High Lift Assembly Modifications

Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 9:41 am by Dan Musick

Since we first posted our custom High Lift Garage Door Conversion instructions several years ago, we have noticed a few things that need to be improved.

One was the alignment of the horizontal and vertical angles in step 7.11.


This created a problem with the fitting of the end bearing plate in step 7.21. In our instructions we show cutting the angle to get the plate to fit.


A second problem that plagued me for several years were our assembly instructions. We originally showed the extra work of sliding the brackets along the vertical high lift angle at the end. These instructions also lacked detail, and the step-by-step procedure needed to be honed.

The solution for both problems was to redo the instructions. In the new tutorial we show how to assemble the components starting from from the top – assembling the vertical and horizontal angle first – and then working your way down to the track extension. This change is included in the new high lift track assembly instructions we posted this fall.


An added advantage to this is that it reduces the possibility of the junction bolt coming loose and the door losing its level. It probably also cut the assembly time in half for our customers.

On some tracks the horizontal track angles are rotated 90 degrees. The assembly for these is slightly different.


A third change we expect to make in the coming months is the angle for cutting the ends of the vertical tracks extensions. In our tutorial we specify four degrees, which works for most doors. In our Garage Door High Lift and Vertical Lift Inquiry the information you now enter allows our new program to specify the angle for cutting the ends of the tracks. If you see a note in your high lift kit or in your correspondence regarding the angle to cut your tracks, use this angle and not the four inches specified in our program.

A fourth change is to show pictures of double spring installations as we show on our garage door torsion spring replacement page. Our original program shows how to install a high lift with only one spring. We also want to show what a four spring setup looks like for the heavier doors.

A fifth change we want to show is how to install hardware with a shaft coupler. When converting to high lift, if  you don’t have a shaft, and if one is not available locally, we can send two shorter shafts with an extra spring anchor bracket and coupler.


This has also worked with 18′ wide doors where we sent, by FedEx, two 8’9″ shafts, one 2′ shaft for the middle, two couplers, and two spring anchor bracket kits.

The sixth change has to do with heavier springs on high lift doors. Our program is designed to spec idler support brackets for torsion springs that weigh over 20 pounds. These are normally installed just beyond the winding cone of each spring after it is wound. The formula for determining placement is (#turns on spring X wire size) + 2.” In most cases the bracket can be moved a foot or so to align with a stud.


A last change has to do with special applications where a customer needs to convert from double low headroom tracks to high lift. This may occur when a loft above the door is removed, or when a low headroom door is moved from one location to another.


In the coming months we hope to incorporate these changes into the revised high lift tutorial. Your patience is appreciated.

Rough Edges on High Lift Drums

Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 12:24 pm by Dan Musick

In recent months we have received emails from customers who installed high lift kits, and now one of their cables is fraying or unraveling.


This appears to be a problem with the foundry where the OMI 4-54 HL LD cable drums are made. The joints of the molds leave rough edges on the drums. These rough edges need to be smoothed, but the foundry is not consistent in grinding the edges.

Rough Drum Edges

In recent months we started grinding all these drums in our shop.

If you purchased one of our kits in the last two years, and if you have a high lift cable that is beginning to fray or to unravel, we will provide new cables. You can file the rough edges on the drums, which would be less work, or, if you prefer, we will provide new drums as well. There will be no charge for the parts or for shipping. Please provide your order number, if available. Otherwise, we can search our invoices by your name.

I apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this quality issue.

Common High Lift Problems

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at 12:22 pm by Dan Musick

Without first seeking professional help, the most common problem do-it-yourselfers encounter when adding vertical track and raising their garage doors a foot or more is that the door doesn’t balance.

In order to get the door to work at all, longer cables need to be installed. The installer will usually know to do that.

This is typically what happens, for example, after a do-it-yourselfer raises the horizontal tracks and torsion assembly on a seven foot high 200 pound door by two feet.

The springs on most seven foot high doors are wound 7 1/2 turns. If you wind your springs the same number of turns after raising the horizontal tracks two feet, the door will stay on the floor by itself when closed. However, as you raise the door, the higher you go the heavier the door gets. Except for the first foot or so the door will not stay open by itself.

Raising the tracks two feet requires about two extra turns of spring tension to hold the door open when raised. If you wind the springs 9 1/2 turns, the door will stay open, but as you close the door, the lower you go, the harder it gets to pull the door down. If you release the door in the closed position it will shoot up like a rocket.

If the springs are wound 8 1/2 turns, the door will balance about midway. The door won’t stay up and it won’t stay down, but it will stay half way.

In addition to not balancing the door, the extra turn or two on the springs reduces the cycle life by as much as two thirds.

One solution is to spring the door for nine feet of door height. The longer a spring is the less it pulls. The springs need to be longer so they lift 200 pounds with 9 1/2 turns when the door is closed, and yet, when the door is open nine feet, or less, there must be enough turns on the springs to support the door weight.

This solution will work with lighter doors and with doors where the tracks are raised only a foot. The door will not balance correctly, but it may work reasonably well. The springs can be wound to hold the door open and to allow the door to stay closed by itself.

The main problem arises as the door is lifted. Because the door does not immediately transfer weight to the horizontal tracks, the lifting weight of the door will increase for the first two feet or so of rise. On heavier doors this could trigger the sensors and shut off the openers.

The best solution, however, is do a complete high lift conversion. This will require new cables, drums and springs.


High lift counterbalance is complex. A detailed explanation appears on our page titled “How Vertical-Lift and High-Lift Garage Doors Work.



New DIY Instructions App for Cell Phones

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 11:20 am by Dan Musick


We’re happy to introduce our new app available for $1.00. It contains a wealth of technical information on garage door springs and spring conversions, garage door and opener maintenance and repairs, high lift conversions, low headroom solutions, weather seals, and dock leveler repairs.

One of our software developers, Nate Rupsis, recently re-organized our tutorials library. Afterward, and in keeping with the times, he formatted the page as an app to fit the more popular smart phones


This app has grown out of my 36 years in the garage door business.

I initially worked at the Overhead Door Company in Elk Grove Village, IL, the largest door business in the industry. In January of 1979 I began as a service man for the owners, Harold Tonnesen and Jim Weeks. In subsequent years I built an audio visual training library while serving as training coordinator for the company. During that time the company left the OHD franchise and changed their name to Door Systems. The owners also opened Northwest Door, a new sectional door manufacturing facility in Elgin, IL, where I developed training and manufacturing support materials.

In the eighties I developed a company with three divisions: (1) The sale, installation and repair of residential and industrial garage doors doors and operators, (2) The sale of garage door hardware, and (3) Training for building engineers and facilities maintenance personnel to repair their doors and operators.

In the early 90’s I sold Dortrak, the installation and repair company, and kept the other two divisions. These weren’t generating enough income to feed and shelter my family so I went to work for Harold Poling at Area Door in Elgin, IL for about 15 years. He agreed to let me grow my own business on the side as long as I didn’t work in his service area, which I honored.

While working there I grew the service and installation business. My older son, Erich, loved computers and the internet and in 1997 he developed and posted our website. In 1998 we began posting online repair instructions for various types of overhead sectional garage doors and openers.

In the early years of the Web we didn’t earn enough to justify paying to post the site. We joked about being a .org. One of our major stockholders suggested I close the business. We survived the year 2000 dot-com collapse – little invested, little lost.

From there the internet parts business grew with the installation and service business, and several years ago I left Area Door to work full time in this business.

Earlier this year we sold the installation and service company to Matt’s Garage Doors. He’s doing better with that part of the business than I ever did.

Now, as DDM Garage Doors, Inc. we continue to provide garage doors, parts and hands-on training. As DDM Web Services, Inc. we develop tutorials and software for the garage door industry, for building engineers and facilities maintenance personnel, and for the DIY market.

These programs have also inspired many entrepreneurs to start their own garage door repair companies, and for over a decade garage door repair technicians have benefited from our free online instructions and software.

God has blessed me with work that I love. I wish the same for everyone who works on all the different types of garage doors and openers. Life’s too short to endure work you hate. A friend of mine in my early years at Wheaton College advised, “Determine what you enjoy doing, and find someone to pay you to do it.”


How Mechanical Dock Levelers Work – Preview

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 at 7:29 pm by Dan Musick

I’ve been working in the garage door business for over 36 years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that one of my employees explained to me how mechanical dock levelers work. It’s taken many months, many videos, many graphics and a lot of animation, but in early July we expect to be posting the completed video on YouTube so professional door technicians and other tradesmen can understand how they work. The outline below is a shadow of what we expect to be our best video yet.

Dock Leveler Springs
Extension Spring Systems
Compression Spring Systems
Hold Down Systems
Lip Systems
Counterbalance Components
Snubbing assembly
Lowering Mechanisms
Safety Legs

Here it is. Just click the leveler.


PowerMaster Operators

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 11:10 am by Dan Musick

V.E. Power Door, manufacturer of the PowerMaster brand of sectional door, rolling door, and sliding gate operators, was established by its founder, Philip Lanzarone, in October of 1969. From its Long Island facility the company was originally created to service North American Door, but in succeeding decades V.E. Power Door has provided products for the garage door and gate industry throughout the world through its own distribution network, including John Greene Corporation.

Those of us who have installed and serviced industrial operators over several decades attest to the consistent reliability and superior quality of the PowerMaster brand.

This is our preferred choice of garage door operators.

International Door Association IDA Expo 2015 Indianapolis

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 at 11:11 am by Dan Musick

IDA Expo 2015


This is the first trade show for door dealers that I’ve attended in over 20 years. The trade organization used to be called D.O.D.A., short for Door and Operator Dealers of America. I took a lot of pictures and videos I’d hoped to post here, but I discovered on the way out that I was not to publish them.

Service Spring. As we entered the expo we went immediately to the booth of our primary supplier of springs, door parts and opener parts.  It was great to see and meet the people we talk to on almost a daily basis, but whom we’d never met face to face. I shared with them the goal I have when I order from them: to be off the phone in less than a minute. Usually it works. Their sales people are phenomenal!

CHI Garage Doors. Their Model 2283 was my favorite in the years I was installing them. Their exhibit was the most impressive. They’ve developed a totally new design of pass doors for sectional doors (Click to view video) and pass doors for steel rolling doors (Click to view video). After the doors open, the Wicket Doors and framing above them swing to the inside. Wow! What an innovation! I had the opportunity to meet the designer, Paul Ravens. He shared the company’s work standard: God first, family second, work third, one of their keys to superior quality and continued growth and success.

Arrow Truline. Jeff Chappuies showed me their new torsion spring winder. This provides faster and safer winding for torsion springs. I just ordered a box of these and I’ll have our web product developer post them on line. We’ll need a little help with this from our video person as well. Jeff knows doors like someone who’s been installing and repairing them for decades, even though he learned the business from inside the factory.

Action Industries. They’ve supplied most of our garage door seals over the decades. Marcus showed me the rodent block seals. I asked my warehouse manager to order a few rolls of this on our next shipment. In the past I’ve recommended stuffing steel wool inside the bottom seal, but that rusts and makes a mess. Action’s product uses stainless steel mesh. I’ll never forget the Friday morning I called in a $12,000 order for door seals. Marcus had the product ready that afternoon. He stayed late to help load the product in my van for delivery the next morning in Wisconsin.

Denco. John has always been a big help getting us the parts we need. He finally convinced me to get a bench cable crimper which I ordered last Monday.

National Door. I finally met Jan. A while back they shipped over $20,000 worth of their jumbo seal to jobs in Colorado. She was impressive in the way she managed the order. Much of their product we sell we don’t even have on our site yet. We also get our windows from National.

Iowa spring. Great to sit down with Dan and discuss the different springs they make for us. He taught me a lot about dock leveler springs. I talked briefly to Cameron, the rep for this area. They are great people to do business with. They also supply springs to farm implement manufacturers.

Martin Garage Doors. I’ve never seen one of their doors, but they have always impressed me as the most safety-conscious of all the different garage door manufacturers. Their doors feature the safety track system and their safety spring system. If a garage door spring breaks and the door is disengaged when the door is open, the safety system will prevent the door from free-falling.

Fehr Brothers. I talked to them about their longer life extension springs rated at 30,000 cycles. I’ll be ordering some to test this summer as part of a mechanical engineering student’s internship here in West Chicago.

Napoleon / Lynx. I talk to about their painted extension springs. They have the cleanest extension springs on the market. I’ve ordered almost countless spring and parts from them over the decades.

Wayne Dalton. I met the man who named the spring system “Torquemaster.” That was some story to hear.

Overhead Door Parts.Com. These parts are getting harder to find. It’s great to have a resource to help finding them. Customers are loyal to the parts with the Overhead Door ribbon.

IControls. A Canadian company. It looks like they will be able to produce some universal OEM and aftermarket controls for hydraulic, air and Linear actuated dock levelers.

Chamberlain Liftmaster. The representatives there were very helpful. Chamberlain has instituted IMap policies prohibiting the sale of products at below market value. For example, a dealer on Amazon sells the 8500 for $314 including shipping.

Genie. They had the biggest booth. When people think of garage door openers they often think of Genie; they’re a household name. Personally, I prefer Liftmaster openers, but everyone in the trade has their own opinion.

Janus International. Here is a great supplier of rolling doors for self-storage facilities. We’ve quoted many of these over the years, but we haven’t sold very any. It’s a competitive market, but I do hope to get some of these on line in the coming year.

Northwest Door. They’re from the state of Washington. They had the most beautiful door I’ve ever seen. A lot of people out West ask for spring dimensions for various models of doors. The national sales manager clued me into how to get the information I needed.

Super Sneaky. It’s a great product, but for a limited market. It requires the opener to push the top of the door against the top of the opening. That doesn’t always work on 16 foot doors.  We’ve developed a method for installing double roller low headroom top fixtures on 16 foot wide steel doors.

Sliding Door Pros.  I’d like to get sliding door parts up on our site in the next year. The box tracks, hangers and trolleys are great for sliding barn doors.

American Garage Door Supply, Inc. They have great solutions for harsh environments such as car washes. Products include sealed rollers and stainless steel hinges and fixtures. The parts are impressive, but they cost about 10 times as much as the standard galvanized hardware. And the market is quite limited. When I worked at Door Systems of Elk Grove back in the ‘80’s they installed many of the air operators carried by this company. I still haven’t decided whether to carry these parts.

E-Z Weigh Scale. This is a great innovation for weighing garage doors.

Schweiss. For decades Schweiss has led the industry in the manufacture of hydraulic one piece and bifold agricultural doors, barn doors, and aviation hangar doors. Parts for these are on the back burner. Last year in Michigan I helped train some men on how to repair some of the bifold doors.

Torque Force Division of Canimex. This is a Canadian company. I’ve seen their name on cable drums and cones for decades. They are leading the industry in free-fall containment devices. These either prevent the torsion tube from turning or they cause the bottom roller to lock into the track to keep the door from falling.

Rotary Products, Inc. They have led the industry for decades providing Dock seals, shelters, lights, bumpers, snow hoods, wheel chocks, dock boards, track protectors, dock levelers, strip doors, safety rails, and a host of other products.

DDM Garage Doors’ Website Goes Mobile!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 1:13 pm by Dan Musick

The human hand is becoming “smart-phone shaped” these days.  And garage door springs keep on breaking.  Not everyone has a desktop or laptop in their garage.  You and your family drive frequently.  And shuttling between the garage and the den, one may lose some vital information in transit.  Can you measure your torsion springs safely, learn about higher-cycle alternatives, select the best pair of springs for your needs, and complete your order with winding bars to do the job, all from a hand-held device?

With DDM, the answer is, “Yes. Indeed!”

Through the web artistry of DDM Web Services, we now feature a revamped website that is completely mobile-friendly.  And to test it out, I went into my hypothetical garage with my iPhone to do some navigating.

First, I located the page. Then I scrolled down to see the “Our Services” section.  The first item was was a list of springs.

Then I identified my broken spring from the picture collage on the “Garage Door Springs” page.

Tapping the torsion spring picture, I then scrolled down to “Measuring Your Garage Door.”

Evident were the three ways of determining the correct torsion springs for my door.

I proceeded to the “How to Measure” portion.

Since I had two bays with identical doors, I measured the single broken spring on one of my doors.

Thumbing through the specs the site called for, I had a torsion spring choice in front of me, with some compatible springs listed below.

Not having navigated the mobile site previously, I was able to get to a purchase decision within about six minutes.

Now I’d never advocate rushing.  The point is not speed, but concentration. Since everything I needed was on the screen, given a simple adjustment of visual distance, I did not need to leave the “garage;” everything I needed was on the phone.

Having our site on the phone or tablet also offers an additional advantage:  while you have the device handy, you may snap a photo of your application to have it ready should a picture be needed to clarify your repair situation.

Do you need other parts?  They are equally accessible, often with pictures.  So you have a “one stop” option with our mobile version.

And putting technology and selection like this in your hands is another way our hard-working team serves you, our customer.

new mobile

Updated DIY Instruction Library to Serve Our Customers

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 4:28 pm by Dan Musick


About 10 years ago we uploaded our first page of DIY instructions now titled “How to Replace Garage Door Torsion Springs.”

Over the years we added additional instructions, and about five years ago we linked 10 or 15 tutorials to our DIY Instructions Page. We soon discovered that many of our customers like videos so we created the DDM Garage Doors YouTube Channel to help them fix a variety of door and opener problems.

We continued producing videos that were linked to different parts of our site. As a result we decided a few months ago to link all our instructions to a single page. I gave this task to Nate Rupsis, a software engineering student, who is now taking classes at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL.

With the increasing number of tutorials we thought it would be appropriate to introduce the term, “Library,” into the page title.

I frequently ask God what I should do in the business, and almost always the thought comes to me: “Serve the customer.”

And this we endeavor to do. This is simple, but not easy. Writing is tedious. When developing instructions becomes a struggle, I remind myself and our employees that if anyone could do it, everyone would do it, and we’d be without our jobs.

One of the treasures we enjoy in this business is the satisfaction customers express when they succeed at a project they weren’t sure they could do. As one diy-er expressed on a recent guestbook entry: “Thank you so much for making this information available. Last night I was able to replace the torsion springs on my garage door without incident. Today I am a hero in my home. . . My garage door works better now, and is balanced better than it ever has been.”


New Employee for New Markets: Jane Herbert

Friday, March 20th, 2015 at 8:43 am by Dan Musick

In changing economic times, DDM sees a strategic opportunity to help customers find a growing array of commercial and industrial garage doorsgarage door partsdock leveler parts, and garage door springs online with rapid web accessibility, backed by DDM Garage Doors’ quality commitment.

Helping accomplish this is Jane Herbert, New Markets Developer at DDM.

She seeks to connect commercial and industrial buyers with DDM’s selection of dock leveler parts, commercial springs, steel rolling door partscustom high lift kits, and garage door parts for contractors and builders. To accomplish this, she works hard to mine the resources of various e-commerce sites.

Jane brings many years of experience in entrepreneurship and business administration from her architectural firm. She graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture from Ball State University, and she also holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. She has an ongoing specialty in computers and website enhancement. Her certificate in web development from College of DuPage rounds out her vast experience. Jane works in collaboration with central administration, sales, and business partner, DDM Web Services, Inc.

Jane envisions purchasing managers of industrial firms, trucking companies, and government contractors connecting with DDM’s presence through various e-commerce sites such as AmazonEBayGoogle ShoppingSears and Alibaba.

We welcome Jane to the task, and we wish her all the best.