Putting Up the Dome: Part Five

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”  —Archimedes

With the main structure of the dome up, we worked into the evening on Sunday to put the hoop door in. Some of the struts had to be removed and then replaced with the special door struts. Each end of the strut had a different angle, so it wasn’t readily apparent which end went where. After playing strut tetris, we got them all in the right places. Only a few of the angles were way off. We ended up forcing bends in the pipe to get the last two to fit.

Meanwhile, the kids took advantage of the generator being on and the dad-sanctioned, rare opportunity to play video games in the RV. (Lest you think they’re totally deprived of modern kidhood.)

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We had hoped to pull the cover on, but it turned out to be a way bigger task than we thought, so to avoid any arguments over how to do it after a tiring day, we called it a night.

The next day was Veteran’s Day, so luckily, Mauricio had the day off. We got up early to tackle the cover. According to the instructions, you should just be able to locate the door on the outside and unroll it. Problem was, we couldn’t locate the door, the cover was rolled up with the outside out, unlike in the pictures, and we couldn’t see what went where. Mauricio was sure we should just lay down some tarps, open it up and pull it over like putting a hat on. I was sure that the instructions had to be right and we weren’t just seeing it. A phone call to the friendly Pacific Domes folks confirmed that ours was packed differently than the directions showed and Mauricio was right. I hate when that happens. Which, throughout this process, has been more often than not. They also suggested having at least two more adults to help, because man, that cover is hea-VY. So, of course, we just decided to do it ourselves.

We laid out the tarps and then the cover. Mauricio’s solution was to tie ropes onto the grommets, throw them over the top, and through a process of heave-ho-ing, just pull the cover over. Okaaaay. It took all day.

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Along the way, we had to make sure the windows didn’t catch on the bolts. The kids’ job was to watch for snags while enjoying the beautiful geometry. If one of the windows snagged, we had to use the ladder, or in Giovanni’s case, channel his inner chimpanzee, to get up there and clear it.

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To get those last few inches over, Mauricio employed the magic of the lever. And with his lovely assistant, Cece, the kids got to see how much less force you need with a simple machine.

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Still, we needed to make adjustments for the seams, doors and windows to line up, so we posed the problem to the kids. After some brainstorming, we decided to go with Cece’s idea to attach ourselves with ropes to the grommets and twist around together like a merry-go-round. It worked like a charm, and she was really proud of her contribution. We then employed the lever again to pull the cover tight so we could screw down the grommets. Finally, with one last screw, the cover was on!

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Mauricio put the windows in, along with a temporary swing hanging from the top point for the kids to play on while we finished up. He never shirks his duty as the family’s Director of Recreational Activities.

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We may not have moved the world, but we did put up a geodesic dome by ourselves. And it feels almost as powerful.

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