Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dude, that's so retro!

Sometimes you just need to retrofit your existing hardware to bring it up to current safety standards, or at least to "best practices."  For counterweighted stage rigging, this may be the result of your annual inspection for safety and upgrades.  Many older counterweight arbors were not equipped with spreader plates to help keep the weight bricks in-place in the event of an arbor crash.  For more information about arbor crashes and maintenance, see these resources:

The spreader plates are flat metal pieces that keep the two vertical weigh guide rods from bowing apart and allowing the counterweights to come loose.  Best Practice is to insert a spreader plate every two feet in the weight stack.  To calculate how many spreader plates your arbors should be equipped with just take the height in inches between upper and lower arbor frames and divide by 24.

Many stages have a spreader plate that is painted RED inserted just above the ballast weight (aka: "pipe weight") to provide a visual reminder to the weight loading crew that they should stop removing weights at this point.
At the USITT Stage Equipment Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina, Steven Rees, owner of Graybeard Solutions, introduced the Retrospreader™.  It is a two-piece assembly that can be installed on an existing counterweight arbor without disassembling it.  Steven has done his homework on this item and it has been stress-tested and patented.

The Retrospreader™ can be ordered to fit any two-rod arbor. More information can be found at their web site:

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