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Making of Locomotive hand rails and ladders

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  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 9,406 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 12:53 PM

dehusman

Grabirons are closer to .012" (1") and handrails are between .015 and .020" (1.3" and 1.75").

There are several manufacturers that sell preformed grabirons, I use Tichy or Detail Associates.

Brass wire is available from several places, Detail Associates is where I most commonly buy mine.  For handrails you can also use steel piano wire, its stiffer, harder to bend and cut, but stays straighter than brass.

 

I use the Tichy grabs or make my own from .012" brass wire.  The ones on the car below are all homemade, as they're a non-standard width:

 

For grabs that are in especially vulnerable locations, .012" stainless steel wire (also from Detail Associates) stands up well, although it's harder to bend and cut than brass.  This kit, from the Rail Shop, included .012" stainless steel wire to be formed into grabirons, so I used it:

 

While I no longer run diesels, I like .015" piano wire for handrails.  I painted this older Atlas RS-1 for a friend, and replaced all of the plastic handrails with piano wire.  With the handrail assemblies removed from the loco, new ones are formed from wire using the originals as patterns, then the handrail sections are cut from the stanchions.  The stanchions are then drilled-out and threaded onto the wire.  After the new assemblies are added to the loco, the stanchions are aligned perpendicularly, then secured at their tops with a drop of ca.  I also replaced the cast-on grabirons with ones formed from .012" brass wire.

To cleanly cut brass wire, or small diameter (.012" or less) stainless steel wire, use an old X-Acto blade:  working on a hard surface (I use a sheet of glass) place the heel of the blade at the place where you want to cut.  While holding both the wire and the piece to be cut off, press down firmly with the knife, snicking off the desired piece.  For heavier wire, place the blade where the cut is to be made, then, while applying pressure, roll the wire back and forth using the blade - again, hold onto both pieces of wire or they'll fly away. Smile, Wink & Grin  For piano wire, and large diameter stainless steel wire, a cut-off disc works well - wear safety glasses and restrain the wire as necessary.

 

Wayne

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,534 posts
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 11:08 AM

Grabirons are closer to .012" (1") and handrails are between .015 and .020" (1.3" and 1.75").

There are several manufacturers that sell preformed grabirons, I use Tichy or Detail Associates.

Brass wire is available from several places, Detail Associates is where I most commonly buy mine.  For handrails you can also use steel piano wire, its stiffer, harder to bend and cut, but stays straighter than brass.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Millarville, Alberta. Canada
  • 132 posts
Making of Locomotive hand rails and ladders
Posted by CPbuff on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:52 AM
I keep breaking the plastic ladders and handrails that come with some of my locomotives and cars... I would like to change them out to metal. I assume that brass would work ? and around the size of ..020" in diameter... (HO Scale) Am I correct? What have you used? Who can you get it from? Suppliers?

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