Deliberate practice – making ladders for no good reason.

I always enjoy reading through the Elgin Car Shops blog. I love the writing style and I always enjoy reading about the projects he is working on. While browsing through the blog the other day I stumbled across this post on freight car ladders:

The ladders on model freight cars are among my pet peeves. Far too often we sacrifice a nicely proportion ladder just so we can brag that it’s a free-standing piece. The same goes for grab irons. This frustrates me in HO and it just drives me nuts in N scale. Scattered across the house in a variety of places to place things instead of putting them away properly are several dozen N scale Intermountain end-bunker reefers with these girder-style ladders. I figured I may never build them until I can come up with a better solution than the one provided – which is a shame because ladders and grabs aside, these cars are beautiful. Heck, I wouldn’t have collected as many as I did if they weren’t great looking cars.

Anyway, back to the Elgin article. Pierre discusses a simple technique to scratchbuild a ladder using some simple styrene rod and strip stock. “Well heck”, I thought, “I’ve got tons of styrene at home. Why not have a go?!”

I figured, to start, I’d follow the article exactly and build a set of ladders in HO. Unfortunately I lacked the 0.010″ rod Pierre used. What I did have was a large inventory of 0.020″ rod so I figured I’d have a go in O. I built up an L-shaped section from two smaller strips for each stile and the glued in the rungs as the article suggested. What I made up wasn’t perfect but the general approach worked perfectly. I have no doubt at all that the HO one would be just as fun to make and look just as good. It really didn’t much time and I had a lot of fun. The project itself serves as a great reference point to mark what I tried and expose me to a few ideas I should be adding to my inventory of things I think I can do.

Yup, pretty proud of this homely little ladder.

Categories: How I think

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