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NMRA AP Civil Eng.Certificate__"Support" Thread

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  • NMRA AP Civil Eng.Certificate__"Support" Thread

    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:

    This is the category where the tire meets the road (or where the wheelsets meet the rails)!

    To earn this certificate, you must prepare one original scale drawing of a model railroad track plan, identifying overall size, scale, track elevations, curve radii, and turnout sizes. There are specific requirements for what must be included in this drawing on the NMRA website here:

    After preparing the scale drawing, you must then construct and demonstrate the satisfactory operation of a completed section of the model railroad and track work described in the scale drawing. There are again specific linear feet requirements for differing scales that can be found at the link above. When doing the trackwork, you must include appropriate ballast, drainage facilities, and roadbed profile, which may contain spurs, yards, etc. Construct for Merit Judging, scratch built scale models of any three of the following, and demonstrate their satisfactory operation (the three must achieve Merit status):

    • Turnout (point or stub)

    • Crossover

    • Double Crossover

    • Single Slip Switch

    • Double Slip Switch

    • Crossing

    • Gauntlet Track

    • Gauntlet Turnout

    • Dual Gauge Turnout

    • Gauge Separation Turnout (Narrow gauge splitting off from dual gauge)

    • Double Junction Turnout (One set of parallel tracks diverges from another)

    • Three-Way Turnout

    • Spring Switch

    • Operating Switch in Overhead Wire

    • Other ___________

    Note: 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 believe that we have a number of RR-L members who have either completed these requirements or are currently working on them. I hope that they jump in here with some insights and pictures.

  • #2

    I would think many forum members have built track using the Fast Tracks jigs. I have been contemplating the purchase of one to use for constructing my classification yard. And, the yard will include a crossover and turnout, meeting 2 out of 3 requirements. I was also thinking of building a gauntlet track as a static display, again using the jigs to help with the critical components.



    • #3
      I've been thinking about the NMRA achievement program and have been thinking that this one would be the best place to start for me as I think I have most of it done already. As for the track plan (i.e. scale drawing) it's done, as I used it in building my railway, just need to add elevations and clean it up a bit. It was drawn in Autocad so cleaning it up will not be a problem.

      I have built, installed and is in use, a turnout and a crossover so I only need to do one more, given the list it won't be a problem.

      My problem is the " When doing the trackwork, you must include appropriate ballast, drainage facilities, and roadbed profile" part. My railway is a rundown, run by the seat of the pants narrow gauge operation where drainage facilities and roadbed profile are not very good. That being said, the track is on cork so with the ballast there is a "profile", just not a pronounced on. I'm not sure if this would qualify for the requirement. Also how much track has to be ballasted to meet the requirements. Currently I only have about 2 feet of track ballasted (needed to do it for a cover shot for the article I wrote in the On30 annual on hand laying track). I model in O scale so I need 75 feet of track to quality but it doesn't say say how much of it has to be ballasted.

      The rules also state that the track components used have to be judged and receive at least 87.5 merit points but I don't know what the criteria is (what are the points based on).

      Gee I have more questions than I thought I had
      Ron Newby

      General Manager

      Clearwater Valley Railway Co.


      • #4
        I've done almost everything I need for the Civil AP - all that remains is to superdetail a crossover and a diamond that I built years ago, so they'll qualify for Merit). I have had a turnout judged, and it didn't exceed 87 points by much; my judge was looking for prototypical details. I had the right kind of switch stand, a CTC contactor for the points, but I hadn't done joint bars, tie plates, rail braces or bolts for the frog. Scratchbuilding gets points, so does prototypical accuracy. I looked on the NMRA web site just now, but didn't find anything in writing. What I was told was to go for top points, work from a prototype photo, and try to model everything you see in it. Then show the photo to the judge.

        One thing that my regional AP person was a little dismayed to discover is that although modules at contests are judged by the standards and points are given out, points awarded to modules don't count for anything in the AP; I do get 16 square feet of finished scenery for Rowley and Rowley River, but that's all.


        • #5
          [quoteOne thing that my regional AP person was a little dismayed to discover is that although modules at contests are judged by the standards and points are given out, points awarded to modules don't count for anything in the AP; I do get 16 square feet of finished scenery for Rowley and Rowley River, but that's all.

          Depending on what is on your module, one could count towards a Prototype Models Certificate...
          In a time like ours seemings and portents signify. Ours is a generation when dogs howl and the skin crawls on the skull with its beast's foreboding.


          • #6
            I'm planning to ask the AP people to judge a switch at Hartford National for Merit towards this award. I started off by visiting Hampton, NH, where the B&M's track has remained pretty much untouched since the 1950s.

            This switch uses 100 lb. rail and was put in after passenger service ended, because it isn't bonded and insulated for track circuits.

            It's hard to see from this angle, but there's no insulation in the joint in the reinforcing plate just beyond the points. Still, it uses the classic B&M switch stand with lantern spike. I'm not sure I'm going to try to do the bonding anyway - it's tiny and I don't know how it will stand up to track cleaning on a module that participates in shows.

            Things that stand out are the reinforcing plate, adjustable braces in the area of the points, joint bars and the bolts on the frog. Next step is to dig through the "track" parts drawer and consult Walthers.


            • #7
              Just got the "official" notification that I had earned the "Civil Engineering Certificate". I had handlaid some track for a 12' module a long time ago (20 years)so I already had some experience. So I cut in a curved turnout into my current layout, but did a gauntlet and a 30 degree crossing on separate boards. For the latter two I used FastTracks templates off of Tim’s site.

              I enjoyed 'handlaying' these and did not use the FastTracks jigs (but they would have made many parts of the construction easier). I cut my own ties on my bandsaw and this is worth extra points.

              I did not include a switch stand but did ballast and put in splice bars etc. I will included a switchstand on the curved turnout on my layout.

              I have included some pics of the models as well as two pics of a 90 degree crossing on display at the Elgin County Railway Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario.


              • #8
                Congratulations John. Well done!!!
                Chuck Faist

                Burlington, Ontario

                Enjoy yourself it is later than you think!


                • #9
                  James, that looks like a great project. Please keep us posted.

                  John, congratulations! Thanks for sharing the projects that contributed to your Certificate.


                  • #10
                    Looking for rail detailing parts, I found I had a set of Central Valley 'Switch Detailing Parts' (210-1603). I'll try a test application of the joint bars and frog bolts. I don't need the switchstands, guardrails or headblocks, which take up a lot of the sprue area.

                    Digging up other parts required some time with Google, as people call "joint bars" all kinds of names: I'll probably order both these ( and the Details West 235-931 to compare. Neither is for the Code 100 I had to use due to module standards, but I'll see how they look.

                    Meanwhile, the proto87 etched tie plates got me thinking: I don't want to relay the track (I have enough to do on my layout without building a one-off just for the AP), but perhaps I can retrofit them with a paintbrush:

                    This is done with Floquil Rail Brown and a #0 brush. Examining the photo, I think the tie plates contrast well with the ties, but they're probably too light compared to the rail. Perhaps I should try re-painting the rail.


                    • #11
                      I'm waiting on some parts, but I did get the frog area detailed. You have to look hard at normal viewing distances, but:

                      I attached the CV frog bolt strip and the joiner bars with Weldwood contact cement. The contact cement is more visible in the photo than the most distant joiner bar. But it does show in photos at this magnification, so I may do another few feet elsewhere (where I'm not required to use Code 100 by the module standards) and try some rolling stock shots. The spikes I'm using in new construction are smaller, I hope they look better...


                      • #12
                        It looks good, James. Whose spikes are you using, and what size are they?


                        • #13
                          I built the switch I started with about 20 years ago, and I can't recall what spikes I used. Currently I'm using Micro-Engineering "small" most of the time, and their "micro" where I have the patience to pre-drill holes in my basswood ties. That's what I used on the side of the frog where I applied the bolt strip, and I probably ought to summon the energy to re-spike the whole switch with them...


                          • #14
                            I spent a while on spikes this afternoon:

                            The small spikes are Micro-Engineering "Micro Spikes", which are .016 diameter (1.25 scale inch). The larger ones are "Small", which I tried in the holes left from pulling the originals (see near track). It doesn't look bad in person, the photo reveals a desperate need for weathering... In that era, the section gangs actually greased the joint bars annually (they still do on preserved RRs in the UK), which will help.

                            I think I'm pretty much finished until my DW rail brace castings arrive for the point area. The original switch, with switchstand and signal contactor, got 87 points, so I've probably added enough for a Merit, and the Code 100 rail I started with makes this a "sow's ear" job anyway.

                            And should I ever get really fanatic about track, the B&M was a heavy user of "self-guarded" frogs (guardrail function performed by flanges on the edge of the frog casting, article in MR long ago, probably requires Proto87 wheels to work well) in yards. This particular switch actually had a sprung frog (closed up for the mainline route like old Tru-Scale, the physics are impossible for HO scale unless I power it). Avert...


                            • #15

                              I know that there is quite a difference between the ME 'small' and 'micro' spikes. I've started using the micros on some Code 55 HOn3 rail I've been laying. Drilling the starter holes is a pain...

                              Here's the comparison: