Accommodation Ladders


BRIAN KING with some useful advice

When you only build static models one of the final touches is to add an accommodation ladder or even ladders. Well made and correctly fitted they really add the final touch. They are easy to make as etchings and more difficult using orthodox methods, but still well worth the effort. They can be of two types.

The standard version has one set of steps between the upper platform (deck level) and the lower boarding platform Photo 1. A more elaborate type has an intermediate platform half way up the ladder presumably to allow old people like me to have a rest, Photo 2. These examples are both on my model of HMS Anson (KGV Class battleship).

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Just to show that all accommodation ladders are not the same, Photo 3 shows the very complicated accommodation ladder on HMS Victoria. Ive found it pays to draw a three view image of any proposed accommodation ladder to get everything correct including the guardrails before attempting to construct it. Photo 4 shows my drawing for the accommodation ladder for RN Duilio which had a very decorative guardrail round the top platform Photo 5. A fair amount of labour is involved and this is why you need to get it right first time, as they are quite complicated things. You also need to decide how they should be fitted to the hull. You will need support for all the platforms and this need to be integrated into the design at that stage and not left till last as I usually do. I make the supporting brackets from brass or stainless steel and fit their lower ends into holes drilled into the hull, with the platforms resting on their top ends.

When underway these accommodation ladders are usually triced up to deck level. The ladder part is pivoted to the top platform and a special davit is provided vertically above the remote end of the lower platform. When assembled in position the weight is taken by a fixed pendant and the lifting gear removed. All the hinge pins are removable to allow the whole thing to be unshipped and dismantled.

So far so good, but to have a complete accommodation ladder it needs to be rigged correctly. Probably the most important part is the gangway boat rope. This is of great use to a boat coming alongside especially in bad weather. It hangs down from the forward corner of the upper platform. The fore end is attached well forward to provide a pull as near to the fore-and-aft line of the ship as possible. This can clearly be seen by referring back to Photos 1 and 2.

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A short length of cordage is spliced around one of the guardrails on the lower platform and is used to check the way of the approaching boat. When not in use this is cheesed down on the lower platform.

One further embellishment on some accommodation ladders is a wood rubbing strake attached to the outer ladder member to protect boats coming alongside. Photo 6, HMS Queen Elizabeth.


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