How to Install and Uninstall GT Rack Effects Modules

A good deal of information about installing and uninstalling modules, including a number of pictures, is covered in Installation.  Below are some additional tips and recommendations that may save you a little time and effort.  Sorry, it's a little messy and needs to be cleaned up and some pictures added, but hopefully it is still helpful as it is.


1.  It takes some time to install or uninstall a module.  It isn't difficult, just a little tedious.  We find that it usually takes longer if we try to take shortcuts.  It's better to just go "all in" on the process.

2.  The enclosure is made of (4) identical front/rear rails, (4) identical side rails, (2) identical top/bottom panels, and (2) identical side panels.  You may optionally also have (2) identical adjustable rear supports.

3.  Modules are bolted to the front and rear rails, usually with (4) sets of machine screws, washers, and nuts for the front and (4) sets for the rear.  Larger modules may have some additional screw sets holding them in.

4.  Remove the enclosure from your rack.  Remove all cables from the enclosure, particularly power cables.  Do not open the enclosure with any power cables connected.  Also remove all audio, switching, and footswitch cables.  Remove the enclosure panels first.  Start with the top.  Remove all the screws holding the top to the front and rear rails.  Remove the screws holding one side of the top to one of the side rails.  You can leave one side rail attached to the top (and the other one to the bottom).  Carefully turn the enclosure over.  Remove the screws holding the bottom to the front and rear rails.  Remove the screws holding the bottom to one side (on the side where you left the screws in place on the top).  Carefully lift the bottom and one side off, making sure you don't pull any cables loose with the attached side panel.  Then lift the modules out of the top and remaining side panel.  The modules will be held together by the (4) front and rear rails.

5.  You now have easy access to all the screws and nuts holding the modules and/or filler panels in place.  If you are installing a module, you'll need to remove filler panels to make room for the new module.  If you are uninstalling a module, you'll need to put filler panels or another module in place of the one you're removing.  Remove the screws holding the front/rear panels in place, then remove the panels and any attached cables.  Keep track of where the cables were plugged in so you can reassemble the module.  Sketch the boards and note where each connector goes.  You can also mark the connectors with a marker.  If there are cable ties holding the cables together, you may need to cut them off.  Needle nose pliers are helpful in unplugging the cables.  Don't connect or disconnect the cables by pulling on the wires.  Push and pull on the plastic connectors themselves.  They are held in place by friction, so wiggle them gently to pull them apart or push them back together, but be careful not to bend the connector pins.  Make sure when you plug them back in that they are properly seated, not at an angle.  The cables may try to push the connectors around, but you can move the cables around so that doesn't happen.

6.  It is easiest to keep all modules installed adjacent to each other, beginning from the left side (as you face the enclosure).  Fill any space to the right with filler panels and a right wing module or wing filler panels.

7.  If you don't have many modules installed, you may be able to fit the new module in (or remove one) by removing all the screws holding it and then angling it out of the front and rear rails.  If you don't have enough room, then you may have to take the module apart.  There are (3) screws holding the two parts of the module's PCB support panel together.  That's the big metal piece that the boards are mounted on.  You can reach through the hole where the front panel was to get to the screws with a screwdriver.  You'll probably have to hold the nuts with needle nose pliers or your fingers to get them free.  Once you have the (3) screws out, you can remove the two parts of the module one at a time.  Reverse this process to install a new module if your space is tight.  While you are working, you can rest the rail/modules assembly on its top, bottom, or sides.  Do not stand it on the front controls or rear connectors or you may damage them.

8.  If you are installing a module, put the PCB support in first, assembling the two pieces again if you had to take them apart.  Then install the front and rear panels, making sure to plug all the connectors back into the correct places.  Then put the screws back in place to hold the panels and PCB support in place.  The panels are meant to fit very snugly side by side.  If the space for a panel is too tight, loosen the adjacent panel(s) a bit and gently push them over a tiny amount to make room for the new panel you are installing.  Then tighten everything up.

9.  Put the top/side and bottom/side assemblies back on.  When you do this, start all the screws before tightening any of them.  Everything has to align very closely.  Note that the front panels extend above and below the front rails.  When you are putting the covers back on, it is recommended that you allow the front panels to hang over the edge of your work surface.  That prevents them from putting the frame at a slight angle, which may make it difficult to get the screws for the top and bottom to align correctly.  If you installed a new module, test it to make sure that it works and that everything is cabled correctly.

10.  The only tools you should need for all this is a phillips screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers to hold the nuts while you tighten the screws.  A nut driver is handy if you are using the adjustable rear supports with your enclosure.

11.  Don't over-tighten the screws that hold the top, bottom, and side panels to the rails.  The rails are aluminum and you can strip a hole if you try to tighten them too much, particularly if you have them misaligned in the hole.  They should screw in very easily when everything is properly aligned.  If you do strip a hole, it is OK to leave out a screw or two.  Also, the top and bottom panels have different screw hole patterns if you flip them front to rear.  That will align the holes in the panels with a different (extra) set of holes in the rails.  Then you can avoid using stripped holes.  We haven't stripped any holes yet, but it is possible.  If you strip holes, you probably have something out of alignment.  If that is the case, loosen screws and wiggle things into alignment and try again.  If you somehow mess up a rail, you can get replacement ones.  That should never be necessary, but it is an option.

12.  If you lose screws, nuts, or washers, you can get replacements at a hardware store or from us.  The machine screws holding the enclosure together are #6-32 and the ones that hold the modules in the enclosures are #4-40. 

A few random notes...

If you are removing/replacing a module in the middle of a bunch of adjacent modules, it may be easiest to simply remove all the modules to one side of that module.  Start with the wing module on the "short side" (the one with the fewest modules to remove) and remove it.  Then remove the screws holding the next module in place and slide that module out the end of the rails where the wing module was.  Repeat that until you get to the module you need to remove.  When you do it this way, you don't have to un-cable or disassemble any of the modules.  This usually turns out to be faster and easier than trying to disassemble a module that is installed between two modules.  It also reduces the possibility of re-cabling the module incorrectly. More work maybe, but easier and likely faster.

If you are working only with a wing module, you can probably access it by removing only that side panel of the enclosure.

To remove a side panel, remove the screws in the top and bottom panels, not the screws that go through the side panel itself.  The screws in the side panel use nuts and washers and are not meant to be removed.  Those in the top and bottom panels do not use nuts and washers.  When you remove the side panel this way, you will also remove the two mounting rails that are still bolted to it.  You will often want those side rails out of the way so you can work on the internals of your wing modules. 

If the enclosure includes an 18V Power module, make sure you turn it off, wait for the capacitors to drain, and unplug it before you open the enclosure.  See the 18V Power module docs for details.

If you are installing/uninstalling multiple modules, make sure that the tops and bottoms of the front and rear panels are level and straight across the entire enclosure.  If the panels are not even, you probably have something slightly misaligned and will likely have problems putting the enclosure back together.

if your panels aren't fitting and aligning with the holes in the rails, loosen adjacent panels and tap them on the edges to move them the appropriate direction to give you enough space.  Sometimes you may have to loosen a couple of panels on each side and tap them over to create enough space for everything to fit.  The holes in the panels have only a tiny tolerance for movement to allow for the manufacturing tolerances, so you may not be able to tell you're moving them, but you are.  The plastic handle of a screwdriver can be used to tap panels sideways without damaging the edges of the panels.  The panels may ding up your screwdriver handle, though...

You should never have to apply any force when assembling anything.  All the mechanical parts are made to highly accurate machining specs, with a tiny amount of "wiggle room" to cover the tolerances in the specs.  If you find a need to force something, you have something misaligned, maybe just a tiny bit.  Loosen screws and wiggle parts around until they align, then tighten everything up.  This is most likely to happen when you put the top and bottom panels back on.  Get the screws aligned in the four corners first, then add all the remaining screws once those are aligned.  Everything should screw together easily when all parts are properly aligned.  Also, make sure the enclosure is sitting on a very flat and level surface so that all the parts are nicely aligned horizontally and vertically.  Let the front panels hang over the edge of your work surface so they don't hold up the front edge of the enclosure.

If you are using the rear supports with your enclosure, there is a trick to installing the enclosure into the rack space.  Loosen the (6) screws that hold the supports to the sides of the enclosure.  Slide the supports out until they are fully extended.  They will now "flex" toward each other, allowing you to flex them into the rack space from the front.  Slide the enclosure in most of the way until it will sit in the rack space.  Then go to the back of your rack and gently flex each support inward so it clears the rear rail, and pull them back past the rear rail.  Then slide the enclosure the rest of the way in and screw the front of the enclosure to your rack rails.  Then slide the rear supports back to your rear rails and screw them to the rear rails.  Finally, tighten the (6) screws that hold the rear supports to the enclosure.  You should be able to hold the heads of the screws with your fingers.  Use a nut driver to tighten the nuts.  The nuts should be easily accessible on the side where you cable your modules.  The heads should be between your enclosure and the sides of your rack unit.

Some of the edges and corners of the panels and rails are almost sharp.  They can easily scratch the surface of your work area.  It is a good idea to first put down some newspaper (remember those?), a large towel, or something else to cover your work surface.  Someone might get a little upset if you scratch up the top of your new dining room table...  You will almost certainly be dropping some screws, nuts, or washers as you work.  These are small parts.  They are difficult to see on the floor.  They bounce and roll like crazy, typically coming to rest under a refrigerator or other large, heavy item.  This is another reason to put newspaper, a towel, or some other soft item on your work surface so those little pieces don't bounce around and disappear.  Make sure that none of them fall into modules, boards, or cables and get lodged there where they could cause a short.  Keep track of all of them.  If you do lose some, you can easily get replacements at your local hardware store.  The machine screws holding the enclosure together are #6-32 and the ones that hold the modules in the enclosures are #4-40.