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Sight & Sound

  • Insert spreader plates every two feet as you build the weight stack.

  • Fill the arbor with counterweight to equal the weight of the batten plus the scenery, lights, or other items on the batten.

  • Remove any clamps, securing the spreader plates, and slide the spreader plates down to the top of the weight stack. Extra spreader plates may be secured under the top plate.

  • Hand-tighten the setscrews on both stop collars to secure the spreader plates and weights.

This video screen at Lakewood Church in Houston is raised and lowered by a rigging system.

hanging devices (chains, clamps, etc) are strong enough to hold the load, securely fastened, and in good condition.

2. Once the load is safely secured, load the arbor at the loading gallery level.

  • Yell “Clear the rail!” or another command on which you and your fellow stagehands have agreed. Make sure that all persons are clear of the areas on the stage below the arbors and loading gallery.

  • Raise the spreader plates and stop collars and hold them. A spring- loaded “pony” clamp may be used to hold them out of the way during loading.

  • Load each counterweight into the carriage individually, by setting the weight on the stack vertically, using both hands. Ease the top back until the top slot fits around the rear rod. Then ease the bottom forward. Grasp the bottom of the weight between the heels of your hands, and bring it forward so that it slides around the front rod.

  • Keep your fingers out from under the weights. Always maintain complete control over the weights.

3. The set should always be in balance or under operator control before releasing the rope lock. “In balance” means that the weight of the batten and load equals the weight of the arbor and counterweight. Once you have determined that the set is close to balanced, open the rope lock while an assistant holds the hand line. Close the rope lock again and make any needed adjustment to the counterweight.

  • Any excessive tension in the hand line above or below the rope lock means that the set is significantly out of balance.

  • If there’s tension in the hand line above the rope lock and the hand line under the arbor is slack, the arbor is too heavy.

  • If there’s tension below the rope lock, and the hand line above the rope lock is slack, the batten is too heavy.

  • If any of these conditions exist, add or remove weight accordingly while the arbor is still in the loading gallery.

    • 4.

      Remember that rope locks are intended to lock arbors and loads that are balanced.

  • A properly adjusted rope lock should hold about 50 pounds.

  • Adjusting the rope lock to hold additional loads only wears out hand lines faster, increasing the potential for an accident.

    • 5.

      To unload the arbor and remove the load

from the batten, reverse the process.

Counterweight Set Operation 1. Do a visual check. Identify the arbor and look at the locking rail’s index cards. These identify the set number, its contents, and its function. (If there are no index cards, start this


September 2009 / Church & Worship Technology

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