Circus Tent Erection - Blocks, Pulleys and More

Here at Ronstan® we know our blocks and pulleys are used for a large number of exciting tasks – such as erecting a circus tent! Now this may seem like quite a mammoth task, but with the right parts, and the know-how, it can be as easy as pie. 

Key Elements of a Circus Tent
Firstly, becoming familiar with all the elements which make up the tent is key. Knowing how they work, which part does what, and most importantly; what goes where! Secondly, it is all about the tools. You will need these key items to erect your circus tent:

  • Tent Canvas (for the roof)
  • The Central Pole
  • The Secondary and Tertiary Poles
  • Individual Pole Bale-Ring and Flag Staffs
  • Some Strong Stakes
  • A Sledgehammer
  • A Series of Strong Blocks and Pulleys
  • At Least 500 Feet of Strong Quality Rope


Step 1 - Assess the area
The starting point is properly assessing the area in which you wish to erect your circus tent. The required size of the area is very much dependent on the size of your tent (typical oval circus tents are usually around 118 feet by 150 feet, but they can be as large as 500 feet). So be sure to know what you are working with to start. The most important thing is that the area is flat, and that the floor is as close to even as physically possible. This means that dirt or sand style ground is best as it is more pliable, and you are more likely to get that even finish before starting to erect.


Step 2 - Mark out the area
The next step is then marking out the area to match the diameters


of our specific tent. Be sure to do this with caution, as measuring accurately is of pivotal importance when erecting such a structure. The next marking is also important. You should work out the exact center of the space, as this is where you will place your central pole. Each tent is different, and therefore pay close attention to the instruction leaflet that comes with your circus tent. It will have specific lengths depending on the height of the pole and width of the tent. When you have made your mark, remeasure each radius from it, to the north, south, east, and west and mark these points for your secondary stakes, and finally cover the 360 degrees around the pole and mark points for the tertiary stakes at equal intervals between the secondary poles.



Step 3 - Time to stake out
Next comes the fun part – driving the stakes into the ground. Using your sledgehammer, drive each stake into the ground until only a third of it is showing, this will ensure that these grounding are secure. Now the stakes should be quite a size, up to five feet long and three inches thick. This means it will take some manpower to drive them all in, and so this is where your crew come in handy! Repeat this step until all of your stakes are securely in the ground and go around and check each one to ensure that it has been submerged to an adequate depth.


Step 4 - Roll out the canvas!

Now it is time to unfold the canvas. Roll it out within the confines of your market out area so that it is central. Then prepare the internal poles by placing spacing them out equally between the stakes, at this point again refer to your tent’s instructions for specific dimensions for your individual tent. Create a small hole for the central pole to be placed in. Then prepare your Ronstan® block and tackle units, and the flag staff by attaching the block and tackle to each pole and connect the strong ropes for the raising and positioning of the central pole. Assemble the crew and use the pulley system to erect the central pole, with one member at the base of the pole armed with a crowbar for positioning, and a small group to physically aide the pole in its erection. The crowbar is also used to steady the pole until it is perfectly perpendicular. This series of instructions is then repeated for the other internal poles, until they are all perfectly erected.


Step 5 - Fasten the canvas
Then it comes to fastening the canvas roof in place. Each portion needs to be secured to the bale ring which encircles the center pole by rope. Once fastened to the central pole, secure to the other internal poles, and then secure the sections of the canvas to one another, using rope to loop through the fabric. Next prepare the bale ring of each pole for raising, by once again utilizing the pulleys. Then when you pull on the ropes the tent will lift to the ceiling, then you must close the seams at the bale ring of each pole and tie off the ropes.


Step 6 - Erect the minor poles
Finally, you can erect the minor poles throughout the circumference of the tent. Mount each upon a stake and then lift with the same rope and pulley procedure used for the main poles. The canvas will now be airborne, perfectly supported by each of the poles. Fasten the tent top to each stake and secure all ropes and flaps. Now you are ready to perform a final safety check before working on your stage and lighting rigging.

Ronstan® Industrial provide the equipment people can rely on.


Photo Credit:

 Improving the Reliability of Shading Systems with Quality Rigging Products

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Ronstan’s end-to-end design, manufacture and distribution operation delivers high specification products for all serious hardware applications.

Our state-of-the-art design facilities and manufacturing plant handles more than 4.9 million units each year.

As one of the top three sailboat hardware brands globally we know what it is like to deliver great equipment that can handle challenging conditions.