Flagpole Parts and Terminology Explained

Choosing which flagpole or flagpole parts to buy can be a daunting task. Here are a few of the terms to know and understand when embarking on your journey towards flagpole ownership. For more details on the factors that matter, read our "5 Factors To Consider When Buying A Flagpole" article.

To help make flagpole terms a little easier, we'll start at the top!

Ornament: A flagpole ornament sits atop the pole and is mainly decorative. They can be made using different types of metal and usually either a ball or eagle.

Truck: The truck is the part of the in-ground flagpole that covers the top, holds the ornament in place, and includes the pulley to which the halyard is attached.

Halyard: A flagpole halyard is a rope or a stainless steel cable that provides the ability to fasten a flag on the outside of the pole. The halyard also allows the flag to move up and down the flagpole.

External halyard flagpole: This type of flagpole features a rope that goes from the truck at the top of the flagpole to the cleat where it is secured. External halyard ropes are made of diamond-braided polyester. This pole also has an exposed pulley.

Internal halyard flagpole: This type of flagpole has a hidden halyard inside. This internal halyard is made of wired polyester rope or stainless steel. While internal halyard flagpoles are more expensive, they offer a cleaner look and added security. The halyard is only accessible through a door, locked with a key or winch.

Satin finish: This is the natural state of brushed aluminum. Aluminum has a natural silver color.

Clear anodized finish: An electrochemical process converts the satin-finished aluminum flagpole to make it more durable when exposed to elements like salt water and ocean air. Clear anodized poles are also available in their natural silver or with dark bronze or black color. Anodization requires customization, so these poles cost more and take longer to produce.

Snaps: These are hooks that attach the halyard to the grommets of the flag. Snaps can be made of nylon or zinc. Nylon snaps are used with sectional flagpoles. Zinc snaps come with vinyl covers, preventing that obnoxious clinking sound.

Cleat: This is a hook-type fastener on the side of a flagpole typically used on external halyard flagpoles. Cleats can be attached directly to a flagpole, a wall, or another sturdy place. The halyard is tied around the cleat to keep the flag at the desired height. Internal flagpoles have cam cleats, named after the rotating or sliding piece in a mechanical linkage used for them to function.

Nautical flagpole: A flagpole that is equipped with yardarms and/or a gaff.

Yardarm: A horizontally mounted, tapered pole that is attached to a vertical flagpole, creating a lower case “t” or a cross. These are usually found in nautical applications, but can be used anywhere.

Gaff: A rig, used on nautical flagpoles, that extends from of the flagpole and rises at an angle. The extension gives the option to have additional flag arrangements and flags. The gaff represents the mast of a ship.

Wall thickness: This refers to the thickness of the tubing used to construct the flagpole. It can be simplified to the amount of aluminum used in the flagpole’s construction and is determined according to height and wind requirements.

Butt diameter: The butt diameter is the width of the bottom of the flag pole. This measurement helps you decide if you should buy a flash collar or a shoe base.

Flash collar: This is a decorative ring that goes on the ground, separating the exposed and unexposed sections of the pole. A sealant keeps the flash collar in place and water away from the base of the flagpole.

Shoe base: A shoe base is an alternative support option to a flash collar that usually includes a set of anchoring bolts fastened to a slab of concrete. The shoe base also uses a welded casting situated over the anchoring bolts. The welded base casting is held in place with nuts, lock washers, and flat washers.

Ground sleeve: A tube made of PVC or steel that rests underground and is used to stabilize an in-ground flagpole. The ground sleeve also keeps the area around the base of the flagpole protected from the elements. Steel ground sleeves, with lightning spikes, are most common. The lightning spike acts to distribute any electrical charges into the ground, protecting the pole and the people around it. The product description for each flagpole tells you which ground sleeve is included. 

Sectional flagpoles: This type of flagpole is an affordable alternative to external halyard flagpoles because most of them ship for free. They are not recommended for high-wind areas, but can be disassembled to prevent damage to flagpole and surrounding area.

Telescoping flagpoles: The fact that these poles can quickly be shortening in case of inclement weather make them an economical option for high-wind areas.

Feb 24, 2020 Leonard J.

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