Smooth Rails Vs. L Track
Smooth Rail Mounting System
L Track Mounting System
L Track (also known as Logistic or Airline Track) is a tie-down system. Its primary purpose is to secure cargo. At some point L Track (and sometimes E Track) was adopted by the #vanlife and builder community as an interior mounting solution. Until recently it was seen as the “go to” approach for an interior mounting system, and has been used for many years by DIY van builders and even some professionals.
Our clients regularly ask why we prefer the Smooth Rail Mounting System, and about the differences and advantages over these ”X” Track systems. To be clear, a properly mounted L track or E track system, with correct support bracketing, sufficient metal to metal contact and ample attachment points can be a functional, strong, and safe mounting solution. If you are a DIY van builder this is still an acceptable solution.
However, when Dennis (our founder) built his first van as a family project, his frustrations with the limitations of these types of tie-down tracks led him to develop a much better solution. His close attention to detail, and eye for aesthetics inspired him to develop the Smooth Rail Mounting System, and ultimately the origins of Roost Vans itself. Since that time, many van builders have adopted our approach as an innovation. Below are some of the key advantages, and the reasoning behind this trend in the van building community.
One of the biggest drawbacks to an “X” track system is that it is only incrementally adjustable, typically in 1” intervals. This is fine for a tie down system, but when trying to position interior components in a van build, it is often very important to position a component exactly where we want/need it to be, rather than “give or take an inch”.
The Smooth Rail Mounting System is infinitely adjustable, allowing each component to be dynamically placed in a precise location. This allows cabinetry to be flush mounted, and/or positioned for a specific, consistent gap. When dealing with a mechanical component, precise positioning is sometimes critical to proper operation (such as a bed with a flip up kit, or an adjustable strap). We find it extremely valuable to place components exactly where we want them, or to be able to reposition in one direction or the other without fully removing the component. This is very helpful when trying to maximize design efficiency. Without the smooth rail system, many of our innovative product designs would be less effective, or in some cases impossible.
Mounting components to one of the track systems, typically involves a protruding bolt from the mounting system. Our system reverses this by placing a threaded nut into the mounting system allowing the use of any bolt we desire, including a wide variety of decorative bolthead options. Most of our products use a black zinc coated, button head bolt that looks beautiful and offers no protrusion; just a smooth and finished looking surface. This is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also helps with rust prevention by minimizing the exposure of hardware surfaces to humidity.
Our mounting system consists of continuous powder coated rails. When installed properly they are largely recessed into the paneling allowing only enough surface area to fully engage with the attached components. This provides a much more finished look. Further, proper positioning of components, and consistent sight lines also enhance the visual presentation considerably. The recent addition of plastic end caps further enhances the look of our system by closing off the very ends of the rails. This type of attention to detail is the difference between a “pretty nice-looking van” and a visually stunning result.
In terms of strength and weight capacity, either mounting system will perform comparably. When properly mounted both tracks and rails generally exceed the capacity of the fasteners and/or the van’s structure itself. However, there are a couple additional and unique safety concerns to consider:
- Track systems have relatively abrupt corners and can sometimes have sharp interior edges, where the smooth rail system provides a continuous smooth and rounded rail edge the full length of the rail section.
- Smooth, rounded boltheads rather than protruding bolt ends help minimize surfaces for clothing or small fingers to catch on.
Our entire ecosystem of products is designed with the DIY customer in mind. Though some may want to use our plug and play solutions, others want a simple platform upon which they can build and create their own solutions, specific to their individual needs and circumstances. This is where our system really shines. Not only do we offer plug & play solutions, but any bracket or material that sits flush on the rail surface can be attached to the mounting system using a threaded insert nut with any bolt of the desired length, head, and finish. The only “specialty” supply you need is the 5/16-18 Universal Insert Nut itself, which can be purchased directly from us, or a variety of online vendors.
L Track and E Track are great cargo tie down systems, but less than desirable as a van’s interior mounting system. For a more robust and versatile interior mounting solution for Sprinter or Transit van conversions, our staff, affiliates, and DIY customers strongly prefer the Smooth Rail Mounting System. It is the future of the van building community.