As I started an HO scale resin freight car kit, I noticed something odd about the grab irons. The drop portion of the grab iron wasn’t at a right angle to the legs of the wire detail part. When I look at a prototype photo like the one above. I see drop grab irons at right angles.
I tweaked one of the grab irons with a pair of pliers for a more satisfactory result. In the photo above, the stock grab iron with the kit is on the bottom and my improved version is above. The box car kit on the workbench has 30 drop grab irons to install. I needed to find an easier way to improve the kit parts.
I bought a tool for bending photo etch parts a couple years ago. It has been marketed as The Bug and was available through The Small Shop. I’ve used this tool to bend non-standard grab irons and thought it can be used to upgrade the drop grabs.
I slid the grab iron legs under the flat side of the tool and screwed down the clamp.
Using a small angle plate I purchased from Micro-Mark, I pressed the base against the grab iron to improve the angle.
Here’s what it looks like after unscrewing the clamp and moving it onto the tool surface. You can see the improvement compared to the earlier image.
But the proof is in the pudding, right? Here are the improved drop grab irons installed onto the resin box car kit. Not all are at a right angle to the grab iron legs, but they are much better than what I saw out of the box.
There was another issue I encountered while building this kit. Some of the grab iron wire failed and broke. I’ll admit, I bought the kit long ago but I wasn’t expecting brass wire grab irons to break. I experienced similar breakage with an even older kit as I tried to bend brass wire for brake rods. When you encounter these issues, it’s best to throw out the material and turn to your stash for replacements. Get it off of your workbench before it causes you more disappointment.
Some may think I’m being overly picky about the grab iron angle. But it didn’t look good to my eye. The extra effort was worth it as I build this model.
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