Over the past two or three years I have become increasingly finicky about the ladders on my models. A couple of factors have influenced this.
The Kadee Effect: Here I mean especially the very fine scale appearance of the ladder rungs and Bracket Grabs. The Bracket Grabs especially appeal to me because they can be used on so many models with the Drill Template available from Yarmouth being especially helpful. Commercial ladders look clunky when the Kadee parts are used.
Non-Standard Ladders: One of the charms of modeling cars built in the first three decades of the 20th Century is their varying height. This can present a challenge however if we want accurate ladders as their ladder rung spacing was determined by the height of these cars. For most of my 20 plus years building resin kits I have coped with this fact by trying to get “close enough” to the correct rung spacing with the use of various commercial styrene ladders and locating the ladder on the car side so that the top and bottom rungs were as close as possible match to the prototype car as revealed in photos. Then I decided that close enough is not good enough.
Here are a couple of links where I explain what I have been doing:
Recently I made a small refinement to what I have been doing while building two new end ladders for my M-K-T War Emergency type rebuild kit-bash. After gluing in place the 0.010 styrene rod for the rungs and allowing the glue to cure overnight, I used my close cutting Sprue Nippers to cut the rod at a sharp angle along each edge of the stiles, thus creating a flat spot on the rod ends. Next rivet heads were harvested from an Athearn gondola to serve as the attachment bolts. Even though these flat spots are angled, with the bolt heads in place it is difficult if not impossible to tell that they are not resting flat on the ladder stiles. I am very happy with this refinement.
BTW you can keep up with my progress on the M-K-T model here:
More entries to follow.
One more note: If I were starting all over I would probably use 0.010 wire for separate grab irons but with so many models built already with the 0.012 grab variety, I made a conscious decision to continue with the 0.012 type.