Building a Garage Door from Scratch – Part 2

It’s been a long time since last post, I blame SARS COVID-19! I hope you have not completely abandoned the site. So let’s start over if you have been just as disappointed as me. Other good news is that I have made big changes in my life since last time which means I can make more content more often for the site.

And if you are afraid that this car site has become a builders site, dont’ despair. New and exciting stuff are coming up very soon, such as DIY for the W140 S600, w123 280CE repairs and topping it off with a new more modern car. So stay tuned!

Last time we looked at the garage door it was without proper covering and it has in fact been like that all winter through. The door frame was also too close to the ground due to a measurement error. This made the door freeze during winter due to all the snow and ice collected under the door. Not very practical! And it was not really lockable without the help of the ice. Now over the summer time I have with the help of my dad and also my brothers, managed to completely finish the garage door. So what was the remaining process?

Fixing the height

First the temporary tarp had to be removed from the door. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it before we removed it, but I promise it was not a beautiful sight. Then the door had to be taken down so we adjust the height. The height was simply shaved with 15cm to allow proper clearance to the ground this time around.

Adjusting the garage door height
Adjusting the garage door height

The diagonal slots also had to be expanded on the vertical beams to allow this new shorter height. After the bottom beam had been attached again to the frame it could be slid onto the wall again. The frame is just light enough so two people can wrestle it, so it’s important to add the panel after it’s mounted on the wall. Otherwise it will simply be too heavy to move. The door is still amazingly large by 5 m x 2.5 m.

Adding Panel

Adding panel is quite simple, but cutting the slightly different length boards in a manner that will produce the least amount of cutoff needed some measurement and planning. Also the cuts should be made with a repeating pattern on the walls o it does not look bad. The measurement of the garage door is 2.5 m height x 5 m width which required slightly over 100 meters of length of the type of wide boards we went for. Each of the boards from the hardware store are around 5 m in length. It turned out that we had enough long boards to alternate between full height and the rest to be divided between 2/3 height and 1/3 height. Making 3 different cuts to complicate stuff. It also complicated matter that each of the bottom edge of the door need cuts at an angle to allow water to effectively drip off if water rains in from the side.

Adding tar cardboard to door
Adding tar cardboard to door. Will not allow air gaps shine between the boards.

Since the boards will lie edge to edge, there will be an air gap between them, easily seen from the inside. So a roll of tar cardboard is applied and fastened before and under the outer panels. See for example the opposite wall of the barn, where light shines easily through. Gaps will also allow a lot of dust and insects pass through. Since this have been a hay-barn this makes sense, but now it’s mainly used as a car workshop and garage. The aim is to add this dust and light block surrounding the garage in the future. Many of the old boards needs to be replaced or painted anyway and it will be during this renovation process.

Applying boards to door
Applying boards to the door. The tar roll easily flies off with the draft and needs to be temporarily secured before the panels are fastened.

After the dust roll is applied. The panels can be nailed on. The most tedious process was to cut the boards to size and do all the measuring. This took maybe a couple of hours for the entire door. To secure the boards it is possible to use screws or nails. Both can be done with the aid of electric/air tools to save your hands, but here we used the old fashioned hammer and nails. When adding the panel to the door a minimum number of nails were used to just make them stick in position until all boards are attached.

When all were in place, the large nailing job could commence. This creates a lot of noise over a long time and I prefer using hearing protection to avoid ringing ears. The process was very tiring for both the arm and hand. After missing the head of the nail many times I got really bored. Next time I will use a nail gun like in the 21st century.

Painting

Painting were done in the classic barn red without the need of priming due to this kind of heavy paint. The painting was mostly done by the help of my brothers and was done in just a couple of hours while we created the door handle and roller system on the backside which aids in sliding the large door back and forth.

Painting the garage door
Painting the garage door with the help of my brothers.

The rollers were taken from a broken garage jack and fitted inside the frame og the door. The rollers then slide on the outside of the barn wall when opening and closing the door. The door handle was reused from the legs of a broken trampoline. It’s nice to reuse stuff like this for something usable. Also it’s in with the environmentally friendly times.

Garage door rollers
Garage door rollers, scrap from a broken garage jack.

It’s Finished!

Finally the garage door is finished and we don’t need to wait another year for part 3! I’m quite pleased with the result and am less daunted to make further improvements to the garage and the barn. Next on the agenda is fixing some rot in one of the barn corners. Also improving the floor with perhaps some concrete will be done next year, but first fixing the rot is more important now. Also large parts of the exterior need to be repainted as well as some changing of rotted boards. At some point the barn needs a new roof, since it’s quite rusty already.

Finished garage door
Finished garage door. The largest sliding door in the region?

Robs out!

Building a garage door from scratch – Part 1

Welcome the first real post from The Garage section. Here we will build a garage door from scratch on the old barn. The project turned out to be quite ambitious in both scale and time constraints, but was tons of fun! Many of us dream of the perfect garage space, but they are elusive and usually they need to be built. In this journey we try to at least improve the garage.

I appreciate the idea of having a door instead of a large gaping hole on the side of the barn. Just because it’s nice to be able to close the workshop during night and to shield against all the large beasts and animals, odd crooks or simply blowing leaves and other annoying natural phenomenon. It also provides an extra layer of “security”. However it is not intended to be a bank vault by any means!

Since it’s an old barn and not a standard garage with any standard measurements, a standard garage door kit will need tons of fitting and fiddling and will end up more expensive. Over here we like to keep to the DIY spirit and save some hard earned money meanwhile. The bonus is that we can keep the old barn look and get style points where a modern garage door would look completely out of place.

Initial opening in barn
The original look and no door whatsoever. The new board over the opening was put in place to make a reference line.

Preparation

A custom made solution will need some planning in order to succeed. In terms of making a building from scratch it usually means land surveying and a lot of leveling. However since the building is already here, it makes things a bit easier for us and we only need to measure on the building itself. Lets not mention the crookedness of this building! The dimensions of the door had to be decided. The plan ended up to make it as make it as big as possible! What about 5 meters wide and 2,7 meters tall? Even bigger than the existing opening, which means making a bigger hole. That way it will be possible to drive in two cars straight without issues. It can also fit quite tall cars, like a G-Wagon…

The most complicated function of the garage is some kind of opening mechanism. Due to the scale of the doors a swinging mechanism should be avoided to preserve space and sagging. The barn is around 12 meters wide and there is enough room for a sliding rail system, where the whole door can be pushed along the entire length of the barn. After some looking around for solutions , there was an offer for a set of rails and rollers for this purpose in a nearby warehouse. Perfect timing!

Blueprint of Garage door
Blueprint of Garage door and slide rail system.

The assembly was then drafted out on a blueprint so it’s easier to do the construction later on. This also gives an overview on the amount of material needed. From the blueprint we can see that 10 meters of rails and at least two rollers are needed. Roughly 110 meter of frame timber for the door as well as 40 meters of wide boards for supporting the rail system. The facing panels was not bought though, since we had some panels lying around the storage already. Unfortunately this turned out to not be enough and the reason why the job could not be completely finished this side of winter. Part 2 coming in the spring!

Cutting to make a bigger hole for the door
Cutting the edge to make the opening for the garage door bigger.
Materials ready for fabrication
Lots of material needed to be fabricated. The long beams are quite unwieldy at their full length!

Fabrication and construction

Fabrication here is preparing all the pieces so they can be fit together. Since we are using wood as primary building material, it usually consists of careful measurements and cutting boards with a saw. Often 45° cuts are needed, but since this is a square construction mostly 90° cuts were made which are faster to do. We used both a supported circular saw and a hand saw for smaller cuts. The fabrication is all about preparing the pieces for the skeleton frame of the door and preparing the rail system.

To start the outer frame was cut and put together, then the long horizontal beams. We used nails to secure the beams, but they drift out quite fast unless the frame is very rigid. So it needs to lie still on the ground until it’s more rigid. Some hammering on the sides was done at the end to drive in those moving nails.

Fabricating the garage door frame
Fabricating the garage door frame

Making a square frame without diagonal support will make the whole construction quite wiggly and flexible, so some diagonal support is needed. Normally they could go on the inside, but here there is very little room between the door and the wall with the sliding mechanism,. They are close to make snug fit. Then the diagonal beams have to be recessed into the the frame. This added at least another hour of work, but in the end it was totally worth it. It made the construction not able to flex and gave a flush finish needed for the wall clearance.

Then the horizontal beams had to be mounted. This required careful measurement between the horizontal beams and some tricky nailing. The nails can go straight in except the third beam, which needs nails driven in diagonally. Making the frame took around a full day including getting the timber early in the day.

Garage door frame finished
Garage door frame finished

With the frame finished, the sliding rail mechanism had to be built. The 10 meter sliding rail needed to be secured with angled brackets fastened with large bolts. The bolts are long and needed to go through 3 layers of wooden boards. So the full 10 meter length of the rail needed reinforcement boards, as well as making enough space for the garage door out from the wall itself.

Mounting and aligning the sliding rail mechanism was a long process which involved climbing up and down ladders while doing careful measurements to get the whole thing level. Rechecking and using the measuring tape often. It is very important to mark the center of a drilling hole clearly since few millimeter difference will not make the brackets aligned. It is important that the rail ends up exactly level so it won’s start sliding by itself or will be harder to push in one direction than the other.

The whole day consisted of making reinforcement boards in the front as well as on the backside. And everything had to be done from up on ladders, sometimes quite high. The sliding rail which is of galvanized steel, needed drilled holes for the mounting brackets. It was very laborious and you could not see as clearly a result as the previous frame fabrication, since the sliding mechanism consists of just some boards and bolts. The most funny thing was the amount of leg pain the day after from all the ladder climbing!

With the the sliding rail secured and the rollers mounted on the garage door frame, the frame could be now hanged up on the wall. The sliding rollers have a neat adjustment feature so the door can be either lowered or raised for fine tuning. It was very easy to get the door on the wall, but it’s definitely a two person job.

Door mounted on wall
Door hanged on the sliding rail finally

Panels and Painting

Well unfortunately we didn’t have enough panels for covering all the area of the door. So had to wrap up the job for this season. Winter was right around the corner when this was made. A temporary tarp was put over instead of panels just to keep out the weather. It’s already 100 times better than the large hole. In Part 2 we will wrap up with the finishing touches like the covering panels and painting. Maybe putting some hinges on and other small details.

Garage door frame and sliding mechanism finished
Garage door frame and sliding mechanism finished. Needs some facing of the door. As you might have noticed the door goes a bit too close to the ground. This is an issue in winter since ice will completely seal the door making it impossible to open. So the door needs to be raised a few centimeters off the ground.

All these building activities was done together with my Dad, so a proper applause should go to him for his expertise on building craftsmanship! A proper father and son activity for sure. The whole thing took around 3 days to complete.

Cheers, Robs out!

The Garage

Smarter, better, more love: The Garage 2.0

The Garage is the newest section over here at the page. So what’s all the fuzz about? Let me give you a little background story to the garage.

The car fixing on my part started in a very humble work space back in 2012. It was in an old barn without lights and without possibilities of closing doors so it was always exposed to the cold and wind. At least it was under a roof which makes things a lot easier, at least things don’t get wet.

Then is the issue about the floor, which was gravel and not asphalt or a concrete slab. And I had barely enough floor stone tiles to cover the area of the car. This was frustrating, but the most frustration was neither the cold or the lack of a flat ground surface. It was in fact the lighting. As the complexity of the work continues you start feeling the limits of the work space. It’s very dark without good lighting and tedious to move the work lights all the time. And when night comes it becomes pitch black outside the beam of the work lights making it hard to even find tools.

Even that said I managed to restore the 280CE and it was mostly throughout a single winter when I had a small gap in my studies. All done in the humble work space inside the simple barn.

In fact I am still am using the same barn now as the primary work space, but have slowly started to improve the premises since then. So far I’ve installed some lights, done some floor leveling and placed more stones tiles. The barn is very old and also in some need of repairs a few places. Some paint would not hurt either!

I want the garage to be an inspirational journey on how a DIY’er can turn a simple work space into a nice garage with a small budget and some effort. Already in the next article I have lined up, we will install a home made garage door which I’m pretty excited about.

Stay tuned until next time, Robs out!

Changing the Exhaust pipes in the w123 280CE

There was this annoying hole in the exhaust from last summer. It was the thin sheet under front muffler that had cracked and I had it welded just before the MOT last year. Unfortunately the job was poorly done by the workshop. Another lesson learned on why we should fix our own cars…. The fix ended up costing almost as much as the new pipes, so that was also dumb. On the very day before this summers epic 3000 km road trip of crossing Norway I had to change the entire exhaust system. The pressure was on to get it finished before the trip!

The poorly welded exhaust only got noticeable few weeks before the upcoming road trip, but another car was planned to be used so there was no pressure initially. Then because of circumstances it was decided to use the 280CE after all and the exhaust leak needed to be addressed asap. I decided to swap out all the pipes since some rust was starting to appear in the pipe welds and its easier to just swap the whole thing at once.

I ordered the exhaust less than two weeks before from Germany and it arrived two days before the road trip was starting. Just in time. It only costed me 500$ which I think is a bargain for a classic car! The quality also seems very good as well.

Welded front muffler w123
Poorly welded front muffler. Now junk.

Stage 1 – Getting the car up in the air

You need some good space to wrestle with the large exhaust system under the car. I drove the front of the car up on ramps then lifted the back of the car on jack stands so the whole body was up in the air. I leave the tires on for extra safety and don’t lover the jack either. Also make sure to block the front wheels from rolling on the ramps. I’m a fan of redundancy and here I even placed a couple of jack stands in the front which is kind of unnecessary, but makes it feel somehow safer.

Car on jack stands
Car up in the air. Potentially dangerous and safety should be on your mind. Here I have redundancy by leaving the jack in place and using redundant jack stands. Not recommended to be under the car during an earthquake…

Stage 2 – Removing the old pipes

This is usually the most time consuming job involving rusted fasteners and wrestling with stuck pipes. I was planning to only change the pipes up to the down pipes, since the down pipes are in a really good condition compared to the rest of the exhaust. The issue then become separating the down pipes from the pipes underneath the car.

exhaust clamps
Front exhaust clamps

I started removing the clamps for the front pipes and loosening the system from the transmission mount. Then unhooking the four rubber donuts from the rear muffler. To avoid too much stress on the pipes I placed something under the rear muffler for it to rest on, in this case a tree stub.

rear muffler 280ce
Rear muffler resting on a wood stub

Then the issue with sliding off the exhaust system from the down pipes. They were extremely stuck and you’re not able to twist them since it’s a pair of dual pipes. I was first trying to push them out with putting my entire weight with my legs and kicking. Then I tried heating the outer pipes with a heater torch. After a while struggling with no success and them not moving at all I had to make a drastic decision. I needed to cut them out without damaging the inner down pipes. This would mean the old exhuast would be trash, but it’s old and not worth much anyway.

cutting the exhaust pipes
Cutting the exhaust pipes.

In order to get the old outer pipe off, it needs to be split and then removed. It would be impossible to try pushing them off otherwise. I started by cutting the pipes across a few centimeters before the mating point. Here I used an angle grinder with a thin cutting disk for about half the way, then a manual cutting saw blade for the rest. A bit tedious, but will get the job done. The best would be to use a hack saw which is much safer than an angle grinder and faster than the manual saw. However I don’t have one. Maybe now it’s a time to acquire one?

exhaust pipes cut
Pipes are cut and also a slit is made lengthwise with an angle grinder. Care is taken to not cut all the way through to th einner time.

After the pipes were separated I could remove the old exhaust system. The old stubs of the outer pipes are just as stuck and a slit have to be cut down the middle and care have to taken in order to not damage the inner tubes. The only tool for this is an angle grinder. Watch out for sparks in your face!

Split the pipes
Split the pipes with a sharp punch and drive it in with a hammer. Eventually the metal will split. Use ear protection since it tends to be very loud.

When there is a slit along the length of the pipe I could use a punch with a sharp end and drive it into the slit until it grew larger and eventually the pipe will split along its entire length. Then it was super easy to remove the outer pipe.

Splitting pipes with a punch
Splitting the pipes with a punch. Super easy!

I was surprised of how effective it was, and it was sour that I wasted so much time trying to free the pipes with different methods before I ended up doing this. I was also surprised to find that there was essentially no rust that was binding up the pipes, instead it looked like the metal had expanded into each other and exhaust coke had made this kind of glue between them. Now that the old exhaust was removed, I could mount the new system on.

Stage 3 – Fitting the new pipes

This was the fastest part of the job. It was basically lining up the three exhaust part components, putting on the clamps and tighten them. When the full length is assembled I could slide it under and mount it to the down pipes. Don’t forget to slide on the clamps before joining the exhaust pipes.

Hangers different from old system
Shape of hangers different from the old system.

I found having some help with the assembly part is useful due to the quite heavy and large part that needs to be aligned, but also doable alone if you plan all the moves ahead in time.

The exhaust kit came with four new rubber donut muffler hangers. These rubber hangers crack at an incredibly fast rate due to the heat of the exhaust and they rarely lasts more than 1-2 years before they break.

New exhaust system
New muffler being very shining, almost looks fake.

Stage 4 – Road trip

Luckily I managed to sort it out the evening before and could leave the next day.The road trip went fine and went without issues all the 3000 km. The tail pipes of the new exhaust have a slightly different shape and the heat reaches the rear bumper a bit more making a subtle bluish tint on the chrome which is quite cool.

280CE in Lofoten

I have the habit of doing jobs in hurry lately where I needed to travel shortly afterwards. Unfortunately this introduces a lot of stress and takes the joy out of fixings cars a bit. I need to plan better indeed.

Cheers, Robs out.