Help improving this simple model

Hi all…I’m in the garage door industry and this model is a pair of horizontal garage door tracks that I created using follow me. I started by creating a straight piece of track, then made a circle and used follow me to pull the straight track into that radius.

What I have is usable for my needs, but I know it’s not done nearly as well as it could have been. There are many instances where I’ve hidden a line for the sake of making the track look better when I use it in my model. If you look inside the inner radius of the track there are several lines that I didn’t erase just so I could illustrate my point while coming here to look for help.

Not sure if it’s in my profile, but I’m using Sketchup Pro 2020.

Any thoughts on how to improve this? I cleaned it up with the Cleanup extension and used soften/smooth edges as well. I painted parts of it white so it looked uniform.

Sketchup forum help of horizontal track.skp (1007.4 KB)

I think your tracks look just fine. There are some edges that can be erased in the right side track. The left one has some excess geometry which is probably due to the location of the Follow Me path relative to the profile. If I were modeling this track I would put the path at the bottom of the profile which would avoid creating the excess geometry. Still, it can be cleaned up.

To be honest, if I were modeling this sort of thing I would only do one, make it a component, copy that component and use Flip Along to make a mirrored version of the first. Less work and if you need to make edits, you can edit both sides at once.

Another thing I would do in setting up the path for Follow Me is to make sure the last segment of the path is vertical It looks like you used an Arc tool to draw the curve in the path and that results in the last segment not being vertical. Since Follow Me ends the extrusion perpendicular to the last segment of the path, this results in the end of the track being cut at a slight angle. Here the guideline is parallel to the ground.

Here I’ve extracted the edge at the lowest part of your track to use as a new Follow Me path and then I added a one inch long vertical segment to the bottom of the arc. You can see that not the end of the track is now parallel to the ground.

If you don’t need to show the individual segments of the track as components, you can then use Push/Pull to pull that bottom face straight down to the floor.

I put the follow me path at the top of the track so it became part of the new geometry that I had to erase. I’ll try it again and move it to another location. Is it normal to have to do some erasing when using the follow me tool with radius and curves? I assumed it was ‘sloppy’ work on my part causing me to have to erase.

I don’t quite get how to create one and flip it to create the other as I’d have to turn it inside out too, maybe I’m not thinking about this right…I often create one object and flip/copy to create a second similar object but don’t think I could do it in this instance.

I also see how the bottom of the track slightly angled…if I used an arc to create the follow me path rather than a circle, woulld that solve this?

Thanks for the insight…time to tinker with it again.

RE pulling the bottom of the track to the floor - this would create a vertical track that is plumb and it needs to be out of plumb by +/- an 1/8" per foot, so if I pull it vertically to the floor, then tipped it an 1/8" per foot out of plumb, the horizontal length of track would be significantly out of level too. I think I have to keep the two pieces of track separate for this reason.

It depends on where the path is located relative to the profile. Generally Follow Me seems to do a better job if the path follows the shortest part–the bottom of the track in your case.

Keep in mind that the path does not need to be touching the profile. Here I put the profile off to one side. Might not be a need in your case but the profile isn’t consumed in the extrusion which means it is still available for other things where it might be useful.

Like this.

Copy the component with Move/Copy then right click on it and choose Flip Along and choose the appropriate axis. In this case I set up the track to be made so that looking from the standard front view you show the tracks in the orientation of the garage door so the flip along direction is along the component’s red.

No. See for yourself what happens when you draw an arc. Get one of the arc tools and set the number of sides low–4 or 6–and draw an arc. It’ll be very obvious then. If you are starting with a circle, you could rotate it after drawing it so that there are vertical and horizontal segments. With a default 24-sided circle that means rotating the circle 7.5°. Sometimes that is a better option than adding the vertical segment at the end as I did but what I did was maybe easier, at least considering I was starting from edges you’d already created.

Well! It pays to get out of bed. I didn’t know that about garage door tracks. I suppose that’s to make door close up tight against the weather seal without wearing the paint off the door when it opens and closes. A second component makes sense then. If I were making something like this and intended to reuse it, I would probably make a component of a “vertical” section of track with that 1/8 in. per foot slope built in. Then I wouldn’t need to worry about adding it in when I’m modeling up the track. Or maybe it’s not always 1/8 in. per foot?

Heh, watching you flip that was embarrassing…of the things I thought I knew about SU, flipping was one…I does pay to get out of bed, thanks for showing me, that’s awesome. 100% agree that building one and doing that is a better plan.

I get the rotating part, the number of sides / 180 to get degrees. I can do that.

The follow-me tool has me perplexed, I’ll have to do a bit more research/practice with that because it seems I’m doing what I’m doing almost by accident. Sometimes it creates the new geometry with a gap between it and the original object, sometimes not. This is a really cool tool that I need to learn better.

You clearly have some experience with garage doors, not what I expected to find hear. Yep, the slope of the tracks combined with the hinge progression allows the door to open and close tightly without binding on the jambs. And your other tip of building my model or component with the 1/8" slope built-in is awesome too and something I will definitely do. That can vary slightly but for any purpose of mine inside SketchUp, 1/8" per foot is good enough. Pushing/pulling the track for taller openings maintains the same slope and saves me time and work. Thanks!

There are tons of resources for learning SketchUp, do you have any that you’d recommend?

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:slight_smile: You’re quite welcome.

The Follow Me tool requires the profile to be perpendicular to the first segment of the path and as I wrote earlier, will end the extrusion perpendicular to the last segment. If the profile isn’t perpendicular to that first segment, Follow Me will project (not rotate) the profile to create a perpendicular face to the path. This can leave gaps if there are “tiny” faces created in the process.

I’ve been using them for a few years, anyway. Until you wrote about the angle of the “vertical” legs I’d never really thought much about it until today, though. No worries, though. I’m not going into the garage door business. I don’t like those big springs. :crazy_face:

Happy that was helpful.

Just a thought. You might find it useful to set up keyboard shortcuts for the various Flip Along commands. There are nine of them but because I never use groups, I’ve set up shortcuts only for Flip Along the component axes and Flip Along the model axes.
Screenshot - 4_18_2021 , 1_04_23 PM

Because these are Context menu items, you need to have an appropriate select active to get the items to show up in the Shortcuts list.

Thanks again, I prefer using the keyboard for as much as I can, will definitely look into keyboard shortcuts.

I mention in my profile having used SketchUp for many years, more than 15, but never having used it for anything complex my experience level for a 15-year user is laughable. I’ve used it for my carpentry projects, in particular for decks I’ve built over the years and the addition I put on my own home. The visuals you can create with a “mostly” entry-level understanding of SketchUp are pretty incredible. Several different variations of the mantel for my fireplace allowed me to get my wife to okay something she was totally against when I was describing it to her with words and a pencil.

Now I have the opportunity to use SketchUp at work (my body can’t handle the physical demands of my job anymore after 30+ years in the trades, so I’m transitioning into a role where I have to make drawings from time to time) as lots of our garage door projects are complicated and challenging. Trying to get my boss, a lifelong AutoCAD user, to understand what SketchUp is really capable of is my next challenge (I feel like he thinks it’s ‘neat’, not understanding it’s capable of almost anything). I have a basic understanding of AutoCAD too and can use that for some stuff, but I’d prefer to jump right in with SketchUp as I see this as a tool that can do everything we need and more.

TMI I’m sure…I like to blather on from time to time :slight_smile:

Thanks for your time and help today, much appreciated…and I’m certain I’ll be back for more before too long.

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