Recently, Stan Schwedler demonstrated a technique for bending grab irons using a few basic tools. The trick is to use a vernier caliper to act as a gage permitting repeatable fabrication of wire grab irons.
Bend right angle near the end of the wire using a small plier.
Set the caliper for the grab iron width less the wire diameter. You can approximate this and make a correction if you are off a bit. Press the bent side of the grab iron against the caliper jaw on the right. Place the jaw of the plier against the left jaw grasping the wire. Now, bend the wire to form the grab iron. Stan used steel wire during the demonstration. You can use brass or phos bronze.
The finished grab iron is show in the last photo. You will be able to do a number of grab irons all the same width. This will speed up construction of freight car ladders for kits that have etched stiles.
Stan has developed a very useful method that will improve your modeling and speed up construction