Nearly all caboose designs have some sort of steps or ladders to allow the crew access. Making four steps can be challenging for all modelers.  It is a process that I have struggled with often.  I have built several cabooses over my hobby life. 

My process involves making a fixture to allow duplicate parts to be built.  My experience is that wood is the best material to use for steps made from styrene.

The fixture is very elegant but it is functional.  I know Ross Dando is probably shaking his head at my crude jig.  Each step has a 9″ rise which was easily made from stripwood.

I have included a portion of a drawing done by Jim Zwernemann.  It illustrates the design I am trying to model.

The prototype steps were built of steel and used safety plate for the treads.  I could have built the steps out of brass but felt more comfortable with styrene.  I have tried to  use Archer decals to represent the anti-slip surface but it doesn’t work bending over the front edge.

I decided to take another route using etched brass material.  I purchased an etched product sold by Plano Model Products

The etched sheet is very thin and easy to cut and form easily.  I attached the metal to  step tread with CA.  I think it is an effective method for create a steel step.

Photo from the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association collection.

Hope my approach will be helpful.


5 thoughts on “MODELING: Steps

  1. The other tricky bit about caboose steps is they are right there on the corner of the car where they’re likely to get bumped off! In O scale, maybe you can get away with heavier-styrene, but in HO, I like to make them from metal for this reason.

    I like your fixture very much.

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