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Thread: Gate openers?

  1. #1
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    Gate openers?

    I have never installed one. However in have repaired gate that have the installed. Do they cause failure?

    One gate I repaired was a frame I built. The opener was installed. I got a call some time later that the gates were not closing. I checked it out and since the gates frames were going up and touching at the bottom , I surmised the opener was the culprit it was not installed properly. So I charged for modification.

    Last week I repaired one where the opener was installed on the middle of the gate frame. The actuator was ripped from the 2x2x11g tubing. It was not a weld failure . it was a fatigue issue, noted by the plug of metal ripped from the tube and the flex ripples This particular gate stopped against a magnetic stop when closed and rested against the house when open. It took me 3 attempts to get it adjusted properly. I suspect the failure came because the have was landing (at house and magnet) before the actuator was fully extended cause flex and eventual failure. I was able to lighten the touch against the magnet and eliminate contact with the house. The gate looked like quality work.

    Seems like those linear type actuators oppose the natural arc motion at the beginning of their motion? Seems like failure is probable at the weakest point?

  2. #2
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    Re: Gate openers?

    There's a number of threads here on gates. I can't speak too much about failures, and have never fabricated a gate in the past.

    It is on my list of projects as I'm building a shop/home on a piece of undeveloped property I have and a gate is on the list.

    I have done some research and it breaks down to a couple different styles, either the swing type or the sliding type. I'm going to be building the sliding type most likely, although that can change. They are mostly done on cantilevered gates.

    I have seen 2 types of openers, one is a rack 'n pinion where a rack is attached to the cantilever gate and opens/closes it. The other style is the chain type where chains are attached to each end of the gate and the motor opens/closes the gate depending on which direction it is going.

    I'm leaning towards the rack 'n pinion style, but it is slightly more difficult to install from what I understand, it seems to operate smoother, IMO.

    One very common brand is the Aleko, here's their website:

    https://www.alekoproducts.com/

    Another common brand is the Mighty Mule, here is their website:

    https://www.mightymule.com/

    I just started to research this, but this is what I've learned so far. You can buy both of these brands at Home Depot, AFAIK.

    Both come in a variety of electrical or solar.

  3. #3
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    Re: Gate openers?

    I've installed a few mainly the prosumer... Aka... home Depot/Sears/etc....
    Like you I had to modify the gates with added fatigue protection because of how they operated...the newer mighty mule openers have added a soft start feature that will help with preventing fatigue... But not eliminate it especially on heavier gates, a lot of the issues are how guys weld up the mounts for the openers... And more to the point...where they located the mounts

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  5. #4
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    Re: Gate openers?

    This one had soft start. It was a beast. No safety provision to stop it once in motion. It would only reverse from the closing action. Operated nonstop in the open position. Hope no dogs rest behind it.

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    Re: Gate openers?

    I've installed well over a hundred openers through the years and of several brands. Apollo was always my pick until Nice bought them out and started to change things. My own opener is an Apollo and has been in service for well over 20 years with no problems. The first opener I installed was an Apollo and it's still in service after 27 years. I've gone to USAutomatic and have been pleased with them so far. The Mighty Mules are just junk in my opinion and while I know of a few that have lasted several years, most don't.

    Installing them to last does require the gate to be very level through out it's swing, some times very hard to do depending on post. The strain on both the gate and the post attachment is extreme if you think about it. The Apollos were pulling from 13" out from the post. Try pulling the gate open by hand at that angle and you will find it is almost impossible. I usually only use 14 ga. for my gates and have never had one tear out like tapwelder saw on his job.

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  9. #6
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I've gone to USAutomatic and have been pleased with them so far.
    Would you recommend the USAutomatic as being about the best on the market these days?

    I only need one and it will be for my own home.

    Also, looks like they only have one slider model and possibly chain only. Have you used any of the rack/pinion type or do you stick with chain on a slider type?

  10. #7
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    Re: Gate openers?

    I've only used chain but have had no problems out of any of them. They were all Apollo; This one has been in about 15 years now. The thing that makes them much harder is they need a very good. solid place to attach the rail that they run on. I usually dig about an 8 x 8" trench across the gate opening and pour it with concrete.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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  12. #8
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I've only used chain but have had no problems out of any of them. They were all Apollo; This one has been in about 15 years now. The thing that makes them much harder is they need a very good. solid place to attach the rail that they run on. I usually dig about an 8 x 8" trench across the gate opening and pour it with concrete.
    A lot of the systems we have been working with lately are fully cantilevered chain drive.. best of both worlds!!! no need for a good patch across entry, just put in some gargantuan posts and you're good to go

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  14. #9
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    Re: Gate openers?

    We don't always get to use the material we want. I've never done a cantilever gate as most people just don't like the look.

  15. #10
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Here is my set up...uses a GTO...mighty Mulé now for 11 years.

    I would not buy there stuff again...it works fine...but gets a bit finicky once in a while now that it is older. Plus, at this point they don’t sell parts anymore...sooo...

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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmstrong View Post
    Here is my set up...uses a GTO...mighty Mulé now for 11 years.

    I would not buy there stuff again...it works fine...but gets a bit finicky once in a while now that it is older. Plus, at this point they don’t sell parts anymore...sooo...
    As I have told you, that's an AWESOME looking gate! That's also an amazing driveway! Is the gate fully cantilevered?

    EDIT: maybe the GTO is a swing gate...
    Last edited by TraditionalToolworks; 05-30-2020 at 01:03 AM.

  18. #12
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmstrong View Post
    Here is my set up...uses a GTO...mighty Mulé now for 11 years.

    I would not buy there stuff again...it works fine...but gets a bit finicky once in a while now that it is older. Plus, at this point they don’t sell parts anymore...sooo...

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    I wouldn't use their stuff either... but... when building for residential they(the customer) dictate how much and what they want unfortunately now when it comes to the industrial/commercial we can use better openers and full cantilever gates are where it's at!!! All the newer warehouses are going to them no hassles with exposed track issues which ALWAYS happen at these types of places... the insurance co's are setting the standards that property owners are having to comply with so there will be more and more of these installs as they want 100 percent access control - no more little swing arm thingies or gates that get stuck and inop for days at a time.

  19. #13
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    I wouldn't use their stuff either... but... when building for residential they(the customer) dictate how much and what they want unfortunately now when it comes to the industrial/commercial we can use better openers and full cantilever gates are where it's at!!! All the newer warehouses are going to them no hassles with exposed track issues which ALWAYS happen at these types of places... the insurance co's are setting the standards that property owners are having to comply with so there will be more and more of these installs as they want 100 percent access control - no more little swing arm thingies or gates that get stuck and inop for days at a time.
    ronsii,

    What type of opener would you recommend for a cantilever gate?

    How much would it cost for an industrial/commercial opener (approx 16'-20') and what type of lifespan could one expect?

  20. #14
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    ronsii,

    What type of opener would you recommend for a cantilever gate?

    How much would it cost for an industrial/commercial opener (approx 16'-20') and what type of lifespan could one expect?
    The most expensive one you can afford

    usually an opening that size will run ~60k... rough guess depends on a lot of things

  21. #15
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    The most expensive one you can afford

    usually an opening that size will run ~60k... rough guess depends on a lot of things
    Ok, that's gonna be a no-go for me.

    Can I get something decent in the $2k range? Something that won't fall apart in in 5 years of light use?

    I'd like to find something I won't need to be working on every 4 months. I'm thinking to possibly go without an opener to start, and just invest in solid materials to build the gate. I will need to figure out what type of hardware I will use for rollers to slide on. I will most likely go cantilever, although not cast in stone, that's the way I'm leaning. Even if I go without an opener to start, I definitely want to have one.

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  23. #16
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    I will need to figure out what type of hardware I will use for rollers to slide on. I will most likely go cantilever, although not cast in stone, that's the way I'm leaning. Even if I go without an opener to start, I definitely want to have one.
    I'll try to find a couple picks of the slider that I built my mom 23 years ago, I just took it down last week as am moving her in with me (shes had a stroke last year) that gates 600lbs covered a 20' opening and no opener it woulda been easy to add a chain opener but... it opened so easy by hand she never wanted the hassle of one.. it ran on an inverted angle iron set atop an 8"x8" concrete path rolling on the steel wheels below

    https://www.amazon.com/RWM-Casters-V...0842065&sr=8-3

  24. #17
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    Re: Gate openers?

    I have seen plenty of MM operators last more then 5 years... have also seen plenty of them fail at ~1 years... usually it's a electronics failure and some of them are from improper install. Have also seen plenty of liftmaster electronics failures sometimes it's just a hall effect or photo op board that goes out and 20-30 bux ebay and you're back in business... other times the whole logic board goes south and you might as well buy a new opener... after all most this 'con-sumer' stuff is disposable

    Even the better operators don't really have that great of electronics unless you step up to the good high end stuff like hysecurity with the hydraulic slides

  25. #18
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by monsoon-mech View Post
    I'll try to find a couple picks of the slider that I built my mom 23 years ago, I just took it down last week as am moving her in with me (shes had a stroke last year) that gates 600lbs covered a 20' opening and no opener it woulda been easy to add a chain opener but... it opened so easy by hand she never wanted the hassle of one.. it ran on an inverted angle iron set atop an 8"x8" concrete path rolling on the steel wheels below

    https://www.amazon.com/RWM-Casters-V...0842065&sr=8-3
    That's a good idea, I hadn't thought about running on the ground like that, but I had thought of converting my sawmill over to that style with a v-roller on top of angle, I've seen sawmill beds like that. I wonder if the same could be done for a cantilever, inverting the angle to run on top? I might be able to make those on my lathe pretty easy, although those cast would probably be strong enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    I have seen plenty of MM operators last more then 5 years...
    MM is off the short list already. There's got to be a better solution that so many people aren't as unhappy with.

  26. #19
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post

    MM is off the short list already. There's got to be a better solution that so many people aren't as unhappy with.
    They all have their issues

    MM is very popular around here as the big box stores carry them as well as other places... and the more popular something is the more complaints you'll find about them...

    I have worked with quite a few liftmaster systems too both slide and pivot... a little step up from MM but still you get what you pay for I worked on a usa automatics a few months ago and didn't see much difference to the LM... in design or quality

    I have also machined new acme nuts and bushings for a lot of the farm/consumer brands including MM as sometimes these parts don't last as long as the controller itself.

    I was quite a bit disappointed in the last MM (low end version) I had to install about a year or so ago... it really was made disposable in my opinion but is still working as far as I know today... residential older customer - tight budget.

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  28. #20
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    That's a good idea, I hadn't thought about running on the ground like that, but I had thought of converting my sawmill over to that style with a v-roller on top of angle, I've seen sawmill beds like that. I wonder if the same could be done for a cantilever, inverting the angle to run on top? I might be able to make those on my lathe pretty easy, although those cast would probably be strong enough.

    she had the same wheels under it for 20 years but.. her and her late husband never greased em like I told them to and it took 20 years for the roller bearings to fail... the wheels themselves were still good, I put on a new set and pumped em full of synthetic grease and everyone who came by her house always was amazed how that big wrought iron gate could just glide along like it weighed nothing... if ya added an opener the thing would never be doin much work...

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  30. #21
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    They all have their issues
    Many of the openers available in big box stores like the Aleko or the MM seem to be in the $400-$600 price range.

    I was curious if there was anything more industrial for up to $2k, that's why I was asking.

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    I was quite a bit disappointed in the last MM (low end version) I had to install about a year or so ago... it really was made disposable in my opinion but is still working as far as I know today... residential older customer - tight budget.
    Is it just that there are no good electronics at the low end for homeowners?

    This doesn't seem like a complicated device, a couple sensors and a motor. Seems the electronics could be done on a Raspberry PI or a BeagleBone using Embedded Linux.

    Quote Originally Posted by monsoon-mech View Post
    she had the same wheels under it for 20 years but.. her and her late husband never greased em like I told them to and it took 20 years for the roller bearings to fail... the wheels themselves were still good, I put on a new set and pumped em full of synthetic grease and everyone who came by her house always was amazed how that big wrought iron gate could just glide along like it weighed nothing... if ya added an opener the thing would never be doin much work...
    Certainly can't beat that type of lifespan for that type of price. I could probably make a pretty decent one by turning a v wheel on the lathe and press fitting a bearing in it.

    I want to look at some of the cantilever designs and see how they do that, seems I've seen some round wheels for them, but definitely having a roller on the ground is safe by all means. I need to talk with my grader to understand what he thinks needs to be done on the driveway to determine how I will design the gate exactly, but I know I will need to pave it, and could have a section poured across the front to be safe.

    Tarmstrong's gate pictured above is beautiful!

  31. #22
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    Many of the openers available in big box stores like the Aleko or the MM seem to be in the $400-$600 price range.

    I was curious if there was anything more industrial for up to $2k, that's why I was asking.


    Is it just that there are no good electronics at the low end for homeowners?

    This doesn't seem like a complicated device, a couple sensors and a motor. Seems the electronics could be done on a Raspberry PI or a BeagleBone using Embedded Linux.


    Certainly can't beat that type of lifespan for that type of price. I could probably make a pretty decent one by turning a v wheel on the lathe and press fitting a bearing in it.

    I want to look at some of the cantilever designs and see how they do that, seems I've seen some round wheels for them, but definitely having a roller on the ground is safe by all means. I need to talk with my grader to understand what he thinks needs to be done on the driveway to determine how I will design the gate exactly, but I know I will need to pave it, and could have a section poured across the front to be safe.

    Tarmstrong's gate pictured above is beautiful!
    It's not like they are complicated.... really... But there just isn't much in the "consumer" models when it comes to putting quality into them.... To be competitive they have to cut margins to the bone! And that Involves cheap PC boards and processes to fab them... Even cheaper plastic enclosures and assorted hardware.... And even more cheaper on the design for stress and redundancy issues.

  32. #23
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    Gate openers?

    I have BFT gate openers. They’re 26 years old now and I can’t remember what they cost but they work fine.



    Last edited by Lis2323; 05-30-2020 at 08:45 PM.
    :

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  34. #24
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lis2323 View Post
    I have BFT gate openers. They’re 26 years old now and I can’t remember what they cost but they work fine.



    BFT's are good, costs more than mm's for sure

  35. #25
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    Re: Gate openers?

    Any of the openers with the two piece arms are smooth moving and usually very fast, The MM, GT and Liftmaster are so slow in moving that you could take a nap while waiting for it to open. I installed an Osco opener years ago that was the smoothest in movement and very fast. Really a great opener but was very prone to near by lightning. Every time a thunder storm was close to them, I automatically stopped by and put in new fuses.

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