roof ridge ladder hooking
Saturday, June 17 2006
At this time of year the sky is light before 5am and the sunrise happens at around quarter past five. I wanted to get cracking on repairing the roof before the next rains (which began later this morning), but the only possible time to work on the west side of the roof (where the missing shingles are) is in the morning, when the sun isn't heating the shingles to a scalding temperature. So at around 6am I loaded up the girls and, after a short run along the Esopus across from the Hurley Mountain Inn, we headed to Lowes to see what sort of ladder options they had. I knew I'd be needing a 14 foot ladder to reach down from the ridge to the damage, but I thought I'd need the ladder to be all in one piece to keep it sufficiently light. I'd also need something allowing me to hook it over the ridge. Big ladders, the kind where one half is at least 14 feet long, are expensive. So I settled on one of those articulated ladders that can be deployed as either a step ladder or a straight ladder. The model I bought was 16 feet in length, although the heavy steel joints added considerably to its weight. I'd seen such ladders in use on shows like House Detective and been skeptical of the reliability of those joints. But after dicking around with them today I can say they're pretty solid. In this litigious society, they'd have to be.
Neither Lowes nor Home Depot sold anything designed to hook a ladder over a roof ridge. I think such jobs lie somewhat outside the scope of the legal liability they are willing to take on. So instead I bought a two-pronged "ladder stabilizer" designed to keep ladders from torquing too much at the top. I figured those prongs could be hooked over the roof ridge. I actually bought two different ladder stabilizers so I could figure out which one would be the most useful. I also bought a couple of casters so the ends of the stabilizer could be rolled up the roof without resistance.
Back at the house, I designed a very imperfect system for attaching the casters to the stabilizer. It was one of those jury-rigged bits of nonsense where I fired screws through a rubber end cap into a piece of wood to which I'd bolted a caster. The system worked okay for a minute or so, until the rubber end cap became "tired" and let go of the stabilizer. Nevertheless, with a great deal of brute strength and some finesse, I managed to use this system to get the articulated ladder hooked to the roof ridge. Prior to that, though, the neighbor Andrea came over to drop off a Labrador named Ti whom I would be dog-sitting all day. She took one look at my ladders and switched into mother mode, making me promise not to do any roof work until tomorrow when she'd be around to check in on me. I'd agreed, but then I'd done all the setup, including the perilous roof-ridge hooking operation, which had required two separate excursions along the roof ridge.
To make the hooked ladder extra secure, I went to Stone Ridge Hardware ("the world's only rock and roll hardware store") to get some heavy-duty polypropylene rope. Why Stone Ridge? It was a hot day and I wanted to treat the dogs (including Ti) to a dip in the Esopus at the "Secret Spot," which is a little west of the intersection of Tongore and Hurley Mountain Road. For a Labrador, Ti was kind of a pussy in the water, wading up to his belly but not swimming. Sally, on the other hand, fully-channeled her inner-Labrador. (One theory posits that Sally is a Labrador-Whippet hybrid.)
Throughout the evening I burned through a large accumulation of shows on the TiVo. Most of these were episodes of the Colbert Report.
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