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Hello!

I just bought an 042 Gargraves Switch from my local hobby shop and BOY AM I ****ED!  I read a lot of bad reviews with them and should have trusted my gut but the guy at the shop talked me out of Ross.  This GG switch has derailed a steam coal tender and multiple cars multiple times.  And I noticed the motor sometimes sticks in the middle and doesn't fully switch over.  My question is has anyone had any issue with Ross Switches?  I am thinking of exchanging the GG Switch with Ross.

 

Thanks in advanced!

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yes, but they're still the best.

I have an 072 Wye that my engines kept derailing on the left hand side, perfect on the right hand side.  Found a piece of the track was not in gauge.  Fixed in easily.

Have another 072 switch that arrived without inner guard rails, Steve sent me rails and spikes in the mail, another easy fix.

Out of 2 dozen or so RCS switches, that's the only issues I've ever had.  IMO those issues were minor compared to some of the problems I see on the forum with other brands.

On another note, RCS curved track is great stuff too.  Gargraves rail is embedded into the ties and works well, RCS track is folded under and spiked to the ties, also works well.

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In the photo above (glad I replaced that boiler!), a RCS switch is to the left and a piece of Gargraves track is to the right.  You can see the shiny embedded part of the rail below the top of the ties on the Gargraves track, on the RCS switch you see a black plastic(?) stringer.  If ballasted you don't see either one so all told it's not a big whoop, just whatever you prefer.

I've ballasted the outside of the ties, but not in the middle.  I'm trying to figure out how to darken those shiny spots so they don't show so much.  I've tried a brown paint pen but it's too big to get in there like I want.

RCS switches are well worth the $$$.

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  • 2-8-0 935 (2)

So what is the problem? The Ross switch or the Gargraves switch? First you say you should have listened to your local guy and not gone with Ross then you list a load of issues with your Gargraves switches? Not sure if it is the Ross switch or the Gargraves switch that is the problem. Actually, it sounds like your problem is more with the switch machines (motors) which are NOT Ross products. They are Z-Stuff. 

EDIT - looks like you may have edited your post clearing up my questions.

I've been using EXCLUSIVELY Ross switches on my layout for years. You couldn't ask for anything better. 100% Made in America craftsmanship. Steve is the best of the best. 

Last edited by SJC

Ross switches and tortoise switch machines are the gold standard. Period. Z-Stuff switch machines are passable but no where near as dependable as the Tortoise machines. With a little practice you can install a Tortoise in less than 30 minutes. You cannot pick their switch machines because the motor that powers them is always ON. It enters a stall mode after throwing the switch. As for Ross they are the most reliable switches made. And, they are guaranteed for life. If you break a throw bar, you send it to Steve and he not only fixes it free but pays for the return shipping. His variety is unmatched. I have been using Ross Switches and Tortoise switch machines since 1987 and they still all work. Plus, you can wire bi-color LEDs for your control panel. You may argue all day MTH vs. Lionel, but in this arena there is no contest.

I have 52 Ross switches on the layout, and they are truly the best switch on the market. And as mentioned above, Steve backs  them up. I have sent two back to him over the years for the throw bar repair. Both switches were from production runs in which the throw bars were known to break.  This was at least 5 or 6 years ago, and I have not had a problem since.

I only use the Z 1000 switch machines. Stay away from the Z 250 machines, the ones with TMCC capabilities built in. They have a very high failure rate.

The only other issue you need to know about is running Lionel Post war engines and operating cars with slider shoe pickups through Ross Switches. The design of the Ross Switch will cause the engine / car to uncouple when the slider shoe crosses the center rail of the switch. Operating cars with slider shoes will activate when going through  a Ross Switch. Jim Barrett has a fix for this problem in one of his back shop  videos. It involves filing back the slider shoes, and insulting the car body from the track ground.  I decided not to alter my post war operating cars, so I leave them on a siding and operate them in place, and never run them on the layout.  I run the Williams remote control operating cars on the layout. The only fix I know for the slider shoes on post war engines and tenders is to disconnect them, or just cover the metal pin with tape. The slider shoe still does a good bit of bouncing when the engine goes through the Ross Switch.

I hope this helps,

Richard

 

 

 

 

 

My GG switches worked fine in my yard, but did not always close completely, until I made some adjustments to the position of the switch motor.  I have used Atlas and Z-Stuff switch motors.  I have also used Atlas and Ross switches.  All worked.  The best (this could be sacriledge) were Lionel Fastrack.  

I am considering Ross for my Standard gauge layout even though I could get GG a fraction of the cost.  To me, you can compromise in a yard that is easily accessed but not on the main line.

While I don't own any, I have no doubt Ross is indeed the gold standard when it comes to overall quality and performance.  unfortunately, gold is also a useful adjective applied to the cost.  I have a small setup and needed three switches.  I went with GGs manual O-54 switches to stay within my budget.  When they arrived, I saw right away why the GGs switches were such a bargain.   The GG switches are not made with individual wood ties like their track.  Instead, the rails are mounted on a black plastic base with the ties molded in.  The plastic bases also had a slight "bow" that made me concerned on how they would perform.  When connected to the rest of my GG track, the difference in color and depth of the ties was also obvious.  It was a nice touch that the manual switches came pre-mounted with Caboose Hobbies ground throws. 

I installed the switches with the rest of my GG track.  I made sure to screw down the GG switches so as to flatten out the bow in the base.  After installation, I spray painted and then ballasted my track (including the GG switches).  Once done, the GG switches blended nicely with the rest of my track work.   The real test came when it was time to run trains.  I am happy to report that my MTH RK steamers and rolling stock operate flawlessly through the switches including the O-54 crossover.  The steamers can crawl through the switches without a problem.

Overall, I am content with my GGs decision.  If they maintain performance over time I have no complaints.  That said, next time around I will likely try Ross.  For me, a mix of the two types will be the best approach to balance quality and performance while staying within budget.  Its not a one size fits all decision.  Each of us will have to make the trades of cost and performance to arrive at the right plan to fit their individual needs and budget.    

Richard Gonzales posted:

The only other issue you need to know about is running Lionel Post war engines and operating cars with slider shoe pickups through Ross Switches. The design of the Ross Switch will cause the engine / car to uncouple when the slider shoe crosses the center rail of the switch. Operating cars with slider shoes will activate when going through  a Ross Switch. Jim Barrett has a fix for this problem in one of his back shop  videos. It involves filing back the slider shoes, and insulting the car body from the track ground.  I decided not to alter my post war operating cars, so I leave them on a siding and operate them in place, and never run them on the layout. 

A less invasive fix for the postwar slide-shoes is to shim them up. A thin, U-shaped shim is slipped above the metal plate on the underside of the truck--between it and the "stop" on the upper part of the shoe (the part that the strap spring presses down on). It takes some doing to get the shim in there, but it requires no glue, and will never come out unless you want it too. There is a price to be paid, though: all the uncoupling / unloading rails have to be shimmed up, too, or the shoes will not touch them and the cars will not operate; it is also important that the elevated control rails are isolated when the track is not in operation, since the third-rail pickups may possibly touch them. Making custom track is preferable to modifying the cars, from my point of view.

Concerning switch machines, the Z-1000s are generally reliable...emphasis on "generally." Every once in a while, one will not complete its motion, even though the led shows the switch has thrown. I can't speak for Tortoise. I use a lot of the old twin-coil machines, such as were once sold by NJ, Kemtron, and PFM. For one thing, the price is right (more left to spend on the switches!) I find that I like the loud audible feedback, and that they are very reliable once you get the contacts adjusted. Of course, I'm the sick person who finds wiring kind of relaxing, so that's another "feature" of these, from my point of view. Obviously, they are non-starters if you need TMCC compatibility.

Gargraves are good switches for railroads on a shoe string budget. Just use the LH Reg. and RH Reg.  as a base minimum radius.

Ross switches are not cheep. 50 dollars or more is allot of coin for a switch, and if you need 10 or 20 of them, it can set you back a piece.

I bought a bunch of used gargraves and learned the newer ones are better. The down fall is the frog. Most engines will pass through it like a car going through it like a big pot hole. Weaver freight cars with plastic trucks and large flange wheel sets hate them.

Ross is a superior switch and I have been slowly updating my layout with them, but do not discount the GG's  as a low cost temporary stand in.

 

My layout has been operating for 24 years using 30 Ross switches. At the 14 year point, one of the switches failed but Steve Brennisen replaced the switch at no cost even though any possible warranty would have long expired by then. I'd love to give Ross Custom Switches more of my business, but his switches are so good and reliable that I haven't bought a switch since 1996 !!!  I run a large variety of MTH, Lionel and K-Line engines over the Ross switches with absolutely no problems.  What more can I say?

@John C. posted:

Buy Ross!!!  Do not buy Gargraves.  Because down the road you will have issues and be replacing Gargraves switches.

You will spend double if you buy Gargraves to start.

Ask me how I know this...been there done that have the T-shirt.

Must ask:  Why did you reply to a thread that in a month will be 5 (not 4) Years Old?

Also:  How did you come upon a 4 year old thread in the first place?

Ditto for the others who followed.

Edit:  Corrected 4 years to 5 years per @Training Wheels reply.  Thank you TW.

Last edited by Pingman
@Pingman posted:

Must ask:  Why did you reply to a thread that in a month will be 5 (not 4) Years Old?

Also:  How did you come upon a 4 year old thread in the first place?

Ditto for the others who followed.

Edit:  Corrected 4 years to 5 years per @Training Wheels reply.  Thank you TW.

Guess we all like to give our superb train and accessory manufacturers great PR and chance we get!

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