Thursday, March 8, 2012

Please note: This article pertains to external halyard commercial flagpoles where the ropes are exposed. We will be covering the 30 ft. flagpole, but the same principles apply to all external flagpoles even though some components may vary.

In this video, we show you how to assemble each component of a flagpole, raise the flagpole, and level it according to the area. This is the next step after the flagpole foundation has been set, whether you are using a foundation sleeve or anchor bolts with a shoe base.

How To Assemble And Raise A Flagpole

While there are many steps involved in flagpole installation, it is very possible to install and raise a commercial flagpole of up to 35 feet with only three people. If you are trying this for the first time, it doesn't hurt to have a few more people on hand. It is a great project for the community, organization, or employees. The end result can be a wonderful experience, personal connection, and lasting asset to any building, park, or other facility.

Having a commercial flagpole is not isolated to the commercial market. In other words, you don't need a business to have a commercial grade flagpole. There are many ways to be a flag flyer, many great products out there, and many different size, types and styles of flags to fit just about any situation. Having a commercial-grade flagpole is one of the best ways to compliment the flag and add value to your property. There is a remarkable difference between this and a residential flagpole, not only in beauty but also in durability. At the same time, getting one of these flagpoles requires special freight and other factors. It is best to do your research, find out exactly what works best for your area, and feel confident you have all the tools you need to produce an incredible display.

Check Your Parts

First things first. When the flagpole comes off the truck, you want to inspect your parts to make sure everything is in good shape. If anything looks dented or is not working properly, please contact your provider. Chances are these parts may need to be replaced. It is easier to replace parts now than to have to replace flagpole parts after installation.

Unwrap the flagpole out of the cylinder carton and remove the carton paper. This step is essential. If you leave the flagpole wrapped in a moist or damp place, the brown dye of the paper will leak and stain the flagpole.

First look for any dents, blemishes, or scratches on the flagpole. Minor scratches will will be unnoticeable once the flagpole is installed, but you want to make sure the integrity of the shaft is still good. In very rare cases, will we find a shaft that has fouled during transportation.

Next, look at the threading at the top of the flagpole. Make sure the threading on the inner diameter ID of the flagpole is smooth and even. If the threading has irregular grooves or fragments sticking out, you don't necessarily have to return the shaft. The best remedy is to use a file and carefully sand down and re-smooth these areas. Remember, the truck is not built to screw all the way down to the flagpole shaft top, it merely seats into the flagpole with 5 or so turns.

Finally, check for 2 drilled holes for the cleat by the base of your flagpole. If the holes are not drilled, you don't have to return the flagpole shaft either. Drilling through the aluminum is easy and requires a standard drill. It is best to install the flagpole and drill once the flagpole is raise. That way you can place the cleat exactly as you want it. Use the cleat to make the hole pattern.

Note: For commercial flagpoles with multiple sections, check the male and female ends of the flagpole for any irregularities. Just as in the threads at the top, you may have to file down these ends for a better fit.


Assembling the Flagpole

If all of your flagpole parts check out, it's time to assemble the flagpole. You do not have to go in this order, but this is what we find best. We are going to assemble the truck with the halyard.
Take your halyards and put one end through the pulley of the truck. Tie the halyard together as you see below. You can put the tape on before or after raising the flagpole. One of the benefits of putting the tape on afterwards is that you can adjust the halyard if you have to. A benefit to taping the rope before is that if you are not confident in the knot, you can be sure the rope will not fall down during flagpole raising.

Step 1 - Create two overhand knots.

Step 2 - Tighten both overhand knots.

Step 3 - Pull knots together tightly.

Step 4 - (Optional) Tape loose ends.

Hand screw the revolving truck into the thread of the flagpole. Once you can not screw the truck thread any longer, use a heavy-duty wrench (plumber's wrench or lock tight) to seat the truck into the flagpole top. You do not need to force the flagpole truck to be set all the way, there should be some threads still showing. (WARNING: position pulley of the truck to be in line with the cleat. To attach the truck to the flagpole, slip the truck over the top of the flagpole. Tighten each screw partially, rotating between screws. Check to make sure the truck and pulley are level or perfectly perpendicular to the flagpole. Once the truck is level and the screws are touching the aluminum wall of the flagpole, seat the truck by biting the set screws into the aluminum.)

Flagpole Trucks Vocabulary

  • Stationary Trucks - do not revolve around the top of the flappole.

  • Revolving Trucks - revolve or rotate with the wind around the top of the flappole.

  • Cap Style - are designed to fit over the top of the flagpole and are secured with 1/4"-20NC stainless steel set screws.

  • Threaded Type - have a 1-1/4" NPT threaded spindle which screws into the top of the flagpole.

  • Single Pulley - for flagpoles with a single internal or external halyard.

  • Double Pulley - for external halyard flagpoles with a double halyard.

You have strung the flagpole truck with the halyard, tied the halyard and attached the truck to the top of the flagpole. Now it is time to attach the flagpole ornament. In this case, a 5" Gold Anodized Ball Ornament. First make sure the set screw located on the top of the flagpole truck is open. Using only the stem, gently hand screw the stem into the truck opening at the top. This hole at the top has a bottom. There should be some threads showing on the stem of the ornament. Tighten the set screw and bite into the aluminum threads on the stem of the ornament. Use the bolt to secure the ornament to the flagpole truck.
The top of the flagpole is now assembled: truck, ball ornament and pulley system. Moving down to toward the base of the flagpole you will find two drilled holes for the stainless steel screws to secure the cleat. The cleat can be installed either side facing the truck. Position the screws into their corresponding holes, hand tighten the screws and use a standard flat head screw driver to tighten one screw, but don't tighten completely. Move to the adjacent screw and tighten completely. Then finish the first screw. this method, as shown in the video, prevents the stainless steel screws from scoring the threading of the aluminum flagpole and ensures a nice fit. Take the halyard or rope and tie off on the cleat.
5" x 12" x 1-3/4" SILVER ALUMINUM COLLAR
It is very easy to dent an aluminum flash collar. Whether the flash collar is on the flagpole, or waiting to be installed. Remember to keep the flash collar in a safe place away from anything that might scratch, stain or dent it during installation. for example, concrete can not be removed from the aluminum once it is dried. It is best to keep the flagpole parts away from the site while installing the foundation sleeve. Slide the flash collar up from the base of the flagpole to just below the cleat. Use tape to secure the flash collar temporarily. Stuffing paper between the flash collar and the flagpole can help protect both the flash collar and flagpole while ensuring the flash collar won't fall during raising. If the flash collar falls, it will make raising, leveling, and filling the foundation sleeve a lot more difficult. Although once the flagpole is raised, you can always re-tape the flash collar.
You can put the snaps and covers on before the flagpole is raised or you can put them on after it is raised. The most important part is that the top of the flagpole is done properly because that is the most difficult to reach from the ground. You must first attach the snap cover. Pinch the rope or halyard and punch it through the small opening of the cover. Then as shown below (and in the video) pinch the rope through the bottom eyelet of the swivel snap and cross the loop over the spring loaded snap. Tighten the rope and pull the cover over the snap. If you put the snaps between the knot, you get a few benefits. First, you can easily measure how far the snaps should be apart. Second, it is more difficult to see the knot from the ground as it is near the top of the flagpole and covered by the canvas header. Third, the canvas header of the flag acts as a safety. The the rope breaks at the knot, the header will keep the rope in tact so you can replace the rope with a bucket truck.

Raising the Flagpole

Raising a flagpole is very much like the classic symbolic status, the USMC War Memorial. But instead of everyone actively raising the flagpole, you want to have someone anchoring the flagpole at the base while the other people walk the flagpole up. The butt of the flagpole needs to be against the ground sleeve at all times. Be sure to go slow. You do not want to drop the flagpole and risk injuring someone or the flagpole itself. Once the flagpole is vertical, do not drop the flagpole onto the pyramid-shaped welded re-bar at the base of the foundation sleeve. Slowly lower the flagpole onto the pyramid shaped re-bar. This pyramid will help when it comes time to level the flagpole. Pour sand in an even way around the flagpole between the flagpole and wall of the foundation sleeve. Only fill enough so that the flagpole can be moved, but won't fall over. Now your flagpole is raised and set in the ground.

Leveling and Finishing the Flagpole

You are almost done. All the components are correctly assembled and attached to the flagpole. The flagpole has been carefully raised and just enough sand is sitting at the bottom of the foundation sleeve so the flagpole can be moved but won't fall over. Now it is time to level the flagpole, fill it with sand, finish with wedges, dirt, etc., and lower the flash collar. You need at least two people for this phase: one person at the flagpole to move the flagpole and another person several yards away judging the level of the flagpole by sight. The person at the base of the flagpole should have a level and get a general idea of whether the flagpole is sitting right. The person several yards out needs to pick building edges and other structures such as light poles to judge by eyesight whether the flagpole is level with the environment. The person several yards out also has to pick two points at roughly 90 degrees to make sure the flagpole appears level from 360 degrees (just as we show in the video).

Once the flagpole is in fact level, it looks parallel to surrounding buildings or structures and the level is right (please note commercial flagpole taper so the level will never read perfectly level), the foundation needs to be filled with sand. Pretty much any sand will do. The finer the sand, the easier it is to move the flagpole during leveling. Sand stiffens to 95% the hardness of concrete over a 6 week period. Once the sand is filled to the top of the sleeve, add water and let the sand compact. Add more sand and water until it is compact. On rare occasions, there will be an air pocket in the sleeve. This is more common on larger flagpoles. Wedges help prevent the flagpole from leaning as these air pockets settle. Wedges can be sticking up slightly from the sleeve because they will be covered by the flash collar. Place three wedges evenly around the flagpole between the sleeve and the flagpole.

Finish pouring the sand. Untape the flash collar and place it at the base of the flagpole on the sonotube molded pedestal. You can now finish the flagpole base however you need, dirt or otherwise. Your flagpole installation is complete. If you let the foundation sleeve concrete base dry overnight, you can start raising the flagpole immediately. If you installed the foundation sleeve and raised the flagpole on the same day, you may want to let the foundation set and wait a day or so to fly a flag.