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Old 17th August 2012, 15:37   #1
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Default All about Trail Flags

Trail Flag Unit.

Let's try to address some questions:

- What is a trail flag?

- What are the specifications of a trail flag?

- Why do i need a trail flag?

- Disadvantages?

- Where can i procure one?

- Types of flag poles?

- Where and how to mount a trail flag?

- What kind of flag material to use?

What is a trail flag unit?

A trail flag unit is a flag mounted on a post of a sufficiently long length extending above the top most point of a vehicle and is usually made up of fibre glass and is fixed securely onto a vehicle either in the front or back and is used for the purpose of signaling the vehicle's presence and must confirm to specific guidelines as laid down as regards to length and flex of the pole and dimensions of the flag.

PS: I could not find a suitable definition and have made it up. Kindly suggest modifications to the same.

Synonym: Whipflag, safety flag

What are the specifications of a trail flag?

According to the Silver Lake State Park in the US state of Michigan, the following are the guidelines for trail flags:

- Rectangular, safety orange flags reaching 10 foot in height required on all ORVs. (off road vehicles)

- Operate a vehicle requiring seat belts without a warning flag mounted and extending over the front-most portion of the vehicle. Vehicles not requiring seat belts shall mount the warning flag on the rear of the vehicle. Vehicle operators shall comply with all of the following requirements:

(a) The warning flag shall be mounted on a staff that is securely bolted or welded to the vehicle. The warning flag shall maintain a minimum 10-foot height at standstill and a minimum 8-foot height under motion.

(b) The warning flag shall be mounted on the top-most end of the staff. The flag shall be rectangular, international orange in color, solid material, with a minimum length on the supporting side of five inches and a minimum length on the base side of ten inches.

Source: DNR - Silver Lake State Park Information

Here's a pic of the trail flag on my vehicle:

All about Trail Flags-trail-flag1.jpg

NOTE: most of the times when i mention trail flag, i mean the whole unit and not just the flag unless otherwise specifically mentioned.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 15:49.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:21   #2
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Why do i need a trail flag?

As mentioned previously, a trail flag is flown much higher than the highest point of the vehicle. Thus, if a vehicle is cresting a hill, it signals in advance the approach of the vehicle. Also, if a vehicle has already crested a hill and not cleared the exit path, the next vehicle can make out that there is still a vehicle on top and should not proceed.

Usually, trail flags are most essential in dune bashing where high speeds also come into play increasing the chances of inadvertent collisions. Many offroad parks abroad insist on trail flags as a rule.

Trail flags are also helpful during Jeep Jamborees.

Jeep jamborees are basically family jeep outings. Many 4x4s participate and there are basic to advanced trails. Participants are broken into groups and the color coded flags are assigned to them for easy identification.

http://jeepjamboreeusa.com/

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 17:36.
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Old 18th August 2012, 17:37   #3
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

What happens when you don't have a flag:

ATV Hits Dude In Face*Video


Here's a horrible accident:


Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 15:55.
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Old 20th August 2012, 15:44   #4
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejas
The flag shall be rectangular, international orange in color, solid material, with a minimum length on the supporting side of five inches and a minimum length on the base side of ten inches.
The picture of your jeep just below this doesn't seem to be matching the specs. Is it a bad pic angle, or is the flag smaller?

Also, in the video that you've posted above, its worth noting that both the involved vehicles had flags on them. No doubt its a good thing to have, but I guess you can never be too safe!

--

Here's another vid (though on a smaller scale)...



cya
R

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th August 2012 at 09:49.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 11:24   #5
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post
The picture of your jeep just below this doesn't seem to be matching the specs. Is it a bad pic angle, or is the flag smaller?
I was coming to that

It's a bad angle and also the pole is not matching the specs. The height of the pole is fine but the flex is too much.

EDIT: Sorry misread the quoted text. My flag is triangular in shape. I'm not following the Silver Lake Guidelines for the flag size since i like the looks of the triangular one.

See the height of the pole when stationary:

All about Trail Flags-01.jpg

I had got this pole from Germany when i had gone for one part of my exam. This is actually a flag pole used for bicycles which was very cheap so i thought of adapting it for my jeep. However, in motion, there is more flex in the pole as seen in this photo:

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Same thing had happened for my classic. I had bought a taxi /auto radio antenna. The things you see in most taxis in Mumbai:

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However, these have a lot of flex and became a danger on the road and would tend to whiplash anyone behind and could be a life threatening hazard to a two wheeler especially. Thus, i was forced to tie down the pole to my roll cage as can be seen circled in the this picture:

All about Trail Flags-03.jpg

Shibu send me these offroading masts which are 7 feet long and do not flex as much from Dubai. Will soon be installing one in my vehicle. Kept one as a back up in case of breakage.

All about Trail Flags-04.jpg

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 11:51.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 11:36   #6
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Disadvantages

So what are the disadvantages of the trail flag?

The first and foremost is that if you snag a tree branch, you can break off the post or flex it and the return can cause some serious whiplash injury to someone around.

Another disadvantage is that if people park in a garage or under a building balcony cantilever, the flag pole may touch the top. Constantly being under flex may weaken it and lead to subsequent breakage.

I have a same problem, my garage height is 8 feet and the pole will always be under stress when parked. Planning to device a system where i can hinge the mounting point to fold down when parking and lock it straight in place while offroading.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 12:28   #7
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Where can i procure one?

There are lots of stores selling them abroad and they do ship it to india as well.

A few links:

TRAIL FLAGS, MARKER FLAGS ,FLAG MOUNTS

Trail Flag Kits & Accessories - Quadratec

Firestik Antenna Company Home Page

A few guys are also importing these and selling them in India. You may want to contact:

- Zac from Ironman. Based in Bangalore. Web: http://www.ironman4x4.com/html/contact_asia.html

- Sumit from Bolton Concepts. Based in Bangalore. Web: http://www.boltonconcepts.com/

- Vijay Kumar from Swastic Fabs. Based in Bangalore. Web: http://www.swastikfabs.in/index.html

Other Options:

If you have a CB radio, some people do mount the flags on the CB radio antennas as seen here:

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For CB radios i know of only one dealer via Facebook. Contact Pramod Pal Singh: https://www.facebook.com/INDIACB

However, there is one discussion on jeepforum that talks about the flag possibly killing reception:

Trail Flag kills CB reception - JeepForum.com

You can also buy the cheaper radio antenna that taxis use like i mentioned earlier but make sure that they are secured to something so that they do not whiplash.

Another option is to use a window flag holder. Available in India for 400 bucks with the Indian National Flag which can be changed to option of your choice. Though will only be useful as a group segregation marker and not a warning signal. See pic:

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Available here:

:::: The Flag Corporation :: car flags, racing flags, table flags, flag manufacturers, flag suppliers, flag exporters, flag manufacturer, flag company, the flag corporation, the flag company, corporate flags, miniature flags, mini flags, small flags,

A pic from their site:

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Have bought from them in the past. They customize the flags as well. However, they do not have the fibreglass poles/masts.

Ofcourse last option is how the political parties use a wooden stick and mount flags. Ofcourse these need to be secured well and will not flex, thus, if they get caught in a tree branch, something will break: either the pole, the branch or the mount.

Please Note: I have no commercial interest in the above mentioned sources however, would love to get some commission off the same!

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 12:44.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 13:35   #8
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

How about an old style TV antenna. You can extend it and collapse it. There are also walking sticks available which compact to merely 1.5 feet, and are around 5 feet when fully extended.

However, flex may be limited, right?
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Old 22nd August 2012, 14:49   #9
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
How about an old style TV antenna. You can extend it and collapse it. There are also walking sticks available which compact to merely 1.5 feet, and are around 5 feet when fully extended.

However, flex may be limited, right?
Good idea, but you're right, i think they won't flex at all. The collapsible one can be used but the driver/passenger will have to keep moving it up and down at every "snaggabe" area.

Types of flag poles

Usually the poles are made of fibreglass.

The advantage is that fiberglass poles are light, sturdy and have little flex which prevents it from snapping when snagged but maintaining rigidity otherwise.

Some fibreglass masts have a LED light at the top tip as well.

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If your trails are mostly in the forest with a lot of low slung branches, fibreglass poles mounted on springs are also available. However, care to be taken to secure them to prevent whiplash when on the road or in the open or when there are spectators around.

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@tsk1979: even manual and motorized telescopic ones are now available:

SafetyWhips.com, Industrial Telescoping Whip and Hitch Mounts

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Stainless steel poles are also available in the market but constant flexing movements make it weak and they do break.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 15:41.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 15:18   #10
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Where to mount a trail flag?

So where do you mount the trail flag?

It's either the front or the back. Both of the options have their pros and cons.

For example: if you are cresting a mound and have the flag mounted at the front, it's easily visible to the person on top than if you had mounted it behind the vehicle. Similarly, if your flag is mounted at the back of the vehicle, its easy to see a vehicle stationed on top of a mound than if it was mounted in the front. So both positions have their own pros and cons.

Why not mount it in the center then? Atleast front or back mounting will give you some advantage in one situation. A center one would be a compromise in both situations.

Ideal would be both front and back but then that would just be too much!

I prefer behind because the pole won't interfere with visibility if mounted in the front; more of an annoying factor due to swaying of the mast rather than an obstruction.

Also i my opinion, the front end will snag more especially the lower end. If it were mounted behind, the snag body of the jeep would protect the rear end and mounting areas.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 15:51.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 15:53   #11
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Default

How to mount a trail flag?

So what are the mounting options?

There are many options available internationally:

Hitch receiver mount:

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Spring mount:

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Brackets:

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Roll bar mounts:

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Under bonnet mount:

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Spare Tyre Mount:

All about Trail Flags-spare-tyre-mount.jpg


There are numerous options to fabricate your own mounts and either bolt them or weld them to the body.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 19:25.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 17:32   #12
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

What kind of flag material to use?

Ideally polyester is the best material. It's light weight, strong and dries very quickly.

Requisites for an ideal flag (according to me):

- colour shouldn't run

- stitching and material should be strong so that the flag doesn't rip off under high speeds due to wind

- dries quickly

- should be washable

- the colour shouldn't fade in strong sunlight

- shouldn't be too heavy and big so as to flex the mast pole

- big enough to be visible from a distance

- brighter colours preferred. Nowadays, some companies are selling glow in the dark flags as well

- should be easily secured to the flag pole but can be removed for washing as well

This is my flag customized:

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Here's a close up of the material:

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Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 22nd August 2012 at 17:39.
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Old 23rd August 2012, 15:51   #13
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the 4x4 Technical Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th August 2012, 11:55   #14
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Default DIY Trail Flag

Hi Tejas,

A simple trail flag can be made of 1 inch PVC Pipe used in domestic plumbing/electrical cable routing.

This can be fitted to the Top-Bow brackets (CJ500D/MM540) bolted or welded to the body or Top-Bow.

Trail Flags are best used only on the trails for two reasons:
1) The can snag with low slung power lines.

2) Flags of certain colours can imply a political/religious affiliation, this can lead to trouble with the local population.

Regards,

Arka
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Old 28th August 2012, 10:36   #15
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Default Re: All about Trail Flags

It's a wild idea, but if you are off-roading in open, could you use helium filled balloons?
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