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Greenhouse: My new Rion Greenhouse

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LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 10, 2010
5:00 PM

Post #8149032

This weekend I got my Rion mostly up, and basically I've done it by myself. Rather than following the instructions strictly, I decided it must be possible to "build as I go" in terms of the roof as well as the sidewalls. So far, it has worked out well, with only the back end wall (doors on both ends) left to install. I will be installing the roof glazing in situ on a ladder but that should not present a problem. So I avoided the problem of assembling the entire roof on the ground, then having to lift the whole thing up (with help and prayers) at once. BTW, Mine is an 8'6" x 16'8" unit.

Although leveling the foundation is the most important thing, you can cover some sins by using shims around the base while installing panels to make them fit smoothly. BTW, I used the plastic Rion base kit and so have not fastened that base permanently to my wood frame foundation; that is how I'm able to use shims between the plastic base and the PT wood base frame.

LariAnn


This message was edited Oct 11, 2010 8:38 AM
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

October 10, 2010
10:33 PM

Post #8149673

Congratulations LariAnn, I'm so impressed you did it yourself, you are amazing.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 11, 2010
6:46 AM

Post #8149979

Thanks, Cathy! I take "do it yourself" quite literally, and in a project like this, with so many details that can be forgotten, I find that I work much better without other people "helping". I have found that sometimes "help" can help you forget something important, especially when you are doing a particular project for the first time yourself! I did have people available to help if needed, but the only time I needed extensive help was in assembling the PT wood base frame, which has 17 foot sides and 9 foot ends. It's a little challenging to handle 9 foot and 17 foot lengths of 2 x 6s screwed together as large L-channels by yourself! I needed this wood frame, though, because without it, leveling would have been a nightmare. Besides, once the greenhouse is complete, I can use screws to attach the Rion plastic base to the wood frame, adding solidity to the installation.

This message was edited Oct 11, 2010 8:51 AM
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

October 11, 2010
8:27 AM

Post #8150212

Now you can do your plant experiments all right in your back yard, all year round!
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 11, 2010
9:56 AM

Post #8150389

Yeppers - some might wonder what I would be doing with a greenhouse in south Florida, but I can assure you that for many of the plants I work with, a greenhouse is essential even in south Florida. I have one very rare Philodendron that cannot tolerate being rained on, and doesn't like high humidity, either. It comes from an area in south America where the weather is frequently dry, hot and sunny - not quite desert but not far from it either. You know me, though - I'm planning to cross it with a bog-loving species!!

Many of the jewel Alocasias also need protection from too much water via rain. So you need to be able to control not just warmth, but rain, when you have plants like this. And I haven't even mentioned the odd near-freezing night with high winds that can toast plants used to 80s F!
onyxwar
Greeley, CO
(Zone 5b)

October 11, 2010
10:50 AM

Post #8150495

You have inspired me to start building mine on my own. I have been waiting for my DH to be home to put mine up (it's a HF 6x8). I did plan on setting the base up on my own and leveling the ground, but maybe I will start working on it by myself when I have time. Thanks for the inspiration.
Do you have any pics?
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 11, 2010
12:05 PM

Post #8150597

I'll try to post some pics this evening or tomorrow - I'm glad my experience has been an inspiration to you. The project may seem daunting at first, but if you take it a bite-sized step at a time, before you know it, you surprise yourself and find out you're done!

If it helps, I'll share that years ago, I built my own geodesic dome shadehouse using only the chord equations and strut ratios published in domebooks for the size dome I wanted to build (no kit, no manual). Geodesic domes have much less tolerance for error than rectilinear structures, but this one went together without having to re-cut a single strut. So you CAN do a lot more than you might think!


This message was edited Dec 27, 2010 2:55 PM
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 11, 2010
4:58 PM

Post #8151056

OK, here is one pic of my Rion in progress. The roof truss sections were built one at a time in place.

This message was edited Oct 11, 2010 6:58 PM

Thumbnail by LariAnn
Click the image for an enlarged view.

onyxwar
Greeley, CO
(Zone 5b)

October 13, 2010
12:25 PM

Post #8154261

Hats off to you! I have been working on the base...still...but since my DH left me with an almost dead battery in the drill I will have to wait until Friday to work on it some more. I am hoping to get my own drill this weekend. Maybe I can get enough done this weekend to start working on the kit next week. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for the photo and the encouragement. Your gh looks great!
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 16, 2010
6:53 PM

Post #8159828

Well, I've been working on my gh this weekend and made some more progress at installing the roof glazing panels. Some parts of the job are not much fun and accompanied by a bit of swearing at whoever came up with the idea for how to put some of the panels on. Seems to me, with the high cost of designing plastic molds, etc. that the designers would have gone for something that was much more dead-pan easy to assemble. Alas, it's not exactly that easy, no matter what they say in the ads. I'm pretty sure that none of the people who designed these ghs has ever tried to assemble one BY THEMSELVES. Not everyone has reliable help available, you know! Then again, some people just want to be self-sufficient at projects like this. Whichever is the case, the Rion is not exactly one-person friendly, although I did get the frame up completely by myself.

I am planning to write an extensive article about my experience with putting this gh together - and will forward a copy to Rion (I know, I'm not holding my breath about their being at all interested in my input!). Suffice it to say, there are a number of things they do NOT tell you in the instructions, kind of like manuals for software programs, where they leave a LOT out that you have to figure out by yourself (accompanied by much swearing and frustration).

I've got a few more pics, too. Patience pays. . .
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

October 16, 2010
6:56 PM

Post #8159831

LariAnn, we had a few places that try as we might, we never got the rubber gasket strips in the cracks. We gave up and used clear caulk, soooo much easier.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 16, 2010
7:02 PM

Post #8159844

Cathy, what kind/brand of clear caulk did you use?
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

October 16, 2010
7:09 PM

Post #8159852

DH doesn't know the brand, but it was for use around outdoor doors and windows. It stays soft when frozen, not that you would have to worry as much about that. It was also easy when we had to remove a panel to put in an extra vent window.
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

October 17, 2010
3:24 PM

Post #8161009

Hubby gave me the tube, it is GE Silicone II Window and Door Sealant.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 17, 2010
7:05 PM

Post #8161416

Thanks, Cathy - I'll keep it in mind. So far I'm not having trouble with the rubber sealing strips. My main problem was with the plastic strips that hold the roof panels down. I had to use spray-on oil and hammer them in with a rubber mallet, finally. Thankfully, I didn't break anything doing it. As of now, all the glazing panels are installed. All I have left is the weather stripping and the door installation (doors are already assembled - two sets, front and back).
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

October 18, 2010
9:54 AM

Post #8162233

Here's a pic showing the gh when just a little over half the roof glazing was installed. The gh abuts to an existing shadehouse so finishing that side was the most difficult. As a result, I'm thinking about installing the rubber weatherstripping on the inside of the glazing panels that face the shadehouse.

Thumbnail by LariAnn
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

November 1, 2010
12:57 PM

Post #8188717

Update on my Rion gh - all the glazing and one set of doors is installed, with most of the weatherstripping also installed. Second set of doors is ready to hang. I found that applying the upper strip of weatherstripping to the sidewall panels is very difficult, apparently due to the angle at which the glazing panel lays against the profile channel. Others planning on building a Rion should consider using outdoor window/door caulking on this area instead of the supplied rubber weatherstripping.

Also, on my unit at least, the holes in the connector where the door hinge bolts are to be installed do not line up very well with the door hinge body, requiring a lot of jiggling and forcing to get the bolts all the way in. This mystifies me as the holes in the same connector should be in alignment with the hinge body if the designers did their job properly. Even more important, NOTE that the Rion instructions are ambiguous and confusing regarding "left" and "right" doors. Evidently they confused the orientation of left and right from INSIDE the gh vs. from OUTSIDE the gh when writing the instructions. I assumed they referred to left and right as viewed from OUTSIDE the gh, as that is how the upper and lower door hinges are labeled. Alas, in the instructions, what you think should be the left door is described as the right door, and vice versa. If you assemble the doors as they instruct in the text, your doors will be the opposite of what they are supposed to be! For my first set of doors, I had to drill new holes to accommodate the top and bottom latch pins for what they describe as the left door (turns out as the right door from outside the gh) because of this. I had already installed all the rubber seals and hung the doors before I found this out, so was not about to remove the doors and disassemble them to make them right after all the trouble I had getting them hung! Drilling two holes in the plastic (one bottom, one top) was far easier and quicker.

For the second set of doors, I reversed what the text instructions told me to do and the doors came out right!

They do not tell you what to do about the rubber seals where the door handle latch is supposed to connect the doors. The way they leave it, the door will not latch because the rubber seal is in the way. I had to cut a piece of the rubber seal on the door with the handles to allow the latch to work, and will likely have to cut another piece off the handleless door in order for the latch to engage the door profile channel. Of course, this is necessarily going to leave a small opening for cold air to enter the gh.

For the record, the door with the top and bottom latches (the one WITHOUT handles) is supposed to be the LEFT door as seen from outside the gh, even though the text instructions state that the door without the handles is the RIGHT door. Interestingly, the picture accompanying the text shows the door without the handles to be the left door from outside, while the text instructions state clearly that the door without the handles is the right door.

Anyone else notice these items when assembling their Rion gh?

This message was edited Nov 1, 2010 3:15 PM
onyxwar
Greeley, CO
(Zone 5b)

November 1, 2010
3:07 PM

Post #8188929

Sounds as though all the gh manufactures enjoy sending out complicated and confusing instructions. I just finished my 6x8 harbor freight and I had similar problems. At least for the hf there are loads of diyers out there who have posted better instruction than what came w/ it.
Good luck!
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

November 1, 2010
7:42 PM

Post #8189510

DH and a good friend did mine, thank goodness. The did make some alterations around the base to bolt it onto the concrete floor, had to drill the bottoms and cut some of the lower panes. I've had problems with the doors closing all the way because of the gasket, the top of the door doesn't want to close tight. I added 2 cheap door pull handles and slip a board through them to hold it tight.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

December 7, 2010
1:00 PM

Post #8248795

A short note on how my Rion did during this chilling spell in south Florida - after I buttoned it up with pea rock and mulch all around the base perimeter to prevent cold air drafts seeping through the openings between the wooden base frame and the ground, the gh really holds heat well. I put a little electric heater in there overnight, but it tripped the breaker for some reason and didn't run all night. Even so, the gh temp inside stayed nice (50s to low 60s) even though outside the temps were already in the high 30s. I think all I'll need for my purposes is a small propane heater to keep everything toasty in there on the odd cold night down here. Plus, I'm planning to add a few large containers of water under the benches to act as heat sinks duing the day for warmth release at night.

Also, an added note regarding the rubber weatherstripping - I found that it was MUCH easier to install it, especially in difficult areas, on a cool day (70F or below) than on a warm one. I imagine the rubber got firmed enough to be easier to push in. In any event, I got every panel weatherstripped, even the difficult ones, on a cool cloudy day.

This message was edited Dec 7, 2010 4:10 PM
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

December 7, 2010
2:54 PM

Post #8248955

Wow, you did better than us. It's 20 outside now, maybe I should give it a try, haha. I'm glad the temps stayed up for you. The addition of bubble wrap makes a huge difference for me, hope you never need it.
boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 18, 2010
12:44 PM

Post #8266654

I love my rion. I did so much tinkering with things after it was done. I used expanding foam insulation in all of the large opening at the peak and where to roof meets the walls. I bubble wrapped the interior for insulation (Z5 MA). I have foil/bubble insulation on the north wall. I added a rod system to keep the doors closed very tight. I siliconed the heck out of everything from roof vents to louvered rear window. I insulated the floor under the patio pavers. I installed a 6 foot deep dry well for drainage.

Heck I have a direct vented 35K btu heater and late winter I will be adding automatic intake louvers and VS exhaust fan.

Rions are great but they are far from perfect. That's why they are $2-3k less that aluminum framed.
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

December 18, 2010
9:54 PM

Post #8267279

Boxcar, can you expand on the rod system for the doors, it is a problem we all have.
boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 19, 2010
4:29 AM

Post #8267378

Cathy,

What I did with my doors is pretty simple.

The left door (looking from the outside) has the dead bolt lock top and bottom. That door has a pretty tight seal to start with. I used that door to mount the rod system.

I drilled two parallel holes on the door frame in that "u" shaped channel that faces outward. That same hole goes though the opposing "u" shaped channel in the inside of the door. I next took an eyebolt and passed it through the drilled holes with the "eye" facing outward. Fasten the eyebolts with washers and nuts. Do the same to the lower part of the door. Now you have two parallel holes to pass an aluminum rod through on top and bottom..

What I did next was drill one hole on the other door parallel to the first two. Fasten an eyebolt the same way. Now what you have is an three hole system to pass the rod through.

So this is what you have...three parallel-horizontal hole top and bottom. You pass the rod through the first two holes and then pass the rod through the single hole. The beauty of the eyebolt system is you can increase-decrease the tension by turning a nut.

My doors close very tight. Of course You will still need to add insulation at the top and bottom to truely make a tight seal.

A cool trick I did was with petroleum jelly and expanding foam insulation. At the top of the doors were the two doors meet there is a unacceptable gap. This gap is not easily filled due to the compound shape of the opening and the fact the door still need to operate. Solution! Smear petroleum jelly all over the gap you wish to fill. Spray the foam insulation is being careful not to apply too much. The insulation with expand filling the void perfectly. Let it set for 24 hours. Trim off excess foam. Open doors and if you did everything right...the foam stuck to nothing. Now you have a perfect peice of insulation that fits right in place...One change to this set up is to use a screw and fasten it into the frame...that way the foam will be permanent by clinging to the screw.

I hope I was clear enough for you all to visualize...With all the work I have done to this greenhouse...I still have not taken any pictures to share.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

December 19, 2010
5:49 AM

Post #8267441

I've read and reread what you've shared and if I understand it correctly as you've described it, there is no way possible that placing eyebolts perpendicular to the plane of each of the doors will enable them to all line up such that you could pass a rod through all three. The doors on my Rion do not overlap, so the one eyebolt on the right door would be offset sideways from the two on the left door by about 3 inches, making it impossible to pass a straight rod through the two eyes on the left door plus the eye on the right. The system sounds like it would work, but the only way I can picture it working is if you angled the drilled holes so that the openings of the two eyes on the left and one on the right would then line up with each other vertically. This would be a challenge to do, and you could not use the u channels as a guide, either, because a line or drilled hole through both of the u channels (the one on the outside and the one on the inside of the door) would run perpendicular to the plane of the door also.

What am I missing - or, a picture is worth a thousand words?

LariAnn

This message was edited Dec 19, 2010 3:39 PM
boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 19, 2010
11:18 AM

Post #8267846

A pix will help.

Thumbnail by boxcar_grower
Click the image for an enlarged view.

boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 19, 2010
11:19 AM

Post #8267848

Another

Thumbnail by boxcar_grower
Click the image for an enlarged view.

boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 19, 2010
11:31 AM

Post #8267875

Here is a link to my album...more pix of greenhouse and garden plus 6 of my 10 honeybee hives.

http://s234.photobucket.com/albums/ee209/1974boxcar/Greenhouse Garden/
Hallchinalady
Central Pa
United States

December 19, 2010
12:07 PM

Post #8267921

Wow..We put up a HF 6 x 8 this past fall...we had a few problems but everything seems to be worked out now...
I have spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and some celery transplants fromt he garden in the house now...
My first try at wintering things over. We added a door (where this window is as shown) from the garage to have some heat.

This thread has giving me even more encouragment! Thanks all!

Thumbnail by Hallchinalady
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Hallchinalady
Central Pa
United States

December 19, 2010
12:08 PM

Post #8267923

Had to add another picture...I'm just a LITTLE proud...

Thumbnail by Hallchinalady
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

December 19, 2010
12:37 PM

Post #8267961

Thanks SO much, the pictures make everything crystal clear now. I visualized only one rod being inserted vertically such that it entered two eyebolts in line on the left door and one eyebolt in the right door, a clear impossibility, as I described above. But obviously doing it with the rods running horizontally across the narrow dimension of the doors, it works out perfectly. But I do wonder, if the left door is the one fixed with the top and bottom latches already, why not install the two eyebolts on the right door with one on the left instead? Since it is the right door that is not fixed, it would seem to need the added rigidity provided by the rods and eyebolts more than the left door.

Also, another question I have is how you got your door handle to latch properly. I found that after installing the rubber sealing vertically on both doors (where they come together), the handled latch would not engage the other door because the rubber sealing strip allowed no room for it to engage the u channel. I had to cut out a piece of the rubber seal on one of the doors to allow the latch to engage even partially. Even with that, it still won't engage all the way. So how did you do it?
boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 19, 2010
3:53 PM

Post #8268192

I suppose that one could have both bolts on the right. I found that the set-up I have worked out the best. I can adjust how tightly the right door closes with adjusting the nut tension. Also, when I enter the greenhouse, I just have to move the rod only a few inches rather than remove it completely.

The door latch is sketchy at best. I cut out the weather stripping as you did. My latch makes it only by a 1/4 inch or so. I only use the latch when I am inside the greenhouse. I use a piece of foam insulation to stop the air gap with these single number nights.

I replaced my latch once already under warranty. Not a high quality piece.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

December 27, 2010
12:18 PM

Post #8279059

Update on heating my Rion - I decided that I could not afford to rely on electrical power and sleep soundly, since a tripped breaker or power outage could spell real trouble for my plants. I chose Mr. Heater Buddy heaters for my heating needs. The regular Buddy is just right for my Rion, and the Big Buddy is what I got for my large hoop house. I also obtained two Little Buddy heaters, one for each of my smaller greenhouses, but right out of the box, one of them did not ignite properly. I still have to get up in early morning (2 or 3 am) to check things, especially with the Little Buddys because they take the 1 lb propane tanks and they last only 5 to 6 hours), but the regular Buddy does an excellent job of keeping the Rion pretty warm all night when hooked up to a 20 lb propane tank. So far we've had three cold events (third one TONIGHT) but all plants in the Rion with the Buddy are doing fine and even growing some. My hardy Alocasia and Philodendron crosses are doing well without any special protection (lowest temp I've recorded so far is 33 degrees F, but ice on windshields at that temp)..

For the record, the 20 lb propane tanks are kept outside the ghs with connecting hoses going into the ghs to connect to the Buddy heaters. That is not an issue with the Little Buddys, though.

This message was edited Dec 27, 2010 3:23 PM
boxcar_grower
South Hadley, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 27, 2010
12:34 PM

Post #8279084

Sounds good.

I opted for a true thermo controlled heating system. In Massachusetts it is a need. We just finished up the nasty blizzard that has been on the news. I have an Empire 35k BTU direct vent heater hung on the back wall.

I locked down the roof vent today because we have had wind gust over 60 mph. I dont trust the auto openers as far as I can throw them. They dont have a positive close spring. I am in the process of trying different set ups of auto openers. I have a new one ready to install but it will take some fudging.
LariAnn
Miami, FL
(Zone 10a)

December 27, 2010
12:45 PM

Post #8279103

My Rion kit came with the auto openers but I never installed them. They might work OK for summertime but I feel like I could not trust them in winter, especially if a really cold night is in the offing. I'd rather close the vents at sunset by hand and have that extra time to check the plants than leave it and find that the thing didn't close and my plants suffered!
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 11, 2011
3:02 PM

Post #8555342

Three winters ago we purhased and Easy Grow by Rion from Costco. 8x6. Not near large enough.
When it came to putting in the seals for the panels DH came to pieces. After nearly a week of fidgeting with about half of them, I called Rion. Lo and behold, the man that actually wrote the manual lived about 35 miles from us on the other side of Dallas. He and his son came and finished the project. I gave him an earful about the manual and how difficult this DIY project had become. He admitted he was in the process of re-writing the manual as I was not the only customer that was complaining. Everything was fine the first winter. The second we had a snow storm that set records for Dallas, Texas. Because of the excessive Texas heat we had installed a "car canopy on a frame" over the GH. As luck would have it we had a 14 inch snow storm in less than 24 hours. Collected on the canopy, broke the canopy and feel into the GH. With much effort we dismantled the roof of the GH and started over. This past winter of 2010-2011, we had another severe winter. Forty eight hours of 16 degrees did in every single plant in the GH. Even with the heater going full blast. Currently using it for a storage facility for my garden tools. Don't know what I will do when it is time to bring my plants inside this Fall. We are considering remodeling the tool shed. It is 10x16 and most everything in it could be disposed of.
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

May 11, 2011
3:51 PM

Post #8556149

Wow, I've had exactly the opposite experience. We even had a tornado go through here 2 weeks ago and had only one panel pop out and 2 were partly loose. Four inches of ice and more snow this winter with no problem and a stretch of zero cold. I naturally have to use a small heater, but it handled it.
LouC
Desoto, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 11, 2011
5:07 PM

Post #8556366

So glad for you, Cathy. There are so many variables in judging just how well a GH will suit someone in any particular area. The people at Rion were more than generous and helpful. We just happened to have two of the worst winters in Dallas in all of 117 years of record keeping. We are currently in a drought of the same proportions. We definitely have feast or famine these days.

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