Author Topic: Options for thinner handrails?  (Read 6331 times)

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DRGW Jake

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Options for thinner handrails?
« on: June 19, 2011, 08:59:34 AM »
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Hey all, I'm looking into purchasing some N scale equipment to start a small layout to give me something to do in my spare time, as I've exhausted everything else not even three weeks into the summer. ::) The selection of diesel locomotives from my era (mid/late 1970's to late 1980's/early 1990s) seems decent, how ever I notice a glaring defect in every locomotive I see: fist thick handrails. I guess they are one of my pet peeves, but I can not stand them. They make me want to claw my eyes out with a melon baller. :-\ I'm guessing the simple solution to this would be to simply clip them off and replace them with music wire of an appropriate (or at least better) size; if one can even get music wire that small. Are there any other things I could/should consider doing? Or would music wire be the way to go? I also foresee issues of the rails becoming horribly bent and misshapen should I look at them the wrong way, due to their small diameter. How can this be avoided?

SkipGear

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 11:20:23 AM »
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Wire - Tichy .008" or .010" Phosphorbronze
http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/293-1100

Stanchions - Gold Medal Models
http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/304-16032

Result -


Unpainted -


They have held up very good. Notice however once you put paint on them, they don't look that much thinner than the nose and rear railings which I left stock. This is a Bachmann model, not a Kato though. Kato has a tendency to use very chunky handrails compared to others. The Atlas loco's are beter with IM having the thinnest factory handrails, but also the most fragile.
Tony Hines

ednadolski

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 11:41:01 AM »
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Hello Jake,

I fully agree with you, in that scale handrails can be a substantial improvement in the appearance of N scale diesels.  To my eye they add a sense of scale and mass that is hard to achieve any other way.

My preference is to use 0.008" phosphor bronze wire from CMA, along with the photo-etched brass stanchions from Gold Medal Models.  The phosphor bronze is stiffer than brass wire and is surprisingly durable for its size.  When soldered to the brass stanchions the overall result is reasonably strong, and while this is not for the heavy-handed, if things get bent out of alignment I find that it's usually not to hard to carefully bend them back.

Here are a few example pics of models I have done, along with some OOTB pix for comparison (thanks to Gary H. for the ATSF OOTB pic).   Here also are links to some threads with further details, by all means please let me know if I can answer any further questions for you.

http://therailwire.net/forum/index.php/topic,21548.msg202792.html#msg202792
http://therailwire.net/forum/index.php/topic,20603.0.html
http://therailwire.net/forum/index.php/topic,11602.msg92521.html#msg92521

Regards,
Ed









christoph

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 01:34:14 PM »
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Tony,

thanks for the Walthers reference.  I should order some of this just to test what could be done  :)

I might start with some old switchers that need partial rebuilding.
Christoph

DRGW Jake

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 03:28:50 PM »
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Wow, those models look infinitely better! That's some awesome modeling guys, I would've guessed they were HO and not N had I not known. Thanks for the help! ;D I'd also like to ask, what was the method of attaching the rails to the locomotives? It looks like you guys drilled holes into the shell for the wire, but how did you secure the rails and keep them from falling off?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 03:32:07 PM by DRGW Jake »

pnolan48

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 05:31:49 PM »
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I've had good luck with .005 and even .003 piano wire on my ships. While piano wire is harder to bend, I find it is stiffer than phosphor bronze, i.e, more fumble-fingers resistant--and also cheaper. But it does not solder. I bought lots of it many years ago, so don't have a current source. I anchor ends by drilling holes, but even #80 holes are too large. I believe the GMM stanchions work well with #80 bits, or slightly larger. Most of my modeling gear is still in boxes, as are my ships--and I dread opening the latter.

SkipGear

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 05:46:36 PM »
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Wow, those models look infinitely better! That's some awesome modeling guys, I would've guessed they were HO and not N had I not known. Thanks for the help! ;D I'd also like to ask, what was the method of attaching the rails to the locomotives? It looks like you guys drilled holes into the shell for the wire, but how did you secure the rails and keep them from falling off?

It really depends on the loco. The SD45 had holes in the body for each stanchion already. It was just a matter of folding the end over and inserting it in the hole. I can see the Kato and Atlas loco's being more work as the handrails are molded to the sill. I haven't done one yet but I would first drill through each handrail on the sill so that spacing would match. Then carve off the stanchions and finish as on the SD45.

As far as the handrail to the stachion, I used CA. I didn't have a nice low wattage soldering iron at the time. Now that I have a 12w micro pencil, I would probably try soldering but CA has held up fine, including a drop to the floor once.
Tony Hines

DKS

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 05:55:10 PM »
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But it does not solder.

You should be able to solder it using the right flux (liquid acid, such as Stay Clean). I solder music wire all the time.

I anchor ends by drilling holes, but even #80 holes are too large.

You need sub-80 drills. Here's a good source: http://drillcity.stores.yahoo.net/index.html
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 05:56:57 PM by David K. Smith »
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

Scottl

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2011, 06:32:47 PM »
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The improvement in appearance in those models is tremendous.   This thread is full of good information.   Micro (sub #80) drills- a revelation!

SAH

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2011, 08:45:11 PM »
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CA for the frame / stanchion joint.  Solder for the handrail / stanchion joint.  This is 0.010" brass wire.  GMM stanchions.  I see no reason why the handrail / stanchion joint cannot be done with CA.  Once the stanchions are joined to the handrails the entire structure is pretty durable.  Still must be handled with care of course as it will not spring back into shape like plastic.  I've not tried phosophorbronze wire but have some and will do so for the next project, whenever that happens.

Steve




DRGW Jake

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2011, 09:53:47 PM »
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That's some fantastic modeling there, Steve! ;D

Philip H

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2011, 09:58:41 PM »
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Steve,
Great little jig there.
Philip H.
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havingfuntoo

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2011, 10:23:27 PM »
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Some nice work displayed here ....... I use phosphoric acid to assist me in my soldering challenges.

DRGW Jake

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2011, 10:46:25 PM »
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^Does the use of phosphoric acid as a flux necessitate the washing of the handrail assembly before installation? I know FastTracks recommend washing turnouts made using their acid-based flux before installation due to corrosion issues.

--Jake

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Options for thinner handrails?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2011, 10:56:03 PM »
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I'm extremely impressed with the results that skipgear, Ed N, and SAH are getting with their handrails, but it's hard (at least for me!) to build a fleet using this approach.  So I started looking into etching handrails.  Some explorations are in this thead:

http://therailwire.net/forum/index.php/topic,23436.0.html

Alas the project has languished due to other commitments, but I hope to return to it before too long.

-Gary