Modding The Alesis DM-5 Rack

My five year old son is currently taking piano lessons.   But if he starts to lose interest in keyboards, his next instrument that he can get into is drums.   When I heard this, I jumped!   OHH  YEA..   
After all that time playing Drummania, I can finally justify getting a real drum set.

So after looking online, I found lots of no-name cheap ass electronic drum sets which aren't that expensive.
You can probably Craigslist or Ebay basic used Yamaha DTX or Alesis DM sets for around $350.
But, I built my own rack out of ABS pipes and other parts from Lumberland and Remo practice pads for just over $100.   You can see that project here.
So I decided to try build up a drum set from the base up.

So I used Craigslist to get a used Alesis DM-5 rack only for $50.   A good start.
I had a friend pick it up for me and the guy said he couldn't take it apart because he couldn't find his drum key.
No big deal, you can get them cheap at Tom Lee.   Ok, sounds simple enough...


A stock photo of what an Alesis rack with everything on it looks like.

 Ok, I am excited to start putting pads and cymbals on it.   Then I realized it doesn't have clamps and rods to mount them on to.   So, I think, no big deal, it should be cheap and easy to get those....   BOY was I wrong!

So lets start from the smallest parts.
First thing I did was I slid off one of the arm bars off and lets take the clamps off it and study what is so special with those clamps.


So here is one of the extension rod from this rack.   It is a ribbed aluminium tube that measures 1.453" in diameter.   So cut the crap, it is basically a 1.5" metal tube which means you should be able use standard plumbing or electrical clamps to secure stuff on to this pipe.
So I looked on line to see how much this tube is.   Ok, $9.00.   I can live with that if I needed more extension rods to mount extra pads to the rack.

This is a close up what the T connector that joins two tubes at a junction point.   It is basically a plastic 1.5" pipe "T" with a bunch of bolts used to tighten it into place.   This particular one is for a Yamaha DTX drum set but it works for many others.
This clamp is held tight using these square bolts.  You need a drum key to loosen them.   Alright, so I think this key thing is like an allen hex key but it is not a hex it is a square.   So lets see how much one of those are...
What the hell?!?!   $13.70?!?!  For a stupid square socket bolt?!?!    Somebody is taking advantage of someone else...    And that someone else ain't gonna be me!!
So what IS this special bolt?   Well, it has a square head that is 0.21" square head on the top.   It has an integrated washer connected to the head.   The integrated washer is 11.64mm  (0.458") in diameter.   The bolt has a M8 thread (Metric 8) and is 33.29mm (1.311") long.    
bolt for sale
T_clamp for sale

Ok, I look online to see how much that special drum bolt is.    $9.50?!?  For a stinking bolt?!?!   Good thing I work in a hardware store.   This is total rip off!

I am also going to make a note for the nut too because it has a specially molded hex spot on the T-connector.  It is 0.388" in diameter.
This stuff sounds like it could be found in a normal hardware store, at least, something that will serve the same function.
Again, looking for this T clamp turns out not exactly cheap at $13.00 each.  But in a pinch, I could live with that.   I looked at other types of clamps like plumbing pipe clamps, scaffolding clamps, and electrical light clamps.  I found them to be just as expensive if not more.

rod with IPEX
rod with loomex
rod with loomex 02

So the first thing I thought of was using ABS plumbing fittings.  I have used these same connectors when I made my  first rack for Drummania.   This is an ABS 1.5" trap adapter.   It by itself was a little loose so I wrapped two winds of green painter's tape on the pipe and it was nice and snug.   These go for $3.57 Cdn each.  
This is a metal clamp from electrical on the pipe.   It is a loomex 1.5" connector.   This is made out of metal so it is a bit more expensive at $7.34 each but this is nice because the screws can make it nice and tight.
I kept the painter's tape on the rod to protect the pipe.   It is easy to see that going this route is good because it is easy to get.   However, both plumbing and electrical connectors will make it more expensive than buying used ones off of Ebay or Craigslist.
As a later note,  I found that rubber splicing tape (3M calls it Temflex) works really well.   I also found other people use hockey tape but sometimes that stuff is too sticky.

cymbal clamp with nut
This is the clamp to hold the cymbal rod.   It fortunately was still on the rack.   So what is it?
Well, it is 1.5" clamp with a smaller diamond shaped clamp at a right angle.
Here is the rod clamp and I noticed it has friction scrapes on it.   I measured the marks to be at 0.208" (5.32mm).
Do a bit of trig, and these marks could be made by a hex bolt about 0.484" on each side.   So again, cutting the crap, it means you could probably mount the pads using 0.5" rods/pipes and using 0.5" pipe clamp hardware.
As shown in this close up that an Ebay seller had up, shows a hexagon shaped "L" pad bracket that fits into this clamp.    The other rods for the DM10 series cymbals are round.  Again, the important thing to get from this excerise is that clamp is used to hold a pad mount roughly around 0.5" in diameter.
Here I have clamped on to a hex coupler for 7/16" threaded bolts which fits on really snug.    Now, you need to check the size of the pads you are putting on because 7/16" is just right for the Roland PD-5's but may not be right for what brand you want to use.  Adjust for size accordingly.
So I replaced the stupid drum key screws with something more normal.   I found that 20mm #6 Metric flat head screws fit very nicely in the T-connector.   If metric screws are too hard to find in your neck of the woods, you can try size 10-32 stove bolts.
These things are 62 cents and everyone can come up with a flat head screwdriver.
This first type of Yamaha connector is for the older DTX drum sets.   The metric #6 screws worked and about 20mm to 30mm works just fine.
There is also another style of Yamaha connectors which is hexed on both sides of the connector.   The #6 flat heads and/or 10-32's might not fit that hex. 
The back of the connector is a standard M8 bolt.   Again, if metric screws are not available in your area, you can go to 10-32 bolts or 3/16" bolts.
Here I used a 3/16" hex/bolt combination to fix this Yamaha connector.   I found that 3/4" long is just barely long enough and 1.5" is a bit overkill, however, your hardware store's stock may vary.
Ok, if you are having problems finding the T-connectors, I found a way to use 1.25" EMT U-clamps, 5"x1" mending strips, and some nuts and bolts to hold it together.   This is a quick way to make those right angles.
To mount Roland PD-5's, I am going to use split ring hangers which I got from Lowe's in the plumbing section.    A 1.5" diameter ring with a 3/16" threaded connector will work fine for this application.
This is the 3/16" threaded rod I got from the hardware store.   I was lucky to find it already cut to 12" but if you can't find it already cut, you can always get a longer piece and hacksaw it down to 7" or so.
So with a bit of the rubber splicing tape, I was able to get a nice tight clamp with a rod on the rack pipe.

Repeat the process 3 times and I have the 3 mounts for the 3 cymbals across the top of the rack.
Ok,  I picked up a 7/16" threaded rod with some 7/16" couplers like I showed in the clamp above to build some holder rods for my Roland DM5's.    You can cut the rod to what ever length you want, I decided 7" was going to be good enough for me.