Following on from our article about a ladder safety bracket designed in New Zealand, here are a few ladder accessory ideas from the USA.
The first is a set of plugs, which fit inside the rungs of a ladder. These are not for weight, stability or safety, but instead are designed to stop the whistling and howling noises that ladders make when strapped to the top of a vehicle. The idea is that if the hollow rungs are blocked off from the air-flow, they cannot cause any rushing, squealing wind sounds. Given the weather we’ve been having lately – this idea is certainly one that appeals.
Next up we have another ladder accessory that relies on the use of a vehicle as well. Invented by a man named John Spicer, the MonkeyRack ladder stabilizer attaches to the hitch on the back of a vehicle and holds a standard straight extension ladder securely using the weight and handbrake power of the vehicle it is attached to. The MonkeyRack unit fixes to the back of a vehicle and telescopic feet allow the base to be leveled to the ground surface. The ladder rungs then sit into the four rung holders, which make up the MonkeyRack and u-bolts with wingnuts are used to secure a rung of the ladder to one of the rung holders on the unit. The ladder is then secured to the vehicle and cannot slip backwards or fall sideways: it is completely secure. The company makes a version specially designed for the military, so strong and reliable is the MonkeyRack!
The best thing about the MonkeyRack though, is that is transforms a standard straight ladder into a freestanding one. There is no need for the ladder to be resting against anything, which means you can access streetlights, telegraph poles, high branches and buildings where you cannot lean a ladder against the surface (glass buildings, for example) and would otherwise need to use different, more expensive access equipment. This ladder accessory can be used to reach flagpoles, high up windows, anything that requires height, stability and the need not to rest a ladder against anything. There is no need for anyone to foot the ladder, as it is attached to a vehicle and as long as the handbrake is engaged, nothing can move this ladder.
Matthew Ladders, also based in the USA, have a Rungstep, which is an aluminium rung extension that clips securely over the rungs of nearly all standard ladders and provides a deeper tread. Sold in pairs, the Rungstep is small enough to be moved while you are on the ladder and makes the experience of working up a ladder for long periods more comfortable. The device virtually doubles the available area to stand on, meaning you don’t get tired or aching feet from standing on a narrow surface for long periods of time. Having two to a pack means that even if you need to move up or down the ladder slightly for the task at hand, you can still enjoy the comfort of a wider tread without having to move the one you are standing on.
Little Giant Ladders are well known for their multi purpose ladders and they have a range of specially designed accessories that go with their ladder system. The system itself can be used in around 24 different configurations, including straight, extension, step, stairway and scaffold platform. The accessories that go with it run from the usual leg leveller and locking system right through to purpose built paint and tool trays.
The AirDeck tool tray has a space for a paint can or other circular container, a recessed tray area for screws and nails, holes to hold screwdrivers, hammers and other handled tools, and slots for many more pieces of equipment. It, like the work platform, attaches to a rung and supports itself horizontally giving you a reliable place to keep your tools while you work. The Project Tray is the bigger brother of the AirDeck, and is slightly bigger, with more areas for tools and fixings, although it does not have the extra pull-up handrail, which the AirDeck does. This means you can use the full height of the ladder as the extra handrail height gives you the stability you need right at the top of the ladder.
The Little Giant Cargo Hold is a heavy-duty version of a tool tray, it is more of a bucket instead of a tray, so is designed to hold power tools and larger pieces of equipment or materials. This is for the serious DIYer or professional and has elasticated tool slots and a hammer sling for the smaller tools which might take up all the space on one of the tool tray pieces. The Fuel Tank looks similar to the Cargo Hold but is meant for carrying paint around in. It has a level base so it can be set on the ground as well as being attached to the ladder (great for painting an entire wall from the bottom up or the top down, as you only need one paint bucket or tray), and has a magnetic paint brush holder which keeps your brush exactly where you want it.
Of course, we have some great home-grown ladder design talent here as well, but it is interesting to see what they are up to across the pond!