence pickets still hanging around, I was looking for a way to use that material.

An important feature of a tilt, as far as I'm concerned, is that it should self-disassemble should a horse run into it, because the last thing you want is a frightened horse dragging part of the tilt around with him. Unfortunately, that kinda means that it can't be rock-solid, but you don't want it blowing over in the wind either. Balancing those two concerns has been tricky.

I'd seen several designs on the internet. Basically most use a design of stands that are wide at the base to hold up rails sideways, but along the length of the tilt it relies upon the rest of the tilt to keep it steady. So the principle question is how to butt the horizontal rails together at the uprights so that they disassemble if bumped, but stand solid otherwise.

This guy posted really detailed pictures. This is an interesting design - but gosh that looks like heavy timber and a lot of work.

This one looks really elegant, so I thought I'd go off of it.

A month or so ago I prototyped 3 stands and 2 rails. Eh, with moderate success. I love the stands, but it turns out the sloping cuts in the ends of the rails were a total bust for me because they were way too slick and the sections just fell apart every time I let go.

So this weekend, our first task was to cut out the slots of the stands wider, so that the rails could sit in them side by side. This worked better, but still had very little length-wise stability. So we pulled one stand off and were going to put some length-wise feet on it to see if that helped. In pulling that stand away we just let the rail drop to the ground. And oh my goodness - if that didn't just take ALL the wobbles out of the tilt!

We watched that configuration for awhile and decided to heck with modifying the stands, anchoring each end on the ground seems to be the way to go! We did watch and observe it being rocked side by side, so we decided to widen the feet of the stands to 3 feet, instead of my original 2.

Getting down to business we pretty quickly had assembly under way.

And Voila! In just over an hour, we had 7 more stands built, and 3 more sections of rails. We tested it out:

It worked great. There was a moderate breeze, and it was standing solid.

Dave was off getting us more screws, so I enlisted Cecelia to help me finish up my jousting lance handles. Again going off published directions, a couple months ago I'd made two lance handles out of pre-turned table legs. We just needed to round off the end of them, so as to be able to slip them into cardboard tubes. A friend in the SCA has a lathe and Dave and I went over to do our modifications. The left most end of this leg had been square all the way to the end. In the middle we also narrowed down the area for a hand-hold.

However, I stupidly didn't have the requisite cardboard tubes with me, so our lathing job left the handles just a hair too large. I needed to whittle them down a bit. This ingenious suggestion from Dave, to wedge the belt sander in the workshop table upside down, worked like a charm!

Finished with that, Cecelia and I went in and fired up the grill to do some hot dogs for lunch which Dave got home just in time to share with us. It was nice to sit on the deck - first time this year we've pulled the chairs and grill out. AND - the tilt stood all the way through lunch!

Before Cecelia had to leave, we just had to try it out...

Alas, the wind did kick up harder after lunch and eventually blew the tilt over, splitting one of the stands. Being fence pickets, these aren't the most durable of material. We have some ideas to reinforce the weak point of the stands - just underneath the slot in the top of them, by winding rope around them. And we need to paint the rail white.

But in all it was a good day's work and we have the makings to put up a tilt 100 feet long.

ADDED: Construction detail photos. Duh - forgot to get these initially.

Having gone back out to take these detail photos, I think I see some improvements yet to be made... ;-)



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