I wish to modify my rack, in order to mount some modern rackmount servers.

  • Am I damaging a piece of history and will incur the wrath of historical computing librarians ?

It is an old 19" rack that used to contain a Data General Nova minicomputer, first released in 1969. I acquired the bare rack from the local university chemistry department around 10 years ago, and it was empty of active gear.


Picture of Nova minicomputer in operation:

http://criggie.org.nz/pictures/servers/cabinet2.jpg http://criggie.org.nz/pictures/servers/cabinet1.jpg

Picture of my rack as of 2011 - yes its a mess hence the plan to tidy and clean.

A rack full of lots of electronics

My modification is to cut out 150mm lengths of steel from the second and third horizontal rails, so I can extend the vertical support further backwards by bolting on two S rails that I have obtained from elsewhere.

Downside of this is that the rack rails are closer at the back, so the server fits in the front but binds as I push it home.

So by making these cuts I can mount the S rails slightly further apart and push my servers home into the rack.

Planned cuts

By doing this, will I damage an object with historical value?

  • 1
    I feel this might be off topic for this stack, but its the least-inappropriate stack I could find. If Off Topic, please suggest a better stack to post this question.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 2:59
  • 3
    As it's phrased it's probably opinion-based, but it can be interpreted to not be. I wouldn't say that it's off-topic, but whether you incur the wrath of a computing history librarian depends on the librarian.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 8:44
  • 5
    Have you tried to contact one of the many old computer museums, and asked them? Maybe one near you? Possibly they'd even be interested in buying the DG Nova rack, or buying you a modern rack in exchange for it ...
    – dirkt
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 10:31
  • 2
    @Criggie "there wouldn't really be a market for racks" - in the 1970s, telephone exchanges were full of 19-inch racks. Even in the early 1980s, I can remember rebuilding a mini computer (not a DG) plus a collection of "non-standard" peripheral devices in a rack as a one-off, simply to make the whole system transportablem using a fork-lift truck to pick up the complete rack! It was a bit neater looking than your 2011 picture, though ;)
    – alephzero
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 4:58
  • 2
    Fixed! We ended up cutting the new S rail into 3 pieces so it could go between the original horizontal parts of the rack. I figure 6 bolts will hold it to the vertical strut well enough. The grey is spray-on anti-rust zinc paint which was used to protect the bare steel from potential rust. I did have to drill more holes for the bolts. Also, the bolts have been positioned every 2 RU so will end up between the rails. Otherwise the bolthead would interfere with the rails. And the server rails are just about perfectly horizontal. Image
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


By looking at the photos i can't see any proof (logos, text) that this really is a Synergist rack; Adding to it that you don't have any other computer hardware associated with it, you should be OK with modyfing it. Over the past 48 years probably at least one of them got modified in a way that let it be used for a "while" longer.


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