Sand ladders can be a major expense when you are outfitting an expeditionary vehicle. Some sand ladders make excellent posing gear and are real overland bling. As soon as you mount expensive sand ladders on your truck, you achieve the status of explorer and world traveler, or so it would appear.
If you are not looking for overland bling, and you want affordable sand ladders, you can construct them yourself. Itís not that hard to do, and you get the satisfaction of designing and creating something for your expeditionary vehicle.
I always construct sand ladders out of one inch angle iron with five rungs welded across the sand ladder. If you ever wanted to weld something yourself, but you are afraid that it would not look good when you were done, welding your own sand ladders is a good place to start. Even if the spot welds look amateurish, it doesnít matter, and your sand ladders wonít care. Unsightly welds may reduce the bling factor of your ladders, but they will still work fine.
Creating them is easy.
You can make your sand ladders any size you want. Since you are cutting the steel angle iron yourself, you get to choose the size.
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These sand ladders are 36 inches long, and the rungs are 12 inches wide. An angle grinder with cut off discs can cut out a set of sand ladders in about an hour. Even if you arenít good with an angle grinder, no one will ever know about your compromised steel working skills since the spot welds will cover a multitude of mistakes.
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If you donít want to do the welding yourself, you can take the sand ladder components to a muffler shop for them to weld. Thatís what I did. They placed three spot welds on the end of each rung, and after 120 spot welds, the sand ladders were assembled. That cost me sixty dollars, which comes to fifty cents for each spot weld. That was cheaper than me going out and purchasing a welding machine.
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Next, you round the ends of the sand ladder rails so they donít puncture a tire, and they donít have any sharp edges. That requires at least another hour unless you are fast with an angle grinder and a file to smooth the edges.
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In Arabia, we sometimes painted our sand ladders black, sometimes white, and sometimes we left them without any paint because it was dry in Arabia, and things tended not to rust.
I decided to spray paint my sand ladders white with Rusteoleum, because we have two periods of rainy weather in the southwest, the longest one being the southwestern monsoon from mid July to mid September. I also selected white because white has good visibility in the sand and it is much cooler in the hot Arizona sun. Black Sand ladders are very hot in direct sunlight when the ambient temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
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The final stage in creating a set of sand ladders is to attach a chain and rope to the ladders when it is time to use them. If you donít have a chain and rope attached when you use the ladders in sand, it will be hard to locate the ladders when they get pushed six inches under the surface of the soft sand by the weight of the truck. If the sand ladders are buried without an attached rope and chain, you will have to walk along the tire tracks with a shovel, and jam the shovel into the sand to locate the sand ladders. With the chain and six feet of rope attached to the ladders, you know exactly where the ladders are located after the vehicle recovery, and you simply pull on the rope and chain to recover the ladders.
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If you need to use the sand ladders another time because the vehicle only moved a few feet before getting stuck once again, you simply drag the sand ladders to the new location with the rope, and place the sand ladders for another use.
The reason you have a short length of chain attached to the ladders is to prevent the tire from severing the rope tether. If the rope was attached directly to the sand ladder, a spinning tire might cut the rope, and you would have to go searching for the sand ladder.
On our Land Rovers, we mount our sand ladders on our Brownchurch roof rack or on our bull bar. Either place works fine. If you are in a lot of soft stuff, and if you are going to be using the ladders frequently, then mounting them on the bulbar is faster and easier. It also keeps the center of gravity lower in the truck when they are mounted on the bulbar. I have had six Land Rovers, and four times I mounted the sand ladders on the bulbar and twice on the roof rack. If you are going to do a lot of off camber driving, then mounting on the bullbar would be safer than having their weight on the roof.
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These four sand ladders are neatly stacked and waiting to be placed on the bullbar or roof rack.
Is it worth making your own sand ladders? That depends.
If your last name is Rockefeller or Trump, donít bother making your own.
But if you want to put affordable sand ladders under all four tires when you are recovering a vehicle in soft sand, then these ladders might work for you. I have put them on every one of my Land Rovers, and I have never been disappointed with their performance. What they lack in bling, they make up for in cost and power. And as posing gear, they are not half bad either.
You pay your money and make your choice.