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  1. #1
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    Default Ladder on Roof Racks - How ?

    Hi,

    I'm about to drive from Brisbane to Tasmania for a well deserved long holiday and need to re-stain the cottage while I'm down there so I need to take an extension ladder. I've got the Roof Racks already because I needed to get one of those Roof Boxes and if I slide the box as far over to the drivers side as I can there is plenty of space to put the ladder on the passengers side of the racks. Problem is that I've never driven with a ladder on racks before and I'm not sure the best way to strap it on.

    I've done a few test runs and have found that this is the best way I can attach it with the two hitch straps I've got:


    (Photo taken from rear passenger corner)

    I tried strapping from the Roof Rack bar over the top of the ladder but of course it is far too unstable like that. I tried a few other things too however this seems to be the most stable and also stops the two sections of the ladder from sliding within themselves as well.

    If you can't see what I've done I've just hooked the strap hook onto the rail from underneath on one side of the rail foot then passed the strap around the next closest rungs (ie. not the rung directly above the roof rack rail) and the straight back to the rail on the other side of the rails foot again up from underneath. The hitch thingys seemed to really pull the straps nice and tight both front and back and as they're working against each other I don't get much movement at all. The ladder can still wobble around a little bit as the top isn't attached to anything but I really need to yank on it to get it moving. The bottom is really solid.

    It seems OK but I'm just wondering if anyone has any other solutions with the items I have ? I'm thinking a longer strap or two could be strapped over from one corner right over both the ladder and the roof box to the diagonal corner & vise-versa to really hold the ladder down but I'm thinking it's overkill and probably not required.

    I'm going on a 100kph test drive tomorrow to see if this works but please feel free to comment or suggest anything I can do differently to make 100% sure that it wont fly off the roof of the car at 110kph on the journey down to Tassie in a couple of weeks time.

    Thanks,

    Steve.
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  3. #2
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    That's a nice drive you've got in front of you Steve. Be prepared for a whistling sound all the way . The holes in the sides of the ladder (assuming hollow rungs) often whistle as you drive.
    To stop the two sections coming apart a cheap belt (or piece of rope) wraped around two rungs will fix that.
    To hold the ladder steady try a couple of right angle brackets bolted to the racks.

  4. #3
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    Sling a couple of bungee cords either end , over from one side to the other , looping them thru the top side of the ladder on the way .

  5. #4
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    Steve

    does the ladder extend beyond the ends of the vehicle?
    does the vehicle height plus ladder exceed 1.8m?

    both these may affect the cost of the ferry ride

    you should be able to stop the whistling by putting gaffer tape over all the openings

    but how much extra fuel will you use over the 4,500+km ?
    It might be a lot more than the ladder is worth.



    ian

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian View Post
    does the ladder extend beyond the ends of the vehicle?
    does the vehicle height plus ladder exceed 1.8m?

    both these may affect the cost of the ferry ride

    you should be able to stop the whistling by putting gaffer tape over all the openings

    but how much extra fuel will you use over the 4,500+km ?
    It might be a lot more than the ladder is worth.
    ian
    The ladder is shorter than the car length by a good metre or so plus the height limit for the 'Spirit of Tasmania' ferry is 2.1m (I had to find out when I was getting the roof box) so there shouldn't be any problems there. I've also got a bike rack on the rear of the car so that adds another metre if I wanted to slide the ladder back a bit for whatever reason.

    Very good point on the fuel economy though. I get amazingly good economy out of the car normally (late 2001 Corolla ... the first model hatch with the dorky headlights pre-facelift) but with the racks and the roof box I was kinda planning on approx. 25% less but that was without really knowing for sure. Didn't think much further than that with the ladder but yes that's a very good point. Hmmmm. If it only added a bit to what the racks and box are already going to do to fuel consumption I'd be fine with that but if it's too much then yes it'll just be cheaper and a heck of a lot easier to buy a ladder down there.

    Anyone know generally how much extra a ladder adds (percentage wise) to fuel consumption of an efficient little 1.8L petrol engine ?

    Dunno, it might be worth the risk just for the experience. Good idea with the gaffer tape over the holes, thanks.

    Steve.

  7. #6
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    Check out the price to hire one down there as it will cost a lot of fuel to take it with you. Maybe one of the forum members maybe able to help you out with a lend of one.
    CHRIS

  8. #7
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    Not sure if this helps, but when I carry a bike on my racks it increases fuel consumption by 10%. I'm thinking your corolla probably does 8l/100km, so an extra 10% will cost $50 or so.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  9. #8
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    The drag signature of that ladder will be worse than a bike rack, which is riding in already turbulent air at the trailing edge of the vehicle. The ladder will create a disproportionate amount of turbulence for its size because of the rungs etc. At highway speeds I'd take a wild guess at 25-30% worse fuel economy in total with the box. What figures do they quote for the box/racks alone?

    Greg (not an aerodynamicist, but I have dated one)(It was a drag)

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregoryq View Post
    not an aerodynamicist, but I have dated one (It was a drag)
    what? all turbulence with no lift at all?





    sorry Greg, couldn't resist

    ian

  11. #10
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    Oh man, you guys are funny :)

    Loaded up the bike rack this morning and changed the way I tied the hitch straps to the ladder & roof rack rails. The straps were on so tight that the front one had actually pulled the rail & foot 30mm forward across the roof/gutter overnight (ie. toward the rungs I had the strap around) so I think the super-strong method was a little too hardcore ;) I experimented for a while and found that I could tie the ladder down just as well without reaching out for the next rungs and therefore not putting unrealistic strains on the racks.

    The bikes took ages to get on the rear carrier properly but in the end they fit nicely and they stayed quite stable on the drive. It'll be a cinch to put them on now that I've got the clamps set properly tho. I could obviously feel there was a load on the back and the wind resistance from the box & ladder on the roof but once I had overcome the fear of losing the bikes off the back and I was on the highway doing 110kph I couldn't really notice any difference. I could even wind the old girl up to much higher speeds relatively quickly too so that's nice to know.

    Here's a shot of the car when I pulled over to inspect everything (& found nothing wrong) before I turned around and drove 35mins back home:



    Everything was rock solid however I'll need to tighten the nut on the tow ball because it twisted about 10mm just as I was pulling into my drive way. No big problem there though.

    Fuel economy ? Yeah, it's going to be terrible but I still think it's worthwhile even if the ladder drags the whole thing down. Based on the super fuel-efficiency of the car over the last 7 years we've owned it from new (nearly to the day) even with a fuel consumption increase of 30% I've estimated that will only cost $100-120 (max) extra (Premium Unleaded) and that to me isn't too bad based on the fact that it's a decent quality ladder which would cost at least $300 to purchase new. The only thing is that I'll have to decide whether or not to bring the ladder back because if I do it will cost this much again on the return trip and that's obviously getting close to the purchase price. There is of course the possibility of buying a lower quality & lower price ladder tho ... hmmm.

    One good thing however is that we'll be leaving a heap of stuff at the holiday house (including two of the bikes) and therefore wont need the roof box up on the rack on the return trip therefore saving a little bit of drag but obviously not much thanks to the fact that the racks and ladder will still be up there (mounted flat of course).

    I dunno. I think I'll just go for it and just hope nothing comes flying off and under the car/truck following us on the highway. If anyone else needs hints & tips on how to cram stupid amounts of stuff into & onto a Corolla please fell free to ask :)

    Thanks for your advice ... and the Gaffer tape over the rung holes worked a treat, absolutely no howling or whistling at all ... even at 155kph !

    Steve.
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  12. #11
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    That just cracks me up. It reminds me so much of my family vacations when I was a kid. Good luck with the journey, take lots of photos so your kids can have an "oh Dad!" laugh in later years.

    Best wishes for Christmas

    Greg

    Oh, Ian: Lot's o lift, but too much parasite drag

  13. #12
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    Don't fergit the rockin chair on top fer Granny...
    Mate, you look like an accident waiting to happen. aaah, I see, you are from Queensland. Ok, no worries, don't forget to strap a tonne or two of Huon on your roof to drive back home and pick up some road kill for dinner.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopha View Post
    Don't fergit the rockin chair on top fer Granny...
    Mate, you look like an accident waiting to happen. aaah, I see, you are from Queensland. Ok, no worries, don't forget to strap a tonne or two of Huon on your roof to drive back home and pick up some road kill for dinner.
    Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence Christopha. Although the test drive went well I'm still a bit nervous about it but then I consider that to be a healthy attitude and should keep me more alert to the risks etc. Keep your eyes on the TV though, you might see us on the news being interviewed on why the remains of four bikes were found scattered across a NSW or VIC highway. Lets hope that's the worst that happens ... gulp.

    Hmmm, Huon :)

  15. #14
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    Buy a cheap ladder down there and leave it there. If you don't, i guarantee the next time you go you will need to take the ladder again.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapman007 View Post
    Buy a cheap ladder down there and leave it there. If you don't, i guarantee the next time you go you will need to take the ladder again.
    Yep, totally agree however I actually have a ladder down there already ... one of those funky multi-fold jobbies that's more than adequate to do 99% of jobs around the house and get up on the roof etc. however it's just not long enough to allow me to safely reach the peak sections of the walls on each end of the house. I might be able to reach if I stood on the top rung of the multifold and if the ladder was elevated off the ground 500mm or so but there's no way I'm going to do that for obvious reasons.

    I'm actually very surprised at how good the multi-fold ladder is. It only cost about $170 and I was worried about the strength of the latch hinges etc. but it's an amazingly strong and very well built unit. It's just a shame it can't reach the heights of the walls comfortably One more section and it would be perfect but alas they don't come any longer than the 3.8m.

    Steve.

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