Re: random questions


After my minor diatribe t'other day, I decided to review some of the
other answers given to friend Richard (Stallworth) and felt the urge to
go above and beyond. To wit:

Grab Irons: I prefer Westerfield's wire grabs - they're brass,
I feel is easier to work with, especially when you have to file them
flush with the inside of an open car.
This is kind of a cop out answer, since most wire grabs available are
brass. The question is should we be encouraging friend Richard to keep
using the same old, same old .012" wire which we all know is about 50%
overscale? Why not encourage him to bend his own using .010" or even
.008" wire, a task I find I can do in less time than straightening some
of the prefab grabs, and get nice sharp corners in the bargain. Besides,
a lot depends where he's installing those grab irons, somebodies kit
where the size is predetermined, or a self inflicted location.

BTW, sometimes filing flush is not the thing to do. Let them project
about .005" and it will represent the bolt head on the inside of the car.
remember, they do not use lag bolts to hold grab irons on. In fact one
of the major points in the original 1911 Safety Standards was that all
hand holds (sic) be held on in a non loosening way. That would mean
either rivets or bolts with the threads projecting about 1/2" beyond the
nut on the visible side and its edges peened over, i.e. riveted. The
theory being that a lag bolt could loosen up in transit and when a
workman grabbed on, it would come loose spilling said workman all over
the countryside.

Your choices for bracket type
grabs are much more limited, with the Details Associates part being
pretty much the only game in town.
Actually, as discussed, DA is not even in the game, unless you model in
OO scale. I'm still looking for a place to use 24" bracket grabs. Any
of the newer kits grabs, IM, BLT, RC are at least the more common 18"
wide, but represent 2" diameter rod, rather than the more common 5/8" -
3/4" used. And the bracket parts are closer to 1"x3" bar, rather than
the 3/8" x 11/2" used. There are ways to model them more accurately, but
not in an email message.

Stirrup Steps: A-Line steps whever prototypically appropriate - the
wire steps hold up better under layout conditions than the Details
Associates derlin steps; however, Details Associates makes a greater
variety of types.
More disagreement, especially because I hate to see these parts on a
model with those cursed wide radius corners while the prototype has crisp
sharp corners. The DA steps, where there is a close match, is so much
closer to scale than any DIY version I have seen, and I have yet to break
one, either off or internally. The key is proper handling and

I know a lot of our list members swear by A-Lines steps, but I prefer to
bend my own, with sharp corners, from DA .010" x .030" brass. It's a
little smaller than A-Line uses, I think, and takes a crisp corner, most
of the time. OTOH, I am looking for a source of strip brass closer to
.007" x .020" for my own future use. I may even have to cut it myself.

Brake Details: Tichy makes very nice K and AB brake sets which blow
away the previous standard, the old Cal-Scale sets.
Only if you model TT scale. See my previous message.

Brake Wheels: For later brake wheels, Kadee offers the same ones on
their PS-1's spearately, though without housings. Details
offers a variety of brake wheels with housings. Precision Scale
makes a very nice Ajax brakewheel (no housing).
Except for Ajax wheels and housings, where there is a choice, this
depends on what is appropriate to the prototype (don't you just enjoy
typing that word, all on one line of the keyboard!) being modeled and who
offers the correct type. All the non-Ajaxs seem to be pretty good
representations, but I'm sure there are others who know much more about
this subject than I do. I wish they'd make that info more readily

For metal running boards, etched metal is the way to go, with
Plano Model Products making a good variety of designs. Just
to use a flexible adhesive such as R/C 50 or Weldbond or (in the
immortal words of Tim O'Connor) SPROING!!
Done right, yes to all of above. Problem is, nobody does them right. If
you bother to check a real RUNNING BOARD (that was for RHs benefit),
you'd see that the thickness at the edge is about 1 1/4" to 1 3/4",
depending on type. Most etched running boards are .005" to .007" thick,
which is way less than half of what they should be. Look at a photo of a
typical model with an etched board, and besides the waves which infect
it, it looks like it will depress when anything heavier than a small dog
walks on it. The solution to metal boards is to solder wire to each
edge, which is nigh onto impossible and still keep 'em straight. Another
problem is the joints between running board panels which occur on the
(alternating) supports which on most steel roofs are at 37" or 39" apart
(I forget which). An unbroken stretch of etched metal board kinda looses
that rhythm of running board to roof ribs. It can be solved, but its not
as easy as it should be, at least not yet.

Properly building and detailing freight car models, as well as any
models, is an ongoing process. It starts with learning as much as
possible about your subject and then incorporating that knowledge into
your construction efforts. Learning can happen by building models,
reading how others build models, learning how real cars were (and still
are) built, and seeing how real cars are built. For instance, the best
way to see how underbody equipment is put together is too look under a
freight car. Fortunately, there are enough cars from our era still in
existence that can be peered under. There are also cameras available
today (that were not as recently as 15 years ago) that can effortlessly
take excellent underbody detail photos to share with all of us so the art
won't be lost when the cars are.

Just remember, pre-digital photographs don't lie. If you model what's on
a photo, your models should be pretty close to accurate. Just don't
question that statement please, because even I don't think I understand
it now that I've written it.

Byron Rose
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