Hydraulic vs. Bifold
Hydraulic and bifold barn doors in modern wooden farm buildings require special design
considerations. Build the door too wide and too high, and it still might be too
small. So think BIG! Bigger is proving better when specifying the size of
doors in farm shops and machine sheds. "Schweiss has never had a customer
come back and say the door we installed was too big."
It boils down to this: When planning your new shop and door package, you're better off going too big, than too small. We simply say, "Do it right the first time."
Today's aggressive farmers are definitely going for bigger doors. We hear from farmers throughout the country, "Our shed doors are 24' wide but now we need a door to accommodate the new combine head we are about to purchase." Another common statement, "When we come home from the field, we want to be able to drive the combine directly into our shop."
"We often talk with customers planning on purchasing a new piece of equipment and trying to size their new door for that particular piece of farm equipment. But that's where we want to get everyone thinking outside the box and into the future. Before you know it, a few years have gone by and that new piece of equipment shows up...larger than you ever figured. So we want customers to have the same mindset...drive home from the field, pull up to the shop door, touch your remote button and drive on in. Design your pole-shed door for the future! That's our message.'
If someone is telling you "there may not be any need for a reinforcing
header or structural bracing," be aware. As we all know, all buildings are
not the same. Today wooden buildings come in many different designs, and
every company is claiming they have the best. That's the time to ask some
important questions such as 1) "Have you ever built a building using a
large bifold or One-Piece hydraulic door?" or 2) Does the building company
beef up your building to accommodate a door for the large opening? Or 3) Is
the building company providing any extra structural reinforcement to the
building to carry the load of the door? 4) Is your builder following the
door manufacturer's specs?
Your door very likely will be the largest piece of moving equipment on your building The building structure must support the door in all positions. Each style and size of door has different reactions, and the loads it applies to the wooden structure. We've found that while some buildings initially cost less than others, here is what's really important: "Is the building package built to accommodate the size and door type of your choice?"
Your doors should be specified early in the planning process, so building designers can incorporate adequate reinforcing. Schweiss will work with you, your architects, and your contractors or building supplier to ensure a perfect fit in your building. We supply door weights, engineering data, windload specifications, and design specifications to make certain that you have all the necessary information needed for the design of your pole building or frame shed to accept the Schweiss door of your choice. This information will insure a smooth and safe installation.
Every door designed by Schweiss furnishes the building contractor/door owner a complete set of "Door Specs." When considering big garage doors for farm shops or machine sheds, you have four basic options: 1) sliding doors; 2) sectional overhead doors; 3) bifold doors; and 4) the new 'one-piece' hydraulic doors that hinge at the very top. Sliding doors were common for machine sheds in the past, but they are questionable choices for shop doors. Why? Because sliding doors are high maintenance...and if you insulate and line the inside of the shop door, you add weight which makes them heavier to open and close, and puts more stress on their hardware. Often snow and ice are challenges too. Sectional overhead doors have been used in farm shops for decades. Again, with sectional overhead doors weight has become an issue, as farm equipment and shop door openings have grown larger.
"Those heavier sections require stronger, heavier rails, so everything gets bulkier and more expensive." With sectional overhead doors, you are limited in width, as big sectional overhead doors reduce vertical clearances in buildings because of the heavier tracks and bracing needed to support the extra weight. There are "low headroom" track systems that often require complicated opening systems. When installing this style door, especially in shop pole buildings, the door in the open position obstructs/blocks ceiling lighting. Pole buildings have eight feet between trusses so builders must add blocking and supports in the ceiling for the tracks and openers.
Needing a larger door, and you're probably looking at some sort of bifold, or one-piece hydraulic door. Mike Schweiss, founder of Schweiss Bifold Doors, says, "Width isn't an issue for us. Thirty-two foot wide doors used to be common. We're putting in a lot of 40-footers now, and the aggressive guys are going to 50-foot doors. The biggest door we've built so far is 130-feet wide.
There are many door options to retrofit your pole buildings. If the door is beyond the roof line, custom cutting the corners of the door will make your building look nicer and give you more headroom. If you want to open the whole end wall of your building up, running columns up and above or adding on to the existing posts to make sure you won’t lose any headroom is available. If you are short of headroom on a older building, one option is to extend your wood or steel columns and put your header up and above. A round roof building can be modified to hold a bifold or hydraulic door to stay within the roofline. Another possible option is the open the entire endwall to gain width and height. Sidewall doors can also be added.
The building’s structural design must be capable of handling loads of the Bifold or Hydraulic door that could exert stress on your door header, endwall and building. The customer and building manufacturer are responsible to ensure the building’s structural design can carry the door.
On an existing building, using a freestanding header is a good way to create a clean, flat, flush surface to attach a door to. The free standing header gives extra strength and provides a nice straight and level place to attach your door. This works great on older buildings. The cost savings in both labor and materials is a trade-off.
Freestanding Headers are built from 4”x4” 11 gauge tubes; two tubes across the full width, two legs and base plates. Larger member sizes are needed for larger free standing headers. With a free standing header, the header is delivered pre-welded, but you must weld both of the legs on in the field
Traditionally some pole barns have sliding doors. Sliding doors are a cheaper answer to the problem, but there are many problems to be considered. They don’t keep out critters, dust, dirt, and weather. In the winter the doors could get frozen. Sliding doors would not be a good choice to store valuable items. Using a sliding door on a daily basis can be a lot of work to latch and slide for every open and close, and the bigger the door the heavier it gets.
Terry Ahlbrecht farms near Hector, MN recently put up an 80'x 150' pole
building for machine storage, with an eye to using it as a shop in the
future. He installed two, 50' x 18' bifold doors on opposite ends of the
building, to provide drive-through maneuverability. He started out wanting a
big bifold and a smaller door, but it was about the same money for two big
doors. Schweiss offers discounts if they can build and deliver two doors to
the same jobsite. Bifold doors require only 24 inches of headroom; can be
insulated to R-values equal to the sidewalls of building, and use a variety
of lift mechanisms. Ahlbrecht's doors use lift straps, rather then steel
cables. "If the door has a cable system and accidentally comes down on a
piece of equipment sitting in the doorway, the cable "birdnests" like a
fishing reel, and it's a mess to get it untangled," he says. Ahlbrecht went
on, "Aside from not getting tangled, I like the lift straps because as the
strap wraps around the spool, the radius of the spool increases so the door
opens faster. So the door lifts slowly close to the floor, then moves
faster as it moves to the wide open position.
The One-Piece hydraulic door design is another alternative. Hydraulic doors are designed to swing out, requiring zero headroom. They're basically a wall hinged at the top that swings open. These single panel doors have one set of hinges across the top of the doorframe. The Schweiss One-Piece hydraulic door comes prehung, is watertight, easy to operate with the push of a button, easy to install, easy to insulate, and swings out providing a canopy when the door is in the open position.
Powered by a powerful hydraulic pump, two heavy-duty cylinders activate the One-Piece hydraulic doorframe. The hydraulic pump can be conveniently located away from the door opening to keep the clean look and a quiet operation.
Hydraulic doors require no loss of headroom so retrofitting to existing structures can help you gain additional overhead clearance required to utilize your pole barn's full clearance opening. This is a real money saver! Schweiss, the industry leader in custom designed doors, offer choices when it comes to selecting doors for your equipment storage, farm shop and other farm buildings. Our One-piece hydraulics are a second option.
Look for quality, look for price, you'll buy Schweiss.