Help w/ 'disappearing stairs'?

party_music50October 29, 2008

Hi all! I'm assuming that my 1938 Bungalo (Arts & Crafts) style house qualifies for this "old house" forum.

I'm hoping that someone might be able to help...

Several years ago, I bought this house in terrible disrepair. An electrician doing work for me somehow managed to completely destroy the pully-system on my "disappearing" attic stairs. I was told that's what they're called, because they don't fold, but are rather full size stairs that drop down and slide across each other to extend to the ground.

My father and another guy tried to guess how the ropes/pullies/weights should be mounted, and it "sort of works" (lol!) but I'm definitely not happy with it and haven't tried to use it in years (it's hard to use and I'm worried that it's unsafe). It's a waste to not use the attic, and I really don't want to give up these gorgeous old stairs in favor of a new replacement folding stair! I know that it worked correctly when I looked at the house to buy it, but I certainly don't remember how it was all rigged up.

Is there anyone out there with a "disappearing stair" setup that can help me with the proper configuration for the pullies/ropes/weights? or can anyone tell me who I might be able to contact about such a thing?

Thanks very much for any ideas!

(and now I'll look around for other tips :)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Would this be what you're talking about?

Here is a link that might be useful: Sliding stairs

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the reply, vjrnts. :)

I also found the Bessler site after doing my post, and showed it to my father. He's amazed that they still make that kind of stair system! Mine works a little differently because it has two sets of stairs that slide across each other... probably because the ceilings are higher than 8'. It's a good starting point for researching the problem though!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 8:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have these stairs in my 1930s house. Let me know if you need specific pictures of it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

YES!!! PLEASE!!! maureeninmd, you may be able to save me with some photos! :)

My father had to guess where the pulleys and weights should be mounted, and he bought replacement rope that he thinks isn't the right stuff to use. If your stairs are the same and slide across each other like mine, pictures would be a tremendous help!!!

I will see if I can email you through your member page.

Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 12:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello all! I am revisiting this post to let everyone know that we have FINALLY found and corrected the 10+ year old problem with the pulley system on my slide-down attic stairs!!! (Note that I correctly spelled pulley now for ColumbusGuy! I have been terribly embarrassed by my earlier misspelling and I PROMISE that I will never misspell the word again!)

The answer? I am only 5 feet tall and the ceilings in my house are mostly 9-10 feet tall -- including the ceiling in the kitchen. I was unable to reach all but the lowest shelves in the kitchen cabinets without a small ladder, so within months of purchasing the house we lowered the cabinets. Lowering the cabinets also gave me extra storage space (on top of the cabinets) in a tiny kitchen, so all was good.... or so I thought. :)

One of my BILs finally surmised that one particular weight on the pulley system was somehow 'catching' in the wall. Luckily I happened to look in the direction of the kitchen cabinets when he said it. :p We ran to the kitchen, pulled back on the screws in the cabinets that were against the wall with the weight in it, and voila I can now use my attic stairs again!

PS: That pulley system is housed in lath walls -- and we all know how much trouble lath is!!! :O)

This post was edited by party_music50 on Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 8:19

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 7:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

The electrician deserves an apology! hehehe!

Great ending. :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No, I don't fori -- the electrician broke the pulley system to begin with -- before the cupboards were even moved. He also totally screwed up the wiring job I hired him to do. He should have been sued! I had to hire another electrician to re-wire what he screwed up. But that's another story....

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:14PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need your ideas for a new-old home,...
We are planning to build a home that appears to be...
Hot water radiators
We own a 1900 home which has forced hot water heating...
How to fix 1" gaps in drywall seams?
We recently bought our home (build in 1938). One of...
Yikes. I just bought an 1898 Victorian house
Hi, I have always loved old homes and had the opportunity...
Strip flooring with unusual cross section
(Cross posted from Flooring forum) I'm renovating a...
Sponsored Products
Square Stainless Steel Tub Steps - Brushed Stainless Steel
Signature Hardware
Arteriors Home - Hall Candle Holder (Set of 2) - 4126
Great Furniture Deal
Industrial Tanker Warehouse Pendant
Barn Light Electric Company
Verde Finish Stair Step Light
$59.91 | Lamps Plus
500-watt Stainless Steel Hand Vacuum
$99.50 | FRONTGATE
Safavieh Hand-woven Sisal Natural/ Beige Seagrass Runner (2'6 x 14')
Avenue Wall Sconce by Philips Forecast Lighting
$98.00 | Lumens
Chatham Grey and Ivory Runner: 2 Ft. 3 In. x 11 Ft. Rug
$148.95 | Bellacor
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™