Vulcan Multi-Task Ladder
Multi-purpose extension ladders
have been on the market for some time, and there are quite a few
brands to choose from. They can be an excellent choice for both
contractors and home owners, as they are light, compact,
versatile, and durable.
The Vulcan Multi-Task Ladder comes in three
lengths: 13', 17' and 21'. One of the major benefits of a
multi-purpose ladder is that you get several styles of ladders in a
single design. The Vulcan converts quickly and easily from a step
ladder, into an extension ladder, stairway ladder or wall ladder. If
you purchase two of them they can be used as a scaffold frame. We
put the 13' Vulcan to the test around the shop and house, and have
been very pleased with its performance.
Ladders are differentiated by their construction material, length,
and load (or duty) rating. Most ladders sold today are either
aluminum or fibreglass. For the typical homeowner, either makes a
good choice. One of the nice features of aluminum is that it's
lighter than fibreglass, a concern for some homeowners. Tradespeople
who work around wiring will choose a fibreglass ladder, as aluminum
ladders conduct electricity; you can receive a fatal shock if the
ladder comes into contact with a poorly insulated electrical
conductor. The Vulcan Multi-Task is constructed of extremely durable
aircraft quality aluminum to give years of dependable service.
A lot of contractors and trades
people that I've worked with keep at least two ladders; a 6' step
ladder for inside work, and a 28' or longer extension ladder for
exterior work. Most householders can generally get by with a ladder
that is high enough for them to clean out the gutters. Typically you
want a ladder that is at least 4' longer than the highest point you
need to reach (bearing in mind that your maximum reach is about 4'
higher than the height of the ladder). The 13' Vulcan that I tested
is a good compromise length, particularly for avid DIYers,
homeowners and tradespeople. In stepladder mode it's ideal for
working at fixed heights inside the home. In full extension mode
it's long enough to reach the gutters on a single story house.
Ladder in 'storage' mode
Shortest step ladder mode
There are three grades of ladders: construction, commercial,
and household (or light-duty). The Vulcan is rated as a Type
1A, making it suitable for extra heavy industrial use. The
load rating is one of the most important features to
consider when buying a ladder. The ladder not only has to
support your weight, but also any load that you'll carry up
or down the ladder. To put things in perspective, a bundle
of shingles weighs 70 lbs, a sheet of ply can top out at 80
lbs, and a fully loaded tool belt can easily hit 30 lbs. A
hefty lad with a full belt and carrying a load can easily
top 300 pounds. So, if buying a ladder for job site use,
it's best to err on the side of caution and choose one with
at least a Type 1A rating. The other thing to bear in mind
is that a ladder with a higher load rating will be more
durably constructed, and higher durability generally equates
to longevity. I still have the first aluminum ladder I
bought almost 25 years ago. A bit on the rough side, but as
durable as ever.
Ladder is easily adjusted
The Vulcan has several nice features that make it a good all
round choice. It's very well constructed. Thick gauge
aluminum, clean weld seams, and strong, tight, and secure
hinges. A simple plastic cover ensures that you don't
inadvertently pinch your hands or fingers when opening or
closing the ladder. Two spring activated hinge locks with
plastic knobs enable you to quickly adjust the two halves of
the ladder. There are also four rail locks (two on each half
of the ladder) that enable you to adjust the length of the
ladder in 1 foot increments.
Converting the ladder from one mode to another is very
quick. The instructions recommend that you lay the ladder on
the ground when you're adjusting the ladder (so that the
locks don't slip). Because the ladder is so light and easy
to adjust I found that I could make conversions while
holding the ladder upright.
The legs flare out at the bottom of the ladder, helping to
add stability when it's fully extended. Large black ABS
plastic feet provide a good footing on solid, even ground.
However, the feet aren't adjustable, nor is there a leg
leveller included (to accommodate uneven ground).
No pinch hinge
Thick aircraft aluminum extrusions
The 'D' shaped canted rungs make it easy on the feet,
particularly when you're standing on the ladder for an
extended period of time.
If you are looking for a virtually maintenance-free, durable
ladder that converts quickly and easily from step to
extension to stairway mode, and can be stored in a minimal
amount of space, then the Vulcan Multi-Task Ladder is
definitely worth considering.
Flat rungs are more comfortable
Impact resistant ABS plastic feet
According to a CBC report, over 8,000 people in Ontario alone were
injured in ladder falls in 2006. The most common injuries were leg
and ankle fractures, followed by arm and wrist fractures.
Fortunately, virtually all ladder falls can be prevented by
following basic safety rules.
- Look up before placing the ladder; you want to be
particularly careful about overhead electrical lines and glass
windows (if working around electrical lines it's best to use a
- Check to ensure that the ground is level; if not, use one or
more wide plywood cut-offs to level the ladder.
- Don't place the ladder against a flexible or movable
- Don't place the ladder on an unstable surface (saw horses,
work benches, boxes and the like).
- Lift the ladder with your legs, not your back.
- Place the ladder at about a 75°;
1' back for every 4' of rise.
- Make sure that only one person at a time goes up or down the
- When climbing up or down, or working from a ladder, keep
your centre of gravity between the side rails.
- Face the ladder when climbing up or down and when working
- Keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, on
the ladder at all times.
- Don't stand on the top rung of the ladder.
- Apart from your tool belt, it's best to avoid carrying
anything up or down the ladder; instead, hoist up equipment and
materials using a rope and container. Otherwise, limit the load
to what you can easily carry in one armload; better several
trips up and down than one swift descent.
- When working from a ladder don't straddle the space between
the ladder and any other object or surface; keep both feet
firmly planted on the ladder so you don't loose your balance.