Finally took delivery of the new AeroPole balloon arch system and as it’s a windy Saturday in Birmingham I thought I’d put it to test. The first thing that seems strange about the poles is a single pole on it’s own is not very flexible:
Slot a few together and suddenly they seem really bendy and form a perfect symmetrical arch. The base plates are about 4 times bigger than a standard base and pole and they’re nice and heavy.
The poles slot together nice and simple and I used gaffa tape to keep them tight together. The system comes with 7 poles but I only used 5 for this demo arch. I placed the joined poles along the floor and began covering it in 11″ Qualatex downsized to 8.25″.
When it was covered it seemed really long and difficult to handle on your own – it’s a 2 man job to get this thing slotted onto the bases. I managed to grab a padestrian to give me a hand otherwise I think it would have needed ladders and working with 3 sections (gaffa taping them together as you put the arch up and then adding balloons to cover the joints).
Once I had it slotted onto the bases it was awesome despite the wind and strangely it didn’t seem as big as when it lay flat on the floor. The costcutter arch I did recently looked OK but I had to attach it to the shop front in 5 places to counter the wind. It’s not always easy to find an attachment on an aluminium store front.
When I build another one I will slot some line though the centre hole in the base plate and twist it around the bottom clusters in the arch to stop the poles sliding up.
It was tricky getting the thing down at the end of the day. The only way I could do it on my own was to lay it down and pull the poles from the bases. I did try bursting the balloons at the 6ft level, removing the gaffa and pulling – but because of the slight arc it was impossible to un-slot the poles. Also – I got very wet.
You’ll need a spanner to attach the small metal upright to the base. I did mine finger tight and by the end of the day both sides were lose which made the thing sway slightly backwards or forwards.
I would tie 6ft of 500lb line under the washer and twist it around the bottom 5 clusters of balloons. The gaffa I used to connect the black pole to the metal rod didn’t stick to the metal – so the rods moved slightly up and down.
I think it’s a sound investment. The holes in the corners of the bases are supposed to be to connect extra rods – but I’m thinking I can peg the thing down with tent pegs when on a grass area, perfect for those fun runs that start in a park.The picture below show the same arch reduced to 4 length of the AeroPole:
2nd Update – We now connect the columns using dacron line rather than gaffa tape.
Here’s an update on how I assemble the AeroPoles now:
Usually for an outside arch I double the base plates, or add a weight on the top (I buy the weight lifting weights from Decathlon for £15 each).
But if it’s going in a park you should be able to use tent pegs on the 4 corners.
Pioneer want you to tape the things together with gaffa tape but it doesn’t stick in anyway if it’s raining.
I tie 50lb or 150lb line around my first pole and twist it around every other cluster. When I get to the join I twist on a cluster in the 2nd pole and then go backwards to the 1st pole twist & then go forward again twisting around the balloons in the 2nd pole and repeat on all poles (so the line goes past the joint 3 times, sort of forwards, backwards then forwards). Don’t worry if the joint is not totally snug – event if there a 10mm gap (because the balloons push against each other) once the thing in bent in an arch they will not pull apart.
If you’re working alone – when you’ve gone all the way though I tie the line from the last pole in a slip knot around the handle of one of the bases and then push up from the other side & slot the 1st side in. This slip knot stops the thing waving around. I then quickly rush over and slot the 2nd side in.
If you find it difficult to slot the pole on it will be because the arch is leaning forwards or backwards very slightly – don’t force it, wait for it to straighten and it will slot on.
I tie 6ft of 500lb line around the washer on the base and twist that around loads of clusters. You might want an extra cluster on the bottom of both sides as usually there’s a gap.
On a calm day 7 poles are fine – but if it’s a bit windy 6 poles are better, it loads stronger and less flexible with 6.
Once you’ve used it a few times there’s no going back, it’s a pain having to collect the frame but we’ve been going back to places for empty cylinders for years. Basically, when you drive away you feel confident it’s going to look awesome all day – rather than looking in your wing mirror at a crappy helium thing that’s already lost its shape.