Having failed at the first attempt, I've managed to make a better job of the etched replacement ladders for the Dapol Silver Bullet, from PH Designs. As I explained in the earlier post, a mix of my own impatience and a blunt drill, saw the task end in tears. This time, with a second set of etched parts, I made sure I took my time and bought some new drill bits before making a start.

The etched holes were drilled-out to the correct 0.35mm, with the ladders still on the etch and the brass held firmly onto a block of hardwood; this prevents any distortion. The distinctive brackets at the lower end were also folded and soldered before the parts were cut from the fret. The kit includes a small part that folds up into a useful spacing tool, to keep the sides of the ladders at the correct distance, whilst lengths of 0.3mm brass wire are inserted into the holes and soldered to form the rungs. Snip away the waste as close to the edge as possible and gently file flush when all rungs have been added. It's still easy to damage the ladders at this point, so just take it steady and don't rush it.

Once the ladders have been fitted (soldered to the new walkway at the top and glued to the solebar at the bottom), they're surprisingly strong and will take gentle handling. While I originally thought I'd keep the original Dapol castings, having filed them to a more refined profile, they now look enormous compared to the scale brass replacements - there's really no contest...

See the project in full in Model Rail 166, out on January 26th.


  1. Congratulations! It looks amazing. This is exactly the level of minute detail I will unfortunately never be able to manage. And this is OO, right? So what drill bit will you need the day you want to upgrade an N gauge silver bullet?

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the comment. It was a satisfying moment when I'd finished the ladders and fitted them. Yes, it is OO, but I doubt I'll ever try the same thing in N gauge!! I had to substitute a larger drill bit in the top image as the one I really used barely showed up on the photograph. Probably explains why I'm forever breaking my tiny drill bits... I used a table-top magnifier to see where I was drilling as there's no room for error - the brass parts will break if you drill too close to the edge.

  3. That's a massive improvement over the standard offering - wonderful. PH Designs stuff always looks great, but fiddly - but the results are always worth it :)


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