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Scaffold towers - just how useful/flexible are they?

Discussion in 'Tools and Materials' started by Lusi83, 17 Dec 2018.

  1. Lusi83

    Lusi83

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    I am seriously thinking about buying a scaffold tower (DIY) To be of any use it will have to be a 7m one (house on a slope, so almost 3 storey on one side).
    I want one to do things like clear gutters, clear moss off roof, clean solar panels, paint fascias/windows, prune tall hedges/trees, paint stair well etc etc.
    (Nervous on ladders (these days - an age thing I think! ) and want to be able to do things on my own -without having to have someone to hold the ladder etc)
    I have been looking at aluminium ones, that fit in a car boot - so I can use it at another house currently have two houses to maintain.
    Which is partly what would make it cost effective - eg both houses have (neighbour's) trees that shed leaves into the gutters - I often end up having the gutters done twice a year, at a cost of £75 per house, per time. (And I've tried gutter clear hedgehogs and grids etc...found they block worse than with nothing)
    I know 7m towers come as 5m and 2m ones and the platform height can be adjusted. So I have flexibility there. And they come with outriggers. I think I'd have to get adjustable legs (for slight slopes) which would mean the cheapest would cost £700 ish.
    I know the wide stabilising legs/bars some have are too wide to use in my stairwell (stairs have a half landing - with a ceiling height of I guess 3.5 m ish) - thought I could probably sort something out not using the wide legs on the half landing, using outriggers, tying or something and using my adjustable ladder for the stair bits.
    BUT it has made me think about issues with buying a tower.
    I don't think I could use one (even if it wasn't too wide) on steps/stairs?
    One house has 7 steps side on up to the door.
    Other house has a porch - about 2 m wide. The tower wouldn't be able to go up to the wall - would have to go on either side and lean across. And it wouldn't fit lengthwise on one side, I'd have to use it narrow side to the house...think it might not be that sensible/safe to try and lean from there...

    Now thinking that I might be better with just scaffolding - not a tower. It would be more flexible? But not sure ...for instance could I build scaffolding over the porch?
    Would it be a pain to build? What is the easiest kind to erect? Can it be moved like the towers? Is normal scaffolding all wider than the towers - can you get narrow scaffolding?
    Does anyone have any experience or advice?
     
  2. You're not getting a 7m tower in a car boot.

    The kind of access requirements you're talking about aren't very DIY suited.

    Also, what brand are you looking at? For something a Boss tower it's closer to £1500 for a 7m working height.

    They're not really suited to working on very uneven ground either. They're generally designed for work on as close to as level as possible and you should be using out riggers at the earliest given opportunity so that will quadruple the footprint unless you can correctly tie in to a structure.

    While towers are generally safer than ladders they can be just as dangerous if used incorrectly.

    For someone on their own an aluminium tower is easiest but it still requires two people if you're to do it in accordance with what the manufacturer recommends.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 18 Dec 2018
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  3. Lusi83

    Lusi83

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    This is the kind of thing I am thinking of
    https://www.laddersandscaffoldtowers.co.uk/acatalog/Premium-Plus-DIY-Scaffold-Towers.html
    The cheaper ones have the wide legs at the base - this one doesn't and for this one you can get height adjustable legs to use on uneven ground.
    Sorry - I didn't mean car boot - I meant the back of a car
    This is what they say 'Extremely compact in storage and transport - 2.2m (6m & 7m) long by 68cm wide, therefore will fit comfortably into an estate car or small van.'
    Actually thinking about it - the 2.2m will be a bit tight in the back of my car. But I think do-able...at worse it would have to go on the roof.
    And the problem at the side of the porch is because of a flowerbed/low wall - so I have the width for an outrigger just not the tower (as it is a fixed length) ...if that makes sense....and also that is standard 5m/2 storey height.
    I guess I am asking a lot of one piece of equipment...
    I have also looked at those really high folding step ladder type things - but they seem even less flexible...
     
  4. foxhole

    foxhole

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    Have had a steel 8X4 tower [to gutter level] cheap at £150 but quite heavy, fitted in and on an estate car.
    Fould it also useful as a temp shelter /workshop while working in the rain, just reconfigured and threw a taup over it.
    If you regulary use at a property worth putting securing eye in the brickwork to tie off too.
     
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  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Prepare to be wobbled to within an inch of your life 7m up on a narrow lightweight diy platform. Even a high grade pro version will be bad enough.

    The assembly and disassembly is the buttock clenched.
     
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  6. You wouldn't catch me up it.
     
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  7. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    I regularly use trade towers, and we generally just hire them in as required because then we don't need to store them, or carry them around (which I reckon requires a 3.5 tonne van for 7 to 10 metre scaffolding towers), and in any case every job has a different set of requirements, but generally for even oddball access requirements we can get a tower that works (see the variety of configurations on the Boss site including weird stuff like cantilever towers as an exemple). Frankly I've been up a couple of DIY towers quite recently and they scared the bejasus out of me because they wobbled around so much (that said I have the same issue with Eurotowers.... and they're supposedly trade items). For 7 metres I'd be very unhappy if I was asked to work on a narrow trade platform unless it was anchored into the masonry or it was positioned between two buildings where it couldn't possibly fall over. At that height I'd want a double width work platform, i.e. one with two platform sections side by side at the top simply because they are far more stable. Uneven ground is dealt with using flat feet (castor feet are a no-no for out of level or soft ground and stairwell work) which have threaded adjusters giving something in the order of 500 to 600mm of adjustment height (again with trade towers). Stairs, on the other hand, require narrow scaffolding towers which are specifically designed for use in stairwells. With trade towers these requirements are often dealt with by a pack of accessory components or separete stairwell specific towers.

    I wouldn't even consider conventional constructional scaffolding - the weight alone makes it a no-no.m Even the ally stuff is really heavy. And that's before you get to the sort of legal requirement to be a "competent person" to install a scaffolding structure (have one fall down and damage a neighbours house and you find out all about this)

    A couple of points for the OP to consider about scaffolding towers: as you are effectively running a business, surely you are required by your insurers to use an appropriately rated (i.e a trade rated) tower? Secondly, if you get a tower or just hire them, I'd strongly advise you to take the one day training course on scaffolding tower assembly and usage run by many training firms under the PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers and Manufacturers Association) scheme. It may seem like common sense, but I've seen load of towers assembled by clowns who didn't know how to do the job and who by getting it wrong were endangering themselves and their workmates. Just saying
     
    Last edited: 17 Dec 2018
  8. Lusi83

    Lusi83

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    I'm DIY - no way running a business. I just have two houses I need to look after -one I live in and one I am (very slowly) renovating to live in!

    The 7m thing is a bit of a red herring ...it would only be needed for one side of one house...mostly it is just 2 storey (so 5m). Just thought I should buy one that could go to 7m when nec, especially as it has the 2m section -which would be handy for lots of small jobs -inside, gardening etc.
    However I take on board that it might not be the most stable even at 5m and erecting it might be a bit hairy - it might be as bad as being up a ladder.
    (As a child, on a farm, I spent lots of time on ladders, have always been fine. Then a year or so ago, a roofer suggested I could look at something myself using his ladder. Even though the ladder was tethered, stable etc, half way up, I felt irrational fear. My legs turned to jelly, I started shaking, I really wasn't safe....and it knocked my confidence. But I was fine on the scaffolding that was set up to do the work that needed doing...even climbing up and down. I think I've become afraid of becoming afraid!)
    Anyway this has given me lots more to think about...thanks everyone.
     
  9. Notch7

    Notch7

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    Towers are really wobbly by the time they are up to the 3rd rise.

    I wouldnt do it unless it can be tied to the brickwork.

    Ive seen loads of incorrectly assemble stuff. You cant lean a ladder against a tower, so access needs considering.

    At height they can also be a bit scary assembling or taking apart -at some point you will be working with no guard rails.

    If you make the effort to get trained properly and set up your tower so its nice and stable, then they are great.

    For low level stuff they are much safer than a ladder for working at height, say an upstairs window -working for any length of time on a ladder will encourage leaning out too far.
     
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  10. scbk

    scbk

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    I've got a steel scaffold tower kit, had it for a good few years, wouldn't be without it. I've bought more sections and extras over time, you can make a narrow tower for tight alleyways, or a square when you have the space. There's enough bits now to have a couple of towers on the go at the same time, then you can bridge between them with the thick scaffold boards. It's like lego, you can just keep adding to it.

    Not sure I would want to take it past 2 storeys.

    You ideally want a 2nd person to help pass sections up when you're putting it up/taking it down.

    I would never use it for cleaning gutters, a ladder is much easier and faster.
     
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  11. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    I've spent a working lifetime up and down ladders and scaffolding towers. At one time I wouldn't baulk at working on a 60 foot ladder - these days I limit myself to about 12 or 15 feet on ladders because I'm a bit frightened of the consequences (having badly sprained an ankle in the last year because I came off a ladder badly really hasn't helped me). What I can say is that scaffolding towers are safer than ladders if only because you can use two hands to handle materials, tools, etc - a major plus

    Agreed that at times when you are assembling/dismantling towers you are working without guards, but if you're PASMA trained you'll know about "3-T" and how to work safely when doing this. I also have to say that above 6 metres I'd ideally be looking to fix the scaffolding into a fixed structure - just as you do with stairs scaffolding towers on wide stairwells
     
  12. Doppleganger

    Doppleganger

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    I frequently use an alloy scaffold tower. I've been using it for well over ten years.
    First and second lifts probably gives me nearly 5 meters working height. Third lift probably gives me nearly 7 meters working height, and I even have a fourth lift for the very occasional time that I need it.
    I always use it with adjustable castor feet (with brakes obviously). But I will use plates under the feet occasionally, as the need arises.
    The first three lifts I'm happy to use with the four stabilisers, although the need rarely arises, I prefer to tie it into the wall, and use the outer stabilisers.
    I can't imagine when more than two lifts would be required, in a typical domestic situation, without being alongside a wall.
    The fourth lift (which is not recommended) I occasionally use alongside the gable wall for accessing the satellite dish, etc, is always tied into that gable wall and the other two stabilisers used. It is on a level concrete surface.
    I nearly always erect and disassemble it on my own without problem.
    The end sections, braces etc, I lift from the ground with rope. An end section is easily lifted one handed on the ground. Four can even be carried easily at the same time, I've never tried more, but I suspect eight could easily be lifted at once.
    Mine does have a heavy bracing base, which requires spanners to dismantle, the castors add more weight, the rest is lightweight alloy.
    The platform (I use an intermediate platform when required, or even two on the higher usage) I lift using rope and pulley, one end at a time, within the confines of the tower, while I am outside the tower. The timber infill to the platforms (and the trap) is fixed to the platform and what gives it its weight.

    I wouldn't attempt to use it as a mobile platform after the second lift, and definitely not without stabilisers. The second lift is required before stabilisers can be fitted.

    They do hold their second hand value well.
     
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