Subscribe to Make Magazine Today!

Make: Projects

New Project: Easy-Lift Extension Ladder

Modify your extension ladder to make it operate more easily and safely.

New Project: Easy-Lift Extension Ladder

For me, a big drawback of extension ladders is that it usually takes a lot of effort to extend them to the desired height. This is partly due to the way in which they are rigged. Typically, the ladder is operated by a rope which is fastened to the bottom of the extending part of the ladder. The rope runs through a pulley at the top of the stationary part and back down to ground level for the operator to grasp. This simple arrangement is inexpensive to manufacture but it requires a force on the rope which is equal to the weight of the moving portion of the ladder. If the ladder is large, or if the moving parts have a high degree of friction, the ladder can be very difficult to extend when it is standing upright. This, in turn, makes it difficult to control the ladder and compromises safety.

I recently obtained an old extension ladder for free. Its rope was missing and while I was measuring it to find out how much rope I needed to buy it occurred to me that I could convert the ladder to a double-pulley system which would make it easier and safer to use.


3 Responses to New Project: Easy-Lift Extension Ladder

Your Thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Martin Schmidt on said:

    The ladder’s new rigging does not affect the catch lugs at all. They still operate exactly as they did before: Pull the rope to raise the ladder halfway from one rung to the next and the little guard pieces on the catch lugs swing into place to keep the catch lugs disengaged as the ladder is lowered.

  2. Martin Schmidt on said:

    My ladder is on loan at the moment so I can’t measure it precisely for you, but if I remember correctly the pulley I used is closer to the 1″ x 3″ size that you mention. Try to get something that isn’t too large, or you may run into problems with the pulley hitting the rungs of the ladder as it is raised and lowered. Look at the ladder’s existing pulley and get one that’s about the same size. Make sure that both pulleys will accommodate the size of rope that you intend to use. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. producer611 on said:

    Very nice system. Got the parts at Home Depot for less than $20.
    One modification – used a 1-5/8″ chain link fence strap (with carriage bolt) to attach the lower pulley (which is 1-1/2″ awning pulley.) Works like a charm – didn’t even need to drill any holes.
    Much easier to raise the ladder now.
    Thanks for the idea and plans.

Related Supplies at Maker Shed