Building A Custom Roof Ladder For a Sprinter Van

I looked at getting a prefab ladder to install on the back door but they are expensive. I had the idea of installing a custom made wooden ladder accessible when the sliding door is open. There is also the added security that passersby can’t climb it when the vans locked up.

I cut two lengths of Tas Oak and did a fit test. The ladder is attached with brackets on the step and to the bolts for the sliding door up top.

I purchased 1.8m of 28.6mm dowel with the plan that they would slot nicely into 28mm holes with minimal sanding. Unfortunately the fit was loose so I decided on 25mm holes and tapered the ends of the rung to fit. This was done with just a bench sander and rotating the pieces until the correct diameter was achieved.

Rung positions were marked then drilled in about 15mm with a 25mm forstner bit.

Fit test. There was a fair bit of sanding to ensure that the rungs would fit snugly.

Each length and the rungs were sanded to 240 grit before assembly.

The rungs were then glue and fit into each side. A fair bit of whacking was performed to ensure a good fit was achieved. Glue was cleaned up and then left to dry.

Here is the finished ladder after a coat of danish oil.

Foam protection was added to the bottom before installation.

Here is another shot of the finished ladder because I’m quite proud of it!

Here is one of the bolts that attached the sliding door bracket. An angle bracket was bolted onto it then bolted through the top of the ladder. The bolt on the other side was slightly higher, this didn’t pose an issue. Note that it is important to check the distance between these two bolts as it will determine the rung length.

Note that instead of constructing your own ladder you could cut one down to size. Though it seems to be quite difficult finding wooden ladders these days.

One concern was that Willow wouldn’t be able to use the ladder as the overhang would be too much for her. Luckily my father drew up some plans for a cat elevator. This has yet to be put into production.

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