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I need to be able to repeatedly attach and disconnect two solid fiberglass poles.

The poles themselves will be the same diameter (~3/8"). The joint doesn't need to be stronger than the poles when they are pulled apart or bent, but the poles shouldn't come apart easily and the joint shouldn't permanently deform easily. It doesn't matter if the joint is permanently attached to one of the poles or not—it just can't be permanently attached to both of them (they need to come apart).

As a bonus: it would be nice if the joint doesn't add much weight and isn't very difficult to make.

My first thought is to use some small-diameter steel pipe a few inches in length. But I can't think of a reliable and non-destructive way to keep the poles from slipping out.

Edit:

There will be a pulling force on the poles. It will be smaller than the bending force but still significant.

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  • 1
    A couple of small self tapping screws come to mind. Can also get threaded ends, attach to each pole and screw on or off.
    – crip659
    Sep 27, 2021 at 14:53
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    Will there be a pulling force on the poles? Tents join fiberglass poles with a small section of steel all the time, but they are only used in compression.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 27, 2021 at 15:00
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    This is bog-standard on fiberglass tent poles, but the tube is aluminum rather than steel, epoxied in placed (perhaps with a bit of crimping as well) as suggested by one answer already.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 27, 2021 at 16:01
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    @isherwood TBH this has little to do with my home. I just don't know where else in the SE network to post this question. I'm trying to make an off-road safety flag pole about 10' in length from fiberglass poles. It needs to fit in my vehicle, hence the need to separate them, but also needs to support a flag while driving around (30mph?) in rough terrain. I'm asking here because folks around here seem pretty handy with this kind of problem Sep 28, 2021 at 16:50
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    You're talking about building an electrician's fishing pole, why not just buy a set for ~$30? lowes.com/pd/…
    – Mazura
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:21

4 Answers 4

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JPhil1618 said in a comment exactly what I was thinking: This sounds like a tent-pole situation.

  • Epoxy an appropriately sized metal sleeve to one pole, putting 1/2 the sleeve on the pole.
  • Drill a hole through (both walls of) the other end of that pole, then epoxy a small steel bar into the hole.
  • Drill a hole through one end of the other pole and epoxy a small steel bar into it.
  • Hook (or tie) a bungie cord to one of the poles, thread it through that pole, into the "non-bar" end of the other pole, then stretch it to hook over the bar in the other pole.

Now, all you have to do is line the two poles up at the sleeve and push them together to make one long pole. When you want to separate them, simply pull (maybe twist a bit) and they'll come apart. The bungie cord will keep the two poles together for storage, and to help pull them together so they don't come apart in use.

If it's not necessary to keep the poles permanently connected in some way, then completely eliminate all but the first step. I guess I just got a bit carried away with the tent pole analogy.

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  • The bungee cords used in tent poles don't support pulling with more than the lightest force (e.g. snagging on fabric if you try to pull the pole through a tunnel in the fabric). Here you've got room to go bigger, so harder to stretch. If you did want to support pulling I'd rather use paracord, pull it tight after assembling , and tie it off. That would support pulling up to the strength of the cord
    – Chris H
    Sep 29, 2021 at 9:36
  • TBF, @ChrisH, I wrote my answer before the comments and edit indicating that this was for mounting on a vehicle, 10 feet long and being driven around...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 29, 2021 at 11:40
  • Sure, and it's still the right way to go, just with a bit of a tweak. Another idea as it's to be vehicle-mounted: a thicker bungee than in tent poles could have a loop tied in the bottom end, to hitch over a cleat attached to the vehicle, with the steel crossbar you suggest at the top. That would also allow it to be collapsed but still mounted
    – Chris H
    Sep 29, 2021 at 12:03
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Use an exhaust sleeve clamp or a hose clamp. This is a tube of thin metal with two muffler clamps that you can tighten to cause the metal to contract around the poles.

you will need to find a thin-walled pipe with an interior diameter that matches the exterior diameter of your fiberglass poles, and long enough so that they don't bend or break it if held horizontally.

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two 10mm poles to join end-to-end with a secure releasable joint.

steel or aluminium sleeves are commonly used to join tent poles but this wont give a joint that secure against pulling.

a 3/8 pipe extender could be used here. with the cup end cut off and glued to the other pole so that both poles go into the bore of the extender with the one entering the cut end glued in place and the other one glued to the cup end so the poles now screw together,

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After thinking about it some more and pondering everyone's helpful comments and answers, I believe there's another solution, too:

Cover the joint with a few inches of snugly-fitting flexible tubing (perhaps of braided vinyl). Then slide a snugly-fitting metal pipe over the tube. Make sure the pipe is short enough to leave room for hose clamps. Then use hose clamps (one at either end of the pipe / on either side of the joint) to secure the tube to the poles. The hose clamps will also keep the metal pipe from slipping off.

The flexible tube will prevent the poles from being pulled apart. The pipe prevents the joint from bending. And the poles will be comfortably cushioned, so the joint won't damage them in any way.

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