Tuesday, August 11, 2020
A Strong, Insulated Garage Attic Ladder, 120" FC
This post explores public information that is available to guide purchase of an attic ladder to serve the common need of useful access to a garage with ten-foot ceiling, 120 inch floor to ceiling distance, FC. A very specific need, however typical, clarifies the study of information resources. The study is prompted by knowing that guidance fails for a preferred solution with the current best-value Fakro ladder, LWP 22/54 Model 66853. I hope to be helpful to any shopper of an attic ladder. More, I hope to inspire marketing and product design at preeminent maker of attic ladders and skylights to the world, wonderful Fakro in the forested mountains of southern Poland.
I have so far experienced 120" FC just once, hired to install the ladder chosen and purchased by my customer in Spring 2018, and described in this blog post:
The ladder is Fakro :LWP 22/54 Model 66803, still on-offer at Lowe's, but evidently replaced in production by Model 66853, It is not economical to produce excess families of ladders. A newer model should surely have valued improvements, bragged-of. Product of a discarded design should be sold-off at discount, explained.
Here is a link to my Google Sheets aid to shopping for an attic ladder:
Fakro higher value comes from steady design evolution, efficiencies in production, and from modern distribution efficiencies. Fakro USA in Addison, IL serves shipboard safe transit most of the way, via Great Lakes, and is the shipper of most online and order-desk sales. In USA, needs are met from any home computer, with speedy delivery to a store pickup location. Bulky and brittle attic ladders, and probably skylights too, are rejected as Amazon delivery-to-home opportunity.
Amazon still offers a few crummy ladders, perhaps where cheapness counts more than arrival-intact. A determined Amazon-buyer will find some discontinued or over-priced Fakro ladders, in addition to the cheap stuff, for awhile. Somehow I found an unwanted Werner wood ladder at online electrical distributor platt.com.
Are cheap ladders stocked at Home Depot or Lowe's in-contention? Surely in USA now as in Europe and perhaps everywhere, durability and safety matter more than price, even for a DIY installation. A well-vetted professional offering informed sale and installation, is a good investment, if one could be found. Housing must not be built to survive thirty years, an attic ladder for a decade.
The Fakro ladder families are likely to be available anywhere on Earth. They will be preferred for value and will challenge local ladder builders anywhere.
On then, to shop a 120" FC Fakro wood attic ladder for a garage. It will be a 54" LWP unless the garage attic is not fire-separated from attics of living space.
This is the default installation of a Model 66803 ladder, just-able to serve 121.5" FC, at steps angle 65° with about 10 mm exposed threads at angle adjusters. At 120" FC I was able to trim at 63°, with 12 mm exposed adjuster threads. My tall customer is happy with his ladder.
I find nothing wrong with the 12 mm adjusters setting although an 8 mm maximum is warned.
Where I insist on knowing a reason for the warning, I have obtained this unscientific explanation: (At 7/30/2020)
The limitation of the regulation screw is based on calculations and endurance simulations which are confirmed by tests. Complaints also confirm that the screws cannot be screwed out more than acceptable. Brackets and bracket mounts are designed with a maximum screw output of the adjustment screw at 8mm. The arms are designed to withstand certain tension which is why it is only recommend to be screwed to a max of 8mm.
This post is inspired first, by perceived need of full understanding of the clever angle adjusters, with provided means of half-step trim variations by angle range. There is unfinished business in this, here reported to the manufacturer.
Here is the default installation of a newer Fakro LWP 22/54, Model 66853. It is dangerously unworkable, yet that is curable to excellence if only we are honest about the deficiencies. Surely instance that a superseded design was then, better, must not hold back progress.
See that an "unlucky bottom step" wiil be a frequent challenge in ladder installation. Where angle is the variable of reach to floor with a concertina ladder, a range of 5° is sufficient to meet the floor, adding or removing a step. The same angle freedom half the step pitch, is needed for a wood ladder. Protest and demand change then where Fakro wood ladder angle adjusters gives only a 2° angle range, 66° to 64°. Find that discovery in the album of my recent installation of a loft ladder for a coffee shop.
A full 6° angle range is easily achievable.