HANDRAILS AND HORNS
APRIL 29, 2015
All winter I had been thinking about how to build handrails.  Number 6 copper
wire has the right scale width at 74 cents a running foot.  But how to build the
stanchions without spending a fortune was a problem.  Here's how it worked out.
Working with solid copper wire was not as easy as I first thought.  All the bends have to be filed in a V shape, and
there were a lot of bends and kinks to work out before the final product looked right.  Most pieces required at least 6
bends. I had to measure from plans (on the internet) or from a G scale GP40. Conversion from 1:29 scale to 1:7.5
scale is a factor of 3.867. Once all the bends were completed I spray painted the wire with Rustoleum Sun Yellow.
This is a handrail stanchion from Cannonball Limited.  It looks like the real
thing, and the top section bends around the wire nicely, but it costs 5
dollars apiece. 28 stanchions would cost 140 dollars plus shipping.
Then I found 3/8 inch aluminum channel material at the hardware store, 4
foot pieces for 6.49, so at 7 stanchions per piece, that's 20 dollars instead
of 140. I rip cut the channel on a band saw and filed it smooth.
So the stanchions could grip the handrails, I cut 3/8 by 7/8 pieces of 1/16
inch aluminum and bolted them to the stanchions with 4-40 machine
screws.  I cut grooves on the ends on a band saw to fit the number 6 wire.
Here's how the stanchions grip the handrails.  I cut the stanchions to length
before bending the aluminum.  I used a pair of needlenose pliers to wrap
the aluminum around the wire.
I used a block of wood with a groove cut at the correct height to get the
handrail a consistent height at each stanchion.  I then secured the bottom
of each stanchion with a 5/8 inch #4 sheet metal screw.
These nicely detailed horns are from Precision Steel Car Co.  They come
unassembled in 4 brass pieces with very small machine screws and nuts.  
You have to figure out the horn arrangement yourself. Hope I got it right!
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