Making Strap Steps

I needed a bunch of strap steps for my new boxcars and I thought I'd do them from scratch.   Since I needed enough for 3 boxcars, a bending jig seemed like a good idea.   I made mine out of acrylic pieces.

The dimensions listed are in 1:20:



I start with 1/8" x 1/32" brass flat bar and cut it to a scale 3' 10".

Next, I take one end and insert it into the jig.   The jig has three sections.  One here for bending the main strap section.   Another for putting the twist in, and yet one more for drilling the holes.

Next, the long end is bent to one side.


I use a pair of pliers to get a sharp bend.

Now I remove the brass bar, and put the long end back in the jig.

I just bend this in place, again using the pliers to get a sharp bend.   That gives me the basic step.

 This basic shape is now put in the other end of the jig.  I made this so that it would hold the step in place and the side pieces would keep the brass straight while bending.   There's a bit of a lip - this is where I will hold the pliers while bending.

I grip the brass bar right at the lip and bend each side of the step 90 degrees.

Finally, the jig is clamped to a scrap piece of wood and the holes are drilled in each side.   To accomplish this, I used my table saw to make a shallow cut in the acrylic, just the right size to hold the brass strip (1/8" wide x 1/32" deep).  A piece of styrene acts as a stop for the leg of the step.

It compares favorably with the strap step that I removed from an AMS car.

Now I can quickly make a large quantity of strap steps and the only measurement I need to do is for the initial length of brass strip.   In practice, I bend all my steps first and then drill all of the holes.


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