Archive:Burton 2006 renovations

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The Sphinx Hut, aka the Burton Hut was built in 1969. Were we to apply today for a permit to build a hut at the location of the Sphinx Hut, our chances of getting a permit would be very slight. The Hut is in an area rightly designated as environmentally sensitive, at a place seldom visited in the summer. When we visit it in the winter it is less environmentally sensitive, being protected by snow.

The Hut, though 35+ years old, is still structurally sound, attesting to the strength of Gothic arch structures. But it is very cold in there in the winter, when it matters. People have referred to it as “an icebox”. Attempts to heat it with a kerosene heater did not go well; few want to haul kerosene on his/her back for 15 km, when there isn’t any assurance that the heater works. And the fumes from burning kerosene are not healthy, and certainly not pleasant. Could we insulate the Hut so that we don’t need the smelly old unreliable kerosene heater?

Flushed with the success of rebuilding the Brew Hut, we wondered if it might be possible to renovate and insulate the Sphinx Hut, to make it a more satisfactory winter shelter. For this to work, we would need to come up with some plans and get approval from the Parks people, who have complete jurisdiction over the Hut. We would also need about $3000, and we’d need to get the Club behind the project.

Proposed Sphinx Hut Renovation

Ends: The sphinx hut door should be replaced with a framed insulated steel door, properly weather-stripped. The new door will open inwards, because with the present door, it is possible to get trapped in the Hut by snow accumulating overnight, outside the door.

The end walls are currently un-insulated half-inch treated plywood and have resisted weathering surprisingly well. Cracks in the walls permit drafts, and when the wind blows, snow comes through the walls in places. The proposal is to nail 3/8-inch plywood (painted in Vancouver) to the inside of the end walls, forming standard cavity walls. The cavities formed can be insulated with Styrofoam or with Fiberglas. Vapour barrier, installed behind the 3/8 ply, will make the walls wind-proof. Caulking will take care of the cracks. The plywood must be cut on site using hand tools.

The current sphinx hut windows are single sheets of Plexiglas, not treated to resist ultraviolet light, and they still do their job, but they are getting opaque. If we’re insulating everything else, we should replace the windows with double-glazed tempered glass, or at least doubled Plexiglas. For three of them we simply replace the Plexiglas and trim; for the fourth one we must build a hinged frame (or buy one).

The floor is completely un-insulated, and is supported on four-foot centers, so it is a little too springy. In addition, a porcupine got under the Hut about 20 years ago and partially ate through the floor, so it has a few holes, patched with plywood scraps. (The porcupines can no longer get under the Hut). The proposal is to cover the old floor with new plywood, which will be painted in Vancouver to make it weather-resistant. The new floor can be glued and nailed over the old floor with a minimum amount of work.

The sidewalls are a challenge to insulate because they are curved. It is possible to bend 3/8 inch plywood sheathing, and apply it over (inside) the existing siding, with a layer of insulation (about 3/4 inch insulation. This should cut the drafts completely and give us about R3 insulation.

We should fix up the interior furnishings: The cooking counter is currently made of a small scrap of plywood covered with some battered aluminium. A better counter would be 2’ x 8’ plywood, with a shelf under, and covered with more robust, non-battered aluminium. And people complain of the limited seating, so we propose to put a wide bench along the N wall, which will be used for seating or sleeping.

Transport We would need to rent a u-haul truck to haul the materials. One one flight of an Astar helicopter should deliver the building materials. Perhaps the Parks people could split a charter with us, so we don’t get dinged for the total ferry time. Or, as we need to do some cleanup at Brew, we might charter a single helicopter for both of these.

Cost Summary: around $3k, $1k for transport and $2k for materials.

Weight Summary: one helicopter load (1700#)

Time Frame: To do the work on site, one week's work on site. Some work to be done in Vancouver to prepare for the on-site work.

When? The work has been scheduled for Aug 12-20, 2006. Sign up here


All work was successfully completed over the course of a week in August, and a weekend in October.

Parks descided they would pay for the entire helicopter flight, leaving extra money for the project. In addition to the proposed changes (insulation, new door, windows, floor, furnishings) the end walls were covered in sheet metal siding with the extra money.