TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby oldtrainguy » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:23 pm

In another posting I mentioned using TSlot Aluminum Profiles as the base of my N scale TTrak modules and I was asked to supply some info so here's a start.

Aluminum T Slot Extruded Profiles have been around for a long time. They are used in manufacturing for building guard cages and similar things around moving machinery. They are also used a lot for building industrial work stations.
At first glance the profiles from the different manufactures appear the same but there are usually small differences in the dimensions of the slot itself. This means that components from one manufacturer may or may not work with a different manufacturer’s extruded profile. Flat brackets that bolt on the outside of the profile are pretty safe but any component that is designed to go in the slot may be a problem.
There are several different sizes available in both imperial and metric. Metric seems to be the more popular one. The size I used for my TTrak modules was 20mm x 20mm with a slot on each face. Some supplier allow you to select the number of slots you want so you could have a single slot on one face and the other 3 faces would be a nice clean flat look. There are also 30mm x30mm, 40mm x 40mm, 60mm x 600mm and more. One manufacturer supplies sizes up to 100mm x 100mm.
You are not limited to square sizes. There are 20mm x 40mm, 20mm x 60mm, 20mm x 80mm etc. There are similar dimension for the other sizes as well. Some also come in L shapes, C shapes and with a radius edge.
The manufacturers also give the slot size a number designation. The 20mm family has a number 5 slot. The 30mm is a number 6, the 40mm a number 8 and so on. Not all manufactures follow this standard though.
I have tried several suppliers and have settled on four. For the bulk of the stuff I was doing I used the 20mm family and used Misumi USA. http://us.misumi-ec.com/vona2/mech/M1500000000/ They seem to have the largest range of sizes and shapes as well as brackets and fasteners. They will also cut the profiles to your dimensions at no extra cost. One supplier I was using charges $3.50 per cut. I live in an apartment so don’t always have a convenient way to cut stuff. On the subject of cutting aluminum you don’t need anything special except a blade with carbide tip teeth. And you DON’T have to run the blade backwards like I’ve seen mentioned on several forums.
Another 20mm size supplier I like is http://openbuildspartstore.com/linear-rail/?sort=bestselling . These guys have a special edge on their slot that works with roller bearings so that you can have moving parts like you would have in a cnc machine. As a matter of fact these guys’ sell a DIY cnc machine called C-Beam.

http://www.openbeamusa.com/ has a 15mm x 15mm size profile and http://www.microrax.com/ has 10mm x 10mm size for small projects.

I will post more info and pictures as time permits.
Don
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Re: TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby oldtrainguy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:06 pm

Here are some example drawings of what the different profiles look like. I took these from the Misumi web site.

end profile.PNG


5 series example diff slots.PNG
5 series example diff slots.PNG (14.14 KiB) Viewed 1022 times


5 series shapes.PNG
5 series shapes.PNG (21.96 KiB) Viewed 1022 times
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Re: TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby oldtrainguy » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:41 pm

These are some pictures of a larger module I was working on for FreeMo-TT. It's 60" x 20" and uses the 20mm x 60mm profile. I used corner brackets to join the sides together just as a temp measure for the show. I will be replacing these with a more permanent connection. The leveling legs I got at Lee Valley a local hardware store.

IMG_4161_small.jpg


IMG_4168_small.jpg


IMG_4165_small.jpg
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Re: TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby ConducTTor » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:59 pm

Thanks for the info Don :thumbup:
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Re: TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby oldtrainguy » Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:39 pm

As with all things there are positives and negatives.

When the modules are being joined to each other there is no longer any wiggle room for the track placement. It is either absolutely dead on for every single module or you have to allow the track to move a small amount. For my N scale modules I used the Kato Unitrak expansion track pieces (20-050) at the end of each module so it wasn’t too much of a problem. This also had the benefit of letting me slide the track joiners back from the edge so there was less chance for the rail joiners to catch on stuff.

Does Tillig make a similar piece of track for TT scale?

For my Free-mo tt modules I was planning on soldering the rails to a gap master but to not glue the gap master down so it could move a small amount. I think this will work with either the track coming right to the end of the module or being set back a couple of inches and using a bridge track.

The Aluminum profile also makes it hard to cut away the side of the module and have scenery go below the road bed. Again, on my Free-mo tt modules I was going to keep my 0” elevation about 1 to 1 ½ inches above the top of the profile. This would allow some room for small culverts and such below the roadbed.

Curved modules are also a lot harder using the Aluminum Profile. Misumi does do some bending of the profiles but I think it is limited to ninety degree corners and for some reason they seem to charge quite a bit for it. I was going to experiment with using short pieces of the angled profiles mounted vertically between the straight sections to create 30 & 45 degree modules. I haven’t had time yet to try this or to figure out how to fasten the vertical pieces to the horizontal pieces. If you drill and tap the center holes of the vertical pieces they could also serve as legs if the modules are set directly on tables.
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Re: TSlot Extruded Aluminum Profiles

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:15 am

A lot of good points that I hadn't thought of. Some things to think about...
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