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 Post subject: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1332
Location: Henderson Nevada
We have a private car in our collection, Ellsmere, a 1899 product of Wagner Palace Car Company.

The car uses brass grab irons... We are missing a single grab.

Any ideas of who or how to make one... and cost...

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Randy Hees
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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Are they solid, or tubular with solid ends? The later likely would be cheaper to reproduce, as the end castings would be more manageable.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:26 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Pictures?

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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 294
Well, it is certainly possible to hot forge brass into special shapes with a hammer and an anvil. I have bent and shaped smaller pieces (a few inches) with a propane torch and a small hammer.

It is a little tricky since the best forging temperature is very close to the melting temperature. And it does not turn "cherry red" like steel/iron. More of a "gray" color when at forging temperature.

And you need the correct alloy, some of the alloys get very brittle when hot, others get soft.

I found a few places on-line that make custom architectural details (hinges, latches, etc.) out of "many metals" including brass.

I have done hand grabs out of steel, flatten out the ends for screws\bolts, then bend the ends to move the center section away from the mounting plane.

You might be able to do it with $50 worth of brass rod and a propane torch, but it depends on your patience.

I would guess that a "pro" blacksmith would want about $500 for something like that, probably take 10 hours with all the planning and possibly some templates to get the exact shape.

Good luck, Kevin.


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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
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Location: Henderson Nevada
These are solid forged rods, likely original to the car (1899)

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Randy Hees
Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 294
"These are solid forged rods".

Well, if they are all very similar in size and shape they where probably done with forging dies in a press.

If they are each a little unique in dimensions they were probably done by hand.

Given the era I'm guessing hand forged.

One online site sells 1 inch diameter by 2 foot long C314 Brass for $98. It will have a nice round "mill finish" but you could just hammer all along the surface to make it look more "original".

You might need a larger heat source, like one of those "flamethrower / weedburner" 50,000 BTU propane torches that use a 25 lb tank.

Also, Brass will heat and cool slowly (high thermal capacity) so give it 30 minutes before you try to pick it up to see how cool it is.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:56 am
Posts: 388
Location: Northern California
Do you have the Dayton Car Furnishing catalog? It has a lot of detail about parts from this era. There is also a A and W equivalent catalog. If you do not have these both are in the WRM archives. You can stop by and look at them next time you are in the Bay Area. There are many varieties including wooden handles between brass ends, brass tubes between brass ends and solid brass.


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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:20 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
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Location: Henderson Nevada
I have a copy of an Adams & Westlake catalog... but not a Dayton. Dayton would be a more likely supplier as the Master Car Builder for Wagner came from Barney & Smith, and B&S and Dayton were associated.

These parts are clearly factory made, without hand worked marks. We have all but one of the grabs, so have a good idea what it looked like.

Apparently the forging grade bronze has the sufficient strength to meet AAR/FRA regulations, an issue I hadn't considered.

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Randy Hees
Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:41 pm
Posts: 222
Location: Colfax,WI
A picture and overall dimensions would help. We may have some in our parts supply but there are A LOT of varieties so more info would help.

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 Post subject: Re: Brass passenger car grabs
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:39 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:30 pm
Posts: 149
If you are going to make new bronze grab irons that the FRA might accept the material is to be C464 delivered with a material test report. Do not use brass, ever.

If the temper is “060” then the tensile value is 57 ksi at 68oF.

49CFR231.12,c,2 requires grab irons to be wrought iron or steel.

49CFR230.26, strength of materials, give a tensile value for wrought iron at 45 ksi.

Therefore a judicious person could argue that the bronze grab irons are satisfactory in strength. You will need to educate the FRA representative in the material you are using. This is where the material test report comes into play.

The bronze grab irons are to be forged. Not seams or joints should be present in the material.

I have made bronze grabs for three projects. I have had to argue the point twice and prevailed both times. However there may be hard-head out there who will not allow bronze.

CCdW


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