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I'm a newbie building my first layout for a cache of post war Lionels I recently inherited.   I also find myself drawn to all the new O scale extra big big boys and large trains.   I think they would be exciting to run right from an iPad with the Lionel LCS system I am reading about.  Of course, I will also be running the older 60 or so cars and 12 or so engines I inherited from dad.   The new layout will be 072 minimum curves, possibly some 080, to accommodate the large trains and will be 15x16 in my upstairs game room.  There is a good group of guys helping me design and lay it out in the other section, and they have been great.   This question seemed more appropriate here, and I wanted to be respectful of the forums guidelines so I'm posting it here.   I am definitely going with Ross switches for all the reasons you already know, but reliability being #1.   BUT, if his switches are so good, why do I not read about all these magnificent layouts being built with Ross TRACK?   Outside of Atlas solid rail, most of what I read is Ross switch/GARGRAVES track.   Why mix Ross/GG instead of just Ross/Ross if his stuff is such high quality???  It appears to be close in $ for the track.    Thank you for the comments from those of you with first hand knowledge!

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Ross does not have flex track and the good combination that folks use is ross switches with Gargraves flex. I stayed away from sectional track as I find it easier to use the flex.  it matches ross perfectly. flex also cuts down on the overall cost and eliminates a lot of short sections. as far as both of there sectional its hard to tell apart both nice products.

I use a combination of Ross turnouts with Gargraves flex track. When I started my layout over 30 years ago. The only sectional track was tubular. Even the Ross turnout selection wasn’t what it is today. Your building a layout using standard radius curves. The Gargraves flex track is more useful when you want long sweeping curves or easements. More of a scale type layout. The one benefit of Ross is how it looks compared to Gargraves. The Ross track is spiked and glued to the wood ties. Gargraves uses a web design where the rail slides into the ties. Nothing wrong structurally wise with that method. But if you don’t plan on ballasting. That shiny web stands out. I also think it’s easier to solder wires to the Ross track from the underside as it’s a flat surface

Your layout size isn’t huge. I would go with the Ross sectional curves. Many adopt this method and just use the 37” Gargraves on the straight portions or for slight changes in direction. If it’s just a matter of a few straight portions. I’d go with all Ross.  You will not find a better guy to deal with than Steve. Any issues. You will be talking with not only the owner. But the guy that makes it.

@Hp289 posted:

I'm a newbie building my first layout for a cache of post war Lionels I recently inherited.   I also find myself drawn to all the new O scale extra big big boys and large trains.   I think they would be exciting to run right from an iPad with the Lionel LCS system I am reading about.  Of course, I will also be running the older 60 or so cars and 12 or so engines I inherited from dad.   The new layout will be 072 minimum curves, possibly some 080, to accommodate the large trains and will be 15x16 in my upstairs game room.  There is a good group of guys helping me design and lay it out in the other section, and they have been great.   This question seemed more appropriate here, and I wanted to be respectful of the forums guidelines so I'm posting it here.   I am definitely going with Ross switches for all the reasons you already know, but reliability being #1.   BUT, if his switches are so good, why do I not read about all these magnificent layouts being built with Ross TRACK?   Outside of Atlas solid rail, most of what I read is Ross switch/GARGRAVES track.   Why mix Ross/GG instead of just Ross/Ross if his stuff is such high quality???  It appears to be close in $ for the track.    Thank you for the comments from those of you with first hand knowledge!

This topic is more appropriate in the track and layout planning forum so it was moved from 3-rail scale since this is not a 3-rail scale conversation.

@Hp289 posted:

So it will cut down connections at all the 12" lengths by using the 37" lengths.   But then there's all the bending you have to get right, and I see me screwing that ALL up.   Maybe not, but it seems like so much more work to get up and running.  Still seems odd to me.

Truthfully, after you do a few sections of Gargraves Flex, you'll get the hang of it.  I was pretty new to flex track when I started my current layout, I'd done sectional track every time previously, all the way from the O27 days.  By the time the first hundred feet of track was down, I felt like an old hand, it's really not that hard.  The bonus is that you can do so much more with the "flexibility" of flex track.   There are tons of tutorials around on laying flex track as well.

My only caution is, buy new track if you're going to use flex, especially if it's your first time.  While you can use old(er) Gargraves flex, it's not as easy to work with, the ties dry up and it's much harder to get the spacing right.  I actually bought a few lengths of used track (I got it cheap), and tinkered around with it for a few hours.  It was a good exercise, once I got the new track, I found out how easy it was to work with.

If you do flex, I recommend this 6" Cut-Off Saw from Harbor Freight for chopping it, it really made it easy to get nice even cuts.

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AS said  The Ross rail is also glued as well as spiked. AND there is a wood support under the rail.

Your point about the track spikes loosening  IS only true if you use the Ross track at a "lift up bridge" where the Ross track on one side can rub against the track on the lift bridge. If the gap is too tight you can affect the Ross spiking.

To avoid that I Crazy-Glue the spikes down or use Gargraves track on either side of the gap with Three(3) (one for each rail)  Gargraves Track Strip Connectors (#910-4 at Trainworld) on the non-moving side of the lift bridge..................I know TMI.

@Hp289 posted:

< snip > This question seemed more appropriate here, and I wanted to be respectful of the forums guidelines so I'm posting it here.   I am definitely going with Ross switches for all the reasons you already know, but reliability being #1.   BUT, if his switches are so good, why do I not read about all these magnificent layouts being built with Ross TRACK?   Outside of Atlas solid rail, most of what I read is Ross switch/GARGRAVES track.   Why mix Ross/GG instead of just Ross/Ross if his stuff is such high quality???  It appears to be close in $ for the track.    Thank you for the comments from those of you with first hand knowledge!

My last layout was all Ross sectional track and switches except for a few 37" Gargraves track just because those long straights fit the track plan better.  I had an O-54 inner loop and O-64 outer loop.  The quality of the Ross track was excellent just as it was with the Ross switches.  In 12 years of layout operation, I had only one derailment when a lightweight Lionel freight car jumped a switch on its own, sort of like a string-line situation.  I'd say track quality had a large role in that record.

One thing you may not be aware of with Ross track is the "Ross Roadbed" product they offer which fits their sectional track and switches as well as some others like Gargraves uncoupling tracks.  The track fits into that roadbed so that only one half of the tie shows, providing a very realistic appearance, especially after ballasting.  (I spraypainted the Roadbed prior to installation since it was going to be awhile until I got around to ballasting.)

Ross track and spraypainted roadbed

Here are a few photos of my last layout with all the track embedded in the Ross Roadbed.

DSC00055DSC01428DSC01431DSC01827

I hope this info is helpful.

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@Hp289 posted:

Soooo...which is a better track overall regarding construction, not looks.

All of them (Ross, Atlas, Gargraves), that's why you see so much mixing.

We can leave switches on the side since most of us agree Ross is the best choice in switches.

Some people choose between brands because of the tie size and spacing and think one brand looks more prototypical. Some people choose based on track noise on a layout. Some people like flex track for various reasons but not all flex track flexes the same. The point is that is seems most people choose based on aesthetics or logistics.

I'm currently building a new layout and I have around 150' of Atlas O track. The solid rail is what I like but I pay a hefty premium for this track, it is a nickel-silver alloy subject to the precious metals market with plastic ties that can be run outdoors. I have close to 200' of track to buy for the new layout so I'm starting to think about mixing in more Ross sectionals and Gargraves flex. They all can mate well with each other.

See how the mixing gets started?

Edit:  I forgot about mating Ross and Atlas, since you brought up those nails holding down Ross track. When I mate Ross and Atlas I use the Atlas track clips as they match the Ross track profile pretty well. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the first nail or two to slide the clip on to the Ross track, so there is a benefit to being able to remove those little nails. Sometimes I just have to lift them a little, slide the clip on, then push the nail back down into the tie.

Coffee is kicking in so I'll finish my thoughts. I would use Ross and/or Atlas sectional curve pieces as they are consistent, Gargraves are close but not consistent.

Last edited by turkey_hollow_rr
@AlanRail posted:

John

Try running any of the scale Lionel GG1s that require 072 on a hand-bent Gargraves track that is slightly less than 072.

On the scale GG1s, Lionel changed the way weight is distributed to the wheels. Lionel puts part of the GG1 weight on the front and trailing trucks. If these are not on 072 I have had them de-rail.

My JLC GG1 and a Vision Line model have made it around my mainline a number of times without an issue.  As Dan says, that's an installation issue, not a problem with Gargraves track.

@Hp289 posted:

Thanks Gents, I think I'm going Ross switches and sectional track with just a few GG flex to fill in any oddities.   Hopefully it works right.

Suggestion:  Use easements in your turns; i.e. go from a larger radius to a smaller radius of curved, sectional track, then reverse to exit the curve.  Easements are cosmetically and operationally superior to single radius curved track IMO.

Personally I like the plastic tie GG.  I have new and old wood GG and new and old plastic GG.  I find the plastic  GG easier to work with.  Also I have a small section of Atlas solid.  I used Atlas exclusively when it first came out but the pricing and availability issues chased me away.

The Ross catalog even features GG track.

The Atlas rail joiners are great for adapting to Atlas track.

Photo shows Ross switches, GG flex and Ross sectional curve.  Ross sectional curve is the better sectional curve.

Richard earlier Ross shot

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Last edited by Tom Tee

GG sectional curve track I have found to be less than ideal, along with GG switches.   The quality of the sectional curves is hit or miss.  you order 0-42 curves and you might get something larger or smaller in diameter.  Don't get me going on the GG switches.  As for the flex track, I've found what ever cutter GG was using made the ends of the flex track slightly depressed.  The trains would look like they were bouncing over ever track joint.   Now these issue I have had were from GG of twenty years ago.  I can't comment on what they put out today.

None of those issues exists with Ross track.  Curves are spot on,  tracks are spiked, wood ties, switches are flawless, Yes no flex track but there were only a few spots on my layout where I needed flex track.   If you watch my videos, you will see a mostly Ross track (some GG, some SuperO, bridges Atlas track), and all Ross switches.

I was talking to Steve at the Live steamers event I went to a couple of weekends ago.  He stated 2020 they were balls to the wall with a backlog of months.  This year things have fallen off so Ross Custom switches should have no issue getting you product fast.

Last edited by superwarp1

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