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2.3 Beware of older winding cones. These older Crawford and McKee torsion spring cones were made for 5/8" bars. Sometimes, however, the holes are too small for 5/8" bars. Whatever you do, don't use a 1/2" bar; instead, grind down a 5/8" bar to fit. I recently had a McKee spring let loose after winding because I used a 1/2" bar when my 5/8" bar wouldn't fit. Just before it let loose I was telling myself, "This is not safe." And it wasn't. The only safe way to replace these older springs is to make a winding bar for each hole of each cone.
In addition to the bodily risk involved, it’s simply not an easy task. There’s the possibility that you will not install it correctly. At worst, this creates the risk that the mechanism will fail at the wrong time and injure you or someone in your family. At best, this means it will malfunction, and you’ll have to call professionals to fix it. It will save time, money and potential heartache to simply call a professional to install your new door springs correctly the first time.
Can you find what you need in the big home improvement stores? Can they show you how to fix a broken garage spring? Do they know what tools and replacement parts you need? Do they know what safety precautions you need to take? If you have any questions during the project, can you call them for help? Have they ever actually repaired a broken garage door spring themselves?
The following procedures are based on my 30 years in the garage door industry. In spite of my high mechanical aptitude, even after 18 years in the trade I lost the end of my left index finger. A few years later I had five stitches in my right thumb, and a year later five stitches in my left thumb. In 2004 emergency room staffs dug steel out of my eye and sewed up my ring finger with eight stitches. The best I can do is help you minimize the risk of injury; that's all I can do for myself. I am not so naive as to think that I have made my last trip to the emergency room. Repairing garage doors, particularly replacing torsion springs, is dangerous work, whether you are a do-it-yourself homeowner or an experienced technician.
If you have decided to replace your springs, if you are sure your door had the correct springs, and if you are ready to buy new ones, we recommend that you measure your spring or springs following the instructions in Step 4 below. Measuring springs can be difficult; most individuals, even garage door technicians, sometimes have difficulty measuring torsion springs. Ordering incorrect springs wastes time and money.