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I had an 8 foot gate installed recently. The rails are pressure treated 2x4 and there are 4 hinges attaching it to a post.

We put a spring loaded wheel on the end to hold it up (it opens over a slope so a regular wheel wouldnt work), but unfortunately that is causing the gate to twist a bit (see pictures).

I was thinking of either

  • attaching another spring wheel on the other side, or
  • installing a bolt latch to at least keep it straight while closed, or
  • adjusting the position somehow so that the wheel is closer to the center of gravity of the gate

Whats the right way to do this?

Twisting gate

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  • is the gate still twisted if the wheel does not touch the ground when gate is closed?
    – jsotola
    May 22 at 19:02
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    Difficult to see the "twist". Do you mean the hinge side post deflected?
    – r13
    May 22 at 19:41
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    try removing the spring wheel first and see if the gate will straighten out. It appears the wheel is preventing the bottom of the gate from completely shutting. May 22 at 20:52
  • @jsotola - the gat twists because of the wheel i think - although you cant really tell here, its not touching the wheel
    – corsair
    May 23 at 1:40
  • @r13 you see how there is a gap on the bottom, but not the top?it doesnt look big here but irl it is kinda, and its bugging me. the twist is visible at the latch side.
    – corsair
    May 23 at 1:42
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From the picture it looks as though the wheel is mounted too low as the spring looks completely compressed in the closed position currently. This is causing the twisting as it likely needs an additional 1/2" to an 1" of travel to not cause twisting.

I would suggest mounting the wheel slightly higher and also mounting the wheel on the right side of the upright on the 1.5" face to get the wheel closer to the centerline of the fence. You may need to trim off a bit of the edge most fence board so the wheel can still rotate freely.

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    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I'd put $15 on this being the right answer. Worst case, it isn't but you haven't lost anything for trying. Not sure I'd agree with moving the mount around the side of the 2x4, but again, trying it won't hurt - it only leaves you with 2 screw holes which could be filled with a bit of dark caulk to help keep water from reaching past the pressure treating.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 22 at 16:39
  • I wonder if reducing twisting by reducing spring tension will also prevent the spring from doing whatever it's meant to do in supporting the gate, which hasn't been clearly stated. A well (over?) engineered design would use a much longer spring that stays in the middle 20% of its full deflection at all points in the gate's travel and is tuned to support the gate's weight. Without that tuning, by raising the spring, you don't know if it's doing any work. The gate might just be dragging the wheel along for a ride.
    – jay613
    Jun 22 at 16:59
  • Good suggestion. I did consider doing this, but was worried about putting hole in the narrow side of the 2x4 - worried about structural integrity. In the end I mounted the wheel on the other side, directly on the surface of the gate (with a few 2x4s behind for strength) and that worked.
    – corsair
    Jun 28 at 21:46
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It's a little hard to see from the pic, but I think because the wheel was just too far offset from the gate and because the gate is so long, a lever effect from the offset wheel was causing the gate to twist. What i ended up trying - and it seems to have worked - is a) put the wheel as close to the center of gravity of the gate as possible and b) put it on the side of the gate that has higher elevation (which means the wheel has to work harder to slide up the slope before it can create any lever effect).

Im sure some of these other suggestions could have helped too, but in the end this was simple, allowed me to reuse the hardware, and has left the fence basically perfectly aligned.

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As long as the gate is usually shut, and the purpose of the wheel is to

  1. prevent gradual sagging of the gate over time
  2. ensure alignment of the latch

and if the gate behaves acceptably without the wheel while it is open, you could replace the wheel with a small alignment device at the closed position.

Screw a teflon wedge to the ground next to the corner of the house. The idea is for the gate to climb up the wedge, into aligned position and for the wedge to support half the weight of the gate. Screw a block of wood to the outermost slat, alongside the one the wheel is mounted to, vertically, extending from the floor to butt up against the bottom horizontal member. That's the piece that should contact the wedge and take the weight. Trim the bottom so it aligns correctly.

Edit: Here's a picture of what I mean. The red thing is a block of wood that is screwed (red arrows) to the existing structural pieces to the strain gets spread out and is not applied to the facing. The bottom of the block should extend down below the bottom of the facing and should be quite near the ground. The green thing is a greatly exaggerated wedge screwed to the ground that would contact the new block. It will be much more subtle than what I drew, only raising the gate by millimeters (Unless it starts to sag badly).

enter image description here

If the gate is misbehaving as it swings open, you should add more bracing. In the long run the wheel is going to need a lot of TLC to keep doing the job you've put it to and that gate shouldn't need it.

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  • Teflon wedge is a good suggestion. Wouldnt this put a lot of strain on the bottom edge of the gate though?
    – corsair
    Jun 28 at 21:44
  • I've added a (terrible) drawing to show how the wedge should contact with a new block of wood that you add so it would not strain the gate.
    – jay613
    Jun 28 at 22:01
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I also think the wheel is causing the gap. There’s nothing in the structure of the gate that does a good job of resisting twisting, and I can’t think of anything you could add easily. The gate can only sag if the post leans, or the gate itself deforms. I think the diagonal beam will prevent deformation. I’d remove the wheel and beef up the post.

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