Sunday, November 2, 2014

October 26th, around 1:45pm, five veterans stepped back and admired there work. There was only one thing missing. Troy went inside and grabbed his mom. He asked if she would do the honors of raising the American flag and christening the flagpole. The Gomez family were once again flag fliers. This time, it would be permanent.

For Troy, flying a flag is more than just supporting the country. It's personal. His father served in the Navy, his brother served in the Marines. Being a Louisiana family from Mandeville, war is not the only chaos this family encountered. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the neighborhood and took down the flagpole that marked the spot for this Louisiana Flag Flying pro American family. After 8 years, Troy had waited long enough and decided it was time to get a new flagpole.
But what do you do when you've already had one flagpole swept away? With weather more and more erratic, it is difficult to feel comfortable with the residential flagpole kits they sell at a low cost. They don't stand up to the elements they claim to be made to handle over time and in any kind of weather. A disaster from nature is a different story but a tinker toy will not do against heavy weather for very long. 

The flagpole needs to be made to hold up where you are located, and where you fly the flag (your flag's location). That means not just looking at your zip code and wind zone ratings there, but also the specific location of the flag. How exposed is your flag to the elements? Look at a all types of flagpoles, particularly commercial aluminum flagpoles or fiberglass.

Fortunately for Troy, he is knowledgeable in many different areas. No doubt his background played a role in creative problem solving. Troy didn't want to put a flagpole up to have it fail again, so he started looking around investigating; making the experience an adventure. This is about the time he called the FlagRunners at FlagDesk. 

When he explained his story, he was full of ideas. In fact he had already sourced a local place where he could acquire stainless steel straight pipe of various diameters. This would eventually become the shaft of the flagpole. He was looking for two things: A flagpole that could survive almost anything and something he could pull up out of the ground and take with him if the family ever moved.

We talk to many people who want a flagpole, but don't know if they will be located at the same spot 20/40 years from now. Troy's solution is easier than ours, but you have options. Troy designed a set screw system where the flagpole slides into a base shaft and is secured by the screws. If the family does relocate, he can take out the screws, pull up the flagpole and be on his way. If you have a sand-set system, you can suck out the sand with a wet/dry vac and pull the flagpole out. This is a bit more work but flagpoles do often need moved and reset for a variety of reasons: aggressive landscaping, changes in your buildings design, possibly a physical move. 
The great thing about building your own flagpole is that you can decide what components you want, and what you can live without. You will not enjoy comfort from a kit made in who knows where. Here is a list of parts Troy chose for his flagpole project:

  • 6' x 2.5" Schedule 80 Stainless Steel Pipe
  • 20' x 2" Schedule 40 Stainless Steel Pipe
  • 12” Sonotube form
  • 4" Gold Anodized Ball Ornament
  • 2 3/8" Cap-Style Rotating Truck (RTC)
  • 9" Cast Aluminum Cleat
  • Chrome Plated Brass Swivel Snaps
  • Rubber Snap Hook Covers

It is surprising how few materials you need to rig a flagpole. In fact, when it comes to flying a flag, less is more. The fewer hardware parts on your flagpole, the fewer number of things for the flag to get caught or snagged. This helps lead to the longest flag life and hence a better flag flying deal for you the flag flier. Clearly it is not the whole story but it goes a long way. Obstructions, flagpole finish are a couple other areas that will eat up a flag fast once those problems crop up. Another good idea is to employ a rotating truck (as Troy has done). As the flag flies, the truck (or pulley system) at the top of the flagpole swivels. Even though this system doesn't allow for 360 degree rotation, you only need a small amount of movement to take a lot of stress off of the flag and prevent the flag from furling around the pole. This means less abrasion, less twisting and less pressure on the flag, that saves money and the flag itself. 
The first step in installing any flagpole is to dig the hole. You've got to have a plan and understand your location. Here are some quick notes:

  1. Look up! Make sure the flag won't get caught on any nearby tree branches or roof tops or bushes, etc.
  2. Look down! Make sure there are no gas lines, power lines, telephone lines, or lines of any kind. You may hit roots, or bricks, or bathtubs. We've run into EVERYTHING. Call your local underground to mark the big stuff.
  3. Stand back! Take a step back from the property and visualize the flag. It is not always the best to be in the exact center of the lot. The right place usually reveals itself with enough perspective.

Troy had all these things figured out. He dug four feet down to set the stainless steel foundation tube (6 feet total). Using the 12” sonotube, he set the base shaft in cement. In order to level the base tube, he used four ratchet straps with tubular webbing. These anchored the base tube level as the concrete set up.

Troy's family and three neighbors took the beautiful Sunday as an opportunity to complete the project. The two stainless steel pipes were such a tight fit, Troy had to chuck or grind about an 1/8” off the long shaft to fit into the base pipe. 

Troy wrote:

“The schedule 80 pipe is in the ground 4' with 2' above ground. I had to grind about an 1/8" off of the schedule 20 pipe so it would fit inside of the schedule 80 pipe. After grinding, I had to grind the entire length of the pole to remove the protective coating and then proceeded to polish with a flap disk, then lightly sanded followed up with some jewelers rouge.”

He then set the long stainless steel shaft on saw horses in order to secure the truck top, drill for the cleat, and rig the halyard (rope) along with the truck and ball top ornament.

We can tell you from experience it is a very emotional thing to raise a flagpole. It is exciting and inspiring to lift the pole in the air and place it in the foundation. For Troy, he may have not realized how he would feel when he began this project, but he emailed us later:

“Thanks for the compliment. It means a lot to me. Especially how one can appreciate the work of another. My intention here was to be able to show how much heart went into this project by looking at the end result. I have never worked on any other project in my 46 years that was more important than this one. I'm telling you... I had goose bumps as 5 of us were raising this pole.”

Troy flies the flag for those who can't or those who wont. He flies the flag for his family and friends who have served. He flies the flag as a symbol of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. He flies the flag for the future generations who will serve as he did to protect this country and better the world. He flies because he is proud of who we are as a country and believes in the road we travel as Americans. We are not a perfect nation, we are a nation of progress and the American flag is our symbol. Thank you Troy for sharing your flag story with us.