TIP: Ladder Dolly System

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video & photos by Ismael Rodriguez


A few weeks ago I was hired to shoot a corporate commercial for a production company out of Los Angeles. With them they brought a tool I had never used, or heard of before, a ladder dolly.  I have used several different dolly systems, but none using an extension ladder as the track.  From the moment I set my camera on it (pictured below), and made my first slide, I fell in love and my 2 foot slider stayed in the car the rest of the day.  This dolly system uses a standard extension ladder as the track, which at first I thought would be cumbersome, but  I was wrong.  It’s light, rigid, and easily re-positioned.  I was able to get down low on the ground for some great slides, as well as, mid-level with a pair of adjustable height saw horses.    Did I mention, with the ladder as rails, I had 8′ feet of sliding real estate, and unlike my slider, each take was a keeper and I rarely had to shoot the same slide movement twice!  At the end of the shoot I was sad to say goodbye to my new friend, but I was sure to write down the name of the company that produces the particular model I was using, CamTramSystem.  As soon as I got home, I fired up the computer and quickly ran a google search and, BAMM, there it was.  After reading through their site it quicky became apparent that the professional system was out of my budget, running in the $2000 range.  I went to bed knowing I would have to build a DIY solution and started to come up with plans as I drifted asleep.

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I woke up the next morning and quickly got behind my computer again, this time looking for the parts I would need to build my very own ladder dolly system.  First the wheels, I went with a pre-made set from ebay seller, TCMGAL.  For $49.99 I picked up a brand new camera track dolly wheel assembly.  The kit arrived with in 3 days via USPS, and I must say their customer service is top-notch, I highly recommend!  Next I would need something to hold my tripod head to the platform.  While I was checking out some of the other cool things TCMGAL had for sale, I noticed they also had 1/4-20 and 3/8 screw knobs.  Picked up a couple of those and that was all I would need to purchase.  Next up, a ladder which  I already had in the garage that I picked up from a garage sale for $5.00, so my track was ready and waiting for me.  For the tripod head I used a spare that I had, a Fancier (also known as Weifeng) 717A fluid head.  So far this has been the perfect head for the job, I especially like that the handle is removable, adjustable and can even extend to almost 2′, making slides especially easy.  Once the wheels arrived I quickly started working on the platform, a piece of plywood I had in the backyard.  I cut it to size, measured up the distance the wheels needed to be apart from each other and screwed it in.  After all four were attached, I put it on the ladder for a test run.  One of my main concerns before I started was, would the dolly wheels, that sit at an angle, hug the ladder and not try to fall off the track?  I finally had my answer, yes.  It locks on, and slides smooth and straight every time.  The next few hours I spent in the garage playing around with my new tool.  I am extremely happy with the final product and look forward to using it in upcoming projects.  Check back soon for a complete video review with samples.

**disclaimer: I am not responsible if your platform goes flying off the track. Please be careful and put in some stoppers!

Thanks for reading!

Note:  The pics above are from my first sloppy assembly, in which I was excited and in a hurry to see if it would work.  I have since cut a new platform where screws are not visable, edges are sanded and is presentable for commercial jobs.

One response on “TIP: Ladder Dolly System

  1. Rod says:

    If anyone builds one of these, please email me pics so I can add to this post.

    rod at foursandyfeet.com


  2. rose says:

    Hi Rod

    Great Idea!
    What is the music at the end?


  3. Rod says:

    Thanks Rose!

    The name of the song is “Exciting Sunrise” composed by Niklas Aman, which I found over at http://www.freeplaymusic.com.

    Again, thanks for watching!

  4. Nicole (Tcmgal) says:

    Hi Mark,

    The wheels that Rod has described here are ours (Ebay ID: tcmgal), and the link to the ones you have listed are from a past customer that we sold to. What they did was simply photograph our product, post them on Ebay, and are now producing them out of steel I believe. We have contacted Ebay reference the use of our product in their photos, and there is little they can do as there is no branding showing. I know they are ours because I can see our Jig marks. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that these are not ours, and they are being sold by a company that sells everything from batteries to tables. Please buy at your own risk. We should have more listed on Ebay by the end of the week.

    Thank you to everyone that has purchased from us, especially to you Rod!

  5. Rod says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Your products and customer service is top-notch and greatly appreciated!

  6. Mark Santella says:

    Thanks Nicole… I will wait for you to post your wheels. Thanks Rod also.

  7. Nigel says:


    Message for Nicole at TCMGAL – can you/ will you sell the 4 wheel pack to me in the UK ? – I accept there will be an increase in carriage cost etc??



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