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 NMRA AP Cars Certificate "Support" Thread

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Dutchman Posted - 02/01/2009 : 6:33:38 PM
This thread is one of a series of threads intended to help RR-L Forum members who are also members of the NMRA and are working within the NMRA’s Achievement Program. This is not a thread to debate the pros and cons of either the NMRA or the Achievement Program. For a full explanation of the purpose of these threads, members should refer to this thread on the forum: http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24676

The Master Builder – Cars category requires the modeler to turn his/her attention to rolling stock. To earn the certificate, the modeler must build eight pieces of highly detailed rolling stock. This rolling stock must be able to ‘operate’ on the rails. The eight cars must represent four different ‘types’ of cars, at least one of which must be a passenger car. Of the eight, four of the cars must be scratchbuilt, and four must earn at least 87.5 points when evaluated against specific NMRA standards.

More information on the Master Builder – Cars category can be found at this link: http://www.nmra.org/education/achievement/ap_cars.html

This is an area in which I haven’t done much work yet. However, I want to turn my attention to this one next. I know that Don (AVRR-PA) is also about to begin work in this area. Anyone else wanting to try their hands at this category, perhaps we can ‘work together’ through the forum.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Michael Hohn Posted - 09/24/2019 : 1:06:12 PM

There are a couple of ways to get the taper. As you suggested, you can glue up several strips to the thickness you need and then use a file to make the taper. I've done this more than once with end sills on pre-1900 boxcar and caboose models. For the caboose I had to taper in two directions.

The other approach is do do something like I did on this unfinished model:

In this case, the bolster is an early one made of several iron or steel parts; for a twentieth century bolster I would glue rectangular pieces of styrene to each side and cut off the excess. I think one would get a more accurate taper this way. It might not be any more work. It could be done in two directions.

By the way, I use a styrene solvent cement for styrene, not CA. It really welds things together.

Joe-SVL Posted - 09/24/2019 : 10:00:51 AM
Thanks for the replies to my bolster inquiry.

Mike- did you just CA some styrene strips together and then sand away to create your contest model bolsters? Did these contest model bolster have tapered sides or just tapered tops?

jbvb - I looked at Powells.com and all the Train Shed Cyclopedias are "out of stock"

Jim - I have completed one car so far but I have not had it evaluated yet. My judges come from the Tampa, FL area and my plan is to have three cars (plus my Civil certificate work which I finished in spring 2018) completed before I ask them to make the trip over.

Joe in Orlando
BurleyJim Posted - 09/23/2019 : 3:37:28 PM

Have you had the opportunity to get any of your cars evaluated yet? JBVB's tip on the "Train Shed Cyclopedia" is an excellen choicet. If you find any at Powells.com,or some online used book seller, find an issue with freight cars, they are pretty specific, and you don't want to spend money on a Steam Locomotive. yet!

PS Check your local library.

jbvb Posted - 09/23/2019 : 2:31:07 PM
Pictures and drawings of bolsters can be found in the Car Builder's Cyclopedia. Some, mostly from the pre-welding era, were reprinted in the "Train Shed Cyclopedia" magazines, which you may find at train shows or buy used on-line. There's also an index of Vol. 1-42, but I've never seen it. Publications like these and Railway Prototype Cyclopedia aren't bad investments if you're pursuing contest modeling and/or the Cars AP category.
Michael Hohn Posted - 09/23/2019 : 2:12:34 PM
Originally posted by Joe-SVL

I would greatly appreciate any guidance on how to build a bolster, such as materials used etc. I've got a pretty detailed CAD drawing for the under frame of a McKean Master Series car, and know what styrene pieces I need to build the stringers and cross members; but the bolster seems right now to be a stumbling point.


Joe in Orlando


I usually make bolsters from wood with very little detail. However for a contest model I use styrene strip.

Do you have good drawings for the bolster you want to build?

The thing with bolsters is that the trucks hide a lot of detail but well-detailed ones will—excuse me for saying this—bolster your bid for points.

Joe-SVL Posted - 09/23/2019 : 1:37:04 PM
I would greatly appreciate any guidance on how to build a bolster, such as materials used etc. I've got a pretty detailed CAD drawing for the under frame of a McKean Master Series car, and know what styrene pieces I need to build the stringers and cross members; but the bolster seems right now to be a stumbling point.


Joe in Orlando
mwbpequod Posted - 06/25/2019 : 08:22:33 AM
The 'complex' model has the theoretical high score of 125. The best a 'simple' model can attain is 90.

Yet you still only need 87.5 points for the merit award.

My 1st merit award was for a flat car....simple can be "good enough".
Michael Hohn Posted - 06/24/2019 : 4:30:18 PM
Good points, Jim. Being awarded the appropriate number of points requires work both in building the model and doing a good write up. That’s true for any model. If the modeler has any doubt he or she could include the CAD drawings for complex components when doing the write-up.

BurleyJim Posted - 06/24/2019 : 1:30:11 PM
Well, this is certainly a 'hot button' issue. How do you really measure complexity? If you design a part from scratch on a CAD program, is that more or less complicated than getting a few pieces of Plastruct stock and gluing them in a new shape? Did you have to sit down and think about what the end result should look like? Of course you did. Was there additional skill required? Of course there was. The question should be, as an evaluator, 'what would it take to make this model' and 'could I accomplish this same result.' It's not an easy one size fits all question.

The difference between a 'simple' model and a 'complex' model is not trivial. Take a look at the point differential in the various categories. https://www.nmra.org/sites/default/files/2006-judging-guide-lines.pdf

The matrices are very straightforward in how to evaluate a model, complexity is the key, a simple model is very difficult to achieve an 88 score on. Add up the scores. The 'complex' model has the theoretical high score of 125. The best a 'simple' model can attain is 90.


Michael Hohn Posted - 06/24/2019 : 09:52:45 AM

Your question comes up pretty frequently these days, and James is right that as long as you do all the CAD work, all is well. I’ve heard this several times from those in the NMRA who are in the know, like James.

I think the neatness of the results would outweigh questions of complexity.

jbvb Posted - 06/24/2019 : 09:09:33 AM
The last discussion of 3D printing/laser cutting I was present for was in K.C. last year. Summarized, if you do all the design work and prepare the DXF, and all your friend does is load the machine and press the button, I believe it will count as scratchbuilt, points commensurate with the effort that went into the design. But you might not get the Construction/Complexity points a well done assembly of parts would earn.
Joe-SVL Posted - 06/24/2019 : 08:57:46 AM
I've finally finished my first AP car except for completing the documentation package. It's taken me about 6 months to complete this car and I'm looking for a means to shorten the construction time for the next 7 cars. Something that crossed my mind was to design using my CAD tool a set of side, center, and cross sills and then send a .DXF file to a friend who has a laser cutter and ask him to cut these pieces out for me. The question that then comes up is whether these piece would/should count as my scratch built pieces.

Joe in Orlando
mwbpequod Posted - 06/12/2019 : 12:17:45 PM
Is parts reuse fairly common when working on the Car Certificate?

Almost never done that other than to convert an On3 to standard O....maybe once or twice.
Michael Hohn Posted - 06/12/2019 : 11:51:01 AM

I asked myself the same question as I was writing my previous response. I would say if you merely attached trucks unpainted, unweathered and unmodified, no problem. If you were to add brake shoes etc to Kadee arch bar trucks, then I would not reuse on another model. I would not myself reuse trucks that were carefully painted and weathered.

While on the subject, we know trucks and couplers are exempt from judging for scratchbuilding, but I read the judging rules under “conformity” to say that wheel sets are exempt but nothing is said about the rest of the truck. Here’s what is written:

EXEMPTIONS: Couplers for cars and locomotives are exempt from conformity judging. No points are to be given for the presence or absence of any style of coupler. Wheels and axles for cars and locomotives are also exempt from conformity judging. No points are to be given for insulated or properly gauged wheelsets or for correct wheel contours.

To take an absurd example, archbar trucks on a 1970’s 50’ boxcar would be problematic. The guidelines tell me that if I’m modeling a prototype I want to install the correct truck design if possible.

Even if I’m wrong, I believe it’s a good idea to develop an eye for details such as the various truck designs. In a way you’ve gone down that road by finding the presence of both Kadee and accurately modeled gladhands to be “weird.”

Going back to your original question, being able to repeatedly do something like painting and weathering trucks successfully is part of mastering a skill.

Hope this helps.

Dutchman Posted - 06/12/2019 : 10:17:59 AM
Originally posted by Joe-SVL

Is parts reuse fairly common when working on the Car Certificate?

Joe in Orlando

Joe, I don't know how common it is, since most of us want to keep our super detailed and scratch built cars intact. However, there is nothing in the rules to prevent it.

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