Logistic track (also called l-track or airline track) is an extruded aluminum strip that has holes drilled through it at 1″ intervals, and an inverted “T” cross-section cut out through its length. Connectors slide in through the holes and then lock in place with a spring or a bolt. That makes it easy to configure to support any load you want to carry.
The airline industry uses the same design for the track that airplane seats clip in to. It’s more compact than the E-track that is used in big trucks, but still has plenty of strength for the sort of loads we’ll be using.
We decided to use flanged track made by Steadymate on the walls and floor of the van, both for securing loads (and cabinets) and to hold the wall and flooring materials down. The flanged track is normally recessed into the surface it’s mounted on, but we bolted it on without routing out behind it. That gives us a 1/2″ gap to insert panels on the walls and rubber mats on the floor.
We also used single-hole l-track anchor points in other locations where we wanted to bolt things to the wall without having bolt heads showing. The ceiling panels are held up this way.
Rivnuts are another amazing find – they are threaded nuts that work like rivets. You drill a hole in sheet metal, put the rivnut in to it, and then compress it with a special tool. The result is a threaded hole wherever you want to put a bolt. On the walls of the van, we’ve used the rivnuts to hold the l-track in place every 4″.
On the floor, we bolted straight through the floor metal and into some unistrut metal channel under the van to spread the load. That might seem like overkill, but the forces on these attachment points can be brutal during an accident, and we’d like things to stay where we bolted them down rather than flying loose.
We got the bolts we used from Tacoma Screw. They will deliver, or you can pick the stuff up if you have a local store. Here are some item numbers to get you started:
- #216-407-1 M6-1.0 x 30mm (1-3/16″) Metric Flat Head Socket Cap Screws — Type A2 Stainless, Coarse, 100/PKG
- #218-106-1 M6 (1/4″)-1.0 Metric Full Nylon Insert Lock Nuts — Type A2 Stainless Steel, Coarse, 100/PKG
- #130-306-6 1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 100% Melt/Mfg Domestic Fender Washers – 304 Stainless Steel, 100/PKG
I’ve listed the 30mm bolts (just over 1″) but we also used 50mm bolts to go through the floor.
The metric stainless bolts have a slightly different countersink angle to the imperial ones, but for the types of uses most people put L-track to, it’s probably not a big issue.
Handy hints and tips for installing l-track in a Sprinter
- As always, check what’s behind/below BEFORE you drill. Mistakes can get expensive/painful/wet/explosive fast.
- Line the l-track up, then sink a self-tapping screw in to the holes in each end. This holds the l-track in place and lets you use it as a drill template for where you need all the holes along the length. After you’ve drilled all the other pilot holes, you can remove the self-tappers and drill those holes out to size too.
- A center punch seems like overkill, but it really helps to stop your drill bit from wandering on the metal surface of the van. Rivnuts need to be accurately placed in the l-track, or the bolts just won’t screw in properly. The l-track we installed using center-punched holes has less missing bolts due to badly placed rivnuts than the pieces we installed before we wised up.
- Use a drill stop or a piece of pvc pipe over your drill bit so you don’t make dents in the outside walls of the van after the drill breaks through the inside wall.
- Use a deburring tool to clean out the holes before you push the rivnuts in. If there is swarf attached to the back side of the hole, the rivnut won’t grip so well. Spinning rivnuts are not easy to fix.
- Prime the holes you drilled. They WILL rust, even inside the van (don’t ask us how we know).
- If you’re running more than a few lengths of l-track, do yourself a favor and buy a proper rivnut-setting tool rather than the fiddly bolt-and-wrench style one.
- Always use stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers in the van – even on the inside. Zinc coated ones will rust within the year on the outside of the van. L-track typically uses 1/4″ (imperial) or M6 (metric) size bolts.
- Use liberal amounts of grease or anti-seize paste on the stainless threads. Stainless steel has a tendency to gall and “bind” closed.