A long gap
Well, it’s been nearly two months since we last chatted, sorry for the inconvenience (as the Creator said to his Creation (in the fifth (I think) book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy)). A fair bit has happened in the interim.
- I am no longer a callow youth. I’m now less than four years away from 0x40. Yes, that’s right, I turned 0x3C this year. Admittedly, people make a big deal of turning 0x3C, but I don’t know why. After all, The Beatles didn’t write a song about that, they wrote “When I’m 0x40”.
- I am fully vaccinated against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19), via a two shot Pfizer regimen. I’ll note that, unlike some other folks I know, my second shot was followed by 12 hours of sore shoulder, followed by 36 hours of feeling pretty lousy. Frankly, it’s as sick as I’d felt in 5 years or so, and that was just my immune system letting me know it learned an awful lot from the first vaccination, thank you very much.
- I completed my 14th year of employment with my current $FIRM. Still learning new things, still having (some) fun. So I’ve got that going for me. That tenure of employment almost reaches the median tenure for the firm, if that tells you anything.
- We did a road trip up to Maine one Friday to take care of important family business… then drove back home the next day, because I had work obligations on the Sunday. Twenty hours of driving in two days is a lot, but this was totally worth it.
I have four ladders.
- A 6 foot step ladder.
- A 12 foot folding aluminum ladder.
- A 24 foot fiberglass/aluminum extension ladder.
- A pull-down garage attic ladder that has two hinge points.
This is a story about the fourth ladder. A couple of weeks ago, I was putting some items up in the garage attic. Two or three trips up and down the ladder. All done, I came down the ladder and it failed on me as I reached the third step. The wood broke away from the metal hinges on the bottom section at the left and the ladder torqued to the right, trying to pitch me off.
The ladder failed in it’s nefarious plot, as I always retain at least two points of contact on short ladders (and three on tall). So I merely executed a rapid, controlled vertical descent, and incurred just a slight scratch on my left arm for my troubles. The ladder was… less well. However, I had other things to do, and no time to deal with making the repair-or-replace decision. So I bent the hinged area back to moderately straight, folded the ladder up, and put it out of my mind for a couple of weeks.
Today, after the shopping, it was time. So I placed one of the garbage totes in position to support the busticated ladder, and had a look:
You can see where the wooden side of the ladder catastrophically failed. However, there was also a missing nut, and one missing metal ‘L’ strap (another one is shown above sitting in the place where it, and the missing nut, should have been). All that being so, upon examination, I felt that I had the materials, tools, and skills to repair this $300 US ladder, in less time that it would take me to unmount the broken one, and mount a new one. So overall, this would be a net win.
At the point shown in the picture above, I was actually well along in the repair process. But this was the point at which I laid out all the old parts to ensure I had everything I needed to re-assemble the ladder. Shown above is the slightly brighter ‘L’ bracket I fabricated from a bit of strapping I had laying about. You’ll note the extra chamfered hole in that strap, not needed in this application, but not critical for its presence, either.
Because I had one unbroken ladder side, and they’re mirror images of each other, it was easy to use the one side as a template to replace both.
Why both? Because the wood is old and if one side was brittle enough to fracture like that, I expect the other side is too.
What about the rest of the ladder? Another good question. I thought about it, and frankly, it wouldn’t be hard, just time consuming. And its the uprights on the lowest section of the ladder that take the greatest strain and beating. So I made a decision to just replace those.
Fabrication itself wasn’t hard. I find myself wishing I actually had a T-bevel gauge. I always end up cobbling something together that can do the job (as I did this time), but a bevel gauge would be a better choice. It’s on my list.
Here’s what I used/did:
- Spare dry pine in 1×4, of sufficient length to make the parts, plus spare if I screwed one up.
- Miter saw for the ends.
- Mocked up bevel gauge to mark the boundaries of the step slots.
- 3/4″ bit in the router to make the step slots.
- Clearance holes drilled for the #10 bar that goes under each step, and for the 1/4-20 hardware for the hinges.
- A bit of light sanding, and a few passes with the block plane to ease the corners on all the long edges.
Re-assembly tool less than 10 minutes. I also checked/tightened all the rest of the hardware. Then I executed a brief test climb, and a couple of well-braced bounces on the ladder to ensure it is once again sturdy. All good.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Pantos, 55, of Richmond, Virginia, who died on Apr. 26, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, as the result of a non-combat related incident.
We also hope that all y’all are doing okay. It’s been a long string of stress-full years hereabouts, and the pandemic made it all worse. In this small part of the world, today things seem a bit better. The big deal now is to protect Democracy and throw and/or keep the Trumpublicans out of office. Seriously. Job One.