Case Study

Tru-Trac Keeps this Frankenstein Alive



Peninsula Iron Works, of Portland, Oregon, is one of the largest machine shops on the West Coast. They are the heavy fabrication, machine, and rebuild facility for many industries in the area. Peninsula works with owners, managers, and plant engineers to provide engineered solutions for complex mechanical machinery.

Sometimes they need to provide their own engineered solutions – as in the case of their Frankenstein Machine, pictured at right. This machine was assembled from various parts of other machines, so “Frankenstein” was really the only logical name for it.

Frankenstein handles huge metal sheets, turning and cutting them into smaller sheets. With a 26 foot travel, all axes on this machine have a positioning resolution of 0.0001 inch.


Peninsula Iron Work's Frankenstein machine

The Problem

As those huge metal sheets move, it’s critical that the feedback of the motion is absolutely correct. For the intricately engineered solutions Peninsula provides, the metal cuts must be exact.

To provide motion control feedback for the massive Frankenstein, they needed a linear measurement solution.

But they had some very specific requirements. With that heavy-duty of a product, and with the distance traveled, they needed a robust, fixed, rack & pinion track system. Also, the track system had to be stainless steel to withstand the environment. Since the sheets move forward and backward during the machine operation, the encoder solution would need to provide bi-directional feedback. Finally, the right encoder solution would need to offer Line Driver Output to be compatible with their existing system.

Summary of encoder requirements for this application:

  • Provide a linear measurement solution
  • Work on a fixed, heavy-duty, stainless steel track
  • Offer Quadrature for bidirectional feedback
  • Offer Line Driver output

The Solution

Peninsula came to EPC to find a solution. They trusted our expertise, because we’ve cross-referenced several encoders for them before and they knew they could trust the quality of our products.

Once our Technical Services department understood the requirements of the application, the solution was obvious: the Model TR2 Tru-Trac®.

“EPC encoders are our preferred brand of encoders. We started replacing a different brand of rack & pinion encoders several years ago. The TR2 system from EPC has proven to be more reliable, easier to maintain, and more cost competitive than other systems used in the past,” explains Dave Logan of Peninsula Iron Works.

The Model TR2 Tru-Trac® is a versatile solution for tracking velocity, position, or distance in almost any application. Developed with applications such as machine shops in mind, the TR2 features an integrated encoder with a rack & pinion gear assembly. Using this gear system, encoder readings can be obtained with repeatable positioning, providing excellent accuracy.

Racks can be ordered in varying lengths, and with the accessory spacer block, multiple lengths of rack can be joined for easy installation.

The stainless steel option was essential for this application.

“We always use stainless steel in a machining environment,” says Dave Logan. “The coolant that flows over the cutter is a water soluble mixture, that can have some reactions with some metals and materials.”

The spring-loaded torsion arm provides easily adjustable torsion load, giving the TR2 all the flexibility and maneuverability of the original Model TR1 Tru-Trac®. It’s so versatile, it can be installed in a horizontal, vertical, or upside down position.



Model TR2

The Model TR2 Tru-Trac® is a versatile solution for tracking velocity, position, or distance in almost any application. Using the rack & pinion gear system, encoder readings can be obtained with repeatable positioning, providing excellent accuracy.

Model TR2 Key Features:

  • Encoder with rack & pinion gear integrated into one compact unit
  • Easily installed in a vertical, horizontal or upside down orientation
  • Operates at speeds up to 400 feet per minute
  • Spring-loaded torsion arm eliminates gear backlash
  • Integrated module simplifies your system design



Do you have a question about which encoder is right for your application? When you contact EPC, you talk to engineers and encoder experts for your toughest encoder questions. You’ll get answers that make sense for your application.

With our industry-leading three-year warranty, if something does go wrong, we’ve got you covered.

Contact EPC to find the right encoder for your application.

For more information, watch the Tru-Trac® product demonstration.


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