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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ergonomic Testing: Companionway Stairs

So this boat project came with a set of makeshift companionway stairs made from some 2x6's and 2x4's which have always been a pain for me and my size twelve feet. It had too many steps with the rise/run of the steps being much too small.
Original stairs that came with the project
As we have some pretty well known requirements for these stairs, I thought I would build some new ones from cheap Home Depot plywood as a way of testing form and fit.

Here are some of the design requirements.

  • Easily traverse stairs up and down, whether person faces fore or aft.
  • Steps wide enough for size twelve feet
  • Steps must seem natural
  • Must not interfere with adjacent dinette settee access
  • Easy access for our four legged family members (dogs).

So I set out building some stairs...
First Stairs Test: FAIL. Too wide, step rise too high.
The first set was a complete failure. Never mind some mis-measured dimensions, I made the rise too much and the steps were much too wide.
Second stairs test: GOOD. Ok for my big feet. Closer to dimensional constraints.
Second stairs test, looking down from cockpit.
The second set is much better. I will use these for a while to get a feel for things. But already I want to tweak them a bit. We may cut down the "threshold" of the companionway opening by a few inches. This will allow the removal of one step and a more "shallow" run.

Already we have some ideas as to how the stairs can be integrated into a future cabinet that will be behind the stairs. But for now we will live with this until Stairs V3.0.
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