Thursday, May 1, 2014

Today, we are bringing you a flag story which I am excited to share because of the industrious method in which Chris made his flag display. Approximately 40 ft. out of the ground, the flagpole towers over the property. But Chris isn't flying this flag for just himself, he is flying for the lake community. Everything Chris used, was either donated or found. All he needed from us was the right rope and snaps to raise the flag.

Might be a while before that dog digs the hole deep enough
Every flagpole starts with a vision. I was on the phone just last week and an Eagle Scout found a 25 ft. flagpole on the back lot of a local junior high school. It was just laying there on the ground. He asked the school principle if they had any intention of using the flagpole. The principle agreed to give him the flagpole to put up at the local Fire Department Forest Fire Management Center. While that is another flag story all together, I wanted to point out, if you keep your eyes open, you never know what you may find laying around. A flag flyer is a flag flyer. You can always get a flagpole from FlagDesk, or find a shaft, get the parts and have a DIY project like Chris here.

One day, Chris is offered a 40 ft. flagpole. What now? He takes an inventory of the parts, he searches his property for the best location, and he starts to figure what foundation requirements he is going to need to pull the job off right. He explains, "When this thing goes into the ground, I am not looking at pulling it out in my lifetime at least." I think most people feel that way. A commercial flagpole is always best because it becomes a permanent asset to the home, rather than a lawn ornament (like many residential flagpoles quickly become). Fortunately, with the flagpole foundation calculator and a little coaching, Chris gets a pretty good idea of the work involved. But Chris' obstacles don't end here.

After digging the hole a ways, he hits water. A lot of water. Unfortunately, this is where we could not really advise as we do not know the soil in that area. Chris understands that concrete will harden in water, but in cases as these, there is always a risk. Chris decides to reinforce the PVC sleeve with re-bar and build a two step square pedestal. As I asked Chris, he explained, "digging was no small task. I have to make sure I was only going down as far as I needed to. the water level was making the hole cave in." But the soil did have some resilience and he was able to get to the necessary height.

One thing for certain, Chris didn't need to add much water to the concrete mix in order to get the foundation set up. All that was required was some testing and patience for the flagpole foundation to set up. fortunately, concrete can cure in water.
And like a cake builder, builds a layer cake, Chris capped the foundation with his first pedestal. We normally make a pedestal that draws in closer to the flagpole foundation sleeve. Chris, made a wide square step. Using his trowel and finishing the cement, all he had to do was wait for the concrete to set up, add the second step or pedestal, and remove the forms. This goes far beyond your average sonotube job!

So how do you raise a 40 ft. flagpole? If you are a construction company, this would require a lift or a crane. Even if you are raising a 20 ft. flagpole, you have to be careful walking the flagpole up. A flagpole is designed to take a significant amount of stress, it is not designed to handle dropping (or being hit by a truck which we will cover in another flag story).

But using a crane on Chris' location was going to be a difficult and expensive add-on to an otherwise inexpensive project. In fact, a crane can more than double to cost of a job like this. We've seen guys use back-hoes, fork lifts, trucks, and all sorts of gadgets to raise a flagpole. This is the first pictures we've received of a guy building out scaffold. When we were on the phone, it was clear Chris had more than the average amount of construction hours under his belt.

Using the scaffolding as a guide, Chris and some friends were able to walk the pole up and into place in the pedestal. Using sand and wedges, Chris leveled the flagpole. I was glad to hear the flagpole was up when he called. I was pleasantly surprised to see the square pedestal. The flagpole towers over the property, but perfectly frames the nearby lake. Raising old glory must truly be an awesome experience in the lake air on a spring morning such as this one.

Chris graciously allowed us to share his flag story. If you have a flag story you would like to share, send us pictures or even video here. Flag flyers fly for the community. Nothing beats a flag flyer. We celebrate and honor the community of flag flyers by sharing our stories.