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Many of you probably wonder, whenever I come in here if I am ever going to actually lay track.
Well a year ago, I came down with bladder cancer, and have been dealing with that, and continue to deal with the aftermath of the BCG treatments. The cancer is gone, but my bladder is not a happy camper at all.

Anyway, I finally finished building my train table, and laid down the main outer loop of Ross track and two crossover switches that happen to set in this loop.

So, I am able to run the following trains with no issues:
    Lionel - Grand Central AA - Conventional - With 6 cars - Conventional
    Lionel - GP38 - Conventional - With no cars
    Lionel - Old Chrome General - Conventional - With 6 cars

However my steamers do not want to stay on this track well at all:
    Lionel - Polar Express Locomotive and tender - Lion Chief - With no cars
        Will not go thru the switches, in either direction. I drives right up and over and shorts the track.
    Lionel - Pennsylvania Flyer - Lion Chief - With no cars.
        Also has trouble with the switches. If going slow, will drive right out of an O-42 curve.

I am under the impression that this is the best track and the best switches on the market, but these results seem to say otherwise.

I have not contacted Steve about this yet, but wanted to check here first.
Have any of you had these kings of issues with Ross track and or Switches?

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Last edited by Rich Melvin
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Read again.
I listed two steamers.
Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer and Lionel Polar Express Berkshire.

I don't know that it is the Ross Track and switches, but I can say this:
The Pen Flyer never drove out of any 031 or O42 Fast Track curves.
However it did have problems backing thru the Fastrack switches.
Fine going forward but not backing thru them.

I never ran the Berkshire on the Fastrack, so I can't say if it would have worked or not.
I just did not expect to have issues with the Ross equipment, especially not just driving out of the curves like that.

That is why I am posting here, to see if there is information that I was just not aware of regarding this issue.

I will be contacting Steve next week, just to see if he has anything to offer on the subject.
I really like him, and he has always been very helpful,  I even went to see his shop a couple of years ago. He gave my wife and me a very nice tour of his factory.
However, this will be the first time to actually discuss issues with the track and switches.

I'm running Ross switches and a mix of Ross and Gargraves track.  I happen to have the same size Polar Express that was conventional and I upgraded it to TMCC with all my goodies and fan driven smoke.  It runs flawlessly around on the track and through all the switches coming out of the yard and on the mainline, it probably crosses at least ten switches.

I'm running all O72 or larger curves, so that's a significant difference, but I don't see what you're seeing.

Many track/train issues seem to involve steam engines.

I have four tracks at home and three at the club. Both are set up with Ross and GarGraves trackage. Like John almost all are 072.

The issues with steam engines could be the wheel Guage being off or the spring on the front truck being too weak.

You essentially need to watch the wheels as they go  through the tracks. Not a right or wrong answer but I do not believe it is the track. Just my opinion. Good luck.

Last edited by DMASSO

I have O-42 ross and run all of my engines perfectly through ross switches, have lion chief, steamers, legacy steamers 2-8-0, and the new 0-6-0 docksider,  My guess is that your track/switch may not be level.  I only see one switch, and no track extending from that, are you saying your engines will not run through the straight on the switch.  Did you buy these engines new?   Just some thoughts

Chuck,

I guess that's true with the Fastrak turnouts?  I just pushed my Legacy GS2 through my atlas turnouts by hand multiple times and found that I had to increase the spring tension on the front truck to resolve the issue.  I'm still in the learning phase too (I don't think it ever ends... at least I hope it doesn't).  Thanks!

dennis

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

Experiment by adding track pins to the Ross hot or floating rails as shown in the picture below. This lengthens the time the pickup roller will be in contact with the hot side of the transformer. If the pins are too long, a short may occur so you really have try these pins on a trial by error basis. Sometimes it helps; sometimes it doesn't. Make sure your outer rails of the Ross switch are tied to common or ground.

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Your description of the problem is not clear to me.  Are you saying that the two problem steam engines are derailing when the are run through the straight and curved section of both switches?  The other 3 engines, two diesels and one steam engine, do not have any issues going through either the straight or curved sections of the switches.  

If the two Lion Chief steam engines are derailing and the others aren't then you need to look at those two engines to see if the wheels are dirty or a traction tire is loose, etc.  Another problem may be dirt in the switches that only affects those engines.  Try cleaning both the engine wheels and the switches first.  You will be surprised at how often dirty wheels or track is causing problems with some engines and not others.  This is always the first thing I look at when there are electrical or derailing issues on my layout.  NH Joe

Your description of the problem is not clear to me.  Are you saying that the two problem steam engines are derailing when the are run through the straight and curved section of both switches?  The other 3 engines, two diesels and one steam engine, do not have any issues going through either the straight or curved sections of the switches.  

If the two Lion Chief steam engines are derailing and the others aren't then you need to look at those two engines to see if the wheels are dirty or a traction tire is loose, etc.  Another problem may be dirt in the switches that only affects those engines.  Try cleaning both the engine wheels and the switches first.  You will be surprised at how often dirty wheels or track is causing problems with some engines and not others.  This is always the first thing I look at when there are electrical or derailing issues on my layout.  NH Joe

Yes, the engines are only going thru the straight section of the two Regular 11 Crossover switches. One is a lead in, and the other is a lead out switch. Dirt is not the issue as the wheels are clean and hardly used on either engine. The switches are also brand new, so they should be clean as well. Also, the traction tires are very tight, again, with very little use.

I am beginning to think that the Pennsylvanian Flyer is just a problematic locomotive, almost like the flange of the front truck may be grabbing the track edge and just climbing out.
From some of the earlier posts, here, maybe the Berkshire may need some tweaking, but I would need some guidance on that.

The, very old, General, with its very light and very loose front trucks goes thru with no issues at all.

@CAPPilot posted:

It would be nice to see several closeup photos of the switch from different angles in both positions.  This may allow us to help you.

I will get some more pics of the switches and post them for your investigation.

I will also try to get short video of what is happening, if I can get them from my phone to my computer. Not exactly sure how to do that.

@RWL posted:

I will get some more pics of the switches and post them for your investigation.

I will also try to get short video of what is happening, if I can get them from my phone to my computer. Not exactly sure how to do that.

That would be great.  The Ross Regular switch is one of the most reliable switches made, so I do not think it is the problem.  However, I have found that Ross switches, since they do not have a built in base like FasTrack, are prone to twisting if installed incorrectly.  The switch works best when perfectly flat.

A possible issue is tightening the mounting screws too much.  If you use screws to hold down the switch, tighten the screw to where it is just touching the tie.  Several of my Ross switches don't have any screws in them; they are held in place by the connecting track sections.

@Bruce Brown posted:

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Bruce's Ross w/extensions above... and, Atlas below. Look at your Fastrak... how large is the gap from center rail to frog?  Your pickup's may be not be transitioning well while bridging the gap and causing the derailment.   You may be able to see/feel this by placing one of the offending Locos on the turnout and pushing it through without power...

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Moving the Loco (Legacy GS2) by hand...

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Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

I'm having a similar problem, where the steamer is derailing approaching the curve side of an 072 Ross switch coming from a slight gargraves curve.  A conventional engine runs over it fine, and the steamers go over the straight side of all switches fine.  I spent hours setting up the coaling tower to house two steamers...so I'll pay close attention here to read what develops.  I need to examine the steamer approach more, but it appears as the front truck hits the frog area, it derails.  As we all know, the front trucks are loosy goody for lack of a better term and subject to roaming off on their own

I'm in all the way for Ross switches by the way...great product and Steve is always quick to provide feedback...

@RWL posted:

Yes, the engines are only going thru the straight section of the two Regular 11 Crossover switches. One is a lead in, and the other is a lead out switch. Dirt is not the issue as the wheels are clean and hardly used on either engine. The switches are also brand new, so they should be clean as well. Also, the traction tires are very tight, again, with very little use.

I am beginning to think that the Pennsylvanian Flyer is just a problematic locomotive, almost like the flange of the front truck may be grabbing the track edge and just climbing out.
From some of the earlier posts, here, maybe the Berkshire may need some tweaking, but I would need some guidance on that.

The, very old, General, with its very light and very loose front trucks goes thru with no issues at all.

I have found that "new" does not equal clean for wheels or track.  I have had new engines that would not run through switches until I cleaned both the wheels and the track.  They look clean but they are not.  

I have had to add weight to the front trucks of a few of my steam engines to get them to track through switches.  You can also try to increase the spring tension as suggested above.  NH Joe

@CAPPilot posted:

It would be nice to see several closeup photos of the switch from different angles in both positions.  This may allow us to help you.

Still not sure about the Pensy Flyer.

However, I think that I have found the issues with the Berkshire Locomotive.

Derailing at entering the turnout switch: When going into the entrance of the turnout switch, that front truck seems to hit the tip of the switching point rail, and rides up, over, and falls down on the other side, and heads into the turnout. This of course tries to take the loco that way, causing it to derail.

Derailing at entering the back side straight of the switch: I  have found that in one of the 90 degree corners, leading into that switch, the loco lifts a bit, and the back drive wheel slips up and over, and to the outside of the rail. It always slips over and to the inside of the turn, so I put a shim under the inside edge of that turn, at the point where this happens, and the problem went away.
This only happens at the one turn. See the pic with the piece of wood under the track.

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Last edited by RWL

I agree with Dennis. The point should nestle a little farther into the stock rail when the turnout is in that position. Make sure nothing is jammed in there, and that there is no burr on the point rail from when it was filed into shape.

Another thing that could be happening is that the flange of the left-front wheel on the locomotive is hitting the free end of the left point rail. As it tries to ride the left point rail (instead of the left outer rail where it belongs) it forces the locomotive to the right and derails it. This can happen easily if the wheel gauge on the engine is a little narrow. Can be fixed by adding a little guardrail ahead of the points to force the engine ever so slightly to the left. Or by re-gauging the engine, but adding the guardrail is easier :-)

Darn!  I see that the point isn't tight against the stock rail.   Can you apply an extra volt or two to the switch to see if it snaps into place?

I saw that gap as well, and I can't push it over any further either. The switch is not wired up at this point, as it has no where to go from the turnout. I just set up the loop temporarily to ferret out these kinds of details before actually doing the final positioning and wiring.
Now, I did take a needle nose pliers, and very gently bent the point toward the mating track, then gave it just a bit of a rotational twist, to bring the top edge into position as well.
The Berkshire now passes thru with no issues. The front truck rolls thru like it should. I plan to tweak it a bit more, and then smooth out the hump a bit, with my Dremel, as well.

I have attached a pic that switch, before the modification, along with a pic of the second switch, and there is marked difference, where the second one is a nice tight fit, and the Berkshire has not issues passing thru it.
--------------------------------------------
I have also discovered that this track has to be very accurately positioned.
That issue of the curve, where I had to shim up the inside of the turn, led me to believe that I did not have it in a true 90 degree angle, and that it might have been ever so slightly, for lack of a better way of putting it, kinked. I rearranged the leg going into it a but, and is now not a problem.

I think that I this was the issue with the Pency Flyer, as there are other 90 degree curves where, if one end of the loco is on one piece of track, and the other end is on the adjoining piece of track, it wobbles. One wheel on one end will be on the track, while the opposite wheel on the other end will be on the track, with one of the other two wheels in the air, and able to walk out of the track.

I would like some ideas on how to get the setup accurate enough to remove these issues.
I will also contact Steve about these issues, and I am sure that he will have helpful suggestions.

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@RWL posted:

Now, I did take a needle nose pliers, and very gently bent the point toward the mating track, then gave it just a bit of a rotational twist, to bring the top edge into position as well.
The Berkshire now passes thru with no issues. The front truck rolls thru like it should. I plan to tweak it a bit more, and then smooth out the hump a bit, with my Dremel, as well.

That's great!!!  I like your style!  I was tempted to suggest the pliers because that is probably what I would have done.  I often do things to my layout that makes some folks nauseous.

I use a 6" plumbers level for side to side shimming... and, I don't screw the track down tight ...just barely enough to hold.

What is under the green matting?   If it's just ply I would consider adding homasote or sound board (sound board is recycled sugar cane fiber down here in New Orleans) under the matting.  It adds a tad of give and leveling that my trains find desirable.  It would also quiet the Fastrak quite a bit.

I think you've got this!  Rock On!

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

That's great!!!  I like your style!  I was tempted to suggest the pliers because that is probably what I would have done.  I often do things to my layout that makes some folks nauseous.

I use a 6" plumbers level for side to side shimming... and, I don't screw the track down tight ...just barely enough to hold.

What is under the green matting?   If it's just ply I would consider adding homasote or sound board (sound board is recycled sugar cane fiber down here in New Orleans) under the matting.  It adds a tad of give and leveling that my trains find desirable.  It would also quiet the Fastrak quite a bit.

I think you've got this!  Rock On!

Yea, I will tweak that switch point a bit more, but it seems to be working very well.
Under the green matting is plywood plus two layers of the white bubble sheet padding that goes under pergo flooring. It is just under 1/8" thick, so there is some give under the track.
By the way, you mentioned that it would quiet down the fastrak, but there is no fastrak on this layout. I have been down that road, and left in in the rear view mirror. I have a loop of it just so that I could run trains until I finished my table.
Now it is all Ross track and switches.

@romiller49 posted:

I would tweak the attaching spring first before bending the rail. I make my own springs for a smoother more reliable operation.

I tried that, but the point rail is all the way over against the main rail, and the actual point is just isn't quite trimmed as it should be.
So that the only thing to do is to modify the point. I just gave it a bit more, and ran the Berkshire thru, forward and backward several times, with no issues.
I think that the Pensy is the only problematic loco, and that may get better when I actually finish the loop and get it good and square, and screwed down.

Last edited by RWL

Here are pics of the before and after of the problem switch.
I have run my Berkshire, with the Loosy Goosy front truck, thru this modified switch at least a half a dozen times, in both directions, and both forward and revers, and it seems to be working as it should.

I will say this: The next time I attempt this modification, I will modify the back side of the point real first, before trying to reshape the actual point. I am convinced that the reason it would not go over to the main rail, like it should was due to the back side not being trimmed out sufficiently.
Good news though, it now works,

And, again, I will go over this with Steve, so that he knows what happened. I know that he would want to be made aware of this, as he really does want to make, and ship good, proper product.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR COMMENTS. They all really helped me to figure out the actual problem, so that I could go about correcting it.

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OK, it is all sorted now.

The issue of the Berkshire derailing was due to the switch point not making good contact with the main rail, so that the front truck caught it and rolled over into the turnout, and taking the loco with it and into a derailment.
I modified the point, so that it now fits against the main rail as it is supposed to, and all is now really good and smooth.
I will polish all of the points with the Cratex Polishing Wheels, as soon as they come it.
I will also hit all track joints with these polishing wheels just for good measure.

The issue of the Pennsylvania Flyer derailing had mostly to do with the simple fact that one of the drive wheels never had a tire on it, making it a fair amount smaller in diameter than the wheel on the other side, so that the wheel with the tire and the opposite wheel on the other axle would raise the loco such that only 3 wheels could actually be making contact with the track at any one time. That fourth wheel would be up in the air enough to walk out of the track.
I added a tire on the other wheel, and it now runs much better. It will still walk out of a turn if it is in any way kinked, but it is orders of magnitude better.

Last edited by RWL

Years ago a friend gave me the Cratex #777 assortment, I had never used the Cratex wheels before.  I was blissfully unaware of how expensive they are, I was floored to see that assortment is over $100!  I'm going to have to go back and thank him again.

Yea they are a bit pricy."
I found lots of 10 each (7/8 x 1/8) for $9.00 at the following site.
They had Fine and Extra Fine.
I ordered the Fine version.
I hope they work well.

https://www.esslinger.com/crat...DEAQYDCABEgL-xfD_BwE

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