Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We have covered most of the various topics regarding flagpole installation. If you have been following you are now ready to assembly the flagpole. If you are doing research, this part of the tutorial will help you understand various options for pulley assembly and ornament for top of the external halyard flagpole.

Topics covered in the past tutorials:
  • Nature of shipping flagpoles
  • How to receive the flagpole / check for damages / properly sign cargo acceptance
  • How to unpack the flagpole safely and without harming the flagpole
  • Tips for flagpole storage

  • Proper flagpole hole dimensions
  • Proper way to mix concrete
  • Proper way to set the sleeve
  • How to install flagpole with a pedestal base with sonotube

  • Picking a flagpole location
  • Calling underground for a clearance safety check
  • List of helpful flagpole installation tools
  • How to pick the right height for your flagpole location
 Part 4: Flagpole Trucks and Ornaments
"It's a process." That sentence seems to be the one we keep coming back to on the phone when we help people with their flagpole questions. And most flag flyers feel comforted in getting the job right the first time. Even if it means taking a little extra time. You'll find the flagpole truck is a decision based on location, flagpole specifications and other technical information. The flagpole ornament is selected almost purely on aesthetics and beauty, it can be a personal choice. Some people love the ball ornament, while others want a natural or golden eagle in flight.

The Flagpole Pulley System a.k.a. Flagpole Truck

Various types of flagpole trucks. This tutorial will talk about External Halyard (left).

What is the heart of your flag display? You may think it is the flag, but in fact it is the flagpole truck. The flagpole truck is what keeps the whole system working. This is why it is so important to pick the right type of flagpole truck for your situation. When it comes to the flagpole truck, you are weighing technical benefits vs. economical solutions.

Cap-Style Truck
Fouling vs. Non-fouling
Flagpole trucks for external halyard flagpole systems are divided into two categories, fouling and non-fouling. What this basically indicates is whether the flagpole truck rotates. Rotation allows the flag to track down wind with the constant change in wind direction. While a stationary truck (fixed or non rotting) the wind is working against the flag in the constantly changing wind direction. In general you will not find a stationary (or fouling) flagpole truck on a flagpole above 25 ft. This is because at 30 ft. and above, flags greatly benefit from the stress relief of the rotating (non-fouling) truck.

Cap-Style vs. Threaded
The second aspect of a flagpole truck has to do with how the truck is secured or mounted to the flagpole. Most flagpoles have a female threaded opening built right into the top of the flagpole. All commercial size external halyard threaded trucks are rotating (non-fouling) or threaded.
RTC-1 Rotating Cap Style Truck
On 25' and shorter height flagpoles a cap-style stationary fixed flagpole truck is often substituted that slips over
the top of the flagpole shaft and is secured with set screws. In the video (above) we are installing a cap-style rotating flagpole truck known as an RTC-1. Normally, this flagpole would come with a stationary (fouling) truck, an OT truck but this application we chose an upgraded cap style rotating. Very economical, functional and attractive.

If you are making a flagpole out of a light pole, you may have to go with a heavy-duty truck where the pulley clears the top diameter of the flagpole so the rope can freely cast its line to the cleat. This will mean needing a pole top adapter (PTA). Often we see an inadequate eye-bolt pulley mounted in one fashion or another to the top of a light pole or wood pole application. Which ever system you choose, make sure you understand the benefits and the drawbacks. For example, you might find a very inexpensive rotating flagpole truck, but that truck may have a open bearing system rather than a sealed bearing system. This will greatly reduce the life of that hardware. It is something you may not hear over the phone or find displayed on a website. Halyard clearance at the top, sealed bearings, possibly using a (PTA) pole top adapter can mean durability and avoiding costly future bucket truck expense.

How to Install the Flagpole Truck
For a cap style truck, fit the cap over the top of the flagpole shaft. Evenly tighten the set screw one at a time, a few turns at a time, make sure there is even spacing all the way around or, when the flagpole is raised, the flagpole ornament could look cocked! Once the set screws are set to the flagpole wall, tighten down on each one until you feel a bite.

Flagpole Accessories
If you have a threaded truck, you will need channel locks or a plumber's wrench. Hand tighten the truck into the female end of the threading on the top of the flagpole shaft. Once the truck is hard to turn, use the channel locks to really clamp the truck down and tighten the truck into the flagpole fitting.  

*HINT: Have someone hold the flagpole snug from the cleat to create leverage to tighten.
The threading on the truck is graduated so you will not need tighten the truck to the point where no threads are showing. You want there to be a secure snug fit. Using a cloth will prevent the channel locks from marking the hardware up.

The Flagpole Ornament: Ball or Eagle

Flagpole ornaments

Once you have selected the proper truck, you are more or less 90% done with the details. A ball ornament looks great on a flagpole because it turns what would otherwise look like a spear into an ornamental extension of the flag... maybe that's why it is called an ornament?

As an ornament, you can choose almost anything from a ball, eagle, cross or we've even seen a  bowling ball used by a bearing company (unique and custom)! All you really need to know is the spindle threading size on the truck. For us, this is most generally one half inch. However, LARGE flagpoles have a 5/8" inch spindle threading. Here we are discussing the more common ball top or eagle ornaments, they are the most common.

Ball Ornament
Warning: Vibration, birds, kids playing and mowers can break these ornaments or even cause the threading to back out with all the banging these flagpoles endure. It is always a disappointment to see the ball top cracked off the top. The more expensive stainless steel ornament is more durable as is an eagle ornament. All have pluses and minuses, everything eventually wears out in the elements.

Ball Ornaments
When it comes to the flagpole ball ornament, you can have it your way. These ornaments come available in gold, silver, bronze, black, or clear (which is also silver). Choose your color, then measure your base or butt diameter of your flagpole, it is recommended to choose the same ball diameter ball to the base diameter of your flagpole for the best look overall. Sometimes an inch up or down can be a better choice for you. 

Eagle Ornaments
Painted Eagle Ornament
You don't have as many options with the eagle ornament in terms of color, usually gold or natural painted, but you do have options on wing span, arrangement, etc. The standard rule is that the width of the eagle's wings should be half the height of the flagpole in inches. What does that mean? (A 30 ft. flagpole should have around a 15" eagle.) An eagle can really bring a lot of life to an American flag display.

How to Install the Ornament
All ornaments have a spindle. The spindle is a threaded rod connected to the bottom of the ornament. For ball ornaments it is critical you tighten the ornament to the flagpole truck gently at first. Once it is secure, tighten the bolt with a crescent wrench.  

Warning: Do not grip or hold the ball ornament on the ball itself to tighten. This will more than likely spring the seating or cause structural failure. It may not show up immediately, it might let you down later or you may not be able to raise your pole right away as getting a replacement ornament top can take some time). The final step is to use a flat head screw driver and secure the set screws. If you have a stationary truck with an eagle, think ahead about which direction you want the eagle to face (true north, or flying into the great eastern sun).

Wrapping things up...
Now you have attached the flagpole truck and ornament, we'll get into the next phase, the halyard and cleat in the following video. Stay tuned please, the installation process is coming along nicely. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We greatly appreciate you visiting our site, but more importantly for being a flag flyer in the flag flying community, your the people that make a community strong. We just like people who fly flags!