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"When I built my 64-ft. wide, 96-ft. long machine shed a few years ago I wanted a big 56-ft. wide opening on one end, without any obstructions. Commercial bi-fold doors to cover that space would've cost at least $15,000. I saved a lot of money by making my own electric roll-up door, using flexible heavy duty screening material which I got free from a paper mill," says Fraser Summers, Fonthill, Ontario.
The door measures 56 ft. wide by 19 ft. high and is raised and lowered by a silo unloader winch that's hooked up to a 1 hp electric motor.
The screening came in a 27-ft. wide roll. He cut off three sections and overlapped them to fit the width of the opening. He nailed the top of each screen section to a wood header across the opening of the shed. A large diameter plastic pipe attaches to the bottom of the screens. A cable at one end of the pipe is wrapped both ways around the pipe. Part of the cable runs up over a pair of pulleys at the top of the opening and back down to the winch and motor, which are mounted on the side of the shed about 4 ft. off the ground. The other part of the cable comes down and is anchored to the ground.
To open or close the door, Summers simply presses a reversible switch on the motor.
"It isn't as air-tight as commercial doors, but it stops wind, snow, and rain and was very inexpensive to make. My total cost was less than $500," says Summers, who made the door two years ago. "It takes a couple of minutes to raise and lower the door. It would open faster if we had used bigger pulleys but the slow speed isn't a problem.
"The screen is a good, strong material that's somewhat like a heavy window screen. It doesn't rip easily but is easy to cut. However, it isn't very rigid. The first winter the screens bellowed in and out with the wind. We solved the problem by putting a round bale on each side of the door at both ends to help keep the door steady. The door drops down between the bales. Also, we leave the door up a foot or so to let some air move in and out so there isn't as much strain on the door. I think the same idea would work with turkey barn curtains and possibly other types of plastic sheetings.
"If we could do it over we'd probably buy the screen all in one piece instead of putting up three sections and overlapping them. We made the door 19 ft. high because we need that much height to dump bales off our automatic stack wagon. However, we usually don't have to put the door up to the full height. We can stop the door any place we want.
"The cable is wrapped in both directions around the pipe so that it always stays tight and doesn't slip and bunch up."
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