I’ve been meaning to pick up a real rack for my gear for a long time. I cruise Craigslist and eBay but usually see people selling them for $400 – $650+ and they’re usually in bad shape. I am a bit picky, so I wanted something that was not beat up too bad, something nice like a Dell or APC with all panels/doors, and it must have square holes for mounting rails. I had been on the lookout for a long, long time, when one day I came across an eBay listing that simply said “I have 18 racks for sale for you to choose from.” Interesting – it was $150 pick-up only and about an hour away. I noticed in the images he posted that there was an APC rack. I asked and he said they were all APC – deal!
I drove my truck to work and left right from there getting me to the seller’s in about an hour and a half. I arrived, and sure enough, he had 18 racks in his garage and they were all APC! A few were locked with no keys – bummer, but not a huge deal. A couple were so large they couldn’t roll/fit out the garage door opening. So, I ended up getting one of the lower height 42U APC AR3100 racks. I threw it in my truck, strapped it down, grabbed the doors and was on my way with my $150 APC rack! Sweet!
It was sweet – it’s probably the best deal I’ve seen for a long time and the rack itself is in great condition. Even sweeter was that there were two APC AP7930 PDU’s in the rack which I hadn’t even noticed. Deal! I also got a railkit for my MD1000 in the rack and a 4U rail kit that I am not sure what is for.
However, I didn’t realize until I got home and unloaded the rack (by myself – I do not recommend this!) that I had two sets of back split doors. Uh oh. I realized the rack didn’t have a front door at the sellers location and we grabbed a set of back doors by mistake. The split doors won’t work front and back because the racks only come with 6 hinges since the front is hinged only on one side. So, I had to either deal with the back doors flopping all crazy by one hinge or hinge them somehow. I did ask the seller if I could come up and swap for a front door and he agreed without issue, but after driving there an hour each way today I arrived only to find out that the other AR3100 he had also had no front doors. Ugh. He insisted he does have them some where, but at I had also ordered some material in order to make my own hinges in case he did not – that ended up being the route I’d have to go. So, thankfully my homelab is only a few rooms away from my machining and welding tools! I could have just left the front doors off, but I didn’t want my awesome deal to be ruined by that! So, let’s make some stuff!
I ordered 2′ x 1.25″ x 1/8″ 304-L stainless flat stock along with some flat screws in the M6x1.0 – here is what I cut the piece into and what we’ll be starting with:
You should be able to see how I am going to make a sort of copy of the original brackets. Now we get to welding:
I am a little rusty with my TIG welder since I probably haven’t welded in about a year or so, but I can still stick parts together. I basically just built the “U-channel” part of the original bracket by welding flat stock together.
I had to make two identical brackets because, as mentioned earlier, the rack would only come with 6 brackets and we need 8. Here they are done except for the one not being drilled for the screws and neither having the pin part yet:
This is where I stopped and went over the to the seller to see if he had the front single door. The next step is a bit of a pain in the ass. I could have found a generic pin or stud and just welded it to the bracket for the door to hinge on, but I wanted to replicate the APC part as best I could (well, without going nuts). So, I threw some 304-L stainless rod I had laying around in my lathe and started turning it down:
First I turned down the long part that would be welded to the bracket plate. This was easy because I could use the diameter to change the placement of the pin into or out of the rack. I machined it down all but about 1/3″ because that would be the thicker part with the taper on it that locates the rack holes as you lower the door onto the hinge:
After I finished turning the long portion of the pin, I flipped it over and went to work on the tapered portion. This is all just rough cut stuff – I didn’t bother with finishing passes or changing tools for better cuts, I just wanted to make the parts and be done with it since this afterall a rack door hinge:
I don’t believe I have a picture of turning the taper down using the compound since I needed two hands to do that portion. But, I do have pictures of the end results:
It fits just like the original part. I didn’t bother profiling the base plate like the original since these will be on the lower portion of the rack and probably painted or powder coated black anyway:
And of course, after careful measurement and design, it works just like the original piece:
So, while my $150 APC AR3100 didn’t come with a front door it did come with two sets of rear doors and two PDUs and some rails so I can’t complain. The seller says he’ll find the front door and let me know, but for now this is fine also. I didn’t let the lack of front doors rain on my parade too bad, and I got to use my machining/welding gear which I haven’t touched for a while so win, win, and win. This is what happens when a homelab meets machining and welding equipment and a little bit of OCD! This isn’t my finest machining or welding job, but these are door brackets after all.
Here’s a picture of the finished product:
Hope you enjoyed!