Author Topic: Grab irons, wire or etched?  (Read 3339 times)

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PJPickard

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Grab irons, wire or etched?
« on: January 09, 2013, 09:37:42 AM »
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I have been working on a caboose project.
How do you guys think etched grabs and railings would compare to wire?

I have never been happy with etched ladders, they just look wrong to me, but making a wire ladder would be quite a project.

Thanks for any input,

Paul

Philip H

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 09:46:12 AM »
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Look at the etched stuff from BLMA - they don't make anything caboose specific, but their freight car ladders are really nice, as are their formed wire grab irons.  They laos have a grab iron drilling template tool that is one of the most helpful things I've seen in years.
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flight2000

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 10:05:37 AM »
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I used the BLMA etched grabs from their E8/9 detail set once.  The grabs were flat and just didn't look right in my opinion so I pulled them out and used wire instead.  Took longer to bend them on my own, but not overly difficult. 

I use the other preformed wire grabs they have all the time though.

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bbussey

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 12:29:12 PM »
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If you etch them out of .125mm stainless steel and make them .188mm wide, you won't be able to tell they are flat.

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eja

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 12:49:00 PM »
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Speaking of grab irons, I wish someone (BLMA ... hint, hint, ) would make them for all those nice new Micro Trains heavyweight passenger cars.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 03:00:05 PM by eja »

TrainCat2

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2013, 01:16:22 PM »
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Here is a good comparison photo between etched and wire


Regards
Bob Knight

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PJPickard

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2013, 02:27:00 PM »
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Hi Traincat,

Thanks great comparison shot. Can I ask what the wire diam is?

So everyone, what do you think?  The etched looks pretty OK to me in this shot.

Paul

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 02:27:51 PM »
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For me, there is a rather large difference between GMM grab irons and wire (BLMA or homemade). Especially since the BLMA ones are made from .007 wire.

But that's just a comparison between those GMM and wire ones.
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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2013, 02:41:17 PM »
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.188mm = .007"

Here is a close-up of the end rails on the upcoming ESM Keyser Valley caboose.  They are .007" wide etched parts out of .004" thick stainless steel.  The ladders also are .004" thick.  In comparison, the grab irons on these pilot models are .008" wire.  The grab irons also will be etched stainless steel on the production models.



Etched stainless steel will give you the fineness and have the strength to withstand normal handling.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 02:55:18 PM by bbussey »
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bill pearce

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2013, 03:41:47 PM »
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Wire is far superior if you plan on photographing the car/loco on a layout, but not too much different in normal viewing. And the reason etched ladders look bad is that the members are usually made too wide and look out of proportion in viewing because of the thinness of the material. I would thing that really in-scale ladders could be easy to make in etched stainless, but that's a question for Bob Knight.

Alwyn Cutmore

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2013, 06:49:03 PM »
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Hi Folks,

If you want to have your flat etched grabs look round just wipe a loaded soldering iron across them and the solder meniscus will give you a rouning effect no larger than the thickness of the etch.

Regards

Al
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robert3985

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2013, 07:34:06 PM »
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Wire is far superior if you plan on photographing the car/loco on a layout, but not too much different in normal viewing. And the reason etched ladders look bad is that the members are usually made too wide and look out of proportion in viewing because of the thinness of the material. I would thing that really in-scale ladders could be easy to make in etched stainless, but that's a question for Bob Knight.

I agree that wire is superior when representing grabs with a round cross section.  Sometimes, on caboose end rails, part of the structure is constructed using flat cross section pieces and some is round.  Some is both, with transitions going from flat to round.  It's always a good idea to check a prototype, or prototype photos of the caboose grabs, end rails and ladders you're constructing if you are worried about the appearance of etched grabs vs round grabs.

Luckily, I have several prototype U.P., D&RGW and S.P. cabooses at the Utah State Railroad Museum to go take photos and measurements of. 

I superdetailed up a Hallmark "welded" U.P. caboose, which turned out to be a good start for a CA-8/9 with a lot of work.  I used .007" wire for the grabs, but when I hand painted them red, they gained a couple of thousandths in diameter easily.  Next project, I'll mask 'em and use my airbrush to paint 'em, along with end ladders and railings to preserve the "lacy" prototype look.

I agree that the vast majority of etched ladders are poorly done. It would cost nothing more to etch ladder side frames separately, with appropriately spaced holes for separately etched ladder rungs (if they're flat) or for inserting .007" brass or NS wire into the holes and soldering them up.  That way, the prototypically correct ladder side profile and rectangular shape and orientation could be easily kept, while offering the correct ladder rung shapes, orientations and spacings.

The same is true for the caboose end railings and supports.  Instead of being a monolithic piece for the sake of ease of installation, it might be advantageous for someone to offer a kit for several popular cabooses that would replace the grossly oversized and incorrectly proportioned or detailed injection molded pieces. 

Of course, I'm thinking about the MTL CA/Harriman Era wood caboose, and the IMR U.P. CA-3/4's.  For the MTL wooden caboose, I'd include an extended coupler pocket for mounting a Z-scale coupler, an air hose bracket to attach BLMA air hoses to either end, etched running boards and end brackets, cupola braces and a vertical brakewheel housing and wheel for each end platform. I'd also consider four step assemblies to replace the stock MTL steps, which need an extra step and different end profile.  Two different ladder profiles on the roof would be offered, rounded and angled.   

Sorta the same deal with super detail end platform railings and ladders for the IMR CA3/4 cabooses along with expanded metal steps and platforms, along with etched running boards too, and an add-on owner's plate and four safety grills for the end windows.

Of course, the reason this comes to mind is because of my ongoing U.P. CA-1 kitbashing projects and my two dozen Golden West Models CA3/4 kits I'm assembling and superdetailing to match specific prototypes...meaning constructing brass end platform details out of brass sheet and rod.

An added feature for U.P. cabooses would be the conductor's identifying symbol for mounting on top of the cupola, on top of a rod high above the roof, such as a duck, an elephant or other symbol which allowed the conductors to spot their cabooses easily in the yards.  Each conductor had his own symbol for his caboose.

Here are two photos of the superdetailed and modified Hallmark CA-8...in the brass and finished.


>

Here's my first attempt at kitbashing a U.P. CA-1 from two MTL CA wooden cabooses.  Stock ladders and end railings, which are pretty fine, but are not correct for either the CA or the CA-1, which I'm bending up out of brass to get the C-channel on the ends and the vertical brake wheels. I'm using GMM Heavyweight Details fret for the steps, which are a vast improvement over the stock steps and .007" stainless wire for the grabs.  Compare to a stock MTL CA.


I actually went down to the museum in Ogden and measured the end railing and grab diameters on their U.P. CA-1 and CA-4, and the diameters measure from a little under 1" to just over 1".  I figured that .007" wire was a good compromise, but after painting, I've decided that for painted grabs, perhaps .006" would be better...to compensate for the thickness of paint on them.  We'll see.  I'll keep the .007" stainless wire for passenger grabs on my Streamliners, which were shiny nickel plated appliances on the prototype.

Just for your information, I'm using .003" 6-ought braided black suture silk for my smokejack braces.  Works great!

PJPickard

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2013, 09:48:29 PM »
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Bob,

Thanks for your thoughts...and your cabeese look great!
I have in mind to do just what you say, making up a ladder with sep. sides and round rungs.  Not sure I can do it though, which is why I was asking this question in the first place.  Maybe I will try though. Start at the top and then back off if it does not work.

Thanks,

Paul

ednadolski

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2013, 11:34:57 PM »
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I prefer 0.005" wire for grabirons.  Since these don't exist commercially I make my own.  Here is a recent example on an FVM boxcar:



I would not have thought that the difference between 0.005" and 0.007" would be noticeable, but it is amazing some times at what the eye can pick up.  In particular I think it is more apparent with diesels where I use 0.008" wire for the handrails, I don't want the grabirons to look like they are nearly the same diameter:




It's not really any harder to work with 0.005" wire than 0.007" wire, so I just go with the smaller size.  Good lighting, magnification, and of course a well made tweezers are the keys ;)


Ed

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Re: Grab irons, wire or etched?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2013, 02:06:04 AM »
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Ok Ed, where did you find #94 (what appears to be tungsten/carbide) drills?  And I hope that they don't cost $20 a piece!
I only found #85s.

Note to everybody: once you start using those tungsten/carbide (TC) drills, you'll *NEVER* want to come back to using regular high speed steel drills!  The TC drill bits are very fragile, but they drill like hell (through practically anything)!
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