Tag Archives: Hangar

Hangar Door Controls

I’ve been building a door for my hangar.  The door has been installed in the opening.  Now I have to finish installing the mechanical and electrical components that make it work.

The winch to the left is used to pull on the locking cable.  The motor and gearbox turn the main shaft.  The box to the right is the where the limit switches are located.
The winch to the left is used to pull on the locking cable. The motor and gearbox turn the main shaft. The box to the right is the where the limit switches are located.

The motor is a reversible 2HP 220VAC single phase motor.  It has a brake installed between it and the right angle gearbox.  The gearbox has two shafts.  I used both shafts and two ANSI 60 chains.  When I did the load calculations on the chain it came out to be right at the maximum for an ANSI 60 sized chain so I went ahead and used two.  If those chains break the door comes crashing down so I didn’t want to risk it.

I couldn’t find any limit switches that I liked that didn’t cost $700.  I wanted to have two sets because if one set fails and the door continues to open, really bad things will happen.  The controls are set up so that one set of limit switches go into the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) as inputs and are the primary way to stop the door at each end of it’s travel.  The other set of switches are set just further up and down than the first set and they are wired directly into the motor control circuit.  This way, if the PLC fails or one of these limit switches fail then the motor will still stop.

Limit switch enclosure
Limit switch enclosure

The limit switches work by turning a couple of Acme thread lead screws that have a two nuts on them.  I welded a washer on the nuts that I cut grooves into.  These grooves ride on the small aluminum angle pieces and this keeps them from turning.  I can make very fine adjustments to this by pulling the aluminum angles out and turning the nuts.  One of the nuts is the down limit the other is the up limit.  The turning of the screw causes the nuts to move back and forth and actuate the small lever switches on each side.

 

These are the chains and sprockets that drive the limit switch mechanism.
These are the chains and sprockets that drive the limit switch mechanism.

The limit switch lead screws rotate from sprockets that are attached to the main shaft.

The PLC is in the upper left, the main motor contactor is on the lower right.  Most of the relays are for lights.
The PLC is in the upper left, the main motor contactor is on the lower right. Most of the relays are for lights.

The main control panel controls the hangar lights and the door motor.  It uses a small Automation Direct PLC.  There are open/close buttons on the front of this panel and it also has the capability of interfacing with a keypad and a remote control.  I can open and close the door from the cockpit of my plane as I taxi up.  It’s pretty cool.  The PLC has a couple of communication ports on it for programming and for communication to other devices.  I used one to talk to a touchscreen that is near the walk in door of the hangar so that I can open and close the door from the entry door.  It’s a bit spoiled I know, but since this is the kind of thing that I do for a living I thought I should make the controls a little bit over the top.

I can control the door and the hangar lights from this touchscreen.
I can control the door and the hangar lights from this touchscreen.

I can also turn on the lights in the hangar from this touchscreen.  There are four banks of lights in the hangar.  I don’t always want all four banks on since I may only be working in one corner of the hangar so I can individually control them.  I had extra outputs on the PLC so I figured why not control the lights too.  This will give me the ability to control the lights from home at some point too.  Having the door computer controlled gives me lots of options on how to manage it.

This shows partially open.
This shows partially open.

Once I got everything installed I slowly opened the door a bit at a time and made sure that everything was working / holding.  It took a bit of fiddling to get the limit switches set and the tension on the straps set right.  Overall it works pretty well.

The open door.
The open door.

This turned out to be a much bigger project than I ever imagined.  It seems simple enough just looking at one but like most projects, the devil is in the details.  It’s nice to finally have my plane in a home of it’s own without a big hole in one wall.

 

 

Bifold Hangar Door

I’ve always wanted to own my own hangar.  I put it off for many years until I could afford to do what I wanted.  I didn’t want to settle on something that was too small, too far away or not built properly.  I was finally able to do that but I was not happy with any of the hangar door options that I had so I decided to build my own door.

Bottom panel of the door up on sawhorses for paint
Bottom panel of the door up on sawhorses for paint

The door is going be a bi-fold door.  This is the kind of hangar door that is suspended from the top and opens upward by bending outward in the middle.  The dimensions of the opening are 60′ wide by 16′ tall.  It’s made mostly of 2″ x 2″ square tubing.  There is some 1-1/2″ x 2″ and some 2″ x 3″ tubing as well.  I laid it all out on the floor of the hangar.  This was less than optimal since my airplane was stuck back in the corner of a hangar that had a very large hole in one end of it for several months.  I also elected to work on the door before doing the electrical work.  This was also a mistake since I did most of this work during the winter months and it get’s dark very early so I couldn’t do any work after work.  Had I done the lights in the hangar before building I would have been done sooner with both.  Once I got started on the door I couldn’t really do the lights because the door was in the way, so I was stuck.

Anyway, a 60′ x 16′ door turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I thought.  It didn’t look that big on paper.  It was a lot of welding.  The worst part was getting it up off the floor to paint.  I had to enlist the help of the neighbors several times to lift each panel and to turn it over.

Both door panels painted and ready to go up.
Both door panels painted and ready to go up.

It was too big of a door for me to install myself so I hired the same company that built the building to come back and hang it.

Lower panel of the door in place.
Lower panel of the door in place.

Once the door panels were up I had to hurry and get the straps and cables put in.  It worked out okay because the company that was putting it up for me had another job that had to be done so it gave me time to install the lift straps and the cables.  I could have done this after the sheet metal was put on but it was much easier to do without the sheet metal.

 

Door panels installed with the lifting straps attached.
Door panels installed with the lifting straps attached.
Another view of the door panels with straps
Another view of the door panels with straps

Once I was done with that the installers came back and put on the sheet metal.

Most of the sheet metal installed on the door.
Most of the sheet metal installed on the door.

 

Installation Done
Done

The door is installed in the building with the sheet metal and insulation complete.  Now it’s up to me to install the motor, shafting, electrical and the rest of the odd and end bits that make it move.  Stay tuned.