Author Topic: Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder  (Read 182 times)

Offline Wes

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Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder
« on: December 19, 2016, 09:14:11 PM »
Just finished making and installing hardwood treads to make it (much) more comfortable to climb the swim ladder on my 27. The Admiral had complained that the original 1" tubular stainless steel is really hard on the feet. This was a fun project for a cold, rainy winter weekend at home. Here's the finished ladder:

The treads can be made of any hard, durable wood. I like oily tropical hardwoods since they are very weather resistant. I used Ipe (sometimes called Brazilian Walnut) because I had a spare board left over from a home deck project. Ipe looks like mahogany, but is much harder - very fine grained, hard as a rock, incredibly resistant to weathering. For my ladder, I cut a 3/4" thick board into 2.25" wide strips.

I drilled 1" dia. holes spaced 15.75" on center (measure your ladder to confirm), then cut through the center of each hole to form half-circle notches that fit around the vertical tubes. I used a router table with 1/8" straight bit to cut two 1/8" wide by 1/8" deep grooves, each one centered 5/8" from the edge of the board, for drainage slots. Finally all sides were rounded using a 3/8" radius roundover bit.


On the bottom of each tread, I used a 1" diameter round nosed bit on the router table to cut a 1/4" deep groove or "saddle" to fit over the stainless tube.

Attaching of the treads was done with #10 x 2" flat head stainless bolts, cut down to 1.75" length, with #10 nylock lock nuts. I used a #10 countersink bit on the drill press to drill the treads, then clamped them in place and drilled through the stainless tube with a (new, sharp) 3/16" bit.

Finally, I finished the treads with Watco teak oil. Finishes that form a surface film (varnishes, polyurethane, translucent stains like Cetol etc.) do very poorly on Ipe. Oil finishes are good, or just leave the wood unfinished and it will weather to a beautiful silver gray color like cedar.

Tip for CP-19 owners: you can do exactly the same project, but since your ladder is made from 7/8" tube rather than 1", use a 7/8" spade bit to drill the large holes, and a 7/8" round nose router bit to cut the bottom saddle. I would downsize the width of the treads to 2" for the smaller ladder. Have fun!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 07:01:12 AM by Wes »
"Bella", 1988 CP 19/3 #453
Washington, North Carolina

Online Bob23

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Re: Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2016, 05:21:10 AM »
Really nice job, Wes. In my trade, we often use Ipe, Cumaru and Massaranduba, all tropical hardwoods and we like them for our decks. We never use any coating whatsoever on our decks, but rather they do turn a nice silver grey. And they don't float, a nice feature for steps on a boarding ladder.
I may replace my cabinside trims with Ipe and leave them unfinished. No matter what I try, I can't keep a finish on those so rather than fight Ma nature, I'll go along with her!

Online brackish

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Re: Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2016, 07:56:58 AM »
Beautiful Wes.  I made a set last year using UHMW mainly because I didn't want any wood to refinish that would be hanging off the back of the boat.  However, as a woodworker, I've been intrigued by Ipe and have wanted to play with it but can't find any locally.  When I built my skiff, I had planned to use Ipe for the rubrail but couldn't find any that could be bought in small quantities.  Seems like every place I looked was set up to sell truckloads for outdoor deck projects.

Offline deisher6

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Re: Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2016, 08:49:19 AM »
Hey Wes: 
Yet another great job.  Thanks for the post with pictures.  You will really appreciate the treads when you use the ladder the first time. 

I fashioned  Windrunner's  treads  from Starboard.  You know my feelings about wood trim. 

I used Ipe for railing on a deck last year. I was disappointed that it checked and cracked over the summer.  I decided to oil it midsummer to preserve it a bit. It is a very dense wood and a pleasure to work with.  I am fortunate to have a nearby source of all wood in all quantities, Precision Molding of New Bern.

You have to be getting close to launching?

regards charlie
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 08:55:50 AM by deisher6 »

Offline Bristol14

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Re: Wood treads for CP-27 tubular steel swim ladder
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2016, 09:54:56 AM »
Very nice...will have to add this to my "to do in the future" list.  Thx!