Re: Durable Stirrups?

Tim O'Connor

I've used A-Line stirrups in cases where I wasn't too particular
about the prototype, or where the prototype definitely used a
bottom-mount sill step.

But some steps were side-mount, or a combination of side-bottom
or even side-end mount. And that's where the tough plastic steps
from Detail Associates, Tichy and others do a good job. They are
not so likely to break as they are to fall off, as they resist
most glues!

I'd had very good luck with metal steps in Westerfield kits, and
you can do neat things with them like correctly tilt them outwards
which you can't do with the molded plastic steps.

The 1937 AAR box cars had very distinctive sill steps, so I always
use the plastic kit steps for my Red Caboose/IMWX box cars. Then as
Richard says, I keep 'em away from the club. ;-)

Tim O'Connor

Victor, all of my HO scale rolling stock is designed to operate on a
diorama and to be handled periodically for maintenance, etc.
Mercifully, I don't have to deal with the ham-fisted bozos who seem
inevitable on most club layouts, but in my experience plastic sill
steps that are molded on or cemented in place are either grossly
oversize and out of scale or so fragile as to be vulnerable to even
reasonably careful handling. For that reason, my long-standing
practice is to replace them wherever possible with A-Line metal steps
(which, incidentally, are less expensive if purchased in bulk than in
individual retail packages). I heat each step to a dull red with my
resistance soldering tool and then quench it in water; this makes it
easy to bend the step to whatever exact configuration may be required
without breaking it. I then blacken it with a chemical blackening
agent before installing it, as the black coating takes paint better
than bare metal and tends to prevent unwanted shine from the metal if
the paint gets rubbed off. The A-Line steps are slightly over-scale,
but not much, and look quite realistic as well as being resistant to
any damage that might result from a derailment, etc. Worst case
scenario is that they get bent, and - having been annealed before
installation - they can easily be bent back into position and touch-
up paint applied if necessary. FWIW -

Richard Hendrickson

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