Friday, June 10, 2011

Swim Ladder

The swim ladder on VALHALLA is a Platform Mount Ladder from West Marine (Model # 518985), modified to fit the curvature of the vessel sides.  The ladder is strong enough and the bottom step deep enough in the water for an easy climb while coming aboard.

Two pairs of mounting brackets (Model #519355) are installed to allow a 'quick connect/disconnect' feature.

The bottom two mounting brackets are bolted through the hull with backing plates and without modification.  Access to the nuts inside the hull was surprisingly easy through the furniture.

The top two mounting brackets were modified to give clearance on the inboard side for the bottom bolts which pass through the toe rail just above the deck.  In retrospect, the top bolt holes did not need modification.  The bolt heads were ground off to fit next to the raised portion of the mounting bracket.  A backing plate was also installed on each top bracket as shown below.

The modification of the top section required cutting off the lower stand offs and welding them back in place at the correct angle to fit the hull curvature.

This shows the fully extended ladder with a new lower section, which was a disappointment.
After four months of use the original lower section of the ladder developed, on one side, corrosion cracks at the point where it was bent 90 degrees (the small radius deformed the tubing at these bends).  After one year it was rusted through and required replacement.  That fabrication, done in the Philippines, was without bends (no bending machine) but lasted only two years due to poor welding.  It was replaced in Malaysia with a well constructed item using prefabricated 90 degree bends and TIG welding.
For simplicity the original flattened tubing and plastic rungs were eliminated on the lower section with no great loss of comfort when climbing.

When not in use the lower section folds up neatly.  A retaining clip on the upper section was discarded after it suffered UV deterioration (not surprisingly, replacements are available from West Marine.  Do you suppose they know?).  Instead, a small line is now used to secure it in place when required.

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