I have posted some pictures in the dropbox under HingeX.jpg. Here is my problem. I live on a lake with a high bluff. A couple of years ago, I had custom stairs made that are hinged on one end and raise and lower on a winch down to beach level. With the recent winds, these hinges have broken. For reference, the stairs are about 32 feet long and drop down about twenty feet. I estimate that they weigh about 800 lbs but dut to the angle of lift on the winch, the force to lift them is probably double that. This does cause inward pressure on the hinges where they attach to the platform and this is probably the only thing that kept the steps from falling twenty feet to the beach when the hinges fractured.
It would appear that the hinges are nothing more than 1 inch .12 thick aluminum tubing welded to the steps and the platform above. The company that made the stairs has apparently changed hands and has no interest in helping me. They are also apparently not setup to weld aluminum portably. The welds held, it was the tube that fractured as you can hopefully see in the pictures. My questions are:
- Do you think this could be fixed by rewelding on new tubes and could this be done portably in the winter time. What kind of aluminum would be best to use to weld and for strength. Am I likely to find anyone who would do this.
- Since the hinges failed, would I be better off making bolt on hinges out of stainless steel instead? I would suspect these could be made out of SS tube welded to a plate which is then bolted to the aluminum stairs with a SS pin. Do you think this would be stronger? Would corrosion be a problem putting SS on aluminum? What kind of SS would I use for this?
As you can imagine, the problem is compounded by the hinges being broken which does not allow me to freely raise or lower the stairs but I do think I can safely get them down for repair. At this point, I'm thinking it might be best to try to secure them for the winter and fix it in the spring. I have been reading this group for a while and several of you have answered previous questions. I actually have recently bought an oxy-acet welder and want to learn but don't believe this project would be for a beginner given that strong welds would be necessary and I wouldn't chance that to a beginner.
Any input on my problem would be appreciated.