Introduction: GI Teddy Saves Couple $1800

About: Miscellaneous bloggery by Tom Birchmire

“What, they want $1800 for the new door?”, Wendy and I exclaimed to one another when we got the estimate. Our sliding glass door had done good service over the last 40 years and now would no longer slide smoothly; the little adjustment screw would adjust no more and the door was gouging the bottom track whenever the door was opened. Clearly, something had to be done. We called some handymen and they soon responded with similar estimates. It would be $700 or $800 for a bottom of the line door, maybe a $1000 for a nicer door and up to $800 for the labor.

Wendy and I first met Teddy in a local thrift store where he was stocking shelves. He seemed out of place but, he was chatty and soon told us his story. He had completed his military deployments and his natural good looks soon had him accompanying Welcome Home gift baskets to many homecomings as the GIs finished their own deployments. Alas, the hundreds of returning GIs soon dwindled to a few a month and GI Teddy was down to one or two gigs a month. He couldn’t adapt to civilian life in the slow lane and only the kindness of the thrift store owners kept him from joining the ranks of the homeless. We shared our sliding door problem with Teddy although it was hardly as compelling as his story. Teddy thought for a moment and replied “An in-line skate board would probably work in this case.” and added “Let me send you a sketch, you know not all solutions have to follow the same path.” Teddy suggested we consider adding an inline-skateboard to the sliding door on the inside that would run down the existing track.

The design satisfied my requirements: It had to be simple enough that it could be built with hand tools and it had to be easily adjustable as even the moderate use the sliding door received probably would require minor adjustments in the future. Finally, the big day arrived and Teddy showed up to demo his inline-skateboard technique. If you look closely, you can see Teddy uses the slow release bindings favored by so many in-line skateboarders. Wendy and I were impressed by Teddy’s different path design and saving us some $1800.

For those interested in details, all materials were purchased locally at the Home Depot and consisted of: 1 ea 1 x 3 x 8 sanded pine board, 2 ea fixed casters, 12″threaded rod, aluminum bar for the brackets, small screws to attach the casters, and nuts and washers fix the board to the brackets. The only thing critical is attaching the "L" shaped bracket to the door frame; they are epoxied in place. The door upright is made of the thinnest possible material, so the screws in the bracket are there to hold the bracket in place until the epoxy sets

At the top is a detail of the bracket and height adjustment arrangement. Because the skateboard supports the weight of the door, adjustment consists of loosening the top nut on the bracket and turning the lower associated nut slightly counterclockwise to raise the door ever so slightly. Tighten the upper nut to lock the adjustment in place.