Monday, April 13, 2009

Climbing To The Top of Big Bertha

Climbing To The Top of Big Bertha

Last July
I mentioned that I was looking at Louisville Ladder's products for solving the problem of getting to the eyepiece of Big Bertha. (American made, by the way. We still make serious stuff in America, not just broken financial instruments.) In a number of positions, Big Bertha's eyepiece is either too high, or awkwardly placed (or both) to get to while standing on the ground--and the stepladder that I was using was a bit too scary to use in the dark.

While trying to decide whether to splurge on the more expensive but taller version of this rolling warehouse ladder, the layoff at HP happened, and I decided that I had more important places to spend my money.

I was looking through Craig's List recently, and I found a Louisville GSX2407 for sale, used, for $200. This is the really big version that I had not considered buying. New, they cost $920. Way too much money! But $200? A bargain.

So I went over to the shop of the guy who was selling it. He has a machine shop that would make my Sherline lathe and vertical mill feel like they had landed in Land of the Giants. This shop has two vertical mills that can easily turn five foot long, 24 inch diameter objects. It has at least one of the really big Bridgeport mills. Machine tool lust!

Anyway, the ladder was made in 1997, and the paint has faded, but everything works fine.

Click to enlarge

There's a brake at the bottom. You press a lever at the first step, and it lowers it down so that the wheels no longer turn. You press another lever to raise it. The wheels are squealing a little--probably in need of Break-Free--and I'll probably give it a fresh coat of safety orange paint to make it look better and protect it--but it works great. I can climb into positions with Big Bertha that would otherwise be difficult, or scary, and the railings mean that even in darkness, there's no real danger of falling off.

Oh yes: at the top landing, I can look into the roof gutters, and it is far more stable and safe than a ladder.

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