Dan's Garage Door Blog

Garage Door Training

Friday, September 15th, 2017 at 5:40 pm by Dan Musick

“We help people fix their garage doors.”

That was written on the first flier I printed back in 1980.

My plan was to provide training for maintenance personnel to repair their commercial and industrial overhead type doors. This was for the bigger companies in Chicago such as Honeywell and Wrigley, the chewing gum company, but I also did some quite effective training for a smaller company, Volvo / Honda of Lisle, IL.

That part of the company did not grow as quickly as I had hoped, but I did discover that many of the companies needed parts, and even more would prefer to have an outside contractor service and install doors. From there I built a catalog business along with a service and installation company that later became Dortrak which I sold around 1990. Later I started what became DDM Garage Door & Dock Services which was sold and became Matt’s Garage Doors. The overhead door training part of the business has always been part time.

This is one part of our business that I will never sell.  I can train men to fix garage doors, but I can’t train someone to train others. It carries the highest risk and liability. It’s our most challenging service and, because of that, it’s also the most expensive. There are men who are qualified to train, but they’re tied up with the more profitable task of running the larger traditional service and installation companies. It’s hard for me to justify the time away from our bread and butter business, but my greatest incentive is the transition I normally see in the trainees from fear and trepidation to a genuine sense of accomplishment.

Next week I’ll provide training for USPS workers in Stamford, CT. A few years ago I trained for the second time the postal workers at the Wallingford, CT facility. The first time I was there I made the mistake of promising to make a manual for the men at no additional cost, and I held off on invoicing them until the notebook was finished. Duplicating the notebook would have cost many times the price they paid for the training.

I guess we all live and learn.

 

Long Life Extension Springs

Friday, September 8th, 2017 at 4:48 pm by Dan Musick

Garage door extension springs stretch as the door closes and contract as the door opens. Also designated “stretch springs,” these usually mount above the horizontal tracks, but sometimes they extend beside the vertical tracks.

Over the years there have been requests for better springs because customers’ existing springs have not lasted as long as they had hoped. Because of this we have begun offering longer life extension springs which last about three times longer than the standard springs.

We achieve longer life in our design by using bigger wire and larger inside diameters engineered to maintain the same pull. We also use clipped ends to extend the life. Open loops and double loops are heated before bending the ends; this often fatigues the metal causing the spring to break prematurely on one end.

One additional factor in producing longer life extension springs is that we have the springs produced in the U.S.A. and only with American made steel. Because of inconsistent quality control standards in China springs made there will often work for a while, but before long the springs don’t contract as they should, the door gets harder to lift, and often the cables come loose and prevent the door from closing. The metal doesn’t fatigue; it simply looses its tension.

Besides the Chinese manufacturers beware of companies who offer long life or 25,000 cycle springs based on what a supplier may say about their springs. A while back I ordered some of the springs from a supplier and I was surprised to discover they were the same standard cycle springs as offered by other suppliers.

All of the springs come in 10 pound increments and they are in stock for same or next day shipping. For questions please contact us.

 

BarCol Doors

Friday, September 1st, 2017 at 6:34 pm by Dan Musick

Those of us who have been in the business for a while remember the old BarCol doors. This name is short for Barber Coleman.

The biggest difficulty we remember is accommodating the incompatibility of torsion hardware. While all the other door companies used 1″ shafts, the early shafts on BarCol doors doors had a 1 1/16″ outside diameter. This spring anchor bracket above identifies the larger shaft, and trying for many hours to get parts to fit on the shaft was part of our initiation into the door business. We filed, we beat, we yelled – all to no avail. We learned to carry 1″ shafts or a 1 1/16″ drill bit to get the standard winding cone to fit.

The old BarCol system also used unique 1 13/16″ inside diameter springs that were hooked on the ends. The cones would slide into the cones and hook either the bracket or the raised edges on the cones. The cable drums were also bigger. Many service technicians never noticed the difference and they left behind a trail of heavy doors because of the drums’ higher moment arm.

The newer BarCol doors used brackets with 1″ bearings for 1″ shafts. Many of these used the hooked cones, but the new 1 3/4″ standard screw-in stationary cones would secure to these these compatible brackets.

In the early years BarCol also had special rollers that were tied together with hinge straps. As the door closed a plate welded to the curve of the track would catch the top roller and raise the hinge straps.

These straps would, in turn, pull the straps and rollers  along the full height of the door to force the ends of the door against the jambs and header.

This method of pushing the door against the jambs was designed because Overhead Door Corporation owned the patent to the wedge design that incorporates graduated hinges and pitched vertical tracks.

Flexible Brush Seal – New at DDM!

Friday, August 25th, 2017 at 11:08 am by Sales Team

DDM now stocks Flexible Brush Seal! Made with a flexible plastic, it’s designed as an alternative to the original brush seal with a rigid steel support edge. Several features make it an excellent option for your commercial doors and dock levelers.

  • The price is lower than that of the rigid seal so you save on cost.
  • Flexible plastic allows the brush seal to be rolled into a box. This reduces shipping costs.
  • It is available in rolls up to 200’ or 100’ for three inch brush, allowing for custom lengths.
  • Extra rolls can be easily stored by maintenance departments for quick repairs.
  • Plastic support edge is thermally joined to the brush material, virtually eliminating fraying.
  • Unlike the rigid seals with steel edges, the plastic will not corrode or rust over time.

One minor drawback is that product comes curled up in a box; extra care needs to be taken to assure the material is straight when inserted into the retainer. Also, the 1 3/4″ brush is not available in the flexible seal.

Original Brush Seal with Steel Support Edge


Frayed End on Original Brush Seal

Now in stock and ready to ship, our new flexible brush seal is available in four sizes made to fit in our standard side and top retainers.

            1” – STBIF-100S

            1 ½” – STBIF-112S

            2” – STBIF-200S

            3” – STBIF-300S

Storm Shield® Garage Door Threshold Seal

Friday, August 18th, 2017 at 11:20 am by Sales Team

DDM Garage Doors now offers Storm Shield® threshold seals for sectional garage doors. Unlike other garage door weather seals that mount to the jambs, header and bottom of the door, this threshold seal is glued to the floor directly below the bottom of the door to improve the seal under the door.

Advantages of Storm Shield® Threshold

  • Reduces excess moisture in the garage
  • Keeps out small pests
  • Lowers energy costs
  • Resists common garage chemicals
  • Designed for all climates and temperatures
  • American made for enduring quality

Disadvantages of Storm Shield® Threshold

In spite of all its appealing features, there are some disadvantages to consider before purchasing the product.

  • It can’t keep all the water out of a garage, especially if the floor is pitched to the inside of the garage. If water builds up outside the door, it will seep through the ends. And, if the garage floor has not been treated or sealed, water will also flow through the pores of the concrete below the seal even if the threshold seal is properly glued because concrete is porous.
  • The seal will not stick to all garage floors. The floor must be smooth and straight. Holes, patches and cracks will prevent the glue from adhering the seal to the floor.
  • A number of doors will not benefit from these seals. The include steel doors that are bent on the bottoms, uneven floors where there is a gap on one side or under the middle of the door, and wooden panel doors that lift up on one or both ends.
  • The job is not as easy as it looks. We recommend having two people install it. Moving the seal after it has been glued usually causes the seal to regress. Straight, evenly-spaced lines must be made to properly align and seal the product. This can be challenging, but doable.

Types of Threshold Seals

Two styles of Storm Shield® thresholds are available. The original Storm Shield® threshold requires adhesive caulk to adhere to the floor.

 

The newer Storm Shield® 2, or “Peel ‘n Stick,” has an adhesive backing, eliminating the need for the caulk.

Installation Tips

  1. Since the seal comes in a roll, we recommend unrolling the seal a few days before installation to reduce the curl in the material. In cooler weather it is recommended that you warm the material in your home or in the sun to flatten it.
  2. We recommend cleaning the floor ahead of time. If possible, power wash the garage floor a couple days in advance, particularly if the threshold under the door is oily. Make sure the floor is completely dry before installation.
  3. Although applying the threshold to cracked or uneven concrete is not recommended, some customers have been able make it work. However, we cannot guarantee the result.
  4. Some retailers sell this product with a smaller “squeeze tube” of the adhesive caulk. We highly recommend using the larger tube with a caulk gun as this smaller tube may not provide enough adhesive for wider doors. It can also take an hour or longer to squeeze the glue out of the tube.

Extension Springs for Off Applications

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 at 4:11 pm by Dan Musick

If you are looking for springs to use for a project other than for a garage door, you’ll need to calculate the pull needed when the spring is fully extended. For example, if you want to ease the lift of a 300 pound object, you will need a spring that pulls 300 pounds when it is fully extended. A 25 inch spring that pulls 300 pounds on a 7 foot high door does not pull 300 pounds until it is stretched 42 inches beyond its original length of 25 inches. The total extended length of the spring would then be 67 inches. Here are two variations to consider. If you cut the 300 pound lift spring in half, it would pull 300 pounds when stretched only 21 inches. Or, if you pull the same 25 inch spring just 21 inches, it will pull only 150 pounds. If you determine what you need for your special application, we can usually find a solution.

Just contact us.

Four Spring Residential Torsion Systems

Friday, August 11th, 2017 at 3:49 pm by Dan Musick

Many years ago when we first posted our residential torsion spring database program, we discovered customers were ordering longer life springs that were so heavy that the shaft would bend from the extra weight.

Because of this we began recommending that customers add idler support brackets if either of their springs weighs over 20 pounds.

And, as could be expected, longer life spring orders for heavier doors weighing 30 pounds or more require different solutions. The more common is to install two solid shafts with a cast iron connecting coupler in addition to the idler brackets. With the additional shipping this solution costs an additional $300-400.

A less expensive option is to convert a two spring system to a four spring system using smaller springs. This option costs less than $50.

Because of the lighter shafts on many of the garage doors, we now recommend converting to a four spring system on a 16′ or wider door if each spring weighs over 25 pounds. Rather than order and install idler support brackets we recommend that customers install spring anchor brackets, such as our more popular SAB-450K.

Here is an actual photo of a four spring torsion system that Charlie sent us.

 

Notice that the two center springs are mounted as before.

The two outer springs mount to what would have been idler brackets. To support the spring anchor brackets on each side Charlie added 2 X 6 lumber and painted it.

The difference with these brackets is that they include the extra bolts and nuts for attaching the stationary cones to the brackets. Both springs to the left of the center support bracket above are right wind; the winding cone is marked with red paint.

The two springs to the right shown below are left wind; the winding cones are marked with black paint.

Beyond the outer winding cone on each side is the cable drum. Here is the cable drum at the left end of the torsion shaft.To the right of the drum is the right wind torsion spring.

A second reason for installing four springs is if additional lift is needed as a result of the door not having the correct springs. This can be caused by weight being added to the door. It may also be due to an earlier technician installing the wrong springs, or by the homeowner measuring and ordering the incorrect springs.

One problem with converting to four springs can be limited shaft space. When calculating the space needed for the springs, first measure the distance between the drums. The wound springs, cones and brackets need to fit inside this space.

Next, determine the wound length of each spring. On 1 3/4″ and 2″ springs the cones for each spring require 2.25.” Add to this the width of the coils you add when winding the spring. On standard seven foot high doors figure eight coils and multiply this by the wire size. For example, 41.75″ X .2253 = 1.8.” Hence, 2.25″ for the cones + 41.75″ for the length of the spring + 1.8″ of turns = 45.8.” Add to this the gaps between the coils on the cones which is sometimes as much as 1/2.” Figure an additional 1/8″ for the thickness of the bracket.

This Wound Torsion Spring Lengths Spreadsheet may come in handy.

If there is not enough space on the shaft, you can always increase the inside diameter of your springs. If you have 1 3/4″ ID springs you can easily convert to 2″ because all the bolt holes are the same. If you have 2″ ID springs you can convert to 2 5/8″ ID and use the same brackets if the bolt holes are slotted. This torsion spring inside diameter converter should help.

On Charlie’s door above we tried to match the longer cycle life with the existing 1 3/4″ ID springs attached to the center support bracket, but there wasn’t enough space on the shaft. So we converted the inside diameter of the outer springs to two inches. If you look closely you can see that the coil diameter of the outer spring is bigger than the coil diameter of the inner spring.

 

New Page & Software for EZ-Set Torsion Springs

Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 5:40 pm by Dan Musick

In order to help our customers find the correct springs for their garage doors, we just posted our revised page with new software to make it easier to purchase Clopay, Ideal and Holmes EZ-Set Springs.

In the past we encouraged do-it-yourselfers to measure the springs, but because of gaps between the coils and because of the coatings on the springs, the wire size was often difficult to determine.

Now customers can order by manufacturer and model number. In our most recent blog we showed how to identify Clopay, Ideal and Holmes door by model numbers on the stickers.

If this information cannot be found, we have an additional tab for selecting a spring or springs by door weight. Customers have found our instructions for how to weigh a garage door helpful.

If you have any questions please contact us.

 

How to Identify Doors by Model Number, Serial Number, and PID Numbers

Friday, July 28th, 2017 at 6:38 pm by Sales Team

If you have a garage door made by Clopay Building Products Company, Ideal Door Company, or Holmes Garage Door Company, you may be able to use the model number, PID number, or serial number to determine the door weight so you can select the proper replacement springs. Finding the label that contains these numbers may save time and energy that you would otherwise spend measuring the springs or weighing the door. However these labels can be difficult to find. Here are some helpful tips.

A garage door has three dimension: width, height and thickness. Labels with the model numbers are normally found on the thickness part at one end of each section. This is for ease of identification when doors are stacked at the factory or distribution center.

If the installer happened to leave behind the wrapping materials or the door installation guide, you may be able to find your door model there.

 

Clopay Doors

Most Clopay doors have labels placed on the inside of the door, usually at the left end of the bottom or first intermediate section. Sometimes the sticker is at the right end of the door. On this label you will find the door serial number. Usually the model number of the door is embedded in the serial number, but on newer doors it is embedded in a separate PID number, as you see in this Model 4050 below.

Clopay began using this white sticker with the orange warning label in 2003, and the company still uses it. The serial number, designated as “S/N,” usually has 12 numbers with an additional letter. The PID number has 17 letters; it includes both the model number and the door size, here “8000800,” designating a door that is eight feet wide and eight feet high.

The yellow sticker shown below was used from about 1998 to 2003. The serial numbers during those years contained 16-18 digits. The model numbers are usually located in the middle of the serial number as you see here in this model 4050.

Before 1997 Clopay used blue stickers on their doors with 15-16 digits in the serial number as you see in this model 1000.

Over the years Clopay has used a number of other stickers, such as this white label stuck to the top of an intermediate section.

  

Identifying labels will also be found on flag brackets which support the vertical and horizontal tracks.

 Ideal Doors

Ideal has used a variety of stickers over the years. As with most manufacturers, labels are stuck to one end of each section as we see here with the door partly open on this S/R 4RST door.  If you are unable to open the door, look behind the lower vertical track with a flashlight on both sides of the door to find this label. The 3-6 digit model number should be listed as a standalone number.

Ideal also uses labels mounted on the inside face of the sections, similar to what is found on Clopay doors as you can see on this model R6R4 garage door.

Many of the Ideal doors have long serial numbers just as Clopay  has. Below you can see the model number RDP38 embedded in the serial number.

Newer Ideal doors have the longer serial numbers and PID numbers as is visible on this model SRP-38 door. As with the Clopay doors the serial number, designated as “S/N,” usually has 12 numbers with an additional letter. The PID number has 17 letters; it includes both the model number and the door size, here “160007,” designating a door that is 16′ feet wide and eight feet high.

Holmes Doors

Similar to Ideal Door, Holmes labels list a standalone model number. And like Ideal or Clopay, a Holmes label may be stuck to the flag bracket or on one side of the reinforcing strut if there is one.

IMPORTANT: If you live in Florida or along the coast, you may have a wind rated door as you see above. The “W6” after the model 42 designates a wind code rating of six. Clopay, Ideal and Holmes all use similar wind code designations, but their part numbers will be different.

 

Making Sense of a Long Part Number

If you find a long part number, if there is no PID number, and if you can’t identify the model number, look in the middle of the part number and check one of our pages where we offer springs by model, manufacturer and serial number. On our Standard Torsion Springs page, for example, you will click “Model Number” and then select the manufacturer. After that, click the draw down menu and find your model number in the list.

The model numbers in the list above have between two and four digits. Look for these digits in the middle of the long part number on your garage door. On rare exceptions you will not be able to find the number on our list because some models were in production for only a short time. If you need help please contact us.

Torsion Spring Winding Systems

Friday, July 21st, 2017 at 1:52 pm by Sales Team

Winding residential torsion springs is dangerous. If you are not careful, and if you do not have the proper tools, it is easy to get hurt. To make the process safer for DIYers, a number of garage door manufacturers have developed their own spring winding systems. Below are the more common ones.

Wayne Dalton TorqueMaster Winders

There are two types of winding units for the Wayne Dalton Springs: the original TorqueMaster I system, and the newer TorqueMaster Plus, also called the TorqueMaster II, system. In each system the spring or springs mount inside a metal shaft and the winding units mount at the very ends of the shaft to the vertical jamb and flag angle.

TorqueMaster I. The winding unit for the original system contains gears that are wound using a drill with a 7/16” socket or nut driver. The teeth of the drive gear secures the winding cone. The spring winds as the winding bolt turns the worm gear, which turns the drive gear. A numbered wheel on the unit indicates the number of turns on the spring.

 

TorqueMaster II. The TorqueMaster Plus winder uses a ratcheting system and a 5/8” socket to wind the springs. The gears turn the winding cone at each end and the ratcheting mechanism holds the spring tension. There is no wheel to record the turns. Installers mark the shaft or socket to count the number of turns.

 

Here are some additional helpful links: Wayne Dalton Garage Door Parts, Wayne Dalton TorqueMaster Torsion Springs, TorqueMaster Torsion Spring Replacement, How to Unwind TorqueMaster Plus Springs, and How to Wind Torquemaster One Springs.

Clopay, Ideal & Holmes EZ-Set Winders

This system requires gapped torsion springs that mount on the outside of the shaft. The winding units mount next to the cable drums on an end bracket that bolts and screws to the jamb and end plates. The winder cone slides into the winder and the opposite end secures to the shaft with set screws. After the spring cones are secured, tension is applied by turning the winding screw with a drill.

 

 

Here are some additional helpful links: Left side winders, Right side winders, EZ-Set Parts, How to Replace EZ-Set Torsion Springs, How to Convert from EZ-Set Springs to Standard Torsion Springs,

Arrow Tru-Line – ATL – S3 Winders

The ATL winder mounts near the center of the shaft and functions as both a spring anchor bracket and spring winder for standard residential torsion springs. The stationary cones secure to the spring winder and the winding cones secure to the shaft with set screws. The springs must be stretched before tightening the set screws. Once the spring is stretched and the set screws are secured, a drill is used to turn the tensioning screw and wind the spring or springs. Only standard residential torsion springs and standard lift drums are compatible with this winder.

You’ll find Instructions for Installing Arrow Tru-Line Winders on our ATL Winder page.

Spring King – Simple Set – Winders

Similar to the other winders these mount near the ends of the spring shaft and they are bolted to special end bearing plates. The winder end of the spring secures to a steel plate mounted on the winding unit shaft. The cone at the other end is secured to the shaft with set screws. The springs must be stretched before being wound. The distance of stretch is based on the spring’s wire size and the door height. Turning the winding screw rotates the winding unit plate and thus pulls the steel plate closer to the winder. Once the plate meets the winding unit, the spring starts to wind. These units work only with standard residential torsion springs and cable drums.

Overhead Door – OHD – Armortite Winders

As with the other winders OHD the left wind spring mounts to the left end of the shaft and the right wind spring mounts to the right end. Unlike most of these systems, each spring mounts inside its own aluminum tube – thus the name “ARMOR”TITE.

The tabs of the stationary cones secure into the cable drums and the tabs of the winding cones secure into a retaining plate. The outer shape of this plate matches the indentations in the aluminum tube which is secured to the winding unit.

The winding unit mounts on the end plate and to the inside of the cable drum. To wind the spring, a retention pin must be removed from the winder and the winder must be turned clockwise using a hand drill with a 5/16” Allen hex bit. Instructions for this equipment begin on page 28 of the Overhead Door Residential Installation Instruction Manual.

Dan’s Reviews

Standard torsion spring systems are the least expensive and they provide the most options. However, they are also the most dangerous. That’s why winders were developed.

When selecting a winder system to convert from extension springs or from standard torsion springs to a spring winder system, there are several factors to consider: quality, material cost, shipping cost, amount of work, adaptability to jackshaft operation, and the ability to upgrade the cycle life of the springs.

We do not recommend converting to the Wayne Dalton TorqueMaster System because of the material and shipping costs. These start at $250 to $300 for a single car door and, because of special crating and over the road shipping, prices start from $600 for a double car door. Cycle life options are also limited, and these are not readily adaptable to jackshaft operation.

Nor do we recommend converting to the Clopay EZ Set System. This is because the winders are made of plastic and we’ve seen a lot of problems with those over the years. The specially gapped springs with special spacers also cost about twice as much as the standard springs, longer life options are limited, and jackshaft openers can not be installed on them.

We don’t recommend the Overhead Door Armortite System because of the cost, and because of the difficulty of installation. These systems are jackshaft operator compatible.

We usually recommend the Arrow Tru-Line Winder. It is usually the least expensive, it usually requires the least amount of work, and it allows for installing any of the longer life torsion springs we provide. There are two disadvantages. One is that the springs have to be stretched before winding. This can be challenging when the wire size is larger than .250. In addition to this, with the ATL Winder you can wind and unwind the springs a total of three times before you risk damaging the gears. Normally this will not be a problem. These winders are jackshaft operator compatible.

The Spring King / Simple Set Winders are the only other winders we would recommend. This system allows for installing any of the longer life torsion springs we provide, and, for a single spring system the cost is actually a little less than the cost of the ATL Winder. On a two spring system, however, the cost is almost twice as much. Installing these may also be a little more work. The two advantages over the ATL Winders is that the Spring King Winding System stretches the springs for you, and there is no limit to the number of times you can wind and unwind your springs. These winders are also jackshaft operator compatible.