Ever since we launched the boat, we've been using a short fiberglass ladder to gain access to the roof. Along with being too short, the ladder was never secured properly, and it was a matter of time before something bad was going to happen, and someone would end up hurt.
Most, if not all, of my decent tools are stored in Ohio. While I do not yet have a working shop in Florida, I do have some basic tools that I store in a shipping container, and for the time being, that shipping container is my "shop". My multi process inverter welder along with some basic welding tools made the boat trip to Florida with me, and that's what I used to fabricate these steps. The Everlast inverter welder I have is actually a pretty nice machine being able to stick weld, TIG weld, and plasma cut. This welder is compact only weighing 60 LBS, and is easily small enough to fit in the engine room of the boat if I ever want to bring it with me on a trip. The boat is wired for 120 volt AC, and our on board, 10 KW generator is capable of producing 240 volt AC. When I want to have 240 volt AC on board, such as needing to run the welder, I simply have to change two wires in the generator and install a 50 amp pigtail to plug a 240 volt device into. When I do this re-wire, I'm disconnecting the 120 volt feed from the generator to the distribution panel, and temporarily installing a 240 volt circuit.
Working on a boat in a harbor is a tough, and there's now way around it. Things just go slower in the harbor. Our harbor has wide, fixed concrete decks, and that makes a large project like this a little more easy to get finished. The back deck of the boat became my weld shop while the concrete deck of the harbor was my cut shop. TIG welding aluminum is as finicky process and having the sheltered aft deck helped control the breeze that messed with shielding gas of the weld process. I greatly miss my shop in Ohio, and one of the things I miss most of having a large, well equipped shop, is that when I had enough of working on something, I'd just put my stuff down and pick up where I'd left off in a day or three. Here, working on the boat in a harbor, I have to clean up everything every time I leave the boat for the day. It's a great thing keeping my work area clean, but it does add time to a project.
Like I said above, the steps are made of 6" aluminum channel, which is way over kill for this application. I could have gotten by with 4", but I wanted wide treads, and I didn't want to have to get into a much more tricky fabricating job of having to get the same wide tread using lighter material. When I built the salon and wheel house, I knew there were going to be steps of some sorts leading to the roof, I just didn't know what they'd look like. I took a guess, and welded brackets to the salon wall, and this is what I used to pin the steps to the bulkhead with. Back then, I did some guessing at future needs, and have fixtures and brackets in a few other spots on the boat. While the steps are not the most elegant and svelte design, I can honestly say they're robust and rock solid.
Our grill is on the roof, our kayaks are on the roof, and our dinghy will reside on the roof. The roof is a place we go to often, and having a functional, solid set of steps is a huge improvement. The one compromise is the steps block easy access to our mid ship cleat which we spring off of. I have two choices regarding this cleat. When underway, I like to have all the lines off of the cleats and stowed on the fore deck rail, but the new stairs are going to alter how we treat one line. I can stow the mid ship line on the rail above the mid ship cleat, adjacent to the steps, and not worry about it, or weld a hook to the back side of the stair tread to stow the line under the steps. Either way, with the steps pinned in place, the line will have to remain on the mid ship cleat. Or, we can stow the steps on the front of the wheel house and have easy access to the mid ship cleat. Either way, it will still be an easy deal to throw line to a line handler, and that's not changed, it's just that we've been doing it a certain way for a couple of years now, and the new steps have changed that.
As I've said many times before, I'm glad I didn't have to give someone a price to build these steps, since they took a lot longer than what I would have guessed. While they're not ideal, I'm totally happy with how good they feel, and how much safer getting to the roof has become. With the outboard pipe rail and the trim detail of the wheel house roof, one has dual grab rails while using the steps.