Build Your Own Hangar Doors

Not finding any commercial doors to his like or budget, Nolan Bradbury built his own.

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Translucent plastic panels are cut from 12-foot sheets of Suntuf, a durable polycarbonate material that is often used for greenhouses.

Like many young boys, I became interested in airplanes at an early age. I built quite a few model aircraft over the years. As I got older, one thing lead to another and about 20 years ago, I built a Challenger II kit airplane. After finishing that project and flying off the first 40 hours, I used a hangar that belonged to the EAA Chapter I’m a member of. But I soon realized a hangar of my own was a must.

I built a 32x40x12-foot metal hangar. Living in upstate New York in the winter, I soon realized that a hangar door was also a must. Upon pricing commercial hangar doors, I learned that I couldn’t buy what I wanted for much less than $9,000; so after researching all kinds of doors and reading everything I could get my hands on, I decided to build my own.

Living on Oneida Lake in upstate New York, author keeps his Challenger II on floats in the summer and skis during the winter.

DIY

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I own a marina and as winter is my slow time of year, I spent most of it building the doors.

It was a learn-as-you-go project that turned out great. The design consists of multiple doors that hang from an overhead steep track. I built a jig to be sure the doors turned out straight and square. My hangar opening is 39 feet wide and 12 feet high, so I figured the sizes and made six doors for each side. I used 2x4s and glued gussets on all corners, using two 6-inch nails in each joint, as shown in the drawing.

Individual doors are stitched together with common butt hinges, four per joined door.

I built a header to go across the hangar opening and beefed it up for added strength. I then installed a barn door track (purchased at Tractor Supply Co.) on the inside of that, so the doors would fold inside.

I then put one double set of rollers (also purchased at Tractor Supply Co.) on every other door. This allowed them to fold together so that they all pushed to each side. Each door has four hinges 3.5×2 inches, which I purchased at Home Depot for $1 each. The hinges that attach to the end wall have to be much bigger. After I finished building the doors, I put on a redwood stain and sealer before I hung them. I framed a doorway out of one of the twelve door frames to form a personnel door, to be able to go in and out without opening the whole set of doors.

With a southern exposure, even winter sun will raise the hangar’s temperature by 20 to 30 degrees.

Solar Option

After getting the doors all together, erected and working, I had to think about what to cover them with. I considered using steel, but then I discovered 12-foot sheets of clear plastic at Home Depot, originally made for greenhouses. The clear plastic is a corrugated polycarbonate called Suntuf and is virtually unbreakable. In fact, it has a lifetime limited warranty. The website is www.PalramAmericas.com. This plastic is nice to work with and can be cut with tin shears. They make three different grades. I used 20 sheets of the top-grade material at $30 a sheet.

The clear plastic allows the light to come in, making the inside nice and bright. My hangar faces almost due south, so that the sun shines in during winter, heating the entire hangar about 20 to 30 degrees warmer than outside. I plan to insulate it, which will make it even warmer. I also like to start my tomato plants in the hangar. They love the warm sunshine. Had great tomatoes last year. In conclusion, when all was said and done, the hangar doors cost me approximately $2,000.

Door frames are made from 2x4s fastened with six-inch stainless-steel nails. For additional strength, eighth-inch plywood gussets are glued and nailed at each corner. Butt hinges allow the doors to fold together.

Nolan Bradbury lives in upstate New York on Oneida Lake, where he operates a marina.

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