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Trying to attach a ladder leveler to my ladder.

I need to hold the bolt from one side while tightening nut on the other. Bolt side has the parts from the leveler in the way. Nut side has walls on both sides and a piece of hardware from the ladder in the way.

I have been able to get it in a bit with a ratcheting socket (and plyers to hold the other end), but the bolt goes into the socket and I quickly ran out of room inside the socket 😭.

No idea what to do here. Most awkward two things I have ever had to attach.

I am thinking maybe a ratcheting crowfoot wrench might be useful here. But I am looking for other suggestions. I probably will need to buy another tool for this. I don't think anything I have is working.

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Click for full size

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  • You could try a lock washer under the bolt head and perhaps you won't have to hold it. Or you could file a square hole in the black U bracket and use a carriage bolt. That solves half the problem
    – jay613
    Jul 10, 2023 at 1:41
  • 1
    The one picture does not clarify what "parts from the ladder" are in the way for the nut. It appears that if you can use a socket, you should be able to use a deeper socket there.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 10, 2023 at 1:41
  • Sorry, I accidentally linked to a single image instead of the whole album. I updated the link to show the underside/nut side of the ladder
    – Alex Amato
    Jul 10, 2023 at 4:45
  • 8
    Isn't the bolt in the way of the (swing arm? lever?) and once tightened will forever be in the way? Shorter bolt for the win.
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 10, 2023 at 11:14
  • Get a deep socket in the right size, to straddle the bolt better? Can the sprung rod be dismounted temporarily? Does the manufacturer have an installation video on the net?
    – keshlam
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:38

6 Answers 6

15

OK, I see now how that is set up. Get a shorter bolt and nut from a hardware store (you know, the small, family owned kind, often with an ACE or HWI sign, that has a whole aisle full of sliding trays of every size of bolt and nut).

That nut is a Nylok(tm) which has an inset nylon washer that prevents it from unscrewing passively. It can still un-torque, however. Take the original bolt to the store and match the threads. If you want to do a standard/metric switch due to dominant bolts in your area, go ahead but I would use high-strength to compensate for slightly smaller diameter.

And get washers, for Pete's sake - this is aluminum and you need to spread the weight.

Let's get the right tools into your tool box.

And I'm talking about tools you'll use every year for the rest of your life, not some one-off specialty buy just for this job.

To start with, open-box wrenches.

enter image description here

They also make cheaper sets that are open/open with different sizes. Sorry Millennials, no power tool version of this :)

Next, a ratchet, extension and a set of sockets, are a baseline set of tools for handling things with hex heads. In my youth I bought a full set of standard, and later a full set of metric because I do a lot with cars. These tools serve me to this day, and are one of the most productive investments in my whole life.

Sockets come in different major variants:

  • 6-point vs 12-point - see the "hex over hex" thing happening on the box wrench above? Many sockets are like that. This makes them easier to initially fit, but also makes the sockets a bit thicker. Once the socket is on, it doesn't really make a difference due to the ratchet.
  • Shortwell vs deepwell - this is the height of the socket. The deep socket is made for long bolts like this. For your first starter set, contemplate a deep-well, 6-point socket.
  • Standard vs Metric - use what dominates in your area. Note that all automotive fasteners since the 80s are metric.
  • Drive size - 3/8" drive would be your mainstay, really. 1/4" is lightweight and 1/2" is for the largest few bolts you'll find on an automobile, like halfshaft bolts.

How to attack it

If a deep socket will fit in between the hardware, I'd use that to run down the Nylok bolt, while simply holding the bolt head with a box wrench.

If not, I'd go the other way - hold the nut with the box wrench and run down the bolt with a ratchet+socket.

On aluminum you're going to want washers for a spreader anyway, so I might just get some 3/8” mild steel bar at the hardware store and a drill and tap, and make a "Super Nut" that serves as nut and washer/spreader for both bolts at once. 3/8" to be as thick as a nut; another option is to use 3/16" and then back it with a real nut. Actually that's a better plan, because then you can use Nylok nuts, since the manufacturer seems concerned about these bolts getting loose. Even using Nyloks, I would still tap the plate to hold the bolts, as an assembly aid.

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  • Well, I bought this leveler kit separately from the ladder. The ladder came fully assembled. I drilled the holes to install the leveler thinking it would be easy, but alas, it is not :(. Thank you for your suggestion, I will try to get an "open-box wrench". I edited the post with a link to the album, I accidentally linked to a single photo
    – Alex Amato
    Jul 10, 2023 at 4:37
  • The rod and spring come assembled together, the only other things which came with the leveler kit as the bolt, and nuts to attach it together.
    – Alex Amato
    Jul 10, 2023 at 4:43
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    I can's see the image, but I assume it refers to something like this: amazon.com/dp/B09KP9B225/ref=sspa_dk_detail_0 Anyway this would be my suggestion
    – Paul
    Jul 10, 2023 at 11:49
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    @Paul Sorry my bad on the image edit. iOS 12 is poorly supported by StackExchange. (annoyingly it worked before, then they broke it). Fixed the image. Jul 10, 2023 at 20:38
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica thanks for clarifying; your solution may work but if it doesn't then I would go with j4nd3r53n's answer
    – Paul
    Jul 11, 2023 at 9:59
20

Based on the one picture and the fact that you can use a socket on the nut until you run out of socket, you seem to require a plain old adjustable wrench, open-end wrench, or box end wrench for the bolt-head, and a deep socket for the nut.

Or a shorter bolt instead of a deeper socket.

5
  • Sorry, I linked to a single photo instead of the album. On the nut side there is very little room to work. I tried using a wrench but I could only turn it less than 1/8 at a time. Maybe I should just get a different set of bolts than what came with it though, the bolt is very long, probably for ladders with double walls.
    – Alex Amato
    Jul 10, 2023 at 4:40
  • 4
    If you have a socket on the nut, you just hold the bolt head still with the wrench while using the ratchet connected to the socket on the nut. However, 1/8 turn at a time is plenty to get the job done. With standard wrenches 1/12 will do (you have to flip the wrench each time) or 1/6 allows just moving to the next flat without flipping.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 10, 2023 at 11:59
  • Shorter bolt seems the way to go or just saw this one to be shorter. Jul 10, 2023 at 16:58
  • A ratchet ring-spanner might be an alternative to a (very) deep socket. Or if you don't need all that length on the bolt, cut it down using an angle-grinder. Jul 10, 2023 at 18:01
  • +1 for "flipping the wrench" (aka spanner). This is the reason why the spanner head is tilted 15° off-axis in the first place. Jul 12, 2023 at 13:45
14

Occam's Razor - get some shorter bolts.

Note you probably need the same markings on the head as the original. These could be grade 5 or grade 8. Don't get the cheap bolts for a task like this.


It may also be you've used the wrong bolt out of the kit, and this longer one is to be used somewhere else.

If you're positive this is the right bolt for the task, it is possible to cut them shorter, but it's a last resort.

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  • 1
    Yes, shorter bolts... and/or when you've started the nut, you could hacksaw-off the too-long part (get the nut on first, because the rough end after cutting it will likely make it hard to thread...), and keep using the socket-wrench. Jul 10, 2023 at 21:02
2

What would be handy in this situation is a box spanner - just look out for the quality, I've found they are often too soft and lose their grip:

enter image description here

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  • 1
    They are mostly sold for tap nuts, so most people don't need them to be strong.
    – Walker
    Jul 11, 2023 at 14:33
2

I'm late to the party here, however I actually have a tool that I use for similar situation. It's from a company called Draper and it is a "vortex" socket. It works like a regular socket ratchet except it is driven from the outside, which means the socket is hollow all the way through. Really can be a life saver.

enter image description here

https://www.toolstation.com/draper-expert-socket-set/p63982?store=Y2&utm_source=googleshopping&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=googleshoppingfeed&mkwid=_dc&pcrid=&pkw=&pmt=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwnrmlBhDHARIsADJ5b_l5hE9F73qQcm1wQFUU9VmhtC8_KPY11B3pnHXduTGHY9mzMlznnyIaAgVyEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

-1

The bolt is too long. Get a shorter one or cut it.

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