Gruber Rackmount Rails / Shelf Review

2
Posted January 20, 2013 by in Gruber
Gruber Rackmount Rails and Shelf

Rating

Design & Aesthetics
8.5


Performance
8.5


Feature Set
8.0


Value for the Application
9.5


Total Score
8.6

8.6/ 10

Year: 2012
 
Vendor:
 
 

:

Quick to install and uninstall rackmount equipment. Fits most racks and works with most servers. Less expensive than custom rails.
 

:

Does not secure servers as well as vendor supplied rackmount kits.
 

Today we are looking at perhaps one of the simplest, yet most useful items we have reviewed at STH, Gruber rails. For those that are unfamiliar, the Gruber rails act as a one size fits all solution to mount servers in a rackmount enclosure, even without a server vendor’s rails. Let’s take a look at […]

by Patrick Kennedy
Full Article

Today we are looking at perhaps one of the simplest, yet most useful items we have reviewed at STH, Gruber rails. For those that are unfamiliar, the Gruber rails act as a one size fits all solution to mount servers in a rackmount enclosure, even without a server vendor’s rails. Let’s take a look at what makes up these units and how they are used. Before we delve in, I did want to say thank you to one of our community members, jac, who sent us Gruber rails he uses so that we could do this write-up.

As we begin preparing for the new STH 2013 architecture rollout one major area we are looking at is racking and cabling. While many servers come with rails, there are situations where they are not available. Sometimes rackmount rail sets supplied with a server become bent or warped during racking or shipping. Other times, rackmount rail sets are misplaced over time. Another scenario is when multiple generations of servers and devices are used together in an environment and a universal mounting option is required. Needless to say, there are many possibilities where a universal type of rackmount rail kit or shelf is needed.

Other pictures of the Gruber rackmount rail kit were not so clear so the first step is looking at what the kit is comprised of. Luckily, the Gruber kit is relatively easy to showcase. The main assembly is comprised of two opposing rails that are largely L-shaped.

Gruber Rackmount Rails and Shelf

Gruber Rackmount Rails and Shelf

The idea here is very similar to a standard rack shelf. One installs the Gruber rackmount kit into a rack. Servers or other devices can be added atop the shelves provided by the support lip. When installing the units, one can adjust the depth to a large degree.

Gruber Rackmount Rails and Shelf Section Joints

Gruber Rackmount Rails and Shelf Section Joints

One can see the adjustment mechanism to the rear of the Gruber unit. One piece is machined with slots to accommodate multiple mounting depths. The other piece has drilled holes. A simple nut and bolt mechanism is used to mate the two pieces to each rail. Once installed, devices can be added atop the shelf.

Tips for Using Gruber Rackmount Rails

The Gruber rackmount rail system is very simple, but here are a few key tips that will help a first time user:

  • Test fit your Gruber rail and shelf system prior to installing it. Since the nuts and bolts holding the assembly are side mounted, installing a pre-assembled Gruber shelf in a dense rack is much easier.
  • Use Gruber racks when you need to slot many different server types in the same rack space. Since the Gruber rails are universal, there is no need to re-install a mounting rail set when switching server types.
  • Ensure that you have enough room. The Gruber rail and shelf unit is made of strong steel. That same steel does sit below the server on top of it so it is something to keep in mind.
  • When installing the Gruber shelf ensure you have enough room above it. You do not want to install the rails in 2U of space if you may install a 3U server and there is not enough space to accommodate.

One of the coolest Gruber rail/ shelf installations I have seen is where a company’s test lab took Aluminum sheets and built fixtures to mount otherwise non rackmountable components. Although I cannot discuss what the components are, think about if you had a piece of sheet metal with a mITX motherboard, a book style switch and a book style network appliance. Now let’s say you wanted to swap that configuration for a mITX motherboard, a different book style switch and the same model network appliance. The company could remove the entire network segment by just replacing the fixture atop of the Gruber shelf.

Conclusion

Gruber rail and shelf units are an exercise of applying solid old world engineering to solve a new age problem. The Gruber units are sold with a lifetime warranty. They are also specified to support loads up to 200lbs which should support the vast majority of servers. For those applications where one needs to quickly rackmount servers and using stock rails are not an option, this my be a strong alternative. One major positive is price. The Gruber rackmount rails generally sell for under $50 shipped, which is less than many stock shelving units. Again, thanks to jac for making this review possible!


About the Author

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

2 Comments


  1.  
    dba

    I’ve used these before – life savers. There is one caution:The added height of the shelf sitting under your server, while small, can turn say a 1U server into a 1.05U server and make it difficult or impossible to stack the next server on top. All of a sudden your 1U takes up 2U worth of space.




  2.  
    Bret McMillan

    I’ve switched to using these in the home lab; +1 to the concerns regarding space, but for sparsely populated home lab racks, probably not an issue.

    I’m also curious to see how folks are mounting these in open frame racks, like: http://www.startech.com/Server-Management/Racks/36U-Adjustable-4-Post-Server-Equipment-Open-Frame-Rack-Cabinet~4POSTRACK36





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