Do Lionel trains have trouble with Gargraves track?

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Do Lionel trains have trouble with Gargraves track?

  • I've been using Lionel Fastrak and I love it, I run exclusively Lionel trains at this point, and eventually I want to get maybe some Gargraves track, but particularly the Ross switches, I think they make a double crossover for about $600 that I want to get.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the blackened middle rail cause trouble for some Lionel engines? Isn't this the reason that Lionel Super O track went out of production?

    I've heard that Atlas O, MTH, and other brand engines run fine over blackened center rails on Reel Trax, Scale Trax, Gargraves, Atas O track, etc. yet that Lionel engines are troublesome in this area.. Is this true?

    If so, is there any way to clean off the middle rail for more trouble free operation?

    The other reason I want Gargraves is because I figure it might be more cost effective to get wider radius using big pieces of Flex track rather than collecting the insane amount of pieces of Fastrak needed to complete a circle made of O-84. That several hundred dollars for one complete circle whereas I assume using Gargraves would be cheaper for that radius.

     

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  • My layout ( 22 x 22 ) is probably 75% Gargraves track and the switches are about 50% Gargraves and 50% Ross. I have never had a problem with any manufactures locos running on the darkened center rail. I do attempt to clean the rails every 3 months or so, I guess I have probably thinned out the darkening of the center rail over the past years. As far as the switches, I have not had any Gargraves failures and only one Ross failure after many years of service.

    Bill T.

  • rjake4454

    Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the blackened middle rail cause trouble for some Lionel engines?

    Okay, I'll correct you -- you're wrong. None of my Lionel locomotives ever had any problems at all with Gargraves track. My local train shop has a large multi-train Lionel display layout, and it uses mainly Gargraves track. All the locomotives are running just fine every time I go in.

    Isn't this the reason that Lionel Super O track went out of production?

    No, it isn't. And Super O didn't have a blackened center rail.

    You can read some information about Super O here:

    http://www.tcaetrain.org/articles/operating/supero/index.html

  • The blackened center rail is still electrically conductive. Some people will sand it off of the tops of the rails on the various brands of track that use it but it shouldn't be necessary. The only track that I've seen people really stress sanding the blackening off of the top of the rail is with MTH Realtrax but I had a loop of it and had no issues so it may be precautionary. Over time it will eventually wear away on top anyways.

    Super O track just wasn't popular enough at the time to justify selling it any longer. It was an attempt at trying to draw people back to O scale who had gone on to HO for it's more realistic looking track. There have always been critics of 3 rail. It's nothing new. There are many today who still wish it were available but with more track options now than ever before, I don't see it happening.

    Fred

  • The only issue you may have is depending on the actual metal of the track.  With that, the magnatraction may or may not work.  With traction tires and heavy engines, it is pretty much a non issue.  A large number of motive power is out there without Magnatraction and doing just fine.  Also, a lot of older Lionel engines with Magnatraction have lost some, if not most of their magnetism.  As mentioned earlier, MTH's blackened rail was the only one I have heard had issues.

    Dennis

    TCA#09-63805

     

    Charter BTTs.jpg

  • 30+ years using GG track and switches, all doing just fine. As mentioned above it was early MTH track that had a problem. The black would come off on the rollers and stop the electrical path. Their newer track has the center rail top clean. No black where the rollers ride.

    "IT's GOOD TO BE THE KING",by Mel Brooks

       Charter Member- Tardis Train Crew (TTC)   TCA      Detroit3railers

  • set up a layout for my father several years ago using gargraves track and switches. Nothing wrong with the track but the switches gave him nothing but problems. He runs postwar original Lionel equipment. The accessory shoes on the trucks would catch on the turnouts.

  • The shoe catching thing is a problem on all brands of switches. file the shoe to a longer angle, that helps lift them over the switch.

    "IT's GOOD TO BE THE KING",by Mel Brooks

       Charter Member- Tardis Train Crew (TTC)   TCA      Detroit3railers

  • I have no problems when using all Gargraves track & switches with Lionel or MTH or Williams engines and rolling stock. I have had less problems using Gargraves track and switches than with Lionel switches. Gargraves switches work great with Williams engines, so far I have no problems with Gargraves and Williams.

     The problem that I encounter is usually when I try to switch track types near a switch, need about 30 inches or more from a Gargraves switch to go to O gauge track, not so if you go to 027 track. The only other problem is when your track isn't 100% level when using Gargraves switches.

    Lee F.

     

    Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
  • I have 350 ft of gargraves track and 21 gargraves switches on my layout. It has been down for 18 years without any problems. I run Williams, Weaver, MTH, Lionel and K-line equipment with no problems. However, I have a 1954 Lionel GG-1 that spits and sputs and groans, won't run more than a few feet. Now here's the rub, I take it to a local repair shop and the guy puts it on a Lionel O-gauge track test loop and the thing runs as smooth as glass. He thinks I'm a bit touched and asks what would you like me to fix??? So I take it to another friends house and he puts it on his layout of Lionel track and it runs as smooth as glass. Any input or thoughts on this would be helpful as I have had this engine since I was born, it was The Congressional Set.

    ,

  • I've installed one Gargraves 98 degree switch in my Lionel 031 tubular layout.

    My prewar cars derail over this switch; it also tears at early postwar sliding shoes.

    I was attracted to GG for the variety of turnouts available, and that the track is magnetic, but I don't like the operating issues.

    There was a guy at York with samples and plans for building various custom turnouts with 031 or 027 profile tubular. Great idea, only I wish he would manufacture them for sale, rather than jsut sell the plans. Ohters may be willing to give it a try.

     runtime

  • I have all Gargraves track and switches and the only problem that I have is that pre war locos run a little rough through the Gargraves switches. Legacy and TMCC engines run well on it.

     STEVE

  • EMDSD40

    I have 350 ft of gargraves track and 21 gargraves switches on my layout. It has been down for 18 years without any problems. I run Williams, Weaver, MTH, Lionel and K-line equipment with no problems. However, I have a 1954 Lionel GG-1 that spits and sputs and groans, won't run more than a few feet. Now here's the rub, I take it to a local repair shop and the guy puts it on a Lionel O-gauge track test loop and the thing runs as smooth as glass. He thinks I'm a bit touched and asks what would you like me to fix??? So I take it to another friends house and he puts it on his layout of Lionel track and it runs as smooth as glass. Any input or thoughts on this would be helpful as I have had this engine since I was born, it was The Congressional Set.

    ,

    Here my take on why your post war GG-1 has trouble with Gargraves track, maybe you have only one side of the two outside rails of Gargraves track powered. Gargraves track is not like Lionel tubular track in that all three rails are electrically separated from each other. The other reason could have something to do with post war engines not liking Gargraves track.

    I run MTH and Williams and Lionel engines on my Gargraves track, the only problem I have at times is that not all my MTH engines like the Gargraves switches. Also it seems that Gargraves track gets dirty quicker than other tubular track.

    Lee F.

    Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.