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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)
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.
Joe-SVL Posted - 06/12/2019 : 09:09:54 AM
Thanks for the input. I've decided to cut the glad hands off and that does make the end of the car look much better. But you broached on another topic I've wondered about as I am about to finish my first car, namely parts reuse. I'm kinda pleased with how my trucks and wheels have turned out and was wondering about reusing them on a later car. At present my plan is to finish 3 cars before asking the judges to drive over from Tampa for evaluation of these three cars plus my Civil Certificate work. So my reuse might be for the 4-th car and beyond. Is parts reuse fairly common when working on the Car Certificate?

Joe in Orlando
Michael Hohn Posted - 06/11/2019 : 10:19:40 PM

Getting back to the coupler question . . . Here’s an idea suggested to me: clip the gladhands off a pair of Kadees and use them for AP models and after they’ve been judged, switch them out with unaltered Kadees. Use that same pair multiple times and when you’re done with them, add them to a junk pile on your layout, a enginehouse diorama, or something.


BurleyJim Posted - 06/10/2019 : 3:04:57 PM
Well, Welles nailed it!

Michael Hohn Posted - 06/10/2019 : 2:51:27 PM
Orson Welles was a creepy actor playing an arrogant, creepy man during a creepy episode in a creepy film.
BurleyJim Posted - 06/10/2019 : 1:34:33 PM
Originally posted by mwbpequod

[quote]Our models are supposed to be able to do more than sit on a mantel for all to admire.

Agree, but that guy is a little creepy.

CVSNE Posted - 06/10/2019 : 11:46:04 AM
Originally posted by Joe-SVL

Maybe one last question <G>
AAR code - is an AAR code required on a car? I reviewed a lot of the cars on my layout and most do not have an AAR code stenciled on the side of the car. All my PRR cars do have a code but it is their unique code like X28 or X36 that the PRR used and not an official AAR code.

Joe in Orlando

You will sometimes see "XM" which is an AAR designation on some railroads cars, but it's not required to be there. It is required to be on the shipping paperwork for any car used in interchange service.
The X28, X29, etc.. on the Pennsy cars (or the XM24, 27, etc.. on CB&Q cars) is the car class - other than the fact that "X" designates a boxcar in both cases, the car class codes have nothing to do with the AAR at all.
Marty McGuirk

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