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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Non-Counterweighted Pulley Systems
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Non-Counterweighted Pulley Systems

Simple arrangements of rope and pulleys make up the simplest batten fly system. Three manila ropes, tied to a pipe batten, pass through pulleys (called loft blocks) mounted on the gridiron. These ropes then pass through another set of pulleys (called the head block), where they then are tied off to a heavy steel railing called the pinrail. The pinrail is in what is known as the fly gallery, which is a suspended platform generally at least twelve feet off the ground in over the wings of the stage. The front railing of the platform holds several steel belay pins that the ropes are tied off to. Fly operators (people operating the fly system) stand on the platform in the fly gallery to fly objects in and out. Typically it takes two to four people to safely use a non-counterweight fly system -- one, two, or three to lift the load, the other to brake the rope and tie it off when the batten is moved into position. The rope is tied off to the belay pins using a figure-eight pattern.

Non-counterweighted fly systems are extremely difficult to use, not to mention dangerous. The main theatre venue at WPI, Alden Hall, still has several battens that are flown using such a system. Access to the fly gallery is obtained by climbing the ladder to the grid, crossing the grid and descending a second ladder. There is enough space for several people to work a set of lines, which is advantageous, because hoisting a batten full of lighting instruments is usually a three to four person job. Most designers try to avoid using these battens, but occasionally using the ``hemp bars'', as they are called at WPI, becomes a necessity. Training with an experienced fly operator is mandatory for safe use of these battens.

next up previous contents index
Next: Counterweighted Fly Systems Up: Fly Methods Previous: Fly Methods   Contents   Index
Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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