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Nov 21, 2021 - 10:16:55 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

I got to wondering….why old wooden ladders narrowed toward the top? I even googled, now it’s bugging me, why.
Brad

Nov 21, 2021 - 10:34:51 AM

Owen

Canada

10073 posts since 6/5/2011
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Well, you're one step ahead of me.... I haven't asked anybody [even Google].  My guess is to make getting one's center of gravity outside the base a bit harder to accomplish.   

My dad was an electrician from when rural electrification took hold [1950 ? in our neck of the woods], until the late 80s.  I think he only had one wooden extension ladder [parallel sides] and one, or possibly 2, wooden step ladders [wider bottom than top] the whole time.   I still use the step ladder.

Edited by - Owen on 11/21/2021 10:41:01

Nov 21, 2021 - 12:05:23 PM
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dat

USA

31746 posts since 7/26/2006

Weight? Not much, but a little less weight at the top? Wider stance at the bottom for stability

Nov 21, 2021 - 12:32:39 PM

616 posts since 1/28/2011

The wider a ladder is at the bottom the more stable it will be. Just think about the stability if it was upside down so the narrow part is at the bottom. How stable would a step ladder be if the narrow part was at the bottom? Orchard ladders are very wide at the bottom because they are used on soft uneven ground and the wider legs are less likely to sink into the ground. Extension ladders are usually the same width all the way because they give up stability for the ability to be easily transported from place to place.

Nov 21, 2021 - 9:36:30 PM

Paul R

Canada

15384 posts since 1/28/2010

Yup. You can't telescope an inverted V.

We have a hybrid - a folding multi-use ladder that widens toward the bottom/top for extra stability. I hate it for its weight, but appreciate how much easier it is to set on the ground.

Nov 22, 2021 - 2:55:09 AM
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Players Union Member

OM45GE

USA

111865 posts since 11/7/2007
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I remember a wooden orchard ladder my grandfather had that had a very wide base and tapered to just the side rails at the top.

I saw a sign once that said “This is my step ladder, I never knew my real ladder”

Nov 22, 2021 - 4:54:33 AM
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Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by OM45GE

I remember a wooden orchard ladder my grandfather had that had a very wide base and tapered to just the side rails at the top.

I saw a sign once that said “This is my step ladder, I never knew my real ladder”


That is the ladder I am referring to.  Painters used them as well.  Before folders and extenders.  The stability issue makes since. It would be hard to get off to one side, when up high when the ladder up there is only a foot wide or so.

brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 5:27:58 AM

7407 posts since 9/5/2006

like daniel said they are not narrower at the top ,,they are wider at the bottom to make the stable....

Nov 22, 2021 - 6:07:08 AM

206 posts since 11/28/2006

I’ve had a couple of wooden stepladders and the wooden rungs had a metal rod on the bottom side to strengthen the step. Not sure about a straight ladder, but if the rungs are reinforced, in addition to stability, a tapered shape would encourage the user to keep the braces in the right place. Kind of like keeping the label of a wooden bat facing the batter. It keeps the strongest part of the wood towards the ball.

Nov 22, 2021 - 6:33:41 AM

Owen

Canada

10073 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

^^  ??? .... my take is that the rod is to keep the rabbet joint between step and side rail functional.  The side rails splaying (?) outward wouldn't be good.... unless a guy was planning a weenie roast. 

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:09:34 AM
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206 posts since 11/28/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Owen

^^  ??? .... my take is that the rod is to keep the rabbet joint between step and side rail functional.  The side rails splaying (?) outward wouldn't be good.... unless a guy was planning a weenie roast. 


I think you're correct. Once I posted that occurred to me too, but it was too late to edit. But, if that's the dumbest thing I ever said I'd be doing ok.

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:41:37 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

Those old ladders had dowels instead of flat steps, then at some time realized those dowels needed a wire through them or under them in a groove. Round steps would not work for the current sneaker wearing painters, or me. But imagine standing on them for much of a day?
Brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:43:59 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:45:24 AM
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Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

There is a collector for everything. Found this pic on website:

 


 

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:46:09 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

Whoah! big pic, eh. Sorry about that. Brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:56:39 AM
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2189 posts since 2/12/2009

The only tapered ladders I have seen here in Kent (the garden of England) used to be used for fruit pickers and the kind of pointy top enabled them to be pushed up into the boughs of a fruit tree.

Nov 22, 2021 - 8:39:26 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by spoonfed

The only tapered ladders I have seen here in Kent (the garden of England) used to be used for fruit pickers and the kind of pointy top enabled them to be pushed up into the boughs of a fruit tree.


Hmmm, coincidence or by design.  And would that design just have carried on to the "New World"?

Brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 8:45:35 AM

2189 posts since 2/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by rinemb
quote:
Originally posted by spoonfed

The only tapered ladders I have seen here in Kent (the garden of England) used to be used for fruit pickers and the kind of pointy top enabled them to be pushed up into the boughs of a fruit tree.


Hmmm, coincidence or by design.  And would that design just have carried on to the "New World"?

Brad


They were definitely designed for the purpose and I have seen them used in the Kent orchards by fruit pickers, they thrust them up into the tree and they were virtually impossible to topple when wedged up there among the boughs, the reduced weight certainly helped in carrying them from tree to tree.

Nov 22, 2021 - 8:49:41 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by spoonfed
quote:
Originally posted by rinemb
quote:
Originally posted by spoonfed

The only tapered ladders I have seen here in Kent (the garden of England) used to be used for fruit pickers and the kind of pointy top enabled them to be pushed up into the boughs of a fruit tree.


Hmmm, coincidence or by design.  And would that design just have carried on to the "New World"?

Brad


They were definitely designed for the purpose and I have seen them used in the Kent orchards by fruit pickers, they thrust them up into the tree and they were virtually impossible to topple when wedged up there among the boughs, the reduced weight certainly helped in carrying them from tree to tree.


So, sets up a conversation about original reason for design.  And you folks had apple trees and ladders than we did over here, eh.   thanks, Brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 10:43:22 AM

heavy5

USA

2025 posts since 11/3/2016

My grandfather (a carpenter) used a wood extension ladder for many yrs & eventually I inherited it . It was not tapered & was failrly narrow & was VERY heavy . I sold it & bought an aluminum one . I've seen the tapered wood ones in orchards .

Nov 22, 2021 - 11:04:53 AM

485 posts since 8/27/2011

My guess is that they taper so that it helped create a shear diaphragm and kept it from racking. Trapezoids can have a triangle quality and a triangle is self shearing. That plus the more stable base made this a good design 

BTW  there used to be extension ladders that had the trapezoid base and a parallel extension thought I haven't seen one in years 

Edited by - TNCowboy on 11/22/2021 11:07:55

Nov 22, 2021 - 1:57:04 PM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

14247 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by TNCowboy

My guess is that they taper so that it helped create a shear diaphragm and kept it from racking. Trapezoids can have a triangle quality and a triangle is self shearing. That plus the more stable base made this a good design 

BTW  there used to be extension ladders that had the trapezoid base and a parallel extension thought I haven't seen one in years 


For a cowboy, I like the way you speak!  So many memories of terminology I used to know and use.  Now, I just want to pee like a faucet again.  ;-). Brad

Nov 22, 2021 - 2:19:49 PM

6654 posts since 9/21/2007

I'm surrounded by apple orchards and all of them use wooden ladders that come to almost a point on the top. I just figured they were to set against the trunk of the trees. When it is picking time those ladders are everywhere as are bushel baskets.

Nov 22, 2021 - 2:57:14 PM

113 posts since 4/6/2009

Yes, these ladders save a little weight and can wedge in a crotch, but they also can be moved between the tree limbs more readily, and are more stable with only three points of contact--two on the ground and one up in the tree. I'm counting the placement of the upper pointed end in a crotch as essentially one point of contact. The upper end can also be placed against any branch without a fork, too. With a standard, parallel ladder, try to find four points of contact all in the same plane--two on the ground and two in the tree--as you constantly move the ladder and pick as rapidly as possible because you're paid by the bushel, not by the hour.

Nov 22, 2021 - 3:09:43 PM

donc

Canada

6826 posts since 2/9/2010

We used 3 piece [30 ft] ladders at work. Just by the design the 3rd [upper piece] was a few inches narrower [about 12 inches]. It was so narrow we were not suppose to use the 3rd section by itself. Due to the fact it weighed a lot less I used it anyhow because I'm somewhat lazy.

Nov 24, 2021 - 3:39 AM

Paul R

Canada

15384 posts since 1/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rinemb

Those old ladders had dowels instead of flat steps, then at some time realized those dowels needed a wire through them or under them in a groove. Round steps would not work for the current sneaker wearing painters, or me. But imagine standing on them for much of a day?
Brad


When we took the grade eights to Quebec City, we visited a museum that had a sailing ship's rigging. The students were told to climb like the sailors did - without their shoes. As they climbed, all you heard was, "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! ... ,"

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