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Woven Rope Ladder
"They're much easier to carry to the top of a grain bin than conventional aluminum ladders, and much stronger too," says John Van Noord about the lightweight, indestructible rope ladders he weaves out nylon rope.
Until recently the Detroit, Texas, farmer made the ladders mostly for recreational purposes, such as for climbing into and out of tree houses and hunting blinds. But one day, he dropped some tools down an open grain bin hatch and tried unsuccessfully to retrieve them with an aluminum ladder. When he tried his rope ladder, a light bulb went off.
Unlike other rope ladders on the market, which are constructed with wood or steel rungs, Van Noord's are made solely from rope.
"The entire ladder is made from a single length of 3/8-in. dia. nylon rope," he explains. "Each step is formed by wrapping one end around and around the other end using the same knotting principle that's used to make a æhang man's noose. The design can produce a ladder of any length."
As for weight, a standard 20-ft. ladder weighs about 5 lbs. but will support over 400 lbs., he says, adding that it still fits in a shoebox.
Another use for the ladder is as an emergency escape ladder. You can keep one under the bed. Using the same process, he's also found it's possible to connect two or more of the ladders side-by-side to form a strong, checkerboard-type climbing net, he says.
To help make his ladders more quickly, Van Noord built a sort of jig assembly, a template mounted on a roller assembly. "It holds the rope in place while I'm wrapping each step," he says.
Ladders sell for $3.25 per ft.; nets for $4.50. Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Van Noord, "Rope Works", Rt. 2, Box 212, Detroit, Texas 75436 (ph 903 674-2223).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #2