1992 - Volume #16, Issue #2, Page #28[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Straight Up StairwayIf you've got an attic in your home that you'd like to finish off or if you need a stairway into the upper level of a shop or garage but don't have a lot of floorspace to spare, you'll like this new "straight up" stairway that takes up little more space than a ladder but is as easy to climb as a conventional staircase.
Invented by Harry Merrick of Chatteroy, Wash., the "Ladderway" combines the features of a ladder and a stairway. He got the idea when he turned an unfinished attic into an office but didn't like the idea of having to climb a ladder to get to it and didn't have room for a conventional staircase.
The Ladderway is self-supporting like a ladder and yet has the tread of a stairway. It's supported by a single 2 by 10-in. board at center. Steps alternate on the right and left sides of the upright. Rise per step is 10 in., compared to 8 in. for most stairways and 12 in. for most ladders.
Key to success of the new-style climber is the Z-shaped steel bracket that supports the steps. Made out of 2-in. wide, 1/2-in. thick steel, the upper part of the bracket extends through the 2 by 10 upright, bearing all the weight. Merrick says the bracket is deceptively simple since it had to be designed to support up to 1,300 lbs. pressure without bending. The only way to get the strength needed, he found, was to weld the three pieces together at right angles.
The Ladderway attaches to the ceiling with two 90? brackets and can be made to swing out of the way if you need to hoist furniture or other equipment through the hole up into the upper room. Hand rails made out of lightweight aluminum pipe or nylon cord make climbing the new-style stairway easy even though it runs upward at a steep 68? angle.
"It uses about as much floorspace as a medium size chair," says Merrick, who's had tremendous interest in his idea since he introduced it a couple months ago. There are a number of different models available depending on the height, hinge and guard rail system. A standard stairway made out of Douglas Fir that'll extend up to 103 in., sells for $136. Merrick also plans to offer do-it-yourself kits.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Merrick Development & Mfg. Inc., N. 31910 Pend Oreille Rd., Chatteroy, Wash. 99003 (ph 509 292-2180).
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