Gargraves Switches

OGR Forum Member
 
December 20, 2011 8:57 PM

Hello all,

During Christmas time I like to bring the trains out and run a carpet central around the living & dining rooms. I use O-27 Lionel track with 42 & 54 curves because I have bigger scale Lionel locomotives & freight. Well the basic loop is starting to get pretty boring and I have always wanted to add some switches to the mix. I recently found that Gargraves makes several large-radius switches that seem reasonably compatible with the Lionel O-27 track. My question is:

- Do any of you have experience with these switches?
- Are they smooth enough not to derail a train if it runs through the switch (Always an issue on Lionel O27 switches)?
- Is there anything I should be aware of before getting into these?

I'm just looking for the basic manual throw versions since TMCC allows me a lot of freedom to move about the room. Plus I know the kids would enjoy playing with them. I figure having a second line running along the main line would allow fun switching and mixing up the train. Maybe even talking the wife into getting a passenger train too (yeah right).

Thanks in advance!

100"


72"


54"


42"
 
 
 
OGR Forum Member
 
December 20, 2011 9:40 PM

I use these and Ross Custom Switches all the time. Very good quality. When you buy, buy new ones, or if used only those made in the past 3-4 years. Eariler GG switches can be problematic. They will work, but you need to tweek them. Not for someone who is just getting going.

Secondly, these switches have a different track profile from O-27. I'm not so sure the transition is going to be smooth. You would be better off going with GG or Ross track in this case.

Just my 2 cents.

Chris
LVHR
 
 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 20, 2011 9:42 PM

I used to have some 42s and a 100 on my layout. They were a little bumpy, but I dont recall ever having derailing problems on them. I had the manual ones, the movement was nice and smooth, and they have a fairly positive lock into either route. For the price, not bad at all, and they work with 027 track when you use the adapter pins.
 

 

"Of course we know its O-gauge or no gauge." -- Sheldon Cooper

 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 20, 2011 10:39 PM

Thanks guys. I knew about the adapter pins, and they definitely would be purchased with the switches (and possibly parallel track transitions).

Just so you guys know, I already have tons of O27 super-straights & curves. Switching to a whole different track system is not an option for me. Whatever I buy would have to work with Lionel O27.

I am also an experienced hobby mechanic so modifying things to work better is not really a problem. I even considered building my own switches. But the Gargraves are so inexpensive, they just make sense.
 
 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 20, 2011 11:46 PM

The manual turnouts with the hand throw bar hold the track tight.
Now in your comment above if you run through a switch are you talking about if you run through it having forgotten to throw the switch in the direction you are going??
If that is the case with the manual throw it is not spring loaded like some others Atlas and MTH so your train will derail.
If you get the Electric ones with Gargraves it is really really simple to wire for non derail if you come in and switch is set wrong way it will throw correct automatically.

I find they work well.

If you do get some older turnouts ( got them new a few months back at a local hobby shop and had problems turnouts out they were old stock that needed a fix.)
Here is the link to a very fast and simple fix if you do get any of the older turnouts and have problems with them. photos and details;

Gargraves switch fix
 
 
 
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December 20, 2011 11:46 PM

This post may be a little late but I thought I should remind people of this anyway. Gargrave makes a fine switch, I know this because I have a few on my layout. It is true that they have worked out most of their early problems, but the thing you have to remember with them is that they are not really made for a carpet layout.
Gargrave track needs to be flat, and secured for proper operation.

Ross has produced a switch for tubular track and it looks great and I get nothing but good words about it. That said I never used them myself so I can't offer first hand observations. What I can say is that Ross is a great company and if they say their tubular switch is ok on your carpet central then you are good to go.

Personaly, I found the Lionel Fast Track works best on the floor, though many of our posters like the Atlas and MTH track. But for me it's Fast Track on the floor hands down.

I know Fast Track can get a little expensive if you have to replace all of your tubular so I would consider the ROSS switches. I saw them at York and they look great, though I would call to confirm if it needs to be screwed down or not.

Good Luck.
 

Keep the rails polished, Mario E.

 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 21, 2011 10:42 AM

Never too late. Thanks for your input.

Being able to "run-through" a closed switch is pretty important because I know my 2 & 4 yr old will be messing with the throws while the train is running. Do you know if there is a way to modify a manual switch lever to allow the wheels to push the points?

The whole reason for going this route is that the switches can be had for only $24/each. The Ross switches start at $70 for manual ones and the Fastrack would just look silly coupled to O27. Again were talking about a $50 investment (plus applicable modifications) for a pair of switches vs replacing all my existing track.
 
 
 
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December 21, 2011 11:43 AM

As Mario said above ALL switches have to be flat for them to work properly.
These switches will work fine on a carpet layout as long as they're installed right.Always check your switches with a straight edge AFTER you screw it down both long ways and side to side any humps or valleys and your going to have problems.I have several Gargraves switches on my Carpet Central and they work great.I use a piece of .060 Lexan under them as a stiffner which also shims it to the correct height of the cork road bed.

I use under the table R/C aircraft servos as switch machines which are spring loaded and I've never had any engine or cars derail driving thru an un-thrown switch.

The trade off is simple. Check your switches after you install them to make sure they're flat or spend your time trying to figure out why your engines are shorting out.

David
 
 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 21, 2011 11:52 AM

Ahhh...

So is it "flex" in the plastic base that causes these shorts? I mean if the carpet isn't flat, or the joining tracks aren't true, the frame of the switch isn't stiff enough to keep the rails of the switch from twisting? Also, are you screwing them down with cork roadbed when your running them on the carpet? Confused

My only experience with switches comes from Lionel/MPC O27's. The only problems I ever experienced with these on the living room floor was the switch mechanism fall to pieces.
 
 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 21, 2011 4:02 PM

I emailed Gargraves to get their opinions as well. I'll let everyone know what they say.

BTW: Has anybody ever dealt with Triple S Supplies (ssstrains.com)out of Pennsylvania? I guess they specialize in S-gauge, but their prices seem too good to be true on the o-gauge stuff:

http://www.ssstrains.com/

http://www.ssstrains.com/gargraves5.htm
 
 
 
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OGR Forum Member
 
December 21, 2011 4:26 PM



This switch above appears to be the early switch construction back in the 1990's. They were problematic, esp if you ran heavy die cast steam engines/ heavy weighted diesels on them. The failure points were:
  • the guide rails were only glued and broke off.
  • the "frog" was plastic and flexed so much the cars really clanked over them
  • the throwbar was plastic and small rivits held the points to the throwbar. a Sderailment could easily melt the rivits off the throwbar.
  • The points didn't match up to the rail profile thus train wheels easily picked the points.

    For the current price, invest in ross - althou for a "Carpet Central" the way to go is fastrack for better durability and operation on a flexible base environment.
     
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    December 21, 2011 5:48 PM

    quote:
    Originally posted by prrhorseshoecurve:


    This switch above appears to be the early switch construction back in the 1990's. They were problematic, esp if you ran heavy die cast steam engines/ heavy weighted diesels on them. The failure points were:
  • the guide rails were only glued and broke off.
  • the "frog" was plastic and flexed so much the cars really clanked over them
  • the throwbar was plastic and small rivits held the points to the throwbar. a Sderailment could easily melt the rivits off the throwbar.
  • The points didn't match up to the rail profile thus train wheels easily picked the points.

    For the current price, invest in ross - althou for a "Carpet Central" the way to go is fastrack for better durability and operation on a flexible base environment.


  • The current Gargraves switches have cast switch points and are very good. No problems whatsoever. Ross appears to be a bit higher quality but you will pay more for the extra work in them that is needed to lay and stake the individual ties used. I use both brands and both have worked well. When buying just insure that you are buying the correct radius
     

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    OGR Forum Member
     
    December 21, 2011 7:57 PM

    Anybody remember Hirth hobbies and their 100mph switch? that would be good for this application except I believe they where not manually operated.
     
     
     
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    OGR Forum Member
     
    December 21, 2011 8:57 PM

    Those actually look pretty cool. Probably hard to come by.



    BTW: Here is the response from Gargraves:

    quote:
    I would not recommend our switches on the carpet as they are recommended and intended for use on a permanent layout where they can be fastened down. While they are fairly rigid they could flex some under those conditions.
    The manual switches can not be set up for non-derailing as the throw locks them in position. For this one needs to use remote switches with additional required wiring for the non-derailing feature.
    You would be better off and much happier using a more rigid base switch such as the Lionel switches. While not easily mated together. I would recommend Lionel FasTrack products for the carpet railroad.
     
     
     
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    December 21, 2011 10:41 PM

    Those are the ones! The switch machine built into the plastic road bed under the rails.I think they where also non derailing.
     
     
     
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    December 22, 2011 1:45 AM

    Yeah, there were just a couple pairs on ebay last week that went for less than $20 shipped. Some were even manual too. But a little research shows they were meant for the standard O31 tinplate rather than O27. Still pretty cool.
     
     
     
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    December 22, 2011 9:35 AM

    I have found the smaller radius Gargraves switches very reliable. The 100", less so (though I don't have any of the really, really new ones). The 100" ones I have seen seem to flex more than the smaller sizes--big trouble on a carpet layout, I would think. Also, if you run pre-1948 cars or certain operating cars you may have trouble with the slide shoes. Because of the small brass pins, track joints are weak spots for Gragraves, and the junction between your turnout and the adjoining track needs to be supported somehow. The Gargraves-O27 adapter pins are brittle: I have broken many of them just installing track on a table--let alone running heavy trains over it on carpet.

    Manually-thrown turnouts using Caboose Industries ground throws could be spring-loaded, I think. Have not done it, but if I were going to, this is what I would try first: File off the pin on the ground throw "arm" that engages the turnout throw bar. Drill a very small hole in the "arm" right where the pin used to be. Drill a new hole in the turnout throw bar, 1/4" inboard of the current one. Connect the two holes with the small square-shaped spring used on the DZ-1000 turnout motors (perhaps Ross or Z-Stuff will sell you some).
     
     
     
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    December 22, 2011 10:00 AM

    Have you considered the 042 switches formerly made by K-Line? Did RMT pick up that product line?
     
     
     
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    December 22, 2011 1:10 PM

    I've used the 100's from the 1990's before but never on a carpet. I did think enough of them to salvage them from my last layout and look forward to incorporating them in my next layout. I would recommend as previously mentioned, if you could put them on a secure board, that should improve things.

    Tom
     
     
     
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    December 22, 2011 1:23 PM

    Thanks again everyone!

    Yeah, I think I'm kinda fixed on the 54" radius switches since they match my curves.

    I figure I may just give it a shot against everyone recommendations and see if my modern "scale" stuff just works. If not, then I will probably try making some sheet metal base plates to bolt the switches onto. I was thinking about cutting A plate the exact shape of the switch base with extended ends so I can bolt down the 1st tie of each piece of track connected to the switch. This should help stiffen things up. Also, the nuts & screws sticking through the bottom of the plate may just help keep the switch from sliding around on the carpet.

    BTW: Thanks for the idea of adding a motor spring to the grown-throw.
     
     
     
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