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Help w/ pulley system on 'disappearing stairs'

Posted by party_music50 (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 12, 08 at 17:28

Hi all -- I posted for help recently on "The Old Home" forum, but no luck yet... I found this forum, so thought I'd see if anyone here might help.

I've got a 1938 Arts & Crafts style house...
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 (2) 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", 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 nice original 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? (BTW: I know of the Bessler stair place, but their pulley systems are different... for a single stair.)

Thanks very much for any ideas!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help w/ pulley system on 'disappearing stairs'

I'd post this on the general forums at old house web. There's alot of traffic there and I've included the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: old house web


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RE: Help w/ pulley system on 'disappearing stairs'

Do you have any pics to show us the mechanics of what's there? Then maybe we can put our heads together and figure out the alignment of the ropes and weights.


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RE: Help w/ pulley system on 'disappearing stairs'

kec01: Thanks! I'll check out that other forum!

victoria_stewart: I saw the stairs opened before I bought the house, then the electrician completely busted the pulley system, cracked the door, and I came home to find it nailed shut. He was a lunatic. :( After that, I hired a "handyman" to fix them... my father checked out what he did and knew it was wrong, so the two of them tackled it again together. It's still not right and they know it....

Since then, the stairs have only been pulled down once more -- and it took 3 of us to manage it. :( Unfortunately I didn't take photos that day. It's been nailed shut ever since (because the pulley system doesn't keep the door closed tight anymore). The attic door is in a hallway that's only slightly larger than the door itself, and the ceiling there is over 8' high, so there are two stairs that slide across each other to reach the floor. I think I recall a rope system running down the edge of the stairs (similar to the ropes in my windows). I remember at least two or three pulleys up in the attic, and I suspect that the weights drop down inside the walls on either side of that hallway. My father said he found weights he can use, but he thinks he got the wrong kind of rope to substitute (that electrician REALLY destroyed the whole thing).

I'm going to try to get my father, BIL, and another friend to all get it opened one more time and we'll see if we can figure out anything collectively... I will also be sure and take photos at that time.

Thanks for the help!


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