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I have several unopened Atlas S2 switchers I acquired several years ago with the intent of detailing them and repainting them UP. In my first look at them in about 10 years, it's obvious the first thing that needs to occur is the removal of the cast grab irons. I believe it's called "shaving them off".

My first question is what's the best technique for doing this? I never tried it before.

My second question is in regard to spacing the holes for installing grab irons. They need to be pretty precision to look good. I'm thinking of not only adding grabs to the S2, but later to some Stewart FTs as CB&Q Graybacks. I've seen some excellent work here, so there must be a technique for getting the holes drilled in the right place.

Appreciate any suggestions



Hi Deane,

First I would take an X-Acto knife or a sharp chisel and cut the grabs off. Then, I would sand the bits down smooth with the shell.

As for grab spacing, BLMA makes a brass drill template:

All you need to figure out is which holes to use (measure the originals before you cut them off)


Railroad Photographer
An X-Acto blade #17 is great for shaving off grab irons. It's completly flat. I've also ground one to about a quarter of its width with a motor tool for areas needing more precision.


Thanks guys. Having just returned to the hobby, BLMA is a new manufacturer to me. The template looks like a lifesaver when it comes to getting the holes in right place.

I have one of the X-Acto chisels, wasn't sure it was the thing to use. Thanks for the confirmation.


N Scale with Stone Tools
You might want to dull the corners of the chisel, so that it can't garf the plastic beside the grabs you're shaving off.

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