Given that the resinfreightcars Yahoo Group is building a couple of my resin kits for the March group build, I thought I'd offer up a closer look at building my etched ladders.
First step is to run a #80 drill through the etched holes to insure adequate clearance for the grabs that will follow. Sometimes the etching process leaves the holes a tad undersized.
With that done clip the stiles free of the fret. Xuron makes an excellent set of shears for this task.
Next fold the stiles into long angles. I've used, until today, a Mission Models etching bending tool. But again the separate bit that is used for levering the etched part up has broken. So I'm done with that tool. And that is also why there's no photos of this part of the process.
I have ordered a replacement. The Small Shop is a purveyor of all kinds of useful tools for photo-etch.
I've ordered from them their 4" Mk IV RTH Hold & Fold tool. This should be more than enough for my needs. And I suspect that it will hold up far better than the Mission Models tool, as it is made from aluminum, not plastic.
Once the new tool is here, I'll be posting about it.
With the stiles done, prepare the rungs. I use Tichy pre-formed grabs, but you can use whatever you like or form your own from finer wire or a different rung width. Clip the grab legs very short. You only need enough to just pass through the stile. You'll also want to prepare a styrene spacer. Cut a scrap of 0.020" styrene 0.185" wide and about 3" long
Now for the fiddly bit. Rest a stile on each side of the spacer. Note that there are left and right stiles. Grab a rung with your tweezers and wiggle it into the holes. A little dab of glue and move on.
Slide the assembly along the spacer and add another rung and secure. Use your eye to keep everything square. The glue won't fully cure immediately, so you have some fiddling time.
Repeat as required.
With practice you can do this fairly quickly. I can do a full set of ladders for a car in about 20 minutes on a good day.
Now about adhesive. Standard CA does not bond well on metal to metal joints. I was told about this stuff by my friend Peter Aue, who is also responsible for a lot of the etching artwork I use. This Loctite product is specifically meant for metal to metal joins. It is pricy, but it is really good stuff. Store it in the fridge and you should be good for quite some time.
With the ladders assembled, create some standoffs from 3" lengths of 2"x3" styrene and glue to the inside of the angles. The exact location will vary by car. You may also want to add standoffs to the outside stile of the end ladders as well, again depending on the car.
Secure your ladders to the car, and stand back and admire. The result is well worth the effort.
We are working on another ladder spacing. 15" rung centres will available soon.