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Conventional Fixtures Electro Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by lieperjp, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    What are these things??? These are what we use to hang lights in both our auditorium and our gymnasium. We call them clips. Pictures Attached. Lighting system installed 1970/1971. A bolt/washer is put on the yoke where the C-Clamp would go, then put into a threaded hole. The two slots "clip" into the raceway, then the bolt is tightened so that the light cannot move or come out of the track. Has anyone used or seen these before?

    The only good thing I know about them is that they're cheap to make - we needed more last year so we went to a local machine shop and they were only $1.50 each.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 26, 2008
  2. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    That "track system" is called unistrut, and the "clips" are unistrut nuts. No need to have them custom made. You can get them at Lowe's or HD.

    EDIT: I looked at the pictures without enlarging them. After looking more closely it doesn't look *exactly* like unistrut, but it's pretty similar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  3. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    It looks like unistrut, but yours have slots cut into them, but it's still very similar. And I kind hate them, but thats me.
     
  4. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    What you have is a system that is very similar to unistrut. This system was used by Electro-Control from the late fifties up through the late seventies. Electro-Control was previously Ariel Davis, and then eventually purchased by Strand and became their architectural division. Ariel Davis started as a lighting company that built dimmers and patch panels for the church, high school and community theater market. In order to fill out their line, they added lighting instruments. The first instruments were made from extruded aluminum tubes with par lamps and additional lenses. Their raceways used the unistrut nuts, and edison plugs. Eventually, because of their affordability, they moved up to a higher market competing with Kliegl, Altman and others in that price range. They were never really that competitive, but their products can be found in schools and community theaters that couldn't afford anything more expensive. Many curse the EC line, but if it had not been for their inexpensive products, many companies of a better quality would never have lowered their prices, making theater lighting affordable to High schools, small colleges and community theaters. I personally thank them, and at the same time I replace their products as fast as I can.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    I have worked places with that system and it is THE MOST ANNOYING THING POSSIBLE. There is nothing better then being on the top of an A-frame trying to get a bolt to go into that stupid clip. Even better when the clip does not seat properly. I would highly sugget addapting that system to a pipe system, it does not require all that much work to do, any company should be able to do it. Added to the the benefit of having nothing real to safety off to.
     
  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    Agreed. I just ripped some of that EC Unistrut-esque rigging out of a space this summer. I've never been a huge fan of it.
     
  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    As others have stated, it's probably Uni-Strut. Generic trade name is Channel Steel or some such.

    Common alternatives are Versa-Bar and Kindorf, which is the most frequent electrical trade version.

    Be careful with channel nuts from other manufacturers to make sure the slots in the nut engages the channel.

    Steve B.
     
  8. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    Used Uni-Strut for sub units such as ACL groups and it worked ok. (ACL bar would then have C clamps on it.)

    More intended for fixed architectural locations when you crank it tight and leave it forever. Its core use is in other areas such as wire-ways and conduit frames.

    You can get the "clips" with a crimped in spring on the back so that they don't fall out when the screw is undone. Dirt cheap, and I guess that's the appeal.
     
  9. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    I just finished a pretty big musical in a very old high school theatre which used these system for all the overhead instruments. Most annoying thing I've ever used, although it might be partly because of how old it was. Took forever to get one of those to finally get into the raceway, and then you had to try to tighten it while still supporting the instrument. Add onto that the fact that there's no place to safety them besides the raceway itself, and you've got a very scary situation.

    There were some instruments which, even after I tightened many times, I would come in to find hanging off with only one side of the clip supporting the entire fixture. For many of the instruments, I just ended up borrowing lots of C-clamps and hanging them on some spare linesets, then running cable from the fixtures to other dimmers. Took a while to do, but it kept me from constantly worrying about my instruments falling on the heads of any of the actors.
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    We had one of those systems at my college back in the day. It's not unistrut but it is very similar. That track is actually designed into the bottom of the raceway for those thinking it's unistrut. The unistrut parts won't work the clip is different. I would look into hanging some schedule 40 pipe nearby and forget the track That's what we did back in the day.
     
  11. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    That apparently made part of the EC-Strand migration too. The high school's black box was built in '89 and they put in an EC/Strand system: Celebrity board marked in both French and English, Playmate 12x1.2K rack, and four little raceways like that with all 12 circuits on them all. Never had any of the stupid clips, at least not since '96. I always figured those raceways had that track on bottom for just that.

    It's a neat idea for architectural applications. I'd rather, far rather, have real C-clamps.

    That system, which probably only speaks EC-mux, is still in there. There may something to them getting a Johnson Controls DMX card for it.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    That bare R40 lamp without a protective globe is a huge hazard. At the very least should be a protective wire cage surrounding the lamp.
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    Is that lamp a house light? If it is this is starting to look more and more like my old college theater. The house lights were bare lamps suspended from a piece of unistrut that went across the floor of the catwalk. (yeah I'm sure that's to code). You regularly bumped and stepped on these struts. One time I bumped one and a lamp popped and fell splattering over several seats below. Last time I was there they still had the same hazardous fixtures.
     
  14. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    No, this is over the stage. The scoop is on the third electric, I think it was used at an orchestra concert so that the musicians could see their music. I think. Not sure.

    We do have the same thing in our (enclosed) catwalk, along the edge of the floor. I never thought it to be exactly safe, either. But it is on the edge and it holds the front lights, which means shutters are a real problem sometimes because the light has to be mounted/hung upside down. Our house lights are encased in a plaster ceiling and are compact fluorescent, much to the chagrin of quite a few people.

    P.S. to Derek, yes, I know it to be a safety hazard. It used to have a shield/reflector over it, the maintenance people lost it while changing the bulb and have refused to replace it.

    [USER]gafftaper[/USER] Does this look like your old theatre?

    Edit: Sorry the picture is a little dim... My camera is five years old...
     

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    Last edited: Aug 28, 2008
  15. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Re: Alternative to C-Clamp?

    What I have done for a safety with this type of system is to add an eye bolt assembley next to the light for the safety to attach to (same clips, but replace the bolt with an eye-bolt and an extra nut to tighten it down).
     
  16. ahsviper

    ahsviper Member

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    Electro-Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

    I work in a high school theater as a lighting designer. To rig our lights to the battens, we use what we call "channel locks". However, my extensive internet searching has come up with nothing as to what they are actually called, or any for sale for that matter. I have drawn (sloppily and in two seconds) a basic diagram of what they look like. the top is that channel lock, while the bottom is a diagram of the batten (both from side angles to show how they fit together).


    [​IMG]


    For tension, a screw is put through the center of the channel lock (from bottom to top on this diagram), that provides tension against the underside of the batten.

    Anywayz, I am extremely confused as to what exactly these are (maybe i'm just being a newbie, i've only done 7 shows), and where to get them. Undoubtedly, they are some form of ancient magic that is impossible to come by these days, but it would be nice if I had a general idea. =D thanks
     
  17. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    re: Electro-Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

    It's called Unistrut. Sounds like you guys just have a more "local" name. It's commonly available at the Depot.

    When most people here the word "channellock", they think of these.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    re: Electro-Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

    If it's what I think you are trying to describe, there are several high schools in Southern Ontario that use the same system, circa the 1970s.

    Do you have a number of extruded aluminum lighting distribution battens about 8"x3" with a channel on the bottom that the piece you are looking for clips into? The instrument is attached to the clip with a bolt that threads directly into the clip. The clip is notched as you've drawn it to lock into the channel of the distribution batten, which is done by pushing it into the extruded channel then rotating 90 degrees then snugging up the bolt. The clip is about 3" x 1.5".

    If what I'm describing matches with what you're seeking maybe it will help some of the others on this group jog their memory as to the manufacturer. Most places I know with this system have NEMA L5-20J receptacles.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    re: Electro Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

    Interesting. As has been pointed out there are two options. This is a picture of uni-strut:
    [​IMG]See the glossary entry: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/glossary/9403-unistrut.html.
    (goes by many other names too like "super strut," see Kindorf). Just about any place that carries electrical supplies will have the parts.
    [​IMG]

    Like [user]Sk8rsdad[/user] I'm suspicious that what you are talking about is something older and slightly different. When I went to college our Electrical raceways were aluminum and rectangular. You plugged the fixture into the raceway and the fixture hung from a track built into the bottom of that raceway. It was very similar to unistrut but not exactly the same thing (it looked a lot like the 1/2" unistrut but even shallower). My guess is this was 1970's technology. Don't know the proper name for it or the manufacturer. But I'm sure Derek, Ship, Steve Terry, or SteveB will know.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2009
  20. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    re: Electro-Controls "Channel Mount" connector strips

    I know what you guys are talking about! I believe its an Electro-Controls raceway, as our electrics have that type of channel built into the top and bottoms of the raceways. However, we have the more typical dual battens, so no need to use such torturous fasteners.
     

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