In a recent publication the author derived and experimentally tested several theoretical models, distinguished by different boundary conditions at the contacts with horizontal and vertical supports, that predicted the forces of reaction on a fixed (i.e. inextensible) ladder. This problem is statically indeterminate since there are 4 forces of reaction and only 3 equations of static equilibrium. The model that predicted the empirical reactions correctly used a law of static friction to complement the equations of static equilibrium. The present paper examines in greater theoretical and experimental detail the role of friction in accounting for the forces of reaction on a fixed ladder. The reported measurements confirm that forces parallel and normal to the support at the top of the ladder are linearly proportional with a constant coefficient of friction irrespective of the magnitude or location of the load, as assumed in the theoretical model. However, measurements of forces parallel and normal to the support at the base of the ladder are linearly proportional with coefficients that depend sensitively on the location (although not the magnitude) of the load. This paper accounts quantitatively for the different effects of friction at the top and base of the ladder under conditions of usual use whereby friction at the vertical support alone is insufficient to keep the ladder from sliding. A theoretical model is also proposed for the unusual circumstance in which friction at the vertical support can keep the ladder from sliding.
World Journal of Mechanics