The Science Experiment

In place of our annual trip to CANCUN in 1999, we are going to attempt to ignore
winter and pretend that summer never ends. To fool ourselves, we need warm weather
and a pool to swim in, perhaps a green house for plants.

Yes, it's a 24 foot by 70 foot twinkie, growing out of the side of the house.

Inside the twinkie, is the pool, heated to a comfortable 93 F.

  Construction of the dome 10/24/99
  the first wind storm  10/26/99
  the first winter storm 01/02/99
  Still going strong 05/11/2000, well over 100 degrees inside, great swimming, getting too hot...
 Time to come down.

Technical stuff...

Pool - Doughboy 21 foot above ground pool

The twinkie is actually an air supported structure, a plastic bubble, made of
two layers of 6 mil plastic greenhouse sheeting. The original size of the sheet
was 42 x 150 feet. The structure is inflated using a furnace blower.
Heat for the pool is provided by a 400,000 btu pool heater, with water being
circulated using 1 hp pool pump/filter.

The experiment was successful, as all experiments are. We could and did swim all winter, but it wasn't Cancun. Because of the need to introduce cold outside air to support the structure, it was impossible to heat for any long period. During the day (when I was at work) the sun would raise the temperature to confortable levels, but the minute the sun went down so did the temperature.

The wind was a great big problem pulling the structure apart and requiring frequent rebuilding. Strong storms often lifted the landscaping ties allowing air to excape. As less air was available to support the structure, the wind would then cause even more violent movement of the plastic. It was quite dramatic at times. Strong ropes were used to anchor the structure to existing fence posts. Without these ropes, the structure would have blown away during the first wind storm.

Snow and ice were also a big problem. Thankfully, we didn't get very much of either. Since the structure couldn't be heated, the snow and ice couldn't be melted off. So, we devised methods to remove the accumulations, the best being a push broom with a rope attached to each end. At the end of each rope you need a fool that will stand in the snow and pull the broom back and forth to remove the snow. Failure to remove the snow fast enough rewards you with the structure collapsed into the pool. Then you had to get into the pool (good thing it was 95 degrees) and lift what seemed like tons of slush and dump it out, and swim whether you wanted to or not (Ginny really liked this part and usually had to do it all by herself since I was hiding at work or out of town....).