Friday, February 5, 2021

Tool Improvement - make UMM-USA benders easier to use.

 After my post of “Ladders - photo etched” I learned  that Peter Aue, Germany had offered ladder jigs for assembling photo etched ladders in prior years.  I contacted Peter Aue to see if he still had any in stock that I could purchase.  When I contacted him regarding the photo etched ladder assembly jig I enclosed a link to my blog “Ladders - photo etched" that included the UMM-USA benders I was using to bend stiles for photo etched ladders.

UMM-USA 60 mm bender
(Click or tap on this photo or any photo to enlarge)

UMM-USA benders are available with an attached bending bar in  60 mm or 150 mm lengths.  The UMM-USA bender requires you to insert the ladder stiles into it, tighten the ladder stile in the bender with screws with hexagonal sockets in their head with enclosed Allen wrench (hex key), and the attached bar is moved upward against the style bending it into a right angle.  It works like the “bending brake” in a metal fabrication shop.  It bends the stile correctly each time.

UMM-USA bender with bending bar.
Photo from UMM-USA website.

Peter responded he did not have any ladder assembly jigs to sell.  That was the bad news; however, he also had good news.  He was also using an UMM-USA bender but it was an early model without the spring-loaded jaws of the later benders; however, he had made it easier to use by spring-loading the upper jaw and adding star knobs to replace the screws with hexagonal sockets in their head requiring an Allen wrench to tighten the bender once a ladder stile was inserted for bending.

UMM-USA bender with Peter's improvements.
Peter Aue photo.

I felt Peter had a great tool improvement that I quickly shared with George Toman.   George as I liked the star knob improvement and began the search for star knobs to replace the benders tightening screws with hexagonal sockets in their head needing an Allen wrench.  George found the knobs and notified me he had done so.  And, how many did I want since you have to buy a bag of 20?

George"s UMM-USA benders.
George Toman photo.

After star knobs arrived, I removed the tightening screws with hexagonal sockets in their head needing an Allen wrench that came with the benders I own and replaced them with the star knobs obtained from George.

UMM-USA 60 mm and 150 mm benders I own
with star knobs installed.

After taking the above photo I sent a copy to Peter and George asking their permission to share the UMM-USA bender improvement with the railroad modeling community on my blog.   Both George and Peter agreed it was a good idea to share the tool improvement.   In addition, George contacted UMM-USA to inform and provide photos of the star knobs improvement.

If you own or purchase a UMM-USA bender and want to upgrade your bender with the star knobs.  The star knobs are M6 x 25 x 10 mm. The exact size and length as the original ones.  George’s cost was only $ 5.88 for the bag of 20 on Amazon.  The link is provided below:

More good news.  Peter had more photo etched ladder assembly jigs made so I was able to purchase two jigs to use to assemble photo etched ladders.

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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer



  1. Thanks for this tip, Lester. I'm also interested in Peter Aue's ladder jig. How might I obtain one? Thanks. Steve Solombrino

  2. Great work, Lester! Thanks! Greg Bueltmann

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