How to make real Chains on your handrails

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Chessie1973, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Hello fellow Gaugers!!!

    I have been on a sort of detail oriented hunt for things to improve on my rolling stock and Locomotives lately as any of you who have seen my recent barrage of pictures have seen.

    Well I though I would post a how to on how to put real chains on the front and rear handrails of Locomotives for all of you to check out so here goes.

    First off we start out with a Stock Atlas Master Series SD-35.

    Notice how stiff and lifeless that poor molded on chain is in the handrails.

    Well let's see what we can do about it shall we?

    Attached Files:

  2. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    First thing we need to do is get those pesky Handrails off of there.

    You will also notice the soon to be applied real metal chain.

    (Hint: check out model ship supply places to find this chain.)

    Attached Files:

  3. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Next we carefully cut out the plastic chain.

    Remember, these handrails are extremely delicate.

    Attached Files:

  4. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Well we can't go around having LPB's falling off the locomotive due to the missing safety chain so we better cut some new chaint o replace the old ones.

    (TIP: I found it is actually easier to NOT cut the chain to fit until you get one end of it glued and in place.)

    Attached Files:

  5. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Next of course we need to glue the ends of the chain in place on the Handrails.

    (here is where you see my TIP in action Folks)

    Notice how I have the handrail propped on an X-Acto knife blade box to allow it to dry before cutting the chain.

    (It only took me 5 tries to figure that part out :curse: )

    Attached Files:

  6. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Trim the chain to fit and carefully glue it onto the other half of the handrail.

    I suggest having something to allow the handrails to rest on that the glue will not stick to during the curing process for the glue.

    Attached Files:

  7. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Finally make sure the silly things fit!!

    (My first two tries didn't!!)

    An alternate method of doing this is to put the handrails back on befoe attaching the handrails and gluing them on that way to make sure the chain fits properly as you go.

    However, shaky hands or too much coffee make this a rather difficult method to do.

    Attached Files:

  8. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    And there you have it folks.

    Two brand spanking new chains for that Atlas loco that are more realistic than the plastic ones it came with.

    The only things left to do is to paint it to suit your needs and put her back on the rails.

    I hope you all find this little tutorial useful.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I found that a little loop of thread tying the first link of chain to the handrail (or whatever) can really help. Use a needle to pass the thread through the chain, and tie it to the post - kind of like stitches.

    Nice step-by-step with the "lessons learned" included!

  10. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    These chains are so small I couldn't find a needle that would fit through the links. They are something like 42 LPI chains or something from a model Ship supply place that my LHS managed to find and started carrying.

    I bought 2 packs of the chain before they closed down as well as all the stock he had in Tichy grab Irons.

    The thread idea is a great one though . I bet you could actually use that to support the chain while you glue it on the other end.

    I actualy used the very tip of a new X-Acto blade to guide the end link to the tiny spot of glue I used to hold them on with.

    A needle would probably work a little better.

    Toothpicks are a bit too absorbent for it thouh. They kept soaking up the glue and the chain would stick to the toothpick and not the handrail.

    Oh I forgot to mention that the red background in the pics of the handrails is actually a lunchroom tray I acquired for using to work on models with tiny parts.

    It makes a great place to keep all the tiny little parts from disappearing on you when you turn your back.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Wow - that 42 link/inch chain looks great. I will have to try to find some. I have a supply of 12/14 LPI chain, but it looks really "industrial".

    My wife has some quilting needles (from her hobby... ;) ) that are very, very fine and flexible. You could try some of those if necessary.

  12. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Here is a pic of the packaging it came in minus the little ziplock baggie.

    This stuff is a perect match for the chain molded on most HO scale Locos.

    I couldn't pass up getting a couple of packs of it for my locomotives, and it gives you something like a foot or more per package.

    About the only problem I have found with it is that the links are so tiny that it gets stiff if you paint it with anything but very thinned out paint.

    Attached Files:

  13. Graham Hoffman

    Graham Hoffman New Member

    Details Associates makes a nice pre-blackened 40 links/inch safety chain...item no. SY 2210, available thru Walthers.
  14. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Good post!

    I would like to add athat beading needles are very fine indeed. They come with a needle threading device that has an extreamly small piece of wire loop that you put through the eye of the needle first, then put the thread through the loop and pull it back through the eye. You could try a beeding needle or the threader to get the thread through the chain.

  15. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    The method I've seen for attaching the chains is to take a tiny piece of 0.010 wire and bend it to an L shape. Then you can loop the end chain onto the wire and it has something to "hang" onto... then a dab of CA glue to keep it there. I read about this in an article and it seems to be a good idea.
  16. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    That is a good idea :thumb: :thumb:
  17. Allstate81140

    Allstate81140 Member

    Hi all. Randall, wouldn't some of the necklace and coo-coo clock chains also work? Or is the linking too large?

    Just trying to find out things for my benefit and others here.

    All have a nice weekend. Jack.
  18. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Some necklace chain might be small enough. As for the choo choo clock, I honestly don't know since I have never seen one.
  19. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    That's excellent! The real chain really adds to the appearnce of the loco! Nice work!
  20. Allstate81140

    Allstate81140 Member

    Hi all. Randall, sorry about that post. I have never seen a choo choo clock either. Well, maybe I have, as I have two different clocks the locos whistle on the hour. Must have had trains on the brain. After all, isn't that what we are here for? Ha ha. How is coo coo clock? Ha ha.

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