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Over the summer, while my layout-under-construction sat idle, the center rails of all Ross switches and sectional track purchased this year rusted, but no earlier Ross switches and sectional track show any rust on that rail, nor does the GarGraves track.  Has anyone else seen this?

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Is have rust on some of my center rails, not just switches.  I don’t really know what causes it.  My layout is in the basement with dehumidifiers.  The rust is not everywhere, just a little here and there.  My present guess is it caused by handling (ie body salts) ?  Rails that had considerable handling during construction or hand contact seem more prone to rust.

Last edited by shorling
@KarlDL posted:

Steve tells me that it is a manufacturing defect issue with his new source of raw material.  The switches not yet installed will probably go back for rail replacement.  As for the others, I'll probably try non-abrasive cleaning/coating and see how that works out.

KarlDL - I have the same rust issue with some of my 2021 vintage Ross Switches.   I'm reaching out to Steve but I thought I would contact you for how you resolved the rust issue with you installed switches ?

@shorling posted:

KarlDL - I have the same rust issue with some of my 2021 vintage Ross Switches.   I'm reaching out to Steve but I thought I would contact you for how you resolved the rust issue with you installed switches ?

This remains a work-in-progress.  All of my 2020 switches and sectional track went back to Ross for center rail replacement in 2021.  No rust was noted for 15 months after re-installation, but some has been found since ballasting got underway this summer.  I believe that to have been caused by not wiping down the rails after wetting and gluing the ballast (overlooking the fact that 70% isopropyl alcohol is 30% water).  Rust was removed, rails cleaned, and center rails wiped off with a cloth dipped in machine oil.  I have a few more ideas to try before restoring to in-situ rail replacement.

@KarlDL posted:

This remains a work-in-progress.  All of my 2020 switches and sectional track went back to Ross for center rail replacement in 2021.  No rust was noted for 15 months after re-installation, but some has been found since ballasting got underway this summer.  I believe that to have been caused by not wiping down the rails after wetting and gluing the ballast (overlooking the fact that 70% isopropyl alcohol is 30% water).  Rust was removed, rails cleaned, and center rails wiped off with a cloth dipped in machine oil.  I have a few more ideas to try before restoring to in-situ rail replacement.

KarlDL - Thanks for all the information.   You have had quite a time of it with lots of rework and dead time.  It can be very frustrating and your issues are still ongoing.

I have over 30 years of excellent experience with my Ross track and switches.  My 2021 purchase of  lots of track and switches was for building a yard.  The track is fine, no rust.  But like yourself I had the seasonal hiatus where the switches sat on top the layout.   My layout is in a finished part of my basement and is 10 x 20 with two small dog legs for a round house and industrial area.  I have an adjacent basement room where the yard is located.  I had to bust  through 10" of concrete to connect the main layout with the yard.  Last year I built the yard platform and ran track to the yard "Y" switch.  The yard is 7 x 14 with access only on one 14 foot side.  This season I built a 4 x 7 rolling work platform over the yard to provide access.  The purpose of my yard is for train storage rather than a proto typical functional yard.  The yard also has a perimeter reversing loop. I use a dehumidifier in the summer and the platform has a vapor barrier.

I've now been installing track and switches.  The rust issue with some switches is with the blackened rails but not the center rail.  It' with the blackened rails that provide the rollers continues power as the engine transverses the switch.  I have one switch with all 3 rails completely covered with rust.   Others are in various state of decline on one or more of these power carrying rails.  Yesterday I tried a wipe coat of  light conductive oil on these 3 rails on one switch as a retardant.  One rail had a rust spot.  With a little rubbing the black oxide coating flaked off in the area of the rust leaving the underlying steel exposed.  I'm still looking for a prophylactic coating to retard the rust.  I wouldn't considered this much of a problem but in a yard where there is not much traffic, I suspect there are constantly going to be stalled engines on dead spots created by rust.

I'm hoping Steve Ross will have a retardant silver bullet.   The one switch with the 3 rails completely rusted fortunately can be easily replaced at this point and not imped yard progress.  It's only  been a few days since I reached out to Steve.

There is a lot of information on the forum regarding rust.  Scotch Brite and side rail painting seems to be popular.  Lots of folks have used WD-40 or various types of oil as coating.  Seems like content maintenance.

My Ross switches and Gargraves track have been down for twenty seven years.  I have had no rust.  My layout is in a finished basement with a dehumidifier that is operational all year.  The basement is heated and cooled.  I do think that frequent operation of the trains helps to avoid rust and dirt build-up.  Steve is a fine businessman, a real gentleman.  He stands by his products and if there are problems, he will make things right.

I began to notice rust on a few of my Ross switch black rails earlier this summer.  I can't pinpoint when the rusted ones were purchased. I must have 15 switches including one 3-way and one 4-way with some being purchased a decade ago.  I've always run a de=humidifier in the main train room...will run it until the winter temps settle in.

Last edited by Capetrainman

I just checked my stuff I bought from Steve in 2022. Rust on the center rail of switches and sectional track. All stored in a heated and A/C controlled second-floor room, no basement. I am keeping my stuff, but will look for a cleaning/preservation method for the future. All have not been installed on the layout yet. Checked the big guy, the 175 double X-over and it has it too. And all this has been stored in their original boxes, with cardboard boxes to save space. The area is NOT damp. This has to be some kind of chemical reaction.

Last edited by 452 Card

I contacted Steve and he recommended replacing the center rails.  I have two switches with just the center rails perfectly rusted.  Steve's vendor for the center rails had a fire and he had to change to a new vendor which turned out to have a rust problem.  Steve's described the problem as local meaning rails with small rust spots were not likely to progress and new rust areas are not likely to appear.   I dropped off two switches with Steve in Norwich, CT to be reworked. Small rusts spots I'm treating with a swipe of light conductive oil.   I may Scotch Brite the rail head if needed.  Test runs over treated/untreated areas were unremarkable.   Time will tell. I purchased my switches a couple of years ago and am just installing them now.

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