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I am used to Lionel postwar stuff that's built like tanks.  The 18206 engine I recently acquired is one of the first from the semi-modern era.  I was taken by surprise at some of the detail being made out of plastic after I broke the front grab rail.  I looked on the Lionel Support site and found the part number, cs-6108206154-p GRABRAIL-SML-PNT BLU 8559.  It was unavailable.  I checked with Jeff Kane at you-know-where, and he didn't have it either and said if Lionel didn't have it, it would be a tough find.

It is currently in 3 pieces.  With my banana fingers, gluing it together would be difficult, but I guess I will try.  Anyone have some suggestions for do's and dont's?

Another option I think would be to find a piece of stiff enough wire, and bend it into shape, then paint it, and stick it in the holes.  Either that or shape some spare plastic to resemble it.  The new piece wouldn't have the nitzy details of the original grab rail, but it would like better than if it wasn't there.



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I agree with John, make a replacement from wire. Phosphor bronze wire from Tichy Train Group works well for this sort of thing. My guess is .032 is probably closest for that repair. (See below). Or you could try making it from a paper clip, but that’s harder to work with. The Tichy wire can be bent to shape fairly easily with a couple of pairs of needle nose pliers. I also don’t see a lot of detail there to worry about. It’s a basic grab iron. Once you’re satisfied with the part’s shape and fit just paint it. An inexpensive acrylic that’s close enough from someplace like Michaels will do. By the way on the prototype, that grab iron was typically yellow, though you might want to just stay with nice contrasting blue.




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Last edited by Rich Montague

Wow!  What a great set of ideas from everyone.  Thank you all very much.  @AlanRail, I have no way to measure the size of that hole to the level of detail you'd need.  Thanks for the offer though.  @gunrunnerjohn and @Rich Montague, that would have been the way I went, but the idea from @Norton is the way I'll go.  I'm pretty sure I can get the hole sized to fit it, and having some extra will undoubtedly come in handy down the road.

Thanks again.


It looks like the center to center hole distance is 7.5 mm, the hole is just under 1 mm (sorry, that's as accurate as my tools are), and it looks like it's about 5 mm for the insertion depth.  The diameter for the exterior of the grab iron is a little over 1 mm.  The length it comes out from the train is about 4 mm.  This looks to be a smaller grab iron than those on the back.  The ones I've been able to check out from @Norton are a little bigger than this, so perhaps they're for the back. He suggested another one on the bay, but I couldn't see any dimensions so I sent a note to the seller.

Some of you guys are forgetting that we do not allow direct links to non-forum sponsors / magazine advertisers in the main forum topics.  No problem mentioning names but a link directly is a no no.  Name is enough and then folks can let Google be their friend.  We need to be fair to our sponsors and advertisers.  Please try them first.  I know they would appreciate it.

I have had really good luck using wire.  I have used steel wire and brass wire depending on what I was repairing and the number of bends and the bend radius.  The radius gets pretty tight as the grab rails enter the cab, etc.  You can find the wire at home stores such as Ace Hardware or hobby shops.  What is nice about it, if you don't like it, a new part can be made with out feeling you have a lot invested. I have repaired/replaced grab irons on cabooses, rail cars and engines.  If you take your time, you can usually make the repair so it looks factory new.  Just remember the wire comes in different gauges and stiffness.  I use a caliper to measure the wire diameter to match any other railings.

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