Shop Door Suggestions

Published on: 09:40AM May 18, 2009
 In the Early Spring issue of Farm Journal Magazine my story, "Doorway Dilemma" looks at issues related to doors necessary to get modern farm equipment in and out of farm shops. Here are a few leftover items that didn't make my final edit, along with some points that door manufacturers emphasize:

-A simple add-on that costs $25 to $50 but is well worth the price is to put a remote control opener on the door. It saves a lot of climbing in and out of tractor and combine cabs. At our dealership we put the little remote control box on a 3-foot-long loop of 1/4-inch i.d. clear plastic hose. Its like a big necklace. That necklace hangs on a peg by the wall-mounted control box. When somebody goes out to get a piece of equipment, they grab the necklace and wear it around their neck, opening and closing the door from the seat of the cab. The large, somewhat cumbersome necklace prevents people from putting the small control box in their pocket and forgetting to return it to its peg for other people to use.

-Small grain platforms are often the widest piece of equipment to pass through shop doors. It's possible to squeeze a 30-foot platform through a 32-foot-wide door, but sooner or later "somebody" is going to misjudge the opening and damage the door or the side of the platform. Door manufacturers recommend door openings at least four feet wider than the widest piece of equipment, and encourage farmers to plan for larger equipment in the future. Remember when your grandpa or dad built your current shop, and said, "There'll never been any reason to have a door wider than 24 feet, because they'll never make anything bigger than 8-row equipment...'? 

-If you're putting the door in the end wall of a building, plan on a door at least  8 feet narrower than the width of the building. The goal is to have at least 4 feet of wall on each side of the door to provide structural strength. For example, a 36-foot wide door should be placed in a wall at least 44 feet wide.

-One-piece doors--essentially a wall section that's hinged at the top--provide a unique option: When open, they project out from the building and provide a sunshade, effectively expanding the floor space of the shop for work during warm weather. There is some concern about the stability of open doors on windy days. Manufacturers say that the doors are designed to withstand "normal" winds while in the open position, but recommend common sense when storms approach or when winds are excessively high. One manufacturer has documented evidence of a 54-foot-wide one-piece door withstanding 70 mph winds when it was left open during a thunderstorm at an airport, but admits he prefers his doors be closed when winds exceed 40 mph.

-One-piece door manufacturers admit one concern with that type of design is if someone is working in a building and decides to open the door, unaware that someone else parked a vehicle in front of the door. One-piece doors have a fairly large opening arc, and there have been cases where a one-piece door caught the front bumper of a vehicle and literally lifted it into the air--until the bumper came off or the door's opening mechanism or frame failed.

-The universal comment from overhead, bi-fold and one-piece door manufacturers was that the type and size of door should be part of the initial design of the building. They emphasized that each type of door requires different structural framing. Telling the building designer what type of door will be installed can save significant money by incorporating the necessary framing in the building, rather than having to add-on once the building is finished.

Got any personal experiences--good or bad--with the big door on your farm shop? We'd like to hear about them. Your experiences could save other farmers lots of money and avoid hassles.