My Own Indoor Clothes Airer / Dryer

You become pragmatic about things when you’re trying to simplify or live in a small footprint.  Now that the weather is consistently twenty below or colder, drying clothes outside is no longer really an option.

I moved our standup rack inside and we have been making do with that, but it’s sitting in the middle of our tiny kitchen, and is constantly in the way, moving close to the stove, then away from the stove when we have to cook or work the fire.  It’s not really been a “permanent” solution in the sense that we can accept it.

That really only left a few other options – a dryer of some sort?  Well, that’s really not much of an option when you don’t have propane, and you’re off-grid and trying to conserve power.

Instead, hanging the laundry indoors in the cabin is the only real answer.

A side benefit of this is that it should hopefully add moisture to the air here, where we generally are below 45% humidity most of the winter.

Now – where to put up a line?

I contemplated putting two pulleys at each end of the cabin and then carrying the laundry up to the landing upstairs and hanging it there.  It wouldn’t be a very long line (no more than 20 feet of useable line at the outside) – and it would be a hassle to navigate the stairs with a basket of laundry on a regular basis.

I had in my head a vision of drying racks that could be lifted up to the ceiling after loading.  A quick internet search led me to many options for a “clothes airer” – something that really seems to have become an art form in the UK.  Here in Canada though, there really wasn’t an option for someone within the country selling them.  It’s a pity really.

There were one or two places in the US that were importing them and reshipping them to Canada, but the best price I could find was still $260US – and with exchange the way it is now, that would be quite an investment in a few pulleys, a length of rope, some wood slats and cast iron ends.

Instead, I decided at last to check out Home Depot and see if I couldn’t rig together something on my own.

I ended up purchasing a handful of 3/4″ screws with decorative washers, a pair of double pulleys, a single pulley, three hooks, 100 feet of solid cotton rope (3/16″), two 8″ angle iron brackets (the exact same ones I used to mount the water tank), and four 1×2″x6′ fir slats.

Total cost, GST in, was $75.00.  Hopefully this experiment justifies the expense.  At least it was a quarter of cost of the one I would have ordered in.

I assembled my materials on the dining table, and then headed up into the attic with the hooks, pulleys and rope.

Materials all gathered together.

Of course, my fear of heights kicked in, and with trembling hands I inched out onto the plywood up there over the main part of the cabin and screwed in the hooks under the collar ties by hand, without pilot holes.  It was crampy, difficult, anxious work.  Kenny remained downstairs begging me not to fall through the rafters.  This didn’t help my mood.

Eventually though, I got all three hooks screwed in to their nearly full depth.  Then I threaded the ends of the rope through both double pulleys, and then one end through the single pulley.

I found it easier on the nerves to try to stay on this piece of OSB so that I couldn’t see down very easily.

Again, inching my way along the rafters, I hung the pulleys from the hooks so that there was a double pulley against the wall, one spaced out a few feet from the wall, and the single pulley three rafters over yet again.  I extended the ends of the rope downstairs until Kenny was able to grab them and I instructed him to not let go of them until I got down.

An awesome assistant!  Even if a little prone to not helping my nerves.

I found him hanging on diligently, thanked him for his assistance, and tied them off to one of the dining chairs.

Next up was to assemble the airer itself.

I measured in a foot from the end of each slat and made a tiny pencil mark.  From a six foot slat, this gave me an inner distance between marks of four feet.  Coincidentally, three rafters spaced at sixteen inches also gives me forty eight inches, or exactly four feet.  The ticks on my slats would line up perfectly between the two pulleys overhead.

I attached the slats of the corner brackets with my fancy screws, which at 3/4″ wouldn’t protrude completely through the fir.

First attach the slats on this side of the bracket.

In this version I fastened the slats on top of the brackets, with them forming an inverted V shape – I assumed this would lend the apparatus some stability.

Okay, all screwed together.  Check to make sure they are tight (and retighten the loose ones) and then on to the next step.

I tied off the ends of the ropes through my brackets, and then carefully pulled on the loop of rope hanging down the wall to lift my airer up.  It swung into position and sat quite nicely for me.

I just kind of made up a knot based on the one Grandpa created when we were hoisting the cabin beams into position.

With Kenny’s help holding the airer as high as he could, I tied a knot into it just above my window, and then lowered it to the floor.

I lined up and mounted a cleat to the wall just above the window – once I put trim around the window, I’ll likely mount the cleat on the trim in the same position – as long as this whole scheme passes Donna’s judgement.

One cleat, mounted with 3″ screws for extra grip.

Next I tied off another knot with the airer up as high as I liked.  This knot had the double function of also being a fall arrest knot in case someone ever unhooked the rope and didn’t hold on – the airer wouldn’t quite reach the floor at this position.  Of course, I hope something like that wouldn’t happen – I don’t want to imagine what would happen to anyone beneath it if they were caught unawares!  Luckily I’m the one who spends most of their time directly under it – so I guess I’ll be forced to eat my own dog food.

Lines right up with the back of my head when I sit at the table!
And now up in her resting position.

I loaded her up with some laundry, and hoisted her into the air.  I was quite pleased that it didn’t immediately collapse!

Nice and heavy mats to really test it out!

Now only time will tell if it provides enough area to do a good job at drying things for us.  I’m hopeful though!  Especially when we finally get the ceiling panelled such that the heat from the stove is trapped right around that level.

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