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Of Tennis Balls and Your Garage

Not sure where this little tip originated but if you’ve got 15 minutes or so to spare it’s well worth the minimal effort.

Hanging a tennis ball on a string in your garage helps you to easily determine where to stop and conversely know your car is far enough inside for your garage door to close. With Labor Day almost upon us, and the impending winter season a few months away, we are getting close to the time that we’ll all be parking inside the garage more often because the white fluffy stuff will soon be tumbling down from on high. Now might be a good time to “mark your parking spot”.

Items needed for this cool little trick. Sheetrock Knife, ladder, length of string

Step 1 – Find a tennis ball.

Step 2 – Take that tennis ball and securely anchor it so it won’t slip or move around. I use my bench vise but a simple clamp will work. Securing the ball is important for safety. Next, get yourself a sheetrock knife or other sharp instrument and make a small cut in the tennis ball. Somewhere between an inch to an inch and a half long should do the job. This is not super easy (tennis balls are tough just ask a dog) so take your time. The location makes no difference.

Step 3 – Find a length of string or thin rope at least long enough to go from your garage ceiling to the top of the hood on your car. On one end make a large knot.

Step 4 – Pinch the tennis ball hard enough for the cut you made to open up. With the other hand push the knot on the string or rope inside the tennis ball and release. The rope or string should now be attached to the tennis ball. (like the image to the left)

Step 5 – Pull your car into the garage leaving enough room on the driver’s side to fit a ladder once the car is in. Check to make sure that’s approximately where you want the car once it’s pulled in. Make adjustments to its forward position if necessary.

Step 6 – Find a ladder and position it right next to the car just in front of the driver’s side mirror. Take the other end of the string (the end without the tennis ball) and tie it loosely to the closest rafter in the ceiling above the car’s windshield. Adjust the string up/down/left/right so it makes slight contact with the windshield at approximately eye level as if you were sitting in the driver’s seat.

Note: If you are lucky enough to have a finished garage and don’t have exposed rafters you may have to use an eye hook to hang the tennis ball from the ceiling.

Step 7 – Cut off any excess string on the rafter, if you choose, and that’s it you’re done.

From now on all you have to do is drive in, and this is the important part, and stop right when the tennis ball makes contact with the windshield.

You now have a very accurate gauge in just the right place so whoever is pulling a car in knows where to stop and, more importantly, your garage door won’t make contact with your car when it’s closing. It’s here that I send a wry wink to my wife because without this, or something like it, I’d spend some time in the warmer months buffing out blemishes on her car.

Editors Note: It has been recently found that pets, especially playful dogs, seem to enjoy the dangling tennis ball too. So, if you find just a string with no ball attached you’ll know where to start looking.

Your Overhead Door of Albany Team