Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Grab Iron Jig

The Bachmann On30 box cars (goods car for you UK readers) has nice wire grab ends on the ends but on the sides the opted for what looks like a ladder and quite frankly I don't like the look of. I was willing to put up with it on the non C&N box cars since it helps set them apart. But I wanted grab irons for the C&N. My first problem was trying to figure out how to get a consistent spacing and location. That's what jigs are for. This evening I constructed a jig and performed surgery on my poor decal test car. Overall I would call it a success. However, I didn't realize that the grab irons I purchased were actually white metal castings. While they work, they are a bit soft and I'm not sure I like them. They might look better after they have been painted, I think I will go looking for some actual wire ones though.

I kept track of the trials and tribulations in vivid color.

The issue, the ladder instead of grab irons on the right side

The victim, the box car that has my first run of decals on it. I have removed the ladder already

The opposite side, plenty of room for more decal experimentation

What I want, wire grab irons like the ones that appear on the ends. Why didn't they use these on the sides?

First jig attempt. A piece of sheet styrene cut to  fit between the top of the eves and the top of the step

I thought I should cut it down to make it easier to use

Drawing the first lines to figure out where to drill the holes. I'm having second thoughts at this point

I decide to take a slightly different direction. I grab a piece of new plastic and  set the jig so that the machined edges, which I know are square, line up against straight edges on the box car.

I mark the jig so that I remember which edge is which.

Drawing the lines to determine where the holes for the grab irons need to go. Each place where the lines cross is where a hole needs to be drilled.

Jig in place complete with holes. I used a #73 bit for this.

The grab irons. I never really looked at these before and I didn't realize they were cast instead of wire.

The holes are drilled, need a little cleanup.

Cleaned up and grab irons in place. They look a little rough partially because they bend a bit when inserted and my holes are a tad to close together.

In place on the other side. The one, second from the bottom, that looks really off is because the drilled hole concided with the original hole for the ladder. When I glue it in I'll push it up into the right spot.  For now I have left them unglued, while I search for some wire ones.


  1. Replies
    1. Its a good concept anyway. I think the other two box cars are safe for a while. I did find some brass castings last night so I ordered those. I'll wait to do anymore work till they arrive.