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  1. #1
    God of Slowdown Synthetickiller's Avatar
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    Texas Strength Systems (TSS) Equipment Review: Power Cage

    Background

    I've been involved in weight lifting, specifically powerlifting since 1999. I've owned a no name bench w/ a built in squat rack, upgrade to a yukon power cage, then an EFS BYO 3x3. I've been through cheap DB handles, cheap bars, moved onto Ivanko bars & PDA (fracational plate) DB handles (some of the best on the market for heavy duty lifting). There's a clear and noticeable difference in quality between certain brands and even products within that brand. This brings me to TSS.


    I ended up moving in 2012 & discovered my EFS 3x3 rack wouldn't fit in the basement. This brought me to TSS for a bolt-together option.

    Ordering, Communication & Shipping

    I ordered from TSS sometime just after moving into my new house at that point. This was early December 2012. I believe I ordered a rack w/ belt squat attachment & 45 degree hyper w/ built in Lat row. The Lat row will not be reviewed in this thread as I have yet to fully assemble & use it.

    I paid for the rack in mid Dec & was told the weight time was 4 to 6 weeks. After many excuses, I finally had my rack built & shipped to me. I received the rack on April 5th, 2013. About 14 weeks vs 4 to 6 weeks. He offered half off on all Cap cable attachments. This doesn't come close to the time wasted. I could have purchased another EFS rack (for more money) in the specified time. My training was put on hold. He gave excuses rather than way to get the rack to me faster. He doesn't seem to mind to sit on your cashed check.

    The rack arrived in a wooden crate. Each & every piece was wrapped in bubble wrap. Despite this, the pieces still floated freely & ended up with some scratches, scuffs & nicks in the paint. I've had better experience on ebay this with his shipping method. The shipping was the cheapest & if he had taken more care & used a little more bubble rack, I would have had a pristine rack.

    Quality

    Here's where things took a turn for the worst. I've taken pictures of some of the things wrong with this rack.



    As you can see, the paint is readily removed from the rack. It's a poor powder coat that will eventually wear off of all contacted surfaces. My old EFS rack slightly has this problem, but looked better than my rack after 5+ years of use.

    More importantly, notice how the bar is not making contact w/ the "floor" of the J-cup. Only the right side makes contact. This creates a stress point. I make sure I softly rack squats & benches as to not have a J-Cup failure.


    Left & Right J-Cups:


    The left J-cup is square, but a chunk of the face of the J-cup is missing. Also notice the randomly weld spots or simple imperfections on the rear of the cup.

    The right J-Cup is not square. This will be the side that fails if a failure does occur. I don't see how this was overseen. Same w/ the large blob of weld on the bottom left of the cup.


    Wear on J-Cups (squat height):


    I have had maybe 12 or 13 squat sessions with this rack in total & the level of wear is far beyond any piece of equipment I know. The quality of paint is below even my old Yukon rack.


    3rd set of J-cups:


    This set was made for me after I discovered an issue with my other two sets of J-Cups.

    They do not fit snuggly like a quality J-Cup should. They shift & suffer from the same lower build quality of the previous red J-Cups. These use an even smaller dowel to fit the rack holes. I am not sure how long these would hold up with heavy squats (500+). These were sent to me because his first two sets were removing paint. I will discuss that issue next.

    Continued next post...
    Crews: Ivanko Barbell Crew #52, York Barbell Club #95, Equipment Crew #59
    Lifts no one cares about:
    SQ: 606x1 (suit bottoms, no belt)
    BP: 365x1 (pause bench)
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  2. #2
    God of Slowdown Synthetickiller's Avatar
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    J-Cup Dowels & Paint issues:


    As you can see, the paint on the dowel has been removed from twisting to fit the holes in the uprights. TSS did not take into account the thickness of paint. Every dowel has this problem in each hole in my rack. All holes used have the paint on the inside of the holes stripped away. This has caused chipping on the uprights.

    You can see a large nick in the paint from shipping. That side of the upright faces away from the bar & does not come into contact with anything while lifting.


    J-Cup welding issues & overall welding inequality:


    As you can see, the welds have been applied haphazardly. Weld thickness changes on each surface throughout the rack, not just on the J-Cups. Pitting is also visible throughout the rack. Bumps or other imperfections can be seen on all surfaces of part where large amount of weld were used. The uprights appear clean because of this.

    The 2nd J-cup is missing welding there the top plate attaches to hold the bar. While this might not be a structural issue or cause for alarm, it does show the inconsistency of quality in TSS equipment.


    Belt squat attachment:


    As you can see there are two 100 lb dumbbells weighing down one of the four arms which attach to the bottom of the rack. This is because only three of the four parts line up. To use this piece for belt squats, curls, seated rows, etc, I have to weigh down that side of the actual attachment will warp. It does not line up. I have tested this in 3 different houses so far. It's not a matter of location for sure.




    Here is a picture of the entire rack for anyone interested in the finished product:


    Sorry for the washed out colors. This was taken from my cellphone, so it's not the best quality.



    Problems & Conclusion

    I contacted TSS about some of these problems (mostly the J-Cups fitting, paint chipping issues & the Belt squat attachment not fitting). The black J-Cups were sent to me as a solution. This doesn't fix the paint chipping issue & would only replace one set instead of both. The belt squat attachment issue was not addressed. Despite explaining the problem & offering pictures, my request was ignored.

    I would also like to mention the 45 degree hyper has a major issue where the brace foot pad does not fit. He offered to have me pay to ship it to him, but I ended up not bothering for fear of anything becoming worse. I'll have a local machinist fix it. I will post a picture I showed TSS. This is simply unacceptable:



    As you can see, the post cannot fit. I placed a towel there to stop any further wear from metal on metal rubbing while forcing the post into place. I was told the builders/welders were able to make it fit. The owner never could provide a picture proving this. The tubing is a good 4" to 5" longer than it needs to be, minimally. Despite TSS's claims, this piece did not fit & I was blatantly lied to.


    Any other issues were not discussed as I decided to cut my loses.

    I've been using this rack for 6 or 7 weeks consistently now. Despite how much weight is placed on the weight trees, benches & squats about 200 lbs force the rack to shift. My EFS rack barely moved with racking 500+ almost thrown against the J-Cups. My old Yukon rack moved less, amazingly. I blame this on the 12 gauge steel used vs 11g or 7g by all other competitors. The Pull down portion does not slide well, even if 3 in 1 oil or WD 40 is applied to the chrome poles. I was advised I did not need to do this. This was not the case as pull downs can be jerky; same with belt squats or any other cable movement. The coefficient of friction changes now and again depending on the indoor temp & other factors.

    I reviewed the correspondence emails and it seems that they fabricate, throw the rack together for a picture partially assembled, then paint & ship. Despite the offer to paint, I was told that they rarely paint racks & my bolt together option was new to them. I feel the product was rushed and the belt squat attachment was not bolted in to test if it actually fit.

    I decided to post this review as I've seen many people mention buying TSS products without knowing much about the quality of the company or how much the company backs up the quality it claims to keep.

    Please don't make the mistake I have. Spend more money & own a quality rack or other piece of equipment. I now have $2000+ in junk I have to eventually sell to partially pay for a rack that isn't junk.
    Last edited by Synthetickiller; 01-14-2014 at 09:10 PM.
    Crews: Ivanko Barbell Crew #52, York Barbell Club #95, Equipment Crew #59
    Lifts no one cares about:
    SQ: 606x1 (suit bottoms, no belt)
    BP: 365x1 (pause bench)
    DL: 500x1 (suit bottoms, no belt)
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  3. #3
    Registered User AdventHorizon's Avatar
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    In the four-wheeling world we call those 'booger welds'.

    Thanks for the pics/review. I usually support going with the little guy but this doesn't look like a good case for that!
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    6100+ posts Accutron's Avatar
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    Wow, that is very very disappointing to read about. I can imagine what you are feeling, its supposed to be a happy thing getting a new rack, not a nightmare like this.

    Thats one main reason I bought my Rogue R3. Not my top choice but the safest and with recourse. Thats really too bad you had to give up your 3x3 and are stuck with this now. The headache, and the money loss. Welds look terrible and j-hooks look very amateur.

    You could have gotten a red EFTS 2x2, those are 7ft standard height, about 800$ w/ no plate storage.
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  5. #5
    mTOR master daniel327's Avatar
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    I would send that rack back. There's no way anyone can claim that was fabricated by a professional / tradesperson.
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    Registered User judgecrandall's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review, and sorry for your rack troubles. I was always under the impression that TSS made quality equipment, but clearly not. Good to know for future reference.
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    dude....i feel pissed on your behalf. hate poor-ass customer service, and poor-ass crafstmanship.
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    Sorry about your issues OP. During the time that I have been a member of this forum, I have read enough negative comments to decide that this is a company that will not receive my business.
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    Wow - that's horrible. I feel bad for you OP, that has to be incredibly frustrating.
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    No excuse for poor workmanship like that.

    Was the problem with your EliteFTS 3x3 the height or getting the welded sides into the basement?
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    The poor craftsmanship is astounding. I'd expect better welds from a noob. Thank you for the review. I'm sure any potential buyers would think twice or completely dismiss TSS now.
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    That sucks bro.

    There has been a TSS adjustable bench on our local craigslist for months. It is in brand new condition and the guy claims he only used it for a couple of workouts. After chatting with him and carefully looking at his pictures, you can conclude he is selling it due to the poor design and construction.

    Mech6 had a good post about the sub standard quality of the materials that go into their racks. I'll try to find a link.
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    Heh. Some points. I'm not sure that is powder coated. Might be paint. In either case, if they are using galvanized tubing (telespar uprights), it becomes very hard for paint to stick, and it will flake off very easily, which is what you're seeing.
    The welding spatter kind of sucks. A few might get missed in corners and such, but you shouldn't see it on the surfaces like j-hooks for example.
    Your issue with the pins/paint/scraping is because telespar has 7/16" holes. Your first j-hooks use 7/16" pins. They probably used bolt and cut off head and threads to get a few 1/1000 of clearance, but the paint willl be 1-2/1000 thick, so you get scraping. They remedied this by sending you one made with 3/8". But now you're getting way too much clearance. 1/16" of 7/16" is alot more than 1/16" of 11/16" (like 5/8" racks). Also, the j-cup "hook" behind the upright is way too low compared to the pin. This gives it too much play. Should of been tighter and higher.
    As for the other stuff not lining up or fitting, that's just careless, or lazy, or both.
    Hope people learn from your review.
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    It's a shame, you'd imagine a small operation, especially a one-man shop, would take great pride in his work and ensure he delivers a quality product.

    I had the exact opposite experience with Dean @ Black Widow. I could tell he cared about his work; after I received my rack we went back and forth via email a little bit and he was interested to see how I liked everything. That's something you'd want to see from a small outfit, IMO.
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    Thanks for the review and pics. That's such a poor business model: Slow/incorrect delivery estimates, poor workmanship, poor customer service.. Wow. I hope they see this thread. They won't get any of my business.
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    Thanks for posting the review and all the pics. As others have said this is definitely unacceptable. Looks to be poor quality all around, from ordering and delivery, to welds, fitment and paint. Pretty crazy this stuff would be sold like that.
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    God of Slowdown Synthetickiller's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply guys.

    I'll answer a few questions.

    Originally Posted by Accutron View Post
    Wow, that is very very disappointing to read about. I can imagine what you are feeling, its supposed to be a happy thing getting a new rack, not a nightmare like this.

    Thats one main reason I bought my Rogue R3. Not my top choice but the safest and with recourse. Thats really too bad you had to give up your 3x3 and are stuck with this now. The headache, and the money loss. Welds look terrible and j-hooks look very amateur.

    You could have gotten a red EFTS 2x2, those are 7ft standard height, about 800$ w/ no plate storage.
    EFS 2x2 isn't enough of a rack. I can't bolt the cage down, so 2x2 is too light, especially w/o plate storage. My 3x3 would shift a little with weight when I racked 500+ on squats.

    EFS makes a rack w/ a lat pull down / low row: EFS Multi High/Low Pulley Rack. It's $2000+ shipping. I got a rack w/ a belt squat attachment & 45 degree hyper w/ chest supported row for $2500 shipped.

    The belt squat helps put my back in traction (I have a chronic back injury) & I just wanted cables for back work.

    Originally Posted by daniel327 View Post
    I would send that rack back. There's no way anyone can claim that was fabricated by a professional / tradesperson.
    I'll give a little background so you can see why I didn't just do this.

    I moved from Southeastern Louisiana back in Nov/Dec of 2012 to the west with my mother (won't name the State not to step on anyone's toes). She couldn't handle the arid conditions & we had to move back. Frankly, we hated it too, but that's not relevent. We only stated 5.5 months & in that time, I received the rack. I got the rack Early April & left late May. That's only 6 to 7 weeks of time. In that period, my mother was very ill, I was packing the rest of my belongings & coordinating the move was a nightmare. I had everything assembled & then dealt with calling him & having him fix the issues. That process became very long & drawn out to where I emailed him stating I'll pick up the discussion when I move home.

    I ended up moving into a rental that had Toxic mold & all of our belongings were contaminated with mold spores. Other than leaving, we had no recourse, so we moved to another rental that had been nuked w/ pesticides. So we couldn't stay there due to our now hypersensitive immune systems. Now we're in the 3rd rental. That's 4 houses in a 9 month period, along with moving, dealing with health issues & just other things along the way. Everything hit the fan at once, so of course the felt to the back burner.

    It's 2014 now, so I've had the rack almost a year (with not much use, maybe 2 total workout cycles (4 to 5 weeks long in it). He's not going to accept it back at this point. I don't believe he ever would based on my communication with him.

    Originally Posted by aloosecannon View Post
    No excuse for poor workmanship like that.

    Was the problem with your EliteFTS 3x3 the height or getting the welded sides into the basement?
    Right, the welded sides wouldn't fit. I needed a bolt together option. As someone else mentioned, EFS has a 2x2, but anyone who squats heavy knows you need weight storage & 2x2 isn't heavy enough. This is a 2.25x2.25 rack, but only 12g vs 11g from EFS. The EFS didn't meet my needs & at the time, I didn't know about black widow & I was short on funds.

    Originally Posted by snova031 View Post
    It's a shame, you'd imagine a small operation, especially a one-man shop, would take great pride in his work and ensure he delivers a quality product.

    I had the exact opposite experience with Dean @ Black Widow. I could tell he cared about his work; after I received my rack we went back and forth via email a little bit and he was interested to see how I liked everything. That's something you'd want to see from a small outfit, IMO.
    TSS isn't a one man shop. Don't be fooled. One of his (the owner, Wes) excuses was that a welder's mother died. That's fine, but email about don't. I shouldn't have to ask to find out stuff like this. I'm an understanding individual. I have no issues when people have horrible problems like that, but tell me & be a professional. He has at least 2 other welders plus probably a few others running around.

    I'm probably gonna talk to Dean about fabricating a quality piece like the pulldown/low pull / belt squat TSS makes. It "seems" like a good design, but I'd run it by him first.


    I'll 99% sure I'm going w/ a Rae Crowther rack at this point. I'm just tired of shoddy craftsmanship. EFS is not perfect either. I won't consider them. Their price range has them being out competed by too many other vendors. One of my uprights on my 3x3 wasn't drilled properly & I had to fight for 8 weeks to get a replacement from them. The holes in the bottom for pin pulls simply didn't line up. Considering other complaints about EFS, I won't be going there.
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    Registered User Poordad's Avatar
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    I would try to contact the Texas Attorney General Office (800-621-0508). They handle consumer fraud and product safety. You can argue about the fraud part but this rack is obviously unsafe. Sounds like you have extensive documentation/pics to make a good case. At the very least the company should be put on notice
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    6100+ posts Accutron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Poordad View Post
    I would try to contact the Texas Attorney General Office (800-621-0508). They handle consumer fraud and product safety. You can argue about the fraud part but this rack is obviously unsafe. Sounds like you have extensive documentation/pics to make a good case. At the very least the company should be put on notice
    Yes I would do this, at least get the word out there. Maybe the Better Business Bureau too. I try to hold people to the same standard as I would do for them, so in this case if anyone doesnt like my rack I would just take it back (If I had a business in that area.) After redoing 5 or 6 $hit racks I would say this is getting expensive, lets make the racks proper in the first place and Q/C each rack so we dont have to deal with customer problems and redoing racks. (Your case.)

    Also email TSS and tell them about this thread.
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    Registered User djslik916's Avatar
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    Those welds are embarrassing and this company tries to pass itself off as some sort of fabricator. Anyone with basic welding experience would laugh at those welds, thats what my welds looked like during my first day of welding class. I would be pissed am I'm really glad you posted this review since I had looked at their racks as an option. I think now I'm only staying with known rack manufacturers with a good customer service reputation and with products well represented in sports and competition.
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    God of Slowdown Synthetickiller's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Accutron View Post
    Yes I would do this, at least get the word out there. Maybe the Better Business Bureau too. I try to hold people to the same standard as I would do for them, so in this case if anyone doesnt like my rack I would just take it back (If I had a business in that area.) After redoing 5 or 6 $hit racks I would say this is getting expensive, lets make the racks proper in the first place and Q/C each rack so we dont have to deal with customer problems and redoing racks. (Your case.)

    Also email TSS and tell them about this thread.
    I'll contact the BBB when I have the time to word a formal complaint correctly.

    I've contemplated bringing up this thread in an email. I can see Wes not being happy & complaining about my lack of communication after I originally brought up major issues w/ quality control. Despite having healthy issues & other things, I doubt he will care.

    Originally Posted by Poordad View Post
    I would try to contact the Texas Attorney General Office (800-621-0508). They handle consumer fraud and product safety. You can argue about the fraud part but this rack is obviously unsafe. Sounds like you have extensive documentation/pics to make a good case. At the very least the company should be put on notice
    I'm not a Texas resident. I can't see the Attorney General getting involved in such a small case. If more people stepped forward, I could see it happening.

    Unfortunately, if there was a criminal case brought towards the owner & anyone involved, I'd have to testify & spend my hard earned dollar to go to TX just to be a material witness. It's more hassle for me & a real pain in the ass. I frankly have more important matters to attend to before wasting time chasing my tail with that option. If I was located in TX, it would be a different story.


    Originally Posted by djslik916 View Post
    Those welds are embarrassing and this company tries to pass itself off as some sort of fabricator. Anyone with basic welding experience would laugh at those welds, thats what my welds looked like during my first day of welding class. I would be pissed am I'm really glad you posted this review since I had looked at their racks as an option. I think now I'm only staying with known rack manufacturers with a good customer service reputation and with products well represented in sports and competition.
    This is why I'm basically going w/ Crowther racks. Even EFS has quality control issues. Williams Strenght/Fat Bars don't always put out a perfect product. There's a thread around here on EFS customer service & it discusses issues w/ returning equipment & EFS not backing the quality of the product they sell.

    It's hard to find quality services and products these days.
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    I think I'm leaning towards Rogue after I sell my rack. Everyone seems to love their customer service and I have seen their posts directly on the Crossfit forums and they do bend over backwards to help customers out. I think this product segment is unique, and due to it's large size most non-commercial customers forgo returning bad products due to shipping costs. I think that keeps returns and exchanges to a minimum and unfortunately some of these business owners take advantage of that fact.

    The only thing I can't seem to find is a company that makes swing in safeties that are 30" long. I want to see if Rogue can make me a custom RM-6 with a 16" rear depth and 30" squat area depth for an overall length of 55" and a footprint taking up no more than 67" of depth in my garage. I've only got half of my garage dedicated to my gym so I have to be efficient with space and Rack Plate Storage is a must have for me.
    Last edited by djslik916; 01-15-2014 at 02:19 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Another question did they actually powder coat it or just paint it? I just sanded down a Body Solid Plate Tree and my Tuff Stuff Rack to repaint and I had to use some 60 grit on my orbital sander to get down to metal.
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    Galv steel needs a special primer before painting so it sticks properly, I doubt they applied that.
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    Is there any way to get this info onto the first post of the Power Rack Sticky? This really needs to be put out there to prevent people from buying this rack in case they don't see this thread.
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    Originally Posted by djslik916 View Post
    Is there any way to get this info onto the first post of the Power Rack Sticky? This really needs to be put out there to prevent people from buying this rack in case they don't see this thread.
    Any mod (or the thread starter of the rack discussion) is welcome to quote & link to the thread.
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    Originally Posted by djslik916 View Post
    Is there any way to get this info onto the first post of the Power Rack Sticky? This really needs to be put out there to prevent people from buying this rack in case they don't see this thread.
    Originally Posted by Synthetickiller View Post
    Any mod (or the thread starter of the rack discussion) is welcome to quote & link to the thread.
    Just add a suitable post to the end of the power rack thread. A mod might be able to edit some earlier post to include a link to this thread, but the original poster won't. (Editing of posts are only allowed for a limited time.)
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    Sorry to hear that! I used to think this low quality stuff is only available in India.
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    I've never understood the draw to this company. They make power racks out of Stop Sign post material. Sorry about your experience. Even though I wouldn't expect much from them, I've seen better quality $349 Chinese racks from fitness avenue (Amstaff)... and that brand makes Bowflex look like Ivanko. I hope Karma swings your way on the next purchase sir.
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  30. #30
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    Maybe send a little email to TSS with a link to this post, see if they can't do something for ya. Almost 2,000,000 people on facebook "like" bb.com, and surely there's millions more that visit the site regularly. A simple search on Google for TSS will send people here. That's quite a bit of bad press and if anyone was considering TSS I'm sure they won't be after reading this, at least I hope not!
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