Monday, October 1, 2018

Grab Irons - Tools For Removing Molded On

When adding a freight car with molded on grab irons (also called handholds) to my freight car roster, I upgrade the car by removing the molded on grab irons and replacing them with wire ones.  The first step for this upgrade  is to carve off all the car molded on grab irons.  I carve off the molded on grab irons with a Xacto number five (5) handle with a number seventeen (17)  Xacto blade ground to the shape  I like for carving off molded on details.  I grind a number 17 blade to the shape I want using a Dremel grinding stone mounted  in a Dremel tool.  Once grab irons are removed, I normally also carve off all molded on ladder rungs leaving only the ladder side rails.

If you do not want to grind a blade, you could use a Xacto number 17 blade with only the corners rounded to prevent gouging in the surrounding area during carving; however, I believe a much better solution is to buy the micro knife handle #81067 and surgical blades #61, #81084 and #62, #81085 sold by MicroMark.  I use these micro handles and blades to do final cleanup of carved off areas after using the Xacto blade.

Knives used for carving off grab irons
(Tap or click on photos to enlarge)


Xacto No. 17 blade ground same profile as micro surgical blade

No matter which knife or blade type you choose, you should keep the blade  sharp to remove the molded on grab irons or ladder rungs easily.  After several projects or before, the knife blade of choice will dull.  Of course, you can get rid of the old blade and replace it with a new one.  If you have ground a blade like I have, you may as I choose to sharpen it rather than grind a new one.  To sharpen a blade,  I use a fish hook sharpening stone and a piece of leather.  On the stone, only a few strokes are needed to sharpen a dull blade.   Next I strop  it on the leather piece to obtain a finer edge.

Fish hook sharpening stone and leather for strorp

With the tools describe here, some time and patience, you will have molded on grab irons and ladder rungs removed from a freight car ready for paint touch up followed by drilling required holes for the install of wire grab irons and ladder rungs.

Grab irons and ladder rungs carved off


Wire grab irons installed



Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer


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