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Buying truss

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by GBtimex, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. GBtimex

    GBtimex Member

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    Control Booth,

    My theatre is about to undergo massive upgrades and repair. One of the things we are looking to buy is truss to use as for front of house postions for lighting (mostly Source 4's) and other things as the need arises. We are only able to buy about 40 ft right now and I want to make sure I can get the most bang for my buck.

    Having worked with truss over the past few years I have some experience with putting it together and walking on it for repairs. That being said I am not a rigger nor a designer and would hate to buy something less useful due to ignorance.


    I am currently looking at Tomcat 20.5" by 20.5" X10' Medium Truss. The 12 inch is too small I feel and the next step up too big.

    I have no strong opinions on bolts vs spigoted (having used both I think one is faster but that matters little to me).

    We will be supporting this truss with 1 ton motors spread out as the riggers see fit.

    Does any one have any advice on what to get what not to get or what is good deal. I am looking at Tomcat and James Thompson company right now. If you have another company please suggest it.

    Thanks

    GBTimex
  2. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    If you aren't planning to walk the truss to focus then 12" or 16" should be fine. Depending on how many lights you plan to put on it you may be able to use 1/2 ton motors. That way you can get them set up for 110v and not need special power just to run motors. Either company is going to be quality gear and they can tell you motor size.
    Spigoted truss is rated higher than bolted truss. I am not sure the difference in rating though.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  3. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I missed it at first, but it looks like you do intend to walk the truss. Is this a position that you have no access to from below, therefore you'll need to do all focus from the truss and such, or will truss-walking be a rare thing? I know of one larger regional theatre that uses swing wing for their FOH truss - more expensive, but the folded-up sides provide a nice hand-rail while at height. If that's out of your price range, HUD truss can also have handrails, although I personally don't like it nearly as much, but that's just me.

    If you haven't, maybe take a look at some 12x30 ballroom truss. It has a slightly wider footprint, but it's can give you a few extra inches of trim if you're fighting a low ceiling, and I believe it's actually stronger than 20.5" box. Regardless, when using box truss in longer-term situations, at least where I've worked, it's common to cheeseborough a pipe down the center of the truss and hang instruments off of that, rather than attaching directly to the two bottom chords. It's certainly not required, but it is a bit easier to work with and it will help balance the weight out on the truss. Just something to keep in mind when you're looking at budgeting.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  4. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We use Xtreme Structures and Fabrication truss. They have a lot of different truss sizes so I'm sure you can find what you need. From what I understand XSF has competitive if not better prices than Tomcat for very similar equipment. As far as motors you can get 1 and even 2 ton motors from CM that run on single phase 115V so for a little extra money I'd go for the extra lifting power.
  5. GBtimex

    GBtimex Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Sorry if I was not being clear earlier.

    I am not looking to walk on the truss at all. I have done this before in tours past but for my theatre I don't think that size of truss would be as useful.

    The area I am looking to cover is the my orchestra pit and first downstage row of front light. An area about 60 ft by 30 ft. We have no positions there at the moment that can do back light and we have a LOT of people who play in that area. With more and more of my folks wanting to do video it's a big problem.

    What I am looking for is something that can last me for the next 5 to 10 years and can also be used for bigger and heavier equipment. I want to make sure that we can hold some Mac 2ks and Christe projector if the need comes up.

    I was asking about bolt's vs spigotes simply because I have never heard a a good reason why one was taken over the other. I have banged my thumb enough time with bots that I like spigotes more but it's not a deal breaker.


    Armed with this new info do you think the 20.5 X 20.5 inch box truss is the best bang for my buck?

    GBTimex,
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    It seems to me the first step would be for you to make some calls first to get some price quotes on both 16" and 20". It's hard for us to advise you on bang for the buck when we don't know how much the buck is.
  7. egilson1

    egilson1 Member

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    The thing to keep in mind is that if you will be climbing the truss to focus, you need to provide fall arrest. The size and construction of the truss can effect if you can even use the truss for PFAS attachment or if you would need to design the fall arrest to come from the structure of the building. Although the new standard for fall arrest in the entertainment business is still in the public review process, all three of the truss manufactures mentioned have had a hand in writing it and will be able to advise on the best product to suit you needs.


    Regards,
    Ethan
    ETCP certified rigger
    Arena & Theatre
  8. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

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    The height of a truss is usually the more important dimension for figuring load capacity, although design and materials also play a part. Generally speaking, 12x12 trusses need to be supported every 30', so if you're planning on lifting from the ends of a 40' stick, you should probably be looking at the larger size, as they are better able to span the distance. Most manufacturers can provide charts showing the allowable capacities for different spans.

    As for bolts vs. spigoted, you do gain some capacity with spigots, mostly due to the fact that the connection points are a bit more widely spaced at each joint face. The importance of the gain depends largely on what you're doing with the truss - if you aren't loading it to the point of needing the extra capacity, then it's a lot more optional. If you think you might someday need to add on to the truss temporarily, you might think about getting truss that matches your local rental houses' truss, so you can intermingle easily. Also, if you strike and rehang the truss regularly, a lost bolt can be replaced at a hardware store, whereas a lost spigot will have to be ordered.
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

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    Grainger or Fastenal maybe, but the average hardware store doesn't carry anything close.
  10. kicknargel

    kicknargel Active Member Premium Member

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    Really you should just get a rigger to calculate the span, load, etc. They can figure out the proper truss dimensions. Or they're not a real rigger.
  11. MPowers

    MPowers Well-Known Member

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    If you stick with the major players, you can't go wrong as far as structure. Cost and local dealer support will, of course, vary from place to place.

    My personal pick is TOTAL truss, Total Structures
    simply because that is what we sell. However, TOTAL, Thomas, Tomcat are all very good products.

    You can easily get spans in excess of 40' in almost every type of truss. I have listed a few of the TOTAL product line to give you an example: plf = pounds per lineal foot and
    udl = Uniform distributed load.

    Type Truss ...Size...Type conn..40'.span...50' span..long span
    .........................................plf ..udl ..plf ..udl ..feet ..plf.udl
    Totalite....12x12..Spigot.........31 .1248 16.. 798. 50... 16. .798

    OMNI Lt Duty..12x12.Bolt ......35 .1402. 10 . 517. 50. . 10. 517

    OMNI Med Duty. 20x20..Bolt.110. 4417. 68.. 3381...80 . 8.. 645

    Element 20....20x20 ... Bolt.. 65. 2596. 39. 1970. 60. 26 1532

    OMNI Ex HD..48Hx24W..Bolt. 225 10983 170 8496 100. 8 770

    In your area, give the guys at TSC (Texas Scenic Co. )
    http://www.texasscenic.com/ a call, they'll give you excellent advice and product.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  12. MPowers

    MPowers Well-Known Member

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    Looking at your situation from a different angle, if this is for FOH lighting on a permanent basis, maybe Chain hoists and truss are what your really want/need and then again, maybe not. This is where consulting a good rigging specialist can save you $$ and help you find the right product for the right use.

    If there is no plan to walk the truss for focus, maybe a custom made pipe batten ladder truss is a viable option. For permanent installation, maybe a single clew winch would be cheaper than 2 or more chain hoists and you never have sync issues when raising or lowering.

    Just because truss and chain hoists were your first thought, don't lock yourself into that solution until you have investigated the other possibilities. Ask the guys at TSC http://www.texasscenic.com/ what they think.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  13. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Michael brings up a good suggestion, you might want to look into something like this: ETC Rigging - Theatre stage rigging
  14. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

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    I have a Grainger less than 3 miles away, and did in my former city of residence as well. Also, most cities have industrial hardware suppliers in at least one if not tens of locations around the city, I would imagine. I would guess you probably have a similar number of Graingers near you...
  15. Wood4321

    Wood4321 Active Member

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    I agree, tons of grainger locations.
    However, I wouldn't call Grainger a "Hardware Store"

    I think what avkid was getting at is I don't think I have seen Grade 8 bolts at Home Depot or Lowes.
  16. bishopthomas

    bishopthomas Well-Known Member

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    I only own 12" box bolted truss, so my opinions are based around that. I have Applied, Tomcat, and have used Thomas. My least favorite is Thomas, only because 1/2 moon washers are necessary. It's a total pain in the ass to line up the washer so that it fits between the hole and the side of the truss. It's great truss, but I refuse to buy it for that reason (plus I already have 100's of non half moon washers). I am slowly switching over from Applied to Tomcat as I have found the build quality of Tomcat to be far superior to that of Applied. Applied is still decent, and to be fair I am comparing their "all purpose" truss to Tomcat's heavy duty stuff. I have found it difficult to mate Tomcat corner blocks to Applied truss so I'm trying to switch to one manufacturer.

    As far as the bolt/spigot dilemma, I'm a bit confused. Are you planning on breaking the truss every day? I thought this was for an install. If it's staying in the air then making/breaking the truss isn't a factor and load rating becomes the decision maker. But is there really enough of a difference in load rating to warrant the mating to be a deciding factor? I would say if you need to squeeze every last pound out of your load rating then you may want to rethink things a bit.

    I would also suggest keeping the motor control simple. No need for 3 phase hoists, especially if this is a portable rig. Get Edisons on the end and a couple of pickles and away you go. Of course, if it's a permanent install and there's already power then that's a different story. The pickles could turn into a wall mount switch at that point too.
    GBtimex and (deleted member) like this.
  17. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

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    Sorry, but no.
    Pickles without an e-stop are not a safe situation.
  18. bishopthomas

    bishopthomas Well-Known Member

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    I have never heard of anyone running a pickle system with an additional kill switch. Come to think of it, most motor controls I don't remember having a kill switch either. Looking at the Skjornberg web site I only see a few remotes with e-stops. A pickle is just a momentary contact switch, I don't see what's unsafe about that.
  19. GBtimex

    GBtimex Member

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    I have a Grainger and Fastenal right down the street. They know me quite well :grin:

    The hardware for this stuff isn't an issue. Just getting the right truss is the biggest concern.
  20. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

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    I have had pickles get stuck on.
    Every motor distro has some means of shutting off power if there's a malfunction.
    That and operating more than one at a time with a pickle is really annoying.

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