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Product Reviews

The following review can be found at: http://www.toolreviews.ca/reviews/Vulcan_ladder/vulcan.html

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.


Maximum height

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.


Hinge locks

Rail locks

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

Safety Tips

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 fibreglass ladder).
  • 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 surface.
  • 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 ladder.
  • 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 from it.
  • 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.