Brass Wire - Where's the best place to buy?

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by alexkmmll, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. alexkmmll

    alexkmmll TrainBoard Member

    I've been considering trying my hand at soldering up some handrails out of brass wire. I saw a quick tutorial around here somewhere, if I remember correctly, it was by randgust, and I thought it might be worth it on my latest projects.
    What wire should I use? He used .010 for the rail and .015 for the stanchions. I was thinking about maybe .008 and something a bit smaller than .015, but I'm not so sure anymore.

  2. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The last time I bought any wire it was phospor bronze wire that came in tube packs containing about a dozen 8-10 inch pieces per tube and it was .010. That small of brass wire tends to be very soft and easily bent whereas the phosphor bronze and stainless are much tougher for the same size. Most LHS carry it and probably a lot of the venders here.
  3. Wrath0fWotan

    Wrath0fWotan TrainBoard Member

    I just found many sizes of phosphor bronze wire starting at .008 and working up on eBay in tubes of 10 or 12 pcs. 8" long for $2.20 - $2.60 each. Just search "phosphor bronze wire", and you'll find all kinds of choices. :teeth:
  4. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I used Randgust's wire handrails method. Hope this helps.

    Per Randy's suggestions, I used .015 stanchions, .010 handrails, the nose-top grab-irons are .008. Those sizes worked well for me.


    You can see the contrast between the wire handrails on the U30CG's, and the plastic stock Kato handrails on the U28CG foobie on the right:



  5. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    I pick the wire up at my LHS, I use the .010 for handrails as well, it is closer to prototype than the molded rails, but still pretty durable.
  6. alexkmmll

    alexkmmll TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the info and awesome photos!

    If the phosphate bronze really is more durable then I think I'll go with the .008 for the handrails and maybe like .012 for the stanchions. Even at .008, it still comes out to over a scale inch and a quarter (1.28), so I think .008 will fit in nicely. Plus, it will be a little easier to bend cleanly.

  7. joetrain59

    joetrain59 TrainBoard Member

    Can someone post a link for that tutorial? Please.
  8. alexkmmll

    alexkmmll TrainBoard Member

  9. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I want to say to all, that Randgust's wire handrails method as documented in the above link that alexkmmll provided, is really approachable and do-able by
    just about any of us. I had always thought that such things were beyond me as well, but that was before Randy showed me / us the method. Give it
    a whirl, I think you'll be surprised at your own capabilities. To me, the "ah-ha" moments in Randy's methods include:

    - Doing the handrails on the loco, not on the workbench - much easier to tell if it really looks right if you can see it as you build it
    - Doing the horizontal handrails first to get the height right, include Randy's little .020 inch "hook" on the horizontal ends which allows for end height adjustment
    - Then doing the vertical stanchions, getting them to look right at 90 degrees vertical is easy when you have the horizontal reference point already on the local
    - Apply the vertical stanchion wire using a long extended upper length, which is used as a easy-to-manage lever to position and move the eventual stanchion back and forth till I get"good enough 90 degrees vertical", only then soldering it at that 90 degrees, then cutting off the excess wire
    - Grinding off the rather big excess solder glob was easy using the right kind of cutoff wheel and eye protection, looks much better / cleaner than I ever imagined it would

    These shots here, showing the front handrails un-painted, shows that while they may look rather raw and undone when unpainted.... after painting, I'm surprised how much the paint makes them look plenty good to me.

    Before looks quite raw, you can see Randy's .020 "hooks" on the ends of the handrails, if you look carefully you'll notice each "hook" is a bit different
    indicating the individual adjustment of each handrail :


    After painting, it looks surprisingly better, and I completely don't see the "hooks" anymore unless I know to look for them:


    Raw rear handrails, first try, these again are .015 vertical stanchions and .010 horizontal handrails, masking tape here in first photo to protect shell:


    I was surprised how nicely the former 'glob of solder' could be Dremel-tool-grinded nicely into a tight, strong clean joint, you can
    see some additional grinding here from the previous photo:


    Hope this helps. And yes, these .015 stanchions and .010 handrails are strong, little chance of them breaking off IMHO.

    I just want to encourage people to give Randy's method a try, if I could do it, I believe all of us could do it, I'm certainly no modeling / soldering handyman genius by any means.

    Thx again Randy for sharing the method.
  10. bnsf dash 8

    bnsf dash 8 TrainBoard Member

    I use Tichy 0.008" phosphor bronze wire for all my handrails/grabs, works great for me.

    View attachment 51153

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