Southern Man

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Southern Man vs the Garage Door

Southern Man and gf are up to their necks in repairing and remodeling the house (it's sort of the same thing) and part of the problem is that the 16' door in the detached garage hasn't budged in, oh, several years. And the accumulation that has built up behind that door has reached the status of a small mountain. It turns out that gf is something of a tool and furniture junkie. Not to mention the dozens of pieces of oak trim that she plans to use in the house and huge pile of vinyl siding that's destined to go on the outside of said detached garageand the rolls and rolls and rolls of wallpaper and the replacement insert for the fireplace and the new bathtub and... So, there's hardly any way to move around in that garage, much less find anything that's there or cram anything else in (a necessity, as the house has also built up quite an accumulation of stuff over the past several years). Progress has been made: one of the three bedrooms has been emptied, repainted, trimmed, and converted into Southern Man's study (thank you, gf!) and a second (destined to be the girl's bedroom) is partially cleared out and partially painted. But we are stalled - there is simply no place to where stuff can be moved to finish that second bedroom, much less tackle the master bedroom and the master bathroom and the hall bathroom and the dining room and the kitchen and the living area and the laundry room, all of which are piled from floor to ceiling with furniture and boxes and bins and get the picture. Actually, you don't. Believe me, you don't. But trust me when I say that clearing out and organizing the garage is our only hope of getting this house into a state in which it can actually be occupied, short of just burning it down and starting over somewhere else.

But I digress. Back to the garage door. The frugal Southern Man and his equally frugal gf decided to save a few hundred bucks and purchase a used garage door. This was a mistake. To start with, "used" means "I'm tired of dealing with this damn door, so we're getting another one." Well, actually, in this case "used" means "the least beat up panels and hardware selected from various damn doors that other people got tired of dealing with." One of the panels was a different style than the others and was fit with an extra few inches of trim to make it fit. None of the panels had matching paint, so we spent hours and hours and hours grinding the old paint off the doors. We used the money "saved" to purchase a used compressor (which worked great) and a new spray gun (which we never did master) and ended up painting the doors by hand. During this process we found that all of the panels were damaged in some way or another. But after three long days the door was painted. And they did look pretty nice.

The old door came down fairly easily; Southern Man worked his way to the back of the door and somehow carved out enough space to dismember the thing from behind. Now while we noted that the "new" door was in far from new condition, that old door looked like it had been run over by a semi three or four times, then dropped off the roof of a tall office building. The side rails were barely attached - Southern Man was able to pull one of the off the wall with one hand. Then we spent a day pulling stuff out of the garage to create a work space, so the front yard looked like we were holding a rummage sale. And like all of the projects in this house, things got more complicated the deeper we got into it. In this case, the drywall on the inside of the garage was in such poor condition that Southern Man ended up pulling it all down and replacing it with plywood. This took the better part of a day, but gf was pleased. Then Southern Man installed the rails (one of which had to be beat back into shape) - and then we did all of the aforementioned grinding and painting, so the garage was actually left open for several nights running, with all this stuff piled in the driveway to boot. We slept in the camper one night just to keep an eye on things.

But finally the door was painted and ready to install, which Southern Man ended up doing more or less by himself. It wasn't as difficult as one might have thought; the panels weren't that heavy and Southern Man has done a garage door or two in the past. And finally after a relatively easy morning's work the door was up.

Well, "up" in the sense that "the panels were assembled and attached to the rails." Before the door could actually be "up" Southern Man would have to deal with his first torsion spring. Fortunately he had been reading up on such every evening for a week and was ready to install and wind that spring. But there were a few problems. First off, the spring was intended to go one way and the mounting plate another, so Southern Man had to re-engineer that part of the hardware. And then remember that extra piece of trim that made the door a few inches taller? Well, "a few inches taller" meant "won't clear the spring" so Southern Man had to re-engineer yet again. But the third time was the charm, at least in the sense that the door would, in theory, clear the spring when raised.

And now came the time to wind that spring, a procedure fraught with peril (or at least according to the dire warnings on the many web pages on spring winding). Southern Man had already procured the winding rods (a single 36" rod that he had the local home store cut in half for him, which was done with much sweating and cursing by the unlucky chap who happened to be working the tool desk at that time) and the actual process wasn't that difficult. So the spring was wound and it came time to see if the door would lift.

The door came up easily enough. And the lift cables promptly came off. And thus began a long, hot, frustrating afternoon of unwinding and respooling and resetting and winding and retesting, over and over and over again. But the deed was finally done and the door was run all the way up and down several times, much to gf's delight. And gf's choice of paint color compliments the house quite nicely and her extra work to add some colorful touches to the door looks terrific.

Thus ended a frustrating full week of dealing with that garage door. Next week Southern Man will deal with the actual contents of the garage. But that will be another story.


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