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Thread: Renewing fiberglass ladders?

  1. #1
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    Renewing fiberglass ladders?

    I have several fiberglass ladders that are starting to flake off some fibers. These ladders have been in service for several years, mostly riding on top of the work van exposed to the weather. This has taken its toll on the finish of the ladders, with the sun, wind, rain, etc all contributing to the wearing down of the outer finish of the fiberglass exposing shards of glass fibers. If you rub your arm the wrong way, you can feel `em stabbing you ....


    SO, I was thinking of maybe painting something like Spar varnish (boat varnish?) or some sort of epoxy clear coat to protect the surface, and minimize the fiberglass from wearing further.

    Have any of you had to perform this kind of maintenance on your ladders, or do you just chuck `em and buy new?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
    I have several fiberglass ladders that are starting to flake off some fibers. These ladders have been in service for several years, mostly riding on top of the work van exposed to the weather. This has taken its toll on the finish of the ladders, with the sun, wind, rain, etc all contributing to the wearing down of the outer finish of the fiberglass exposing shards of glass fibers. If you rub your arm the wrong way, you can feel `em stabbing you ....


    SO, I was thinking of maybe painting something like Spar varnish (boat varnish?) or some sort of epoxy clear coat to protect the surface, and minimize the fiberglass from wearing further.

    Have any of you had to perform this kind of maintenance on your ladders, or do you just chuck `em and buy new?
    I never have nor do I know anyone that has.

    If you decide to renew, here's a couple web pages which may help:

    http://www.ehow.com/info_8029990_sun...s-ladders.html

    http://www.ehow.com/how_5794273_fix-...s-ladders.html
    I'll never get there. No matter where I go, I'm always here.

  3. #3
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    The question becomes have they weakened and if your repair methods are acceptable at restoring the strength?

    If you have employees and consider OSHA it may well be best to just replace them.

    You can always sell them to handyman Joe.

    I brought a stepladder to the local waste transfer station that had worn the corner of one of the legs from how it was riding in the truck enough that it eventually wore through and split the corner most of the length of the leg. It was only a 5 foot ladder, but if you were on an uneven surface it threatened to give out on you so it was time to get rid of it.

    The operator seen this ladder - it was a nice looking ladder other than the one leg - and had to pull it out from the rest of the trash. It is still there at the facility and it was at least two years ago that I tried to get rid of it. I guess it is their problem if somebody gets hurt when using it.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
    I have several fiberglass ladders that are starting to flake off some fibers. These ladders have been in service for several years, mostly riding on top of the work van exposed to the weather. This has taken its toll on the finish of the ladders, with the sun, wind, rain, etc all contributing to the wearing down of the outer finish of the fiberglass exposing shards of glass fibers. If you rub your arm the wrong way, you can feel `em stabbing you ....


    SO, I was thinking of maybe painting something like Spar varnish (boat varnish?) or some sort of epoxy clear coat to protect the surface, and minimize the fiberglass from wearing further.

    Have any of you had to perform this kind of maintenance on your ladders, or do you just chuck `em and buy new?
    If it is only surface damage then it is UV degradation of the resin that is used to bind the glass fibers and besides of the discomfort no structural integrity is compromoised. You idea about looking at boat varnish is knocking on the right door, a marine supply store should be able to supply you with resin to restore the surface. Make sure that it DOES contain UV retardant of some sort. (You would hate to keep re-aplying suntan loation onto your ladder , which is what UV retardants basically are...)

  5. #5
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    We have a company that comes in and cleans, repairs and recertifies our fiberglass ladders( we have over 30). OSHA doesn't specifically address fiberglass ladders, and there are some companies that will repair them at half the cost.
    http://www.laddermatters.com/?page=faq
    http://ladderrepair.com/
    http://www.ladderrepairs.com/

    One thing you have to ask yourself, Am I repairing this for me to climb, or an employee? Am I willing to accept the responsibility for someone getting hurt on a ladder repaired with spar varnish?

    Look here at page 5&6 for methods recommended by a manufacturer.:http://us.wernerco.com/docs/userguid...?Status=Master

  6. #6
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    Oklahoma
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    easy fix???

    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    The question becomes have they weakened and if your repair methods are acceptable at restoring the strength?

    If you have employees and consider OSHA it may well be best to just replace them.

    You can always sell them to handyman Joe.

    I brought a stepladder to the local waste transfer station that had worn the corner of one of the legs from how it was riding in the truck enough that it eventually wore through and split the corner most of the length of the leg. It was only a 5 foot ladder, but if you were on an uneven surface it threatened to give out on you so it was time to get rid of it.

    The operator seen this ladder - it was a nice looking ladder other than the one leg - and had to pull it out from the rest of the trash. It is still there at the facility and it was at least two years ago that I tried to get rid of it. I guess it is their problem if somebody gets hurt when using it.
    My favorite fix .....

    Cut a 2x4 to fit inside the rail and wrap w/ duct tape......

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rt66electric View Post
    My favorite fix .....

    Cut a 2x4 to fit inside the rail and wrap w/ duct tape......

    Or screw a section of steel stud to the outside.


    I go to the local auto paint store and buy what the Corvette guys use for minor repairs where it's just the fibers protruding. Any more severe damage get's the ladder chucked.
    Some people are like slinkies. They serve absolutely no useful purpose. But still put a smile on your face when pushed down a flight of stairs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    The question becomes have they weakened and if your repair methods are acceptable at restoring the strength?

    If you have employees and consider OSHA it may well be best to just replace them.

    You can always sell them to handyman Joe.

    I brought a stepladder to the local waste transfer station that had worn the corner of one of the legs from how it was riding in the truck enough that it eventually wore through and split the corner most of the length of the leg. It was only a 5 foot ladder, but if you were on an uneven surface it threatened to give out on you so it was time to get rid of it.

    The operator seen this ladder - it was a nice looking ladder other than the one leg - and had to pull it out from the rest of the trash. It is still there at the facility and it was at least two years ago that I tried to get rid of it. I guess it is their problem if somebody gets hurt when using it.
    Due to this type of situation and all of the ridiculous Liability lawsuits nowadays our policy is to completely destroy the ladder before it goes in the dumpster.

    IMHO although I may be tempted to use some of the repair techniques mentioned here for use at home only I would never use them on the job for liability and customer perception reasons.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIMaster View Post
    Due to this type of situation and all of the ridiculous Liability lawsuits nowadays our policy is to completely destroy the ladder before it goes in the dumpster.

    IMHO although I may be tempted to use some of the repair techniques mentioned here for use at home only I would never use them on the job for liability and customer perception reasons.
    The OP seemed to be clear about that the damage was NOT structural but was limited to surface wailing of the fiberglass matting. This is common phenomena of any fiberglass components exposed to sunlight(UV radiation), including boxes and can be successfully repaired with resins containing UV retardant material. I don't believe anyone suggested structural repair to be done.

    On the other hand it seems to me silly that you are more concerned about liability than your own life.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIMaster View Post
    Due to this type of situation and all of the ridiculous Liability lawsuits nowadays our policy is to completely destroy the ladder before it goes in the dumpster.
    This was not a dumpster this was the waste transfer station operated by municipality. The operator at the station pulled the ladder from the rest of what was being disposed of. Why should I be liable for anything that happens as a result of use of this ladder, as far as I'm concerned I disposed of that ladder. Do I now need to purchase a shredder for everything I dispose of to make sure nothing is usable for liability purposes?

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