Very nice Mel,
I wanted to FYI that you can get a 6 foot 1/4"-20 threaded aluminum rod from McMaster-Carr for $8.91. Or 5/16"-18 aluminum rod for $14.07.
Matching aluminum nuts and washers are also available from the same source.
McMaster-Carr never exploits the customer on shipping costs and usally ships same day. They are located in Atlanta, GA.
I have bought a lot of stuff from them over the years for both ATM and other machining projects; never been unhappy with the shipping costs or service, web site is very user friendly, much easier to navigate than Grainger.
Thanks for suggesting McMaster-Carr as an means of purchasing the aluminum threaded rod. I, too, have done business with them for quite some time. I even have a link to their website from my own. I could have went with the aluminum rods, but I decided to go with the zinc-plated ones instead. In any case, I will be priming and painting them with flat black, which should suffice in this application; let alone the cost savings.