Master Model Railroader

"An NMRA member qualifies as a Master Model Railroader when he or she has obtained at least seven of the eleven Achievement Certificates provided that he or she has earned at least one Achievement Certificate in each of the four areas of the Regulations. Earning the title of Master Model Railroader is the ultimate goal for many participants in the Achievement Program."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Master Model Railroader (MMR)

Master Model Railroader #526

The title of Master Model Railroader is not an easy one to achieve. In case you are wondering how many modelers have attained the title, take a look at the Master Model Railroaders list. Along the way to earning the title of Master Model Railroader, you will have a lot of fun with your modeling, and learn many new skills to boot.

To qualify as a Master Model Railroader you must:

Earn a minimum of seven AP certificates (out of the eleven available) then submit a Statement of Qualification.   awarded January 31, 2014
Of these seven certificates, you must have at least one from each of the following four areas:

Association Volunteer (Requirements)


To qualify for the Association Volunteer certificate, you must:

  1. Have served actively on one or more NMRA committees (National, Regional, or Division) long enough to accumulate sixty (60) certified time units (TUs). The TUs you receive for various types of service are listed below:
    1. Active satisfactory service as a General Manager of a National committee: 4 TUs per month.
    2. Active satisfactory service as a National committee Manager: 3 TUs per month.
    3. Active satisfactory service as a Region committee Manager, or on a National committee: 2 TUs per month.
    4. Active satisfactory service as a Region committee member, a Division Officer or committee Manager: 1 TU per month.
    5. Active satisfactory service as a Division committee or board member: 1/2 TU per month.
    6. Editors of an NMRA publication shall receive credit at the rate appropriate for committee Chairmen at the same level.
    7. Service as a Division officer or director (other than at the Regional level): 1 TU per month.
    8. Newsletter Editors of 100% NMRA clubs having 10 or more members, may earn one time unit per issue of the club newsletter, providing it is four pages or more. All newsletters must have four issues on file in the NMRA's Kalmbach Memorial Library, edited by the person applying, before the time units will be considered for credit.
    9. Official judges at NMRA sponsored model contests (including non-rail) shall be given time units for such service at the contest only (not monthly), as a one-time service credit per contest as follows:
      1. National Contest Judge 3 Time Units
      2. Regional Contest Judge 2 Time Units
      3. Division Contest Judge 1 Time Unit
    10. Individuals (and their crews) who open their home or club layout for layout tours in conjunction with NMRA conventions or other NMRA sponsored events earn credit as follows for each day that the layout is open for viewing.
      1. National Event 3 Time Units / day (12 TUs maximum per event)
      2. Regional Event 3 Time Units / day (6 TUs maximum per event)
      3. Divisional Event 3 Time Units / day (3 TUs maximum per event)
    11. Individuals who participate in modular layouts in conjunction with NMRA Divisions, or at NMRA sponsored events, earn credit as follows for each day the layout is open for viewing at the event.
      1. National Event 3 Time Units / day (12 TUs maximum per event)
      2. Regional Event 3 Time Units / day (6 TUs maximum per event)
      3. Divisional Event 3 Time Units / day (3 TUs maximum per event)
NOTE: There is generally a maximum of 48 time units credited for any one National convention, 24 time units credited for any one Regional convention, and 6 time units credited for any one Division event.
    1. Boy Scout Railroading Merit Badge Counselors who are NMRA members can earn: 1 TU (time unit) per month and 1 TU per Scout that qualifies. This credit is retroactive with no time limit for those who have served as counselors in the past provided that they were also NMRA members during the time of service.
    2. A live clinic that is presented more than once earns Association Volunteer credits for each additional (the first presentation is credited toward Author) presentation at the following schedule:
      1. National Clinic - 3 Time Units
      2. Regional Clinic - 2 Time Units
      3. Divisional Clinic - 1 Time Unit
    3. Certification of accomplishment shall be by the Committee Manager (in the case of committee members), or by the appointing officer (in the case of Committee Chairmen). The Region (or National) President or Secretary may certify when the appointing officer is not available or when many positions will require several signatures.

I have accumulated the necessary Time Units (TU) during various conventions and exhibitions around Europe, as well as British Region conventions.

Contest Judge (8 TU's) British Region Convention
Clinician (18 TU's) on major exhibitions and conventions in Germany
Layout Operator (84 TU's) conventions in Rodgau/Germany and Adliswil(Switzerland
Layout Operator (12 TU's) British Region conventions in Kegworth, Swindon, Copdock


Chief Dispatcher (Requirements)


To qualify for the Chief Dispatcher certificate you must:

A.    Have participated in the operation of a model railroad, either home or club, for not less than fifty hours. A minimum of ten hours each must have been served in three of the five categories listed below, one of which must be #5, Dispatcher:
    1. Engineer (mainline freight, passenger, or wayfreight)
    2. Yardmaster (or station master)
    3. Hostler (or power desk)
    4. Towerman (or traffic manager, or road master)
    5. Dispatcher
This experience shall be accumulated on one or more model railroads having at least two mainline trains plus yard switching in simultaneous operation. Some system of freight and passenger car movements, including road switching, shall be used for controlling train activity.
The following descriptions are not designed to list ALL of the things that a particular job must involve - they list things that are typically involved in each job. Naturally, jobs, duties, and overall operating complexity will vary from one model railroad to another.
    1. Engineer:
a. Mainline Passenger or Freight Engineer:
Shall run their train in a manner that simulates the prototype, following the rules of the model railroad being used, and operating according to the signal system (if present) or by direct instruction of the Dispatcher.
b. Wayfreight Engineer:
Will meet the requirements of Mainline Engineer. In addition, he or she shall perform all required switching with approval from the Dispatcher in a manner not to adversely affect the overall railroad schedule or operations.
Operating in a prototype manner includes no 'jack-rabbit' starts or sudden stops during normal operations.
    1. Yardmaster:
a. Yardmaster:
Runs the freight yard. He or she makes up trains with the appropriate cars in the desired numbers to have trains ready when the timetable or Dispatcher requires them. Generally, the Yardmaster operates the switch engine, but in a large yard could direct other yard engineers.
b. Station master:
Is in charge of the passenger station and all passenger switching. He or she makes up trains with the appropriate consists so that the trains are ready when the timetable or Dispatcher requires them. Terminating trains are broken down appropriately and the cars are serviced and stored as needed. Through train switching is accomplished.
    1. Hostler:
a. Hostler:
Shall run the engine facilities. He or she shall have each locomotive facing the correct direction, double-headed or lashed up, ready for the Engineer to easily leave the engine area. Service to locomotives shall be simulated. Returning locomotives are placed in their appropriate stalls or tracks. On layouts with advanced control systems, the Hostler can handle assignment of locomotives to the appropriate engineer' s throttle.
b. Power Desk:
Decides what is the correct motive power for each train. Assigns throttle control to the motive power. When assignment is finished, he or she returns control of that motive power to the Hostler, or to off.
    1. Towerman:
a. Towerman:
Operates one or more towers (control panels) on a layout. He or she sets up appropriate routes at the correct time under direction of the timetable or the Dispatcher. Reports train passings to dispatcher if required.
b. Traffic Manager:
Determines which cars come and go from each industry, and the amount and location of traffic, and specifies the route. May create a computer program to do this automatically.
c. Road Master:
The operating trouble-shooter and repair person. He or she keeps things moving smoothly. Can take track in or out of service.
    1. Dispatcher:
Coordinates all train movements, either by sequence, timetable and fast clock, or other operating system.
  1. Documentation
The applicant shall also do the following: (please note that the use of a computer to accomplish these requirements is acceptable)
1.      Prepare a schematic drawing of a model railroad layout meeting the operating conditions described in (A), and indicating all pertinent simulated distances.
Normally, this would be a diagram of one of the layouts you put in your qualifying time on - but there is no requirement that it must be. The drawing must be neat and readable, but it does not have to be in ink.
2.      Develop a timetable appropriate to this model railroad, simulating prototype time, covering a period of eight hours or more, during which at least three scheduled mainline trains move in each direction.
3.      Develop an operating train chart (graph) which interprets the above schedule for timetable operation of the model railroad. Indicate at least one train meet on the schematic drawing required in (B-1) above. Show the position of the trains involved and describe the action, giving pertinent time and movement data to effect the meet.
4.      Develop or adapt a system of operation for the layout in (A), including all the necessary forms and explanations for their use for controlling car movements, train makeup, and operation in a prototypical manner.
Members of the same club or home layout operating group who are applying for the Chief Dispatcher certificate can use copies of the same paperwork for requirements 1 and 4, but each must develop and submit their own timetable and train chart (even if they are all copies of the same one). Another possibility would be to have all the members who qualified submit their application at the same time. and just use one set of the paperwork for #'s 1 & 4. 

From 1995 until 2009 I had regularly participated in operating sessions at various FREMO modular layout meetings and served in the different categories:

Engineer - Mainline Freight: 21 hours (1997-2009)
Engineer - Passenger: 15 hours (1999-2009)
Engineer - Wayfreight: 31 hours (1995-2009)
Yardmaster: 36 hours (1996-2009)
Dispatcher: 18 hours (2000-2009)

Most of these jobs were served under the auspices of Wolfgang Dudler MMR

 Following is a typical timetable and train chart for one of the FREMO meets where I accomplished the above tasks.
The following charts and timetable are from my home layout

To complete all the requirements for this certificate it is important to document all the jobs you did on a layout, be it club or own and to get it certified by a qualified NMRA member. This may take several years to collect all the time units necessary. If you operate on your home layout, take care that someone on your operating crew is qualified to sign off your accumulated time units and the different jobs. It took me some headscratching to backdate some of my time units but fortunately I operated always on FREMO meetings, so at least this was retraceable more or less.    

Model Railroad Engineer - Civil (Requirements)


The requirements for Model Railroad Engineer - Civil may look long and complicated, but they really are not. The reason that they are so long is to offer you more options for meeting the requirements.
Remember - don't read more into the requirements than is there.

To qualify for the Model Railroad Engineer - Civil certificate:

1.      Prepare one original scale drawing of a model railroad track plan, identifying overall size, scale, track elevations, curve radii, and turnout sizes.
You should also consider the requirements for Model Railroad Engineer - Electrical, and Chief Dispatcher when planning your layout - it is much easier to include the requirements in the planning stage than to go back and add them later.
This plan must include:
1.      Adequate terminal facilities for handling freight and/or passenger cars
2.      Adequate terminal facilities for storage and service of motive power
3.      A minimum of one mainline passing siding
4.      Four switching locations, not counting yards, interchanges, wyes, and reversing loops
5.      Provision for turning motive power (except for switchbacks, trolley lines, etc.)
6.      Provision for simultaneous operation of at least two mainline trains in either direction. 

Here you may use the same plan as in Model Railroad Engineer - Electrical
2.      Construct and demonstrate, the satisfactory operation of a completed section of the model railroad and track work described in #1. Containing at least 25 linear feet in Z, N, or TT scale, or 50 linear feet in HO or S scale, or seventy five linear feet in O scale, or 100 linear feet in G or #1 scale, or other scales in proportional relationship to HO scale, with appropriate ballast, drainage facilities, and roadbed profile, which may contain spurs, yards, etc.
The track work must have examples of six of the following features:
    • Passing Siding
    • Spur
    • Crossover
    • Reversing Loop
    • Wye
    • Simple Ladder
    • Compound Ladder
    • Turntable
    • Transfer Table
    • Super Elevation
    • Simple Overhead Wire - A single overhead wire (such as on a trolley system)
    • Compound Overhead Wire (catenary)
    • Scale Track
    • Cog Railway Track
    • Coal Dump Track
    • Ash Pit
    • Service Pit Track
    • Grade Elevation
    • Other __________________                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This has been witnessed on my home layout
3.      Construct for Merit Judging, scratch built scale models of any three of the following, and demonstrate their satisfactory operation:
    • Turnout (this is probably the easiest to build, lots of information in magazines etc.)
    • Crossover
    • Double Crossover
    • Single Slip Switch
    • Double Slip Switch
    • Crossing (probably the toughest to build. Lots of soldering to hold everything together)
    • Gauntlet Track (I always wanted to build one)
    • Gauntlet Turnout
    • Dual Gauge Turnout
    • Gauge Separation Turnout
    • Double Junction Turnout
    • Three-Way Turnout
    • Spring Switch
    • Operating Switch in Overhead Wire
    • Other ___________
Commercial frogs are not permitted to be used in any of these items. These models may be built and demonstrated as part of the layout or separately.   

I had a bag of switch ties left, so I needed to shorten the ties with my NWSL chopper.

Previously I had built a jig to space the ties correctly

Then I pressed a strip of scotch tape on the ties and lifted them out of the jig. I pressed the strip ties into a bed of white glue applied on a piece of plywood.

Before laying track I ballasted the ties. This leaves no loose ballast on top of the ties.

I started with the outside rails until they touched at the frog.

NMRA standards gauge and some Micro Engineering track gauges come in very handy to build and check handlaid track.

The finished turnout


Same procedure for the crossing


The diamond is the trickiest part. To avoid shorts, I had to cut many gaps. The best way is to solder the guard rails to the outside rails and then cut the caps. Spikes alone cannot hold everything together reliably.

This is the centerpiece of my gauntlet track.

The jig for spacing the ties.

The ties for the turnout.

I used a slide switch connected to throw the turnout. The elctrical contacts power the frog

I used a DPDT switch to power either route of the crossing

4.      You must win a Merit Award (at least 87.5 points) with the items in section 3 above.
5.      You must submit a Statement of Qualification (SOQ - available from the Regional AP Manager) which includes the following:
0.      Attachment to the SOQ showing the track plan required in Section 1 above. The attachment should include:
      • Identification of all scratch built features
      • All commercial components used
      • Materials used in building the model                                                                                                                                                               
1.      Description of the track work features, methods of construction and identification of commercial components used in Section 3.
2.      Verification of the Merit Awards
3.      Witness Certification showing that each of the above models meets all applicable NMRA standards. 

 Here is my description of the 3 track work features:


Track Work models for Merit Award Judging

I’ve chosen to scratch build the following models of railroad track work:

-          turnout (point)
-          crossing (90°)
-          gauntlet track


To start I constructed a tie spacing jig to lay out the ties in an even spacing. Then I’ve cut the ties to their appropriate length using a NWSL Chopper.
I placed the ties in the template. Then I glued a strip of Scotch Tape on top of the ties to lift the whole length out of the template.
On a small piece of plywood I spread a layer of white glue and set the ties into the glue. Then I pressed the ties down until the glue had hardened. Then I pulled the tape off. I used a mix of stained and unstained ties. (see template and pictures)

When the glue had set I ballasted the ties using a mix of Woodland Scenics Grey Blend Ballast. When the ballast was evenly spread between the ties I soaked the roadbed with a mix of distilled water and 70% isopropyl alcohol. Then I applied a 7:1 mix of matte medium and distilled water and also added a few drops of isopropyl alcohol.

When the roadbed had completely dried overnight I started to lay the rails following a construction article from Tony Koester published in Model Railroader and in the Kalmbach book “Trackside and Line side Details”.                                      

I nailed every piece of rail down with track spikes on both sides on every tie.


I used individual rails from PECO and nailed the rails to every tie from both sides. I did the same for the guard rails.


The turnouts and crossings are built following prototype practices from the construction article.  


I ballasted the ties prior to nailing the rails. By this way there is no ballast on the ties or stuck to the sides of the rails. Every piece of rail is nailed on both sides and on every tie. Nothing is glued. I soldered the switch rod to the points of the closure rails and the point of the frog. The guard and wing rails were also soldered to the rails to give them more strength.

The different pieces of track work have to be wired differently.
The turnout was wired at the point of the switch. The frog was polarized with one wire and connected to an SPDT switch to feed it with the correct polarity.

The gauntlet track was wired according to the following drawing,with the 2 rails between the frogs connected to an SPDT switch to route the correct polarity. Gauntlet tracks can only be travelled by one train at a time, while the other train is waiting in a siding. The 2 tracks between the frogs may be positive or negative depending on which track will be used.

The crossing was isolated by cutting the four tracks in the diamond and connecting it to a DPDT switch to route the correct polarities as per the following drawing.

Finally I weathered the rails using Floquil weathering sticks.


I’ve scratch built all the track work, using individual rail length, stained and unstained ties and spikes. The frogs are soldered and the switch rod is soldered to a PC-board tie. I also used commercial rail joiners and insulating joiners.

Parts List

PECO                                     IL-3                Individual Rail code 75
                                               SL-110            Rail Joiners
                                               SL-111            Insulating Rail Joiners

KAPPLER                             KP060            Switch Ties

MICRO ENGINEERING    36-101            Regular Length HO Scale Ties
                                                                       Track gages

XURON                                82839              Spike Insertion Pliers
                                               84365              Rail Cutting Pliers

WOODLAND SCENICS                            Ballast Grey Blend

NMRA                                                          HO Gauge

                                                                       Needle Files
                                                                       Soldering Iron, Solder and flux
                                                                       PC-Board tie


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Model Railroad - Author (Requirements)


Although the category title is Model Railroad Author, it may just as well be Model Railroad Media Specialist. All fields may be used to earn points.

To qualify for this certificate, you must:

1.      Prepare and submit material on any of the following subjects:
    • Model Railroading.
    • Prototype Railroading, Applicable to Modeling.
    • NMRA Administration (e.g. Officers or Committee Reports)
The material being claimed must be the work of the author, photographer, artist, draftsperson, etc. applying for the certificate. A total of forty-two (42) points must be earned from a combination of material in the following areas:
4.                  Published Articles
This is material that appears in printed media, such as magazines or newsletters and may include text, photographs, drawings, etc. Material that has been published or accepted for publication, may be claimed. A copy of the published material or of the acceptance receipt from the publication, must be submitted as proof. Points are awarded regardless of size or number of features appearing in any particular issue.
Points Earned Per Full Page
National Publication
NMRA National
NMRA Region
NMRA Division & SIGs
Article or Column
Photos or Art Work
Scale Drawing of Prototype
Scale Drawing of Track Plan
NMRA Data/RP Sheet-One Subject
      • A "page" is approximately 1200 words. Credit may be claimed for partial pages down to quarter pages.
      • NMRA Publications (including SIG publications) with a circulation of more than 2000 may be considered National Publications; those with a circulation of more than 1000 may be considered Region Publications.
      • Material published in 100% NMRA Club publications earns half the number of points as for an NMRA Division publication.
      • No more than half of the total required points (21) may be claimed for Division or 100% NMRA Club publications.
5.                  Live Clinics
These are live presentations given at conventions, Division meetings, etc. In order to be eligible for credit, the clinic must be prepared and presented by the member applying for the certificate, it must be at least 30 minutes in length, and it must include a handout (a copy of the handout must be included with the certificate application.)
Points Earned For Live Clinics
Given At NMRA Sponsored Events
Given at NON-NMRA Sponsored Events
A live clinic can only be claimed for Model Railroad Author points once, even if it presented more than once. Additional presentations of a clinic earn credit towards Association Volunteer.
Points Earned For Live Clinics
Assoc. Volunteer Points
6.                  Instructional Video Tapes and Multi-Media
These are presentations that are specifically created by the member applying for the certificate using video tape or other multi-media This production process will generally involve such things as preparing a shooting script or story board. Creating close up shots to illustrate the material, etc. Simply having a live clinic video taped is not acceptable. If the presentation is not interactive (for example, a video tape), then it earns credit at the rate of 1/2 point per minute of the presentation. If the presentation is interactive (requiring input from the viewer as it goes), then it earns credit as an "Electronic Publication", described below. To earn credit for an Instructional Video Tape or Multi-Media Presentation, it must be submitted to the Member Services Department Director for use by the Kalmbach Memorial Library, or directly to the AP Executive Vice Manager for evaluation. Include the letter of acceptance with the Author certificate application.
7.                  Electronic Publications
This is for material published on a public electronic forum, such as the Internet. This material earns credit at the same rate as Published Articles in Region publications. (See above) All photos, drawings, etc. are treated as 1/3 of a page.
      • Material that is published in more than one place or way (for example, both in a magazine and electronically, or in multiple electronic formats) can only earn credit once.
      • The address (URL) of the material must be included with the certificate application. If the material is published on a non-publicly accessible forum (e.g. a private BBS), it is not eligible for credit.
      • No more than half of the total required points (21) may be claimed for Electronic Publications.

I have published articles in the following magazines:

ROUNDHOUSE June 2007 "Alice Street Terminal"
MODEL RAILROADER March 2009 "Concealing PECO turnout motors"
HP1 MODELLBAHN III/2008 "Fremo Meeting Unna" (in german)
ROUNDHOUSE October 2009 "Build an operating diorama"
MIBA SPEZIAL 86 "Alice Street Terminal" (in german)
MIBA SPEZIAL 90 "Scratchbuilding with wood and styrene" (in german)
NMRA MAGAZINE October 2013 "Build an easy-peasy layout bridge"
MODEL RAILROADER 08/2014 Upgrading vintage Helium car models" August 2014 Model Railroader Magazine

US-CONVENTION Rodgau/Germany 10/2009 Live clinic abour scratchbuilding structures + handouts

The SOQ and documentation await approval by my AP chair