Making Brass handrails, questions?

mrlxhelper Aug 27, 2010

  1. mrlxhelper

    mrlxhelper TrainBoard Member

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    I know there was a thread on here somewhere about this but I can't find it.

    Anyways, I'm looking at using the GMM brass handrail stantions and the suggested .006 wire.

    Should I use a little thicker wire, .006 seems really fragile?

    What kind of solder should I use and what temp?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    I only know what works for me. I was taught by a modeler by the name of Tom Hoover, back in the 70's, and pretty much blew my mind and I was never quite the same since.

    Depending on the unit, I'll use either .010 or .015 Details West brass wire for the stanchions. I use either .010 or .008 for the handrails themselves, same stuff. The .010 is a little more rugged.

    It must be polished up with 600 or 1000 sandpaper.

    I assemble them on the shell AFTER first paint many times after decaling the hoods.

    The top rails are made first, bending them around with tweezers following the original handrails as a pattern.

    Old handrails are cut off sills, etc. Holes are drilled all around low-speed with a dremel, following the original pattern or measured marks.

    Handrail is ACC'd in the side, adjusted for height and straight.

    Starting in the middle, a long vertical "L" shape is bent, the bottom "L" is glued in with ACC, but NOT cut yet. Use the excess height to spring it against the handrail and keep it straight.

    Solder one in place in the middle with typical thin radio shack rosin core, 30-watt iron. Cut off excess with rail flush cutters, don't worry about being neat.

    Divide and conquer each area to each side, in half, and repeat for every one.

    THEN you grind off the excess with an abrasive disk edge, medium speed.

    It's tough, straight, cheap, and repeatable.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I do custom jobs for around $25-30 a unit depending on complexity.

    I conver this process with photos in the instruction set for the Whitcomb centercab (above) with is a free .PDF

    Nothing against the GMM stuff, its a nicer stanchion. I just can't get them straight. Most of my ATSF stuff is a yellow handrail and a dark stanchion, so the vertical dissapears into the body but the yellow rail MUST be perfectly straight or it looks awful.

    The Life-Like handrails weren't bad - compared to the old days - but sorry, wire is still better and it shows, plus it paints easily and takes a beating without damage.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2010
  3. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use GMM stanchions. They are ACCed in place first. I then solder the horizontal rail to a stanchion at one end of the walkway. next, solder at the other end ensuring the rail is level. Then tack the other stanchions in between the ends. This ensures a level hand rail. I trim the tops of the GMM stanchions with a cutting disk. Go slowly so it doesn't heat the handrail too much.

    Bend the rails before soldering. Work along the walkway in sections. It is definitely not as hard as it appears.

    I recommend .010" wire. I felt the .006" wire disappeared as being too small to see depending on the paint colors you use. (I was using the Espee gray colors.)

    Possibly off topic: The new handrails are pretty good, IMHO, and no need to replace them as I did in the old, old, old days. You need to create handrails for unique models.
     
  4. mrlxhelper

    mrlxhelper TrainBoard Member

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    Was going to try this on SDP40 MRL 290 that I'm slowly working on, just thought it might turn out better than piecing together the plastic stuff.
     
  5. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Here is an Atlas engine kitbash with handrails that I pieced together.
    [​IMG]

    It's okay but just not the real thing. I agree with you that the brass wire is better. Here are some very old .006 inch handrails on the B40-8:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    As an addenum to Randy's suggestions. My only change is to use Tichy Phosphor bronze wire instead of brass. It is stiffer and easier to solder. It tends to hold it's shape better, makes cleaner bends and is available from .008 up to .032 if you need it.

    For stanchions, I use GMM stanchion kits fro both diesel.....

    [​IMG]


    ....and steam.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

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    There's some info in this thread in the Diesel Detailers Group. I tried my hand at doing them.... I need more practice. That loco is still sitting on the workbench.

    Mike
     
  8. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks for the tips! I'm going to try it on my next ship--or maybe I should start smaller? Railings on smaller ships were often lines with sag. Grant me patience!
     
  9. nickelplate759

    nickelplate759 TrainBoard Member

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    I met Tom Hoover in the 1980s. Amazing work!
     
  10. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    Has anyone ever considered using wire to make railings for stairways in N scale?
     
  11. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    I've done a LOT of brass handrails. I have always used the GMM stanchions and phosphor bronze wire, usually .008. I used the tweezer tool in my resistance solderer on the joints between the wire and stanchion.
     
  12. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow, old thread :)

    I would think it would work nicely for stair railing . Not sure if my fat fingers could do it though. :D
     
  13. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    Doesn't GMM already make railing?
     
  14. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    If memory serves me correctly, they make i ndustrial railings and safty cage ladders, but not railings for locomotives. But really, how hard is it to make them from wire and GM stanchions?
     
  15. nickelplate759

    nickelplate759 TrainBoard Member

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    GMM make stanchions for diesels engines and for steam engines, but not entire railing kits.
     

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