First Impressions, Simple Statements - Page 6

Renewing garage and entry doors with neighborly good looks and in line with the modern streetscape aesthetic

Do-It-Yourselfer Powers Up His Own Garage Doors

Ed Chamberlain with his do-it-yourself automated doors.
Ed Chamberlain with his do-it-yourself automated doors.

In today’s ‘I-have-a-remote-for-everything’ lifestyle, there’s really no good reason to have to settle for manual garage doors. Eichler’s original sliding garage doors weren’t automated, so Cupertino Eichler owner Ed Hirshfield decided to change all that a few years ago by creating his own automated system tied to his original doors.  

“But I wanted electrically controlled garage doors consistent with the Eichler ethos,” Ed says.

Total disclosure: Hirshfield is an engineer by trade, and the plans he sent to CA-Modern certainly prove it. The good news is that he began the project with two Chamberlain (model HD175DM - ½ HP) garage door openers, which came with remote controls, and which he purchased on clearance for $10 each. “I didn’t want to reinvent the world,” Ed says. He rigged the rest of the project, MacGyver-style.

Ed started with the door closest to the house, mounting the Chamberlain hardware for the garage doors on a joist 11 inches away from the door opening. He installed the door trolley 13-½ inches from the ceiling.

The motor is hung from the ceiling with steel tape and attached to two-by-four-inch mounting boards. He used the door puller provided by Chamberlain but connected it to the door by attaching a five-and-three-eighths-inch bolt through the door hanger with a two-inch collar nut. The five-inch bolt flexes when the door motion is started or stopped to absorb shock.

The second door installation is more complicated because there is very little room for the motor and mechanism. Ed hung the second motor, rotated by 90 degrees, and centered 32 inches from the left edge of the open door. He then used the parts from two bicycle frames to support the chain, which was lengthened.

Both garage door opener motor assemblies come with travel limit switches that turn the motors on and off at the end of their movement. These switches are adjusted before the door is operated to assure that the doors do not move farther than they need to.

“Notwithstanding many of the fine adjustments in positioning of the parts during design, these doors have operated flawlessly for eight years,” Ed says. “Knock on wood!” Ed’s total out-of-pocket cost: $250.

For those like Ed who love to tinker, this may be an ideal project for you. For the rest, automation is a phone call away.


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