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New Ladder Recommendations for Focusing

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by lcthebeast, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. lcthebeast

    lcthebeast Member

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    I wasn't positive if this was better off for the facility forum or not.
    I am looking to replace my current wooden A-frame ladder with extension. My working height is about 17'-22' and I'm unsure on what is preferred for new ladders. Also are all dollies made custom for their ladder or are there stock dollies that can be purchased with a ladder?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    No ladder company is their right mind will sell a ladder with a dolly. I know it is a common practice, but just like pushing a genie with the genie up is not a practice that will help extend your lifespan.

    Is their a reason you are not looking for a genie? I know they are expensive, but they are much safer. Call your local contractor rental place, they might have a used one they could sell you for fairly cheap.

    You might also want to look at a scaffold tower. You can get them with wheels that you can shove around stage. You do need fall arrest with these.

    Otherwise, there are a few places that make a fiberglass A-Frame. I have one on my stage, never use it.... but its there. I would avoid at all costs buying another A-Frame. They are being phased out fairy rapidly.
     
  3. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The A-frames are pretty inconvenient to use. We had one in high school and even though it was brand new it was still very shaky. One thing I did notice was that even though dollys are considered unsafe because it encourages unsafe use of the ladder, ours was about 50% more stable on the dolly since it held on to the feet better. I think the most inconvenient thing about it was... Well try to set it up by yourself and you'll see what I mean. Especially if you want to put it on a dolly.

    By the way I believe the base came with it and I think Texas Scenic provided it. Not sure though, it's just a wild guess since they provided a lot of the other gear during the school's '01 fine arts renovation.
     
  4. lcthebeast

    lcthebeast Member

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    Thank you for the recommendation. We have scaffolding but our false proscenium makes it incredibly difficult to move out onto our apron and be at an acceptable working height. Only issue i could see with with the genie is how much weight is on our apron which is a series of plugs over our orchestra pit. That is still a much better option though.
     
  5. Anvilx

    Anvilx Active Member

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    What? but don't you just love the way that the wooden ladders move and sway.
    sarcasm
     
  6. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I hate A-frames. I really really hate A-frames. Genies are easier, more comfortable to focus in, and SAFER!!! Find someone that rents them and try and buy used like was mentioned earlier or if you have a little space in your budget call up whoever in your area sells the things and see if they have a more lightweight one to ease your mind while focusing the apron lights
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Call the manufacturer/installer and find out the weight limit of the floor if you're worried about it. Use this number when talking to a salesperson.

    Afterthought: See if you can get an insurance break if you go with the Genie over the ladder for safety reasons, it might convince the powers that be to go with the more expensive option.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  8. MikeyHP

    MikeyHP Member

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    I would love a GENIE compared to our 16 ft Aluminum A frame ladder...
     
  9. lcthebeast

    lcthebeast Member

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    I actually do enjoy the wooden A-Frame for some reason. The scissor lift that we do have is too heavy to use on our stage all the time, and there are so many bad areas to drive on. I'll drop the word in to the theater manager to see what we can do about a genie.
     
  10. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    We're lucky enough to have a SkyJack 4626 (scissor lift). We would never be able to get a new one in our school district, but we found a local equipment rental place that gave a deal. They were nice enough to throw in a full inspection and service before they handed it over. These people are (potentially) your friends.
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The 20' Genie weighs 650#. You need to check, but I would hope your extension has a PLF of at least 200lbs. I have done things like "Egyptian" plywood in front of a lift to move it around on decks that pop. I have also had my 30s on a stock 4x8 decks without an issue. Be sure to do your math anytime you are moving a load onto your stage, and before you buy the lift make sure that your stage can support it. Genie lifts are really not that heavy, unlike scisor lifts.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Wow Kyle Three times the posts three times the advice!

    Look up Scaffolding in your phone book. Just about every scaffold and rental place has a deal on used genie lifts as well... it'll still cost you a ton.

    Personally I went with a 12' high 5x8 scaffold. I can set it up by myself in about a half hour... takes 10-15 minutes with help. It's very stable. No need for outriggers. I can take another person up with me and we can work together. I went with a deluxe model and added several accessories like extra decks on the way up and a trap door in the top deck to make it easy to climb up on the inside of the scaffold and pass things up to the person working on top. Total cost was about $1500 for all new parts... you can cut that down quite a bit if you go with used parts but they will be dirty. There are some cool scaffolds available on line for under $1000 that might meet your needs as well.

    A frames are not acceptable. Another option is the tall rolling stairways you see at Lowes/Home Depot. They come in some really tall models. I think you should be able to find these if you search for "material handling equipment". They are known as "rolling ladders". Here's a 13 footer for example.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  13. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Oh wow Gafftaper, I never actually thought of those rolling staircases as a solution. Sweet.
     
  14. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I love rolling A-Frames, I feel more comfortable on those than I do in a Genie for some reason. But a Genie is a safer solution.

    Mike
     
  15. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    You and my production manager. You won't catch him in our Genie. In fact I had to make them buy a Genie my first year at the theatre because they didn't have one. The thing about A-frame extension ladders if that it is an acquired skill, and it is hard for a lot of people to acquire it and be comfortable with it. However, most people can jump in a Genie and be ok.
     
  16. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    You are absolutely correct. Genies are so much better for the average user/new guy. I just don't like them because it takes too long to move them, they aren't smooth, they can be difficult to fit into spaces and get behind units for focus.

    But yeah, I remember the first day of lighting tech, to stay in the class, having to climb up the A-Frame, straddle the top, let go with your hands, be rolled around in a circle, then come down the other side. For me I feel twice as comfortable up there as in a Genie. It is a smoother ride, I can reach better, I can get into tight spaces, and it doesn't take as long.

    Mike
     
  17. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Our Genie at my college without the outriggers has a much smaller footprint than the 16ft A-Frame ladder that we have. We always keep the outriggers in when we use it, except if you have the back of the genie up against a wall you are allowed to remove the back two outriggers. I don't know if you can do this on the newer models (I don't think you can because of the safety interlocks) but we can on ours, it has instructions in the user manual stating how to do it. We have a really old model though, it's so old that it has a Yellow Fiberglass Bucket instead of today's Blue Aluminum ones that Genie uses. It's about 15 or 20 years old...one of the earlier models genie produced I think.

    We have a 36 foot Genie that is only a couple years old at MVPAC, but because of MVPAC's layout and fly systems we have never had the need to cram it in any tight spaces. It's mostly only used for changing houselights using a Genie SuperStraddle and for Focus.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  18. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    We have two lifts, a Genie AWP Lift and a Genie GS-1930 Scissor Lift. Both have their uses and will work in areas where the other won't. We also have an assortment of A-frame ladders ranging from 6 ft. to 12 ft. and three extension ladders. There are parts of my stage where the extension ladders are all I can use due to access issues. Of them all, the scissor lift sees the most use.

    The point? For what we do at the Pageant, we need an array of different lifts and ladders. One type will not meet all of our needs. This is probably also true of most venues. So you need to determine which solution will meet the bulk of your needs and still fit within your budget, then build your ladder and lift inventory around that.
     
  19. Diarmuid

    Diarmuid Active Member

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    I've always been told that using fall-arrest systems with these is a bad idea, especially if its going to be moved with people up the top. With fall arrest you either have to attach yourself to the rails of the tower, or an overhead point. If you're onto the rails and you fall, you pull the whole tower over causing more damage, as you have a lump of metal coming down on top of you. If you're on an overhead point and someone moves the tower during a long session where you forget to unclip then you're going to be pulled out of the tower. Also you'll probably need to unclip to move the tower, and that's the point at which its most likely to fall over.

    Considering that on a properly assembled tower there should be guard rails up to at least waist height, and outriggers to stop it tipping, these things should be relatively safe. However, I haven't yet been on my PASMA course, and so I might well be wrong.

    With regard to the actual topic, I absolutely hate ladders for focusing or rigging from!
     
  20. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    If you have that, you don't need the fall arrest. If you are not using railings, you need it. Just like with a genie, you should not be up in it while its moving.
     

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