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Planning our next permanent layout.

Going to use Ross track and switches.

Planning to operate switches via Lionel Legacy / LCS iPad system.

Would prefer to have switch machines hidden under table.

What would be the best switch machine for this scenario? DZ1000, DZ2500 or Tortise?

Reliability is probably the #1 concern. Easy interfacing with the LCS module/system is next.

Non-derailing is not a must-have.


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My layout was built in 1987. I used Tortoise switch machines, Gargraves phantom rail  track, Ross Custom switches and Midwest cork roadbed. The Tortoise switch machines are bullet proof. The under table mount means you see nothing except the switch move. The DZ machines are satisfactory but the linkage is somewhat sloppy. I have used some of the DZ1000 in yard applications. I don't know if you can control the Tortoise machines remotely. They are always powered in a stall position which means you can never "pick the points." They are made by Circuitron in IL. You can buy them individually or in 6 or 10 packs. I have mine wired using bi-color LED's so that I can see the path of trains on my control board. It takes about an hour to install the first Tortoise, then the rest take about 20-30 minutes once you get the hang of it. In 33 years I have never replaced one tortoise machine. As for Ross switches, they are the best. Best look, best operation and best service with a lifetime guarantee. Made in America you can pick up your phone and talk to the owner of the company. Try that with switches made in China. Anyway, good luck and enjoy building the layout. It's the best part of the hobby.

Thank You guys for the quick replies. I had read them earlier today but only got a chance to log-in and respond now.

Great info and yes Bill, I will def get the Ross switch stands as well.

By using Tortoise machines, is there any wiring that needs to happen to various rails on the underside of the switch itself? Or are, the already inter-connected and isolated as needed?


The Tortoise switch machine does not get wired to any of the rails of the switch. If you want to have sidings controlled by toggle switches then you wouldn't put jumper wires connecting all center rails. The Ross switch may or may not come with jumper wires but they are easy to solder on underside of the switch. If you know that you want them connected Steve can do it before he ships you the switches. By the way the company is named Ross because that isSteve Brenneisen's middle name. If you have any questions email me at

I have 21 tortoises (torti?) working for 22 years with never a failure. When adjusted correctly they provide excellent springiness to move the point blades firmly to either side. As mentioned above, they work well with multicolor LED lights to show positioning. The built-in DPDT relay can be used for block control either through an external solid-state or high-amperage electromechanical relay. The tortoise manufacturer recently announced they are using a new motor supplier. That will obviously be an important factor in long-term reliability. Time will tell.

Last edited by Bruce Brown

Not to start a major argument here, but one of the best kept secrets is that the tortoise has an  inherent non-derailing feature, without adding any additional electronics, for most heavier cars and engines. If you adjust the spring tension on a tortoise, it behaves like a  spring-loaded slip switch that many of us use in reversing loops. Many times I've forgotten to change the position of a switch for a train coming in from the "wrong" direction and never had a derailment. This effect has been reported by others in older posts.   

Thank You Gents. I really appreciate the info.

I had assumed that, with the Tortoise, I would have to live without the non-derailing feature. We're aiming for a scale operating style so slower, more deliberate movements will be the norm so it shouldn't be much of an issue.

However, I will keep Bruce's idea in mind for sure. I recall Atlas switches using this same, passive approach to non-derail.

I'll throw in my vote to the tortoise machines, they work great. The newer version sure does make the hookup much easier.

I picked mine up used off the Bay for around $10 bucks each. If you do go with the older model as I did here is a mod you can do on the bench before installation. I had to tweak the outer pins a bit for alignment. I found these connectors on the Bay too.


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