A Shingle Elevator

Faced with the need to get a roof-full of asphalt shingles up to the roof of a three story house I decided to build an elevator or lift. The roofing job was being done by a local roofer with the provision that I get the shingles up to him.

At front of house

Here’s a video of the Shingle Elevator in action.

After studying some videos on the Web I designed a trolley-based elevator that rides up an inclined extension ladder. I had all the bits and pieces in my fairly extensive collection of “junk” so the cost was minimal.

The first thing I had to do was to make a track for the lower section of the ladder to match the width of the upper section which, of course, is narrower than the lower section. Also, the upper section of an extension ladder projects out from the lower section on which it slides up and down. The track is simply made from 2x4s which have lengthwise rabbets to position them on the ladder rails. The tracks are held together with a 2×6 at each end which also supports the track by resting on the rungs of the ladder. Because my extension ladder is a 32 footer, the bottom track is actually two tracks, one on top of the other. These photos only show the lower section of the bottom track.


Bottom Track




Bottom of Bottom Track


Top of Bottom Track

In the “Bottom Track” photo you are looking at the lower half of the bottom track at the side which rests on the ladder. The “Bottom of Bottom Track” shows and edge-wise view of the left side and the front front of the track. You can see how the 2×6 extends past the back of the track to rest on a run of the ladder.

Next I needed to devise a car to carry the shingles up the ladder on the tracks. Again I scrounged some plywood, two-bys, wheels and other bits and built the car shown in the following photos.

Car side

Side view of car

Car top

Top of car

car bottom

Bottom of car

Car wheel

Wheel Detail

The car is a simple two-part shelf upon which the shingles are laid on the top. It’s got wheels at the back where most of the weight is and some nylon furniture leg glides on the front which ride along the rails.

Now all I needed was a way to raise the loaded car to the top of the ladder. I mounted a boat-trailer winch on a board and replaced the rope with steel cable. The cable runs from the winch, down to an anchor pulley (from a sailboat) under the bottom rung of the ladder then up to a strong pulley at the top of the ladder and back down to the top of the car. I left plenty of cable so I could adjust its length according to how high the ladder was extended.


Here are  a couple of other videos of the elevator in action. Notice that I’m using an electric drill to wind the winch and using a gloved hand to guide the wire onto the drum when Raising the elevator/ . When letting the elevator down I can control the descent using a gloved hand as a brake on the winch.