Custom Bifold Door Delivers Both Quality and Access for Wood Hangar

Custom design and after-sale support prove key to successful application on Canadian home builder's new wood hangar

The hangar has a Schweiss Doors 55' x 19.5' liftstrap/autolatch door. Five strong liftstraps open the door. When fully open there is plenty of headroom and the door provides a shaded canopy.
The hangar has a Schweiss Doors 55' x 19.5' liftstrap/autolatch door. Five strong liftstraps open the door. When fully open there is plenty of headroom and the door provides a shaded canopy.

Gary Acheson owns a custom home building business and recently finished his family’s new 6,000 sq.-ft. wood hangar at the Villeneuve Airport at St. Albert, Alberta, a community of 64,000 residents about 6.5 miles (10 kilometers) north of Edmonton. Acheson has been a private pilot for about 20 years and has two sons-in-law with about 10 years in the air. The hangar currently houses Acheson's four-passenger Mooney Acclaim and Cessna 182T Skylane, plus a friend occasionally stores a Cessna Citation. 

The hangar is modern with an attached office and lounge with comfortable seating, LED lighting throughout, in-floor heatin and high R-value blown-in insulation in the walls and attic. The office and pilots’ lounge have comfortable seating and include a Cirrus II flight simulator and other electronic equipment. 

“I have a simulator room on one side and a lounge on the other side,” Acheson says. “The simulator is for the Mooney. We use it to keep us sharp and safe.”

The hangar also features a custom-made Schweiss Doors bifold liftstrap door with autolatches and is equipped with warning lights and horns, as well as an emergency backup system. The door measures 55' x 19.6'.

Undoing the Damage

The door was delivered in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the independent shipping company that delivered it damaged the door to the extent it wasn’t reparable. Even though the bifold liftstrap door wasn’t delivered by Schweiss, company CEO Mike Schweiss went the extra step toward customer satisfaction.

“Nothing to do with Schweiss, but everything wasn’t rosy with respect to the door from the beginning,” Acheson says. “What had happened was half the door got damaged in shipment. When it was on the truck, it was all bowed out. The top of it couldn’t even be repaired in the field.

On both sides of the Acheson hangar is an office and a lounge. Within is a Cirrus II simulator room that Gary Acheson and his two son-in-law pilots use to keep them safe.On both sides of the Acheson hangar is an office and a lounge. Within is a Cirrus II simulator room that Gary Acheson and his two son-in-law pilots use to keep them safe."I was very impressed how Schweiss handled that negative. They recognized it wasn’t right and sent us a new half of the door," he explains. "The point that I want to make is that [they] listened, the assessment was fair and the response was quick. What impressed me about Schweiss Doors, too - it is a family-fun business, like ours.”

Family means a lot to Acheson, who runs his business with his wife, two daughters and sons-in-law. Sarasota Homes and Sarasota Realty purchase undeveloped land to build and sell homes on the development.

Even though the hangar is a new wood building, Acheson chose to have a freestanding header for the door because of the extra support it offers. The door also came with liner flashing to make installing the inside liner easy. Acheson and his son-in-law chose to install the door and freestanding header themselves, taking their time over a period of a few cold December days. The process went smoothly from start to finish.

“There was nobody local that could install the door,” Acheson says. “So, what I ended up doing was reading the instructions." The manuals were good, but when questions came up, Acheson was able to call the supplier and get the after-sale support needed.

The freestanding header proved key to the wood construction. It made the system work well and solved a lot of engineering problems. “The thought process and mechanical aptitude to create the autolatch and strap system was quite ingenious. I’m very happy with the door... good quality," says Acheson.

Homework Pays Off

There’s room in the hangar for this Cessna 421 in addition to the two planes owned by Acheson.There’s room in the hangar for this Cessna 421 in addition to the two planes owned by Acheson.Acheson did his online homework before choosing the custom bifold doors.

“I took a long time looking at all different types of doors,” he says. “I found the Schweiss door to be reasonably priced and there were a lot of good things on the website that helped me in designing the building itself. The ‘How To’ videos helped me understand what to do and how the door system would work on my building overall. That’s important to know how the doors tie into different types of construction.

Acheson chose the bifold door over a hydraulic door because he felt it would have less lateral stress outward on the building. "Obviously, snow is also an issue where we can open up the door right away and get the equipment out," he adds. 

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