Review: LGB and PIKO G Electric Switch Drives

Published: 5 April 2016


Introduction:

LGB has been around for a few decades, and so has their track. PIKO is still a relatively new player in the G scale market, but their track has proven to be a worthy competitor to G scale track from LGB and other brands.

PIKO offers a wide range of accessories as well, including several track related components similar to LGB’s analogue ‘EPL’ system.

Most of my track is LGB (bought many years ago), and back then I also bought the LGB switch drives to convert some of the LGB manual switches to electric.

At the end of 2015, I purchased a PIKO switch drive as I had heard good things about them, and I wanted to test them out for a comparison / review.


Product Information:

  • LGB 12010 Electric Switch Drive – MSRP (2016): € 27,99
  • PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drive – MSRP (2016) € 27,90

LGB 12010 Electric Switch MachinePIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Machine


Review:

Let’s look at LGB’s switch drive first, we all know this one…

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

Easy connections: insert the wires (front), tighten screws (top), done.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

You can remove a small plastic piece to expand the switch drive with the additional #12070 EPL ‘supplementary switch’ for more advanced control.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

My first impression of the PIKO switch machine is that is quite big. The good news is: PIKO claims their switch machine is waterproof.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The waterproof seals for the actuator arm are a first sign they take that statement seriously.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

More rubber seals! Connecting the wires takes a bit more time compared to the LGB machine, more about that later…

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

Just like the LGB switch, you can expand the switch drive with the optional #35265 ‘supplementary switch’ from PIKO.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The PIKO drive is longer, wider and higher than its LGB rival. I included some measurements at the end of this review.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The picture below shows both switch drives attached to an R1 switch. LGB switch on the left, PIKO switch on the right.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The top of the LGB machine is about the same height as the rail.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

PIKO’s drive is slightly higher.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The PIKO switch drive is compatible with LGB switches, and vice versa.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

Let’s hook up the wires for the PIKO switch machine. There’s a plastic piece you’ll need to remove first. Push the wires through.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

… and push them through a rubber seal. Reattach the plastic cover and seal to the switch machine, and make sure everything is secured properly.

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

All wired up, let’s test them out…

LGB 12010 and PIKO G 35271 Electric Switch Drives Review Test

The short video below shows both switches in action. I think both switch drives perform well, and I don’t notice much differences between them. They are both powerful enough, and change with roughly the same speed. PIKO’s drive is a bit more silent.

One more thing… PIKO claims their switch machine is waterproof, so, is it?

Let’s find out! It was laying in the water for about half an hour, and then I recorded the video below:

Although PIKO claims their switch machine is waterproof, of course, there’s a disclaimer in the manual telling you to not do what I just did:

Make sure that the switch and machine are never completely submerged under water. PIKO accepts no liability for any damage incurred thereby. Although the machine is protected against rain and can be flooded for a short time, you should set up your system so that water can always flow off your machine. It is recommended that PIKO drives installed outdoors be covered in the winter.

LGB’s manual contains a similar statement, although there’s no claim that their switch drive is waterproof:

In wet weather, EPL drives should be protected from flooding. Mount the switch drives so that water drains away from them, instead of pooling around them. • In winter, EPL switch drives outdoors should be covered.


Conclusion:

So, which one to buy? Your decision will probably not be based on the price, as their list prices are almost the same. LGB’s switch drive is smaller than PIKO’s drive, which makes it visually more appealing. Other than that, PIKO’s switch drive is a very interesting choice.

Unlike LGB, PIKO claims their switch drive is waterproof, and I believe that statement. Of course, my test does not prove the switch drive will not fail outdoors after twenty years, but it’s kinda hard to test that scenario right now… My simple test convinced me about the truth in PIKO’s statement, and I believe PIKO’s switch machine will perform very well outside, even after many years and rainy days.


Measurements:

  • Length LGB: 88 mm
  • Length PIKO: 100 mm
  • Width LGB: 41,5 mm
  • Width PIKO: 53 mm
  • Height LGB: 18,5 mm
  • Height PIKO: 21,5 mm

Links & Downloads: