MODELING: Tank Car Handrails

Building the tank car handrail is one of those nasty jobs I dislike.  I usually drag my feet until it is absolutely necessary.  In the past, I have used cast brass stanchions to attach the railing to the tank body.   The picture below shows the Back Shop stanchions installed on my Type-20 tank car.  The parts are a little delicate and will break if you are not careful but they are nice looking once installed.

I am in the process of building several GATC Type-30 tank cars and needed a more cost effective and stronger stanchion.  I decided to fabricate stanchions from .010″x .060″ strip brass.  I started by forming the brass around a .032″ length of wire.  This ensure a good fit on the actual .032″ handrail.  Use a pair of pliers to create a loop and pinch the tail of the brass strip.  Solder the tail creating solid staff.

I made a little fixture to hold the stanchion while filing down the tail to approximately .032″ wide.  I wanted to minimize the size of the hole in the tank body so went with a .032″ diameter hole.   

The stanchion is inserted in a pre-drilled hole in the tank body.   The railing is spaced 3″ from the body.  It is also offset downward by approximately 3″.

The handrail is at the longitudinal center of this tank body.

The end railing follows the contour of the tank end.  I formed the shape starting with a paint bottle.  The piece was inserted into a jig that allowed me to create sharp bends to meet up with the side railing.

I use a round-nose plier to form the sharp bend.  The end piece is attached to the side railing using a very thin-walled tubing that is made by Albion Alloys in England. I used a 1.0 mm O.D. size with is a snug fit for the .032″ handrail.   This is a very thin tubing that is cut using a sharp knife blade rolled over tube on a hard surface.  It will easily snap off done correctly.

As a final touch I added short lengths of styrene with rivets added.

The above picture shows the primed tank body that still needs some attention to a few bumps and gaps.

Hopefully, you find this posting usedful in your model building.


11 thoughts on “MODELING: Tank Car Handrails

  1. An elegant solution to a “fiddly” job. Thank you for all the techniques you have developed and shared with the model building community.

    Lee Gustafson

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