Rust, oxidation, decay. These are an infrastructure's most feared words. From the smallest to the tallest, nothing is unconditionally fail-proof. At best, well maintained structures stand the test of time. Today, we look at a very old custom-built flagpole with a counterbalance tilting system. Thankfully, this is a very well built mechanism with an excellent concrete pedestal. Two flange pieces are welded to a steel plate which is anchor bolted into the ground.
What people don't know about a counterbalance flagpole, is that the base from the hinge down, should weigh the same as the flagpole from the hinge up. This allows the flagpole to be easily lowered to the ground (tilted down) by one person. This is an ingenious system which might be overkill. The only reason to go up to the top of the flagpole is if there is a problem you can't get to from the ground. This might be an issue once every 10 years with good regular maintenance. It all depends on your location. Heavy wind areas will have more frequent replacement and maintenance repairs.
We run just about every day. Ever since we started Flag Running, we've tried to change up where we run to cover new ground, look at different displays, and learn. I'd say most often, we find a commercial aluminum flagpole with a cleat, ropes on the outside, and a standard ground sleeve foundation. McDonald's and other chain restaurants typically use a shoe-base installation, which is the same as light or lamp poles. This is probably because the light poles are installed at the same time as the flagpoles and it is easier to have them all installed the same way. Counter balance is by far the rarest type of foundation.
When flagpoles were first made (out of wood), a hinge system was common. In those times, technology was still manual. To get to the top of a flagpole, you would have to either climb the pole or take the pole out of the ground. The hinge system solved this problem and was carried over to today. While technology now allows us several ways to fix a problem, sometimes, the classic look of a flagpole with a counterbalance gives a nostalgic presentation that attracts positive attention to your location.