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Canadian Tire 37-1112-2 Temporary Shelter

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This review is unlikely to be of much interest to readers outside Canada, as it’s only in the land of moose, flat beer and preposterous taxes that is to be found that most ubiquitous of institutions, Canadian Tire. As its name might imply, Canadian Tire is a Canadian retailer that sells tires. However, it also sells just about everything else.

If it bolts together, plugs in, rotates, flashes, disassembles, dries in no time or requires replacement every fifty-thousand miles, it’s available at Canadian Tire. Perhaps more to the point, there seems to be a Canadian Tire store within driving distance of every Canadian south of the arctic circle.

Much of what can be bought at Canadian Tire is made specifically at their behest, often hailing from the far east and originating in factories I wouldn’t try to pronounce the names of on a dare. Canadian Tire’s house brand products are something of an adventure, varying from solid technology at unexpectedly reasonable prices right on down to stuff that only the most inveterate of shoppers would dare unpackage without full body armor.

The Canadian Tire 37-1112-2 Temporary Shelter is a bit of both. While the illustration at Canadian Tire’s web page suggests it as a suitable low-rent garage for ATVs and yard rockets, these things are most frequently encountered where we live serving as impromptu wood sheds. You can stack a winter’s worth of firewood within one, and thereafter not occupy the first three months of the year trying to chip logs out of a glacier.

At least in theory, a temporary shelter can be quickly erected one afternoon toward the dying days of autumn, and then just as quickly dismantled in the spring when it’s no longer needed.

It’s a nice theory as theories go.

Some Assembly Required

A temporary shelter is usually a tent with a rib cage, and such is the case with the 37-1112-2 shelter. It consists of a tubular steel frame that slides and bolts together, and which is subsequently covered with fitted polyethylene cloth panels. The whole works covers a ten by ten foot area, with an internal altitude of eight feet at the peak of its roof. It’s a decidedly capacious wood shed.

In fairness to Canadian Tire stores across the nation, once the shelter is complete, it’s a stalwart contender for even the most trying of boreal winters. Getting it to that state, however, might make you want to reach for a gallon jug of cheap rye… or perhaps Canadian Tire’s popular budget anti-freeze.

Perhaps in compensation for the rigors of its assembly, this shelter is built of sterner stuff than many comparably-priced products. Most notably, it uses stitched seams in its fabric covering, rather than glued ones. This refinement will prevent it from coming unglued unexpectedly on the first day the ambient temperature exceeds freezing, a common complaint among its less well-made brethren.

The 37-1112-2 shelter arrives as a box of tubes, bolts, mounting hardware, polyethylene fashion accessories and two manuals that are mildly incomprehensible in each of our official languages. The manual for this product is easily its weakest element. It’s never a good sign when you can find the first typo in one of these things in the table of contents.

The manual for the 37-1112-2 shelter is decidedly terse and somewhat poorly organized. It’s illustrated with crude drawings of the various stages of assembly of the beast, and a few blurry photographs that could be of ratchet clamps and tube connectors, or alternately, of discoveries by one the Mars rovers. While it’s clear that whoever wrote the manual knew how to successfully assemble the shelter, the author’s ability to communicate his or her insights to readers of its instructions could have used some work.

In assembling the frame of the shelter, we bumped into a number of significant issues, for example:

  • Some of the tube sections connect to some of the other tube sections and subsequently stay that way due to “dimples” in their sides, essentially small indentations intended to keep the parts together. The dimples on our shelter parts were somewhat illusory, and the tubes detached themselves from their neighbors with minimal provocation. It became necessary to relent to the use of duct tape to hold everything in place until the shelter was complete.
  • A few of the tube connections are held in place by carriage bolts. In the usual course of things, the square shoulder of a carriage bolt fits into a square hole in whatever the bolt gets bolted to, such that the bolt can’t turn while it’s being tightened. Carriage bolts have flat, unslotted heads. In the case of the carriage bolts in the tubular frame sections of the shelter, they were destined for round holes into which the shoulders of the bolts were intended to be hammered, such that they’d deform the metal and bind long enough to have jam nuts tightened onto them. While one could argue at length whether the holes in our frame were too large or the shoulders of our carriage bolts were too small, the whole works quickly went pear-shaped. We eventually managed to get the nuts tightened by grabbing the diminutive heads of the carriage bolts with Channellock pliers.
  • The shelter is prevented from blowing away or otherwise absenting itself by winding four helical anchors into the ground and attaching the legs of the shelter to them with cable clamps. While substantial, the blades of the anchors have fairly small openings, which meant that even a modest subterranean pebble could effectively stop them from turning. Some serious profanity was called for.

Installing the fabric cover of the shelter was less nettlesome than assembling its frame. A disturbing amount of experimentation was called for at times, however, as the photographs in the shelter’s manual that serve to illustrate the procedure are a bit confusing. In some cases, it proved necessary to perch atop a step ladder and partially disassemble the frame to get the cover in place.

It required about four hours to assemble the shelter. I should probably add that there were two of us – I doubt that it’s possible to successfully put one of these things together by one’s self.

We frequently considered the possibility of tracking down the shelter’s designer and compelling him to assemble it at gun point. Admittedly, it would have been a glue gun, which aren’t as intimidating as the real kind.

Down Tools

The 37-1112-2 shelter might be thought of as an assembly project for people who consider putting together Ikea furniture to be the occupation of cowards. Nothing so refined as an Allen key got anywhere near it.

It should be said that portable shelters are, by their nature, a bit nasty to set up. This one wasn’t unreasonably demanding per se. It was frequently exasperating, however, in that it could have gone together with way less head-banging had its components been slightly better made, and its instructions been reviewed by a second pair of eyes.

When the last ratchet has been tightened and the final anchor twisted into place, the 37-1112-2 shelter is a substantial and reasonably robust bit of architecture… mostly. The zippers that held the front door of ours closed failed almost immediately. Canadian Tire replaced the front fabric panel under warranty without protest.

Happily, the 37-1112-2 shelter is one of the things that Canadian Tire features in its sale flyers almost weekly. As of this writing, it costs $239.99, but it can usually be had on sale for $149.99. At this price, you might be prepared to accept a reasonable level of profanity while it’s going together.

Comments (1)

Tom PriceDecember 17th, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Took 2 adults 7 hours to assemble and fix ground anchors. Ratchets were a major headache if you don’t pull the slack thru they are almost impossible to unwind and reset. Augers (ground anchors) were stopped by the smallest pebbles during installation. I will add re-rod asap to strengthen holding power. Don’t consider doing on a windy or wet day.

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