Thursday, December 13, 2012

Replacing your flagpole rope, attaching swivel snap hooks and covers is probably the biggest maintenance you'll ever do if you have a standard, external halyard flagpole (exposed ropes). It's not difficult, unless you make it difficult. When we first set out to look at flagpoles across the country, we were so set in our ways as to how a flag should be flown, we didn't realize others might do it differently.

How to replace halyard (rope)?
In this video, we take you through the details of replacing flagpole rope. We couldn't possibly cover everything. For example, there are many different kinds of rope. Some a rated for outdoor use, some not. Some are rated for long-term outdoor exposure and others are not. Even if you have an outdoor suited durable piece of rope, you may live by salt water and that could change things a bit. The most important thing, is to make sure the diameter of the rope does not exceed the acceptable diameter of the pulley at the top of the flagpole. Use the flagpole finder to find your flagpole pulley size.

You've gotten the correct size/make rope. Now you have to collect a few supplies to perform the task. All you need is:
            • Set of Rope Cutters
            • Tape (Duct Tape or Electrical)
Once you have all your equipment and rope on hand, you need to take the flag down, tie off the halyard at the cleat so the original rope knot to accessible. Tie off the halyard so when you cut the rope, the old rope doesn't run up and off the pulley at the top. Cut the rope with the cutters at the knot (above and below). Here is the tricky part. You need to tape the two ends together (old and new) so that there is no change or little change in rope diameter. Test the rope strength by pulling on both sides of the tape. If it is relatively strong, you can hoist the new rope by pulling on the old.

Now that you have the new rope through the pulley, it is time to tie the knot. We like the Triple Fisherman's Knot. It is secure, has a safety, and has a clean look. Here are the 10 steps to tying a fisherman's knot.
  • Take the two end of the rope and overlap them. Start on one side. 
  • Wrap the rope around the other end of rope and your thumb, toward you three times. 
  • Pull out your thumb and pass the rope through the center where your thumb was. tighten to show a slip knot with three loops. Take up slack.
  • Perform the same process for the opposite end, turning the rope around (or 180ยบ).
  • Tighten the opposite end and take up slack.
  • Then, with two sets of three loops (two slip knots), pull the ends of the rope, outside the knot, bringing the two slip knots together. Make sure the knots are firmly together.
  • Finish the loose ends by taping them to the rope.
How to attach swivel snap hooks (flag clips) to rope?
We have found, putting the swivel snap hooks on rope is best to use the knot as a reference point. This makes rough measurement for the distance of the swivel snap hooks easier.

For example, if you are flying a 5 x 8 ft. flag, you can generally measure two and a half (2 1/2) ft. above the knot, attach a swivel snap, then measure two and a half (2 1/2) ft. below the know and attache the second swivel snap. (For flags with more than two attachment points, you can place the know higher, between the first and second grommet or thimble.)

Note: This also places the knot between the hoist of the flag. If for some reason, years down the road, the knot gives out, the hoist will act as a safety and you can still replace your halyard without having to go to the top of your flagpole. Rope is very cheap. It is better to replace it more often than to have it fail. The rope may last monger, but we recommend replacing it every two to four years. Although, even that really varies.

Oddly, tying a swivel snap hook to halyard doesn't require tying at all. In fact, you are doing your parts a disservice if you tie the swivel snap hook to the rope and will have to replace the entire system more often. Not to mention you will loose flexibility. The swivel snap hook is designed with a clip-end and eye-lit. The eye-lit is designed large enough for the rope to be pinched and run through (see the diagram).

Once you have that, you can pull the loop over the clip-end. Then tighten the rope so the halyard is snug around the eye-lit. This allows the snap to be adjustable to best fit the hoist of the flag. If you want to fly a different size flag later, you can adjust it accordingly.

For snap covers, you pinch the rope. Pass it through both the narrow end of the cover as well as the eye-lit of the swivel snap hook. Pull the loop over the clip-end and tighten. Same adjustable results.

Any questions, contact the FlagRunners here.