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Old 08-02-2017, 07:45 PM   #1
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How to find "backing" for ladder installation

Hi all - we just bought a '17 Cruise Lite 210RBXL and I am thinking of buying a Stromburg Carlson exterior ladder. I know the mounts have to attach to proper "backing" points to be strong enough. How exactly do I find the right location? I have a stud finder but I doubt it will work well with the metal skin of the trailer.

Is there a actual drawing for our trailers that I could consult? Anyone have a sure fire way to get it right?

Thanks!
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:06 PM   #2
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I would either email the manufacturer and ask if your unit was even built for the addition of an exterior ladder or contact a dealer for your unit and ask. I was all set to mount a ladder on my TT until I learned a ladder was not even an option because the unit was not built for one.
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:14 PM   #3
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Often if it did not come from one there will be no way to add one without you adding the backers.
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:35 PM   #4
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Interesting - we asked to have the ladder added when we cut the deal for the trailer and the sales guy never said a word about it possibly not being possible. Then we found out that we'd have to wait 4 -5 weeks before the ladder would be in (that did not make me happy - I thought it would be installed when we picked up the trailer a week after we inked the deal).

Since the dealer is over 100 miles from me, I can't see making another two trips up there to get it installed (one for drop off and one for pickup). At that point I decided I'd install it myself and the service guy said fine by him. Currently I am asking the dealership to give me money back for the installation since that was in the price they added to my sale cost. Then I thought I'd just tell them to cancel it all and I'd buy one from Campingworld or Etrailer (sure it will be cheaper than what they'd charge).

All of that DIY stuff seemed like it would be straight forward to me (I'm a machinist and all round handy guy) but I just needed to know where the backing areas are. Guess I'll try getting FR to give me the info but doc73, you got me thinking this may all be for nothing... Maybe just by a Little Giant ladder at Costco and keep it in the pass through...
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:38 PM   #5
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Problem is they only put in the minimum they need to sometimes... Wires are just laid where ever, and will change from unit to unit sometimes. Not saying they DO NOT put the backers in but usually if there us an option of a ladder you MIGHT get lucky but otherwise if there is not option from the factory for a ladder then there will be no backer.
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Old 08-02-2017, 09:10 PM   #6
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So back to one of my earlier thoughts - there is no easy way to find the backers for us end users, correct?
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Old 08-02-2017, 09:17 PM   #7
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No. Could try a stud finder but otherwise probably not easy
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Old 08-02-2017, 09:19 PM   #8
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Little Giant is the best option.
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Old 08-03-2017, 01:17 PM   #9
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I added a ladder to my fiver and it was no big deal. However. mine is fiberglass over an aluminum tube frame so yours may be much different.

Try the stud finder both inside and out and you may be pleasantly surprised. Mine was framed much like a house on 12 or 16 inch centers (don't remember which, now) and there are crossbars above and below windows. There are also new types of stud finders available so you may want to check the big box.

Something else I've noticed is that when the temperature is just right in the evenings and early mornings, I can see the outline of the framework in the condensation on the outside.

Installing the ladder wasn't a big deal after I found the right spots to attach it to. FWIW, a tubing cutter works much better than a hacksaw if you have to cut the ladder to length. You might try to beat your dealer out of a tube of non-sag sealant (not silicone and I can't think of the name).

I'm with you, a ladder is a must even if only as a place to mount antennas and flagpoles.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:31 PM   #10
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Studs are EZ to find on the inside, just use a good flashlight and look for the caulk covering the small staples. The caulk won't be as glossy as the paneling so shine it at an angle. Stud finder works also. And condensation on the outside is also a telltale sign.

The stud spacing is unlikely to match the width of the ladder, so a lot more work will be involved.
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Old 08-03-2017, 07:15 PM   #11
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Smile Ladder Backer

I had a similar issue where I wanted to install a spice rack under my cabinet over the kitchen sink. A stud finder may or may not give you a reliable reading as was my experience. I called my dealer who put me in contact with their Forest River rep who called me back. He forwarded me blueprints of the skeletal view for my Freedom Express TT. Read carefully and you should be able to determine where any frame work is located. Also check for wiring with a stud finder that senses electric. I know they work on AC current but not so sure about DC current sensing. Looking inside the entry door latch striker plate you may be able to get an idea about the depth of the skin on your RV so you can determine the length of screws to use. I hope this helps.

Happy Camping.
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:58 PM   #12
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Thanks all, I appreciate all the suggestions. I have used a stud finder on the inside and I'm finding "studs" on the back wall but... our shower is in the corner where the ladder will go so there is a fiber glass shell inside of the walls. Maybe one of these days the weather will change and I can see some dew on the sides. I will also do some checking and measuring to see if the stud spacing is consistent. Then maybe I can get a distance from the wall and do a test.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:52 PM   #13
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You can always go "retro" and use your knuckle. Start tapping the wall with a knuckle moving about 1/2" each hit. When you come to a stud or backing the sound will change from a hollow sound to a solid sound! It takes a little practice to pick up the difference.

It only works with a knuckle, not a hammer or other hard object as they emit their own sound.
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Old 09-02-2017, 01:18 AM   #14
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Our Lacrosse wasn't able to have a ladder attached bc of the rear window. We bought a 12 ft collapsible for $89 off Amazon. It's awesome. Lightweight and compact. I cut a pool noodle to add to the top so the ladder can't scrape the sides. Would recommend to others.
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Old 09-02-2017, 03:29 PM   #15
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I got a diagram from FR but although it listed a number of Salem models, our 210RBXL was not on the list and if the diagram was accurate, the ladder we were sold would not work. I called the dealer and the parts specialist checked into it and got back to me with a confirmation that we did have the right ladder and he provided a new drawing for the rear wall that looks like it will work.

I'll be knuckle testing, trying my stud finder and any other voodoo I can come up with to ensure I get the ladder into the studs.

Just curious for those who have installed their own ladder - it looks like the mounting brackets will take a #8 screw max diameter. I guess with about 32 of them holding the ladder (4 per mount), it should be enough but they just seem small.
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