MODELING: Tank Car Ladders

Steam era tank cars nearly had one or more ladders to allow access to the dome.  Most are pretty simple and can be quickly fabricated our some brass strips and wire.  The key to building them is use fixtures to hold the pieces in-place while you solder them together.  The general arrangement drawing for the Type 30 is shown below.  

I built the ladder from .015″ x .042″ brass strips and .015″ brass wire.  My first step was to mark the location of the holes for the rungs and the 90 degree bend at the bottom of each stile.  I like to tape the stiles together for marking locations.  This will help with making holes cross from each other and will result in straight rungs.


I made a simple bending jig to form the top “hook”.  Each stile has a 90 degree twist near the start of the top hook.  The twist is performed over .060″ space using two small pliers.  Now you can form the stile of the brass rod at the top of the fixture.

I pin the stiles in place and solder the rungs.  The stainless pins help keep things aligned while soldering.

The picture below shows what the ladder looks like prior to painting and installation.

Hopefully you will find this simple task helpful in your modeling.


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