I just read a fascinating article in the latest edition (Run 308 October/November 2019) of OGR Magazine, which arrived in the mail 2 days ago, entitled A 3-Railer's Journey into the NMRA Achievement Program by John Robert Coy.

The article is the first installment of the author's journey to becoming a Master Model Railroader (MMR), officially known as the AP (Achievement Program) certification of NMRA (National Model Railroader Association).

I learned from reading this article that it is possible, although rare, for 3 railers like us to become a Master Model  Railroader.

What I would love to know is if it is possible for a 3 rail high railer to become a Master Model Railroader. By 3 rail high railer I mean a hobbyist with a layout that has 3 rail track and toy-like accessories much bigger than O Scale, like the Postwar Automatic Gateman and Animated Newstand, integrated artfully in realistic settings and scenery on the layout.

My gut feeling is that the answer to the above question is probably No, but IMO it would be great if the answer was Yes. Reasons for Yes include that there are magnificent layouts that have such toy-like accessories on them, and these toy-like accessories were, and still are, very popular, so much so that they are iconic. One such layout that beautifully integrates these accessories is that of Phil Klopp, who is a member of this Forum. There are others among us who have done this.

Also. those that know me well, know why I have a particular interest, which I will share later, why I wish the answer was Yes.

Please share your thoughts, if you have them, about the above question, or this article and topic.

Also, after reading Mr. Coy's article, I believe there are many active Forum members with 3 rail track who could qualify for the AP or Master Model Railroader designation. Do you agree?

And do you think you might qualify for such designation if you put your mind to it?

Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

Original Post

Arnold,

I am not now a member of NMRA, but the way I understand the Achievement Program, It is a series of specialized tasks that the candidate has to complete. Upon completion of the task, the candidate  is awarded a certificate stating as much. After enough certificates are awarded, the person gets the MMR title. I would not think that the presence of classic Lionel accessories on the layout would disqualify someone. Of course, it would be better to address questions to whoever is in charge of the program at NMRA.   

 


What I would love to know is if it is possible for a 3 rail high railer to become a Master Model Railroader.

Yes. I know of at least 1.

By 3 rail high railer I mean a hobbyist with a layout that has 3 rail track and toy-like accessories much bigger than O Scale, like the Postwar Automatic Gateman and Animated Newstand, integrated artfully in realistic settings and scenery on the layout.

Possible

A lot of the qualifications for MMR have nothing to do with the actual layout, e.g. Volunteer or Official.

Only 1 of 3 pertaining directly to the layout would have to be achieved: Engineer Civil, Engineer Electrical, Scenery. You'd have the check the actual specifications and requirements for these to see what you could do.


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

While l am biased, l have seen posted on here photos of some very realistically modeled railroads, that if you photo shopped out the center rail, would be hard to tell from two rail scale, and IMO, definitely worthy of that recognition.

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

Having a traditional toy train layout does not preclude completing the MMR achievement program.  The program is about skills and achievements.  The requirements from NRMA are listed below. Categories C and D (Railroad Construction & Operation and Service to the Hobby & NMRA Member) can be achieved with a toy train layout.  Categories A and B require construction of scale models, but these can be independent of the layout.  The scale scenery requirement would, of course, need to be on the layout. This would be no problem for the 3RS crowd, but it may be an obstacle if you want to maintain the toy train appearance.  

Bob

Brendan posted:

It is certainly doable although the "Railroad Equipment" category would have to be a scale cars with scale wheels etc. to earn any points in judging.

Actually, the wheels and trucks themselves are exempt from judging; I've judged scratchbuilt cars with 3-rail trucks and couplers that have gotten Merit awards.


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

For me, it's just having another piece of paper, or another club to join and would not increase my enjoyment of trains.  

Reminds me of a third level mgr I once had who had his stereo repair course certificate and good soldier certificate hanging on his office wall along with 17 other certificates.

If your professional job requires it, then go for it.  Otherwise, it's just another badge to sew onto your railroad vest.  I see much more of the badge laden railroad vest in the HO community than O.  So the mmr badge from nmra makes more sense for HO than for toy train people.

I've bought, sold and operated trains  for over 40 yrs and never had anyone ask to see my mmr certificate.  If I was in the layout building, scenary or benchwork business I could understand such a request.

So would Phil Klopp's layout be more impressive if he had a mmr certificate?  Of all the layouts I've seen in person or on video, I've never once wondered if the builder was mmr certified.

aussteve posted:

For me, it's just having another piece of paper, or another club to join and would not increase my enjoyment of trains.  

Reminds me of a third level mgr I once had who had his stereo repair course certificate and good soldier certificate hanging on his office wall along with 17 other certificates.

If your professional job requires it, then go for it.  Otherwise, it's just another badge to sew onto your railroad vest.  I see much more of the badge laden railroad vest in the HO community than O.  So the mmr badge from nmra makes more sense for HO than for toy train people.

I've bought, sold and operated trains  for over 40 yrs and never had anyone ask to see my mmr certificate.  If I was in the layout building, scenary or benchwork business I could understand such a request.

So would Phil Klopp's layout be more impressive if he had a mmr certificate?  Of all the layouts I've seen in person or on video, I've never once wondered if the builder was mmr certified.

Wow.  For most people, I assume it is just a personal goal.  I am sure, like myself, most have no interest a majority of those categories, let alone 4 of them.

Brendan  

aussteve posted:

For me, it's just having another piece of paper, or another club to join and would not increase my enjoyment of trains.  

Reminds me of a third level mgr I once had who had his stereo repair course certificate and good soldier certificate hanging on his office wall along with 17 other certificates.

If your professional job requires it, then go for it.  Otherwise, it's just another badge to sew onto your railroad vest.  I see much more of the badge laden railroad vest in the HO community than O.  So the mmr badge from nmra makes more sense for HO than for toy train people.

I've bought, sold and operated trains  for over 40 yrs and never had anyone ask to see my mmr certificate.  If I was in the layout building, scenary or benchwork business I could understand such a request.

So would Phil Klopp's layout be more impressive if he had a mmr certificate?  Of all the layouts I've seen in person or on video, I've never once wondered if the builder was mmr certified.

Gee, that's kind of a cynical view of achievement. 

The MMR program sets goals for personal achievement that inspire the participant to try out new facets of the hobby and accomplish higher standards of modeling skills.  I believe that is the motivation for the majority of MMR participants.  It's really not a piece of paper for bragging rights and I have never heard of an MMR saying "I'm an MMR.  Let me show you how to do that."   Additionally, the NMRA puts a strong expectation of MMRs to "give back to" and promote the hobby.  

Bob

To be honest I care less if I ever became a MMR. I mean in the scheme of things it means nothing, what a piece of paper to say I am great at these things that 99.9% of the people don't even know about or care. 

Too many things for me to do and care about, MMR is not one of them. 

Dave

In my own mind, I am already a master model railroader.  I just choose not to mess with half or more of the "official" requirements.  Too lazy/not interested I guess, more interested in having fun as I see fit.

Besides, I already have a couple of Three Stooges tin signs hanging in my train room.  These readily serve as my personal MMR achievement awards!  

 

(Images courtesy of Pinterest and Hobby Lobby).

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

All very interesting replies so far. Thank you all for expressing your point of view.

Why am I particularly interested in this topic?

Here is a hint. It has more to do with another passion of mine, other than model railroading, which is obviously one of my passions. I'm sure some of my Forum friends know the answer, which I promise to reveal later on if some one does not come up with it in the meantime.

By the way, I believe we all agree that anything that promotes our hobby is a good thing. Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

In the "old days" of the scale portions of our hobby, particularly O and especially HO, the construction requirements for an MMR certification included both engine and car construction as well as structures. Most MMR's were therefore true craftsman of the highest order. Tinplaters were somewhat disdained as toy train folk, and not really taken seriously, unless perhaps they were serious hirailers, like Mr. Klopp, for example.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

The MMR program sets goals for personal achievement that inspire the participant to try out new facets of the hobby and accomplish higher standards of modeling skills.  I believe that is the motivation for the majority of MMR participants.  It's really not a piece of paper for bragging rights and I have never heard of an MMR saying "I'm an MMR.  Let me show you how to do that."   Additionally, the NMRA puts a strong expectation of MMRs to "give back to" and promote the hobby.  

Bob

That's the way I see it, too, Bob! There are as many way to approach and enjoy this hobby as there are people engaged in the hobby.

I am a Life Member of the NMRA, and consider my membership and involvement as one of the best investments I have ever made. I have not participated in the Achievement Program and probably never will because my talents, even after all these years, are still fairly limited, albeit diverse, and I tend to be a bit lazy (although there is at least one category in which I would almost certainly meet the qualifications ).

Having actively modeled in multiple scales over the years, including Z, N, HO, O, On30, and G, I have had the opportunity to meet a good number of Master Model Railroaders, and I must say that ALL have certainly earned that distinction. It is not an easy goal to reach, but every MMR I have met has told me that it was a worthwhile experience due to all the "lessons learned" along the way. It's a personal quest, as is anything else in this or any other hobby, and it involves a lot of time and effort. Some enjoy that kind of peer-evaluated challenge, while others--undoubtedly the vast majority--may have little or no interest. That's perfectly fine, but I am delighted to see at least one of our forum partricipants willing give it a shot. I'm also hoping that John's account may inspire others to give it some consideration and possibly jump in with both feet. I know for a fact that there are a good many in the O gauge world (3-rail as well as 2-rail), that would be emminently qualified for MMR status. Ditto for some of the truly superb modeling I see coming from the On30 guys and gals.

I look forward to updates from John Coy as he moves up the ladder toward the fina goal. I'm confident he will share his ongoing experiences with our magazine readers, and I will be delighted to share his reports.

david1 posted:

To be honest I care less if I ever became a MMR. I mean in the scheme of things it means nothing, what a piece of paper to say I am great at these things that 99.9% of the people don't even know about or care. 

Too many things for me to do and care about, MMR is not one of them. 

Dave

Somebody needs a nap.

"Different strokes for different folks." applies here. We ALL could be more TOLERANT of different approaches to this fine hobby of ours! There really is NO "right or wrong"! I have EQUAL appreciation and respect for an MMR or a "carpet central" hobbyist! It's ALL GOOD! 

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

I have little or no interest in being an MMR (the skills to do some of the requirements are no longer possible for me), just the sound of the metal wheels on the metal rails (two-rail for me mostly) is soothing and all that I now need to enjoy the hobby. Note that there is at least one MMR responding to this thread.

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

Arnold D. Cribari posted:

Also. those that know me well, know why I have a particular interest, which I will share later, why I wish the answer was Yes.

Please share your thoughts, if you have them, about the above question, or this article and topic.

And do you think you might qualify for such designation if you put your mind to it?

Well, you asked for opinions and I presented mine.  I have no idea what your motivations are in asking the questions.

It would have been better to ask for opinions from "those who like to model trains with realism and/or those who would like to aspire to be a mmr ".  Because there are several difference interests represented on this forum and your thread audience was very non-specific.

On the forum you will find Toys vs Scale, Non-electronic vs electronic,  time frame or road name being modeled, carpet layout vs permanent, tubular track vs Fasttrack,  and so forth. 

Generally the OGR forum members just like to have fun with trains regardless of the niche they have chosen.

But I have overheard people at my sales tables many times over the years making comments about how unrealistic the Lionelish train world is and how none of it could ever stand up to nmra standards.  Their comments never concerned me since my stuff was purely toy trains, which now even includes Brio and Thomas items.  They were speaking from another aspect of the hobby. 

Personally, I've never had the desire to "model" trains, bldgs, people, bridges, etc.  I'm very impressed with what I have seen others do on their layouts but I just don't have the time or desire. I just like running them around and listening to the clickety clack on the track.  I don't count rivets and more than one car with the same number are welcome on our train consists.  We change engines and cars by lifting them off the track using our hands.

I now have a 6 yr old to raise, so items end up riding our trains that could never stand the scrutiny of nmra, such as stacked up matchbox cars, brio cars, pencils, colorful bouncy balls, metal screws, small stuffed animals, etc riding as loads.  

I respect each niche of the hobby and as long as youre having fun it should all be good.  

Arnold, 

Great topic! I have seen similar topics but not with the idea of “toy-like” trains. It would be very interesting since there are many who have great layouts with these features. Not to mention it is a popular facet of the hobby.

It amazes me how your topic as well as others have started debate and personal feelings when I’m sure that wasn’t the intent. Maybe my interpretation of the topic is inaccurate. The topic was not “What do you think about the MMR award”. It would be great to just have a post stay positive and not be riddled with unincouraging words because of opinion. I guess that’s the world we live in. I learned a long time ago if you can’t say anything nice etc. That’s just my 2 cents.

Anyhoo, I think as a member of NMRA if this is something that hobbyists who model this way have a desire for, it wouldn’t hurt to speak to the powers that be. If it truly is an organization for ALL in the hobby then it would be a legitimate aspect of this award or one designated for those who model this way. It certainly would be a great way to promote those who enjoy the nestalgia of model railroading. I agree with the  statement that this hobby has as many interpretations as the people in it. Keep modeling and playing with trains just the way you like everyone and thanks for reading my dissertation. 🙂

Dave

The WISE Division of the NMRA has 5 people (including myself) on the BOD that are Toy train people, 4 of us are 3-railers and the other is a s-gauge modeler.  I will be going after my Golden Spike and as Superintendent of the Division I will get points toward my volunteer award.

Model Railroading is Fun
Mike Slater

D500 posted:
david1 posted:

To be honest I care less if I ever became a MMR. I mean in the scheme of things it means nothing, what a piece of paper to say I am great at these things that 99.9% of the people don't even know about or care. 

Too many things for me to do and care about, MMR is not one of them. 

Dave

Somebody needs a nap.

So do I, .....so do I.

I never really looked at the requirements, but I don't see why someone couldn't go for MMR as a 3 rail O person, the requirements don't preclude that. The only issue might be with the scratchbuilt motive power, that it would require building a scale model, and you might have a lot less detail parts available commercially than let's say HO, but the same would be true of O 2 rail. The scenery section applies to 3 rail as well as 2 rail scale, and the layout construction section doesn't seem to say everything has to be scale, the point seems to be about the craftsmanship of the stuff the person builds, not whether everything on the layout is scale perfect, etc. 

About the only obstacle I could see would be if those evaluating the work of the person held it against them they worked in 3 rail (were modelling snobs in other words), but to be honest I have met more than my fair share of 'serious modellers', including ones well known in the NMRA and in magazines like Model Railroader, and found very few snobs who would turn their noses at anything three rail,no matter how well made, most of them would enjoy someone doing great work in no matter what scale/gauge/number of tracks they worked in *shrug*.  I see a lot more friction around the issue of operations versus those who like to 'run trains' than with this particular issue. 

For me if I were to go for the MMR it would be about meeting those challenges, having something laid out in front of myself can motivate me to try and achieve what they talk about, though I doubt I would ever go through a formal process to get the certificate, and honestly if going for the MMR it should be about the fun of doing it, not worrying if they will 'let you' achieve it. The only negative thing I could think of being MMR certified would be if some people would be afraid to approach the person with their attempts at modelling, afraid that they would make fun of their attempts as being lesser (sadly this does go on with other things that offer certification paths,), which would be ironic because from what I can tell the MMR is in large part designed to create a group of modellers who are not only skilled, but also are there to share this with others and encourage them

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Arnold, This is another of your extremely thoughtful topics!  If there were an Achievement Program certificate for motivating hobbyists to think about what they enjoy and why they enjoy it, you could easily earn the certificate!

Having spent most of my 50+ years in the hobby making an attempt to model in HO, N, On30 I have become very familiar with the MMR program of the NMRA.  I would have no desire to work towards certificates myself, but I admire the skills and determination of all those who do, including John Coy.  I certainly think it is something more 3-railers could achieve. 

Thank you for another provocative topic!  (And though I have read and contributed to a lot of your post on the Forum, I'm looking forward to seeing your 'revelation', as I can't quite guess)  

Drum roll, please!

Now I will tell you what inspired this topic after I read Mr. Coy's excellent article in the latest edition of OGR Magazine.

Like I said before, it relates to another passion of mine. That other passion is songwriting. 

On 11/11/17 I posted a topic on this Forum entitled "Phil Klopp Layout and Model Train Song." You can hear my model train song, Who Am I (Rollin' By), by doing a Forum search for "Phil Klopp Layout and Model Train Song," and clicking on the YouTube link for my song in my 11/11/17 post. Then, you will not only hear the song, but see a video of Phil's magnificent O Gauge layout and trains, and his amazing Standard Gauge layout and trains, which descend by remote control from the ceiling!

The lyrics of the chorus of my song are:

"I'm a master model railroader, rollin' down the line,

In my little world I leave this troubled world behind,

Drivin' diesel, drivin' steam, clickety clack, down the tracks, of my dreams."

The lyrics of one of the verses are:

"I press a button, and logs unload,

A man spits out milk cans, along my railroad,

Rollin' by"

So you see, since the chorus of my song talks about a master model railroader, and one of the verses references the operating log loader and operating milk car, I was very interested to know if a hobbyist could qualify as a  true master model railroader if he/she had those toy-like accessories on his/her layout. LOL.

It appears from reading all of your thoughtful contributions to this thread, that the answer is: maybe or possibly. It could be that this issue is of first impression with NMRA.

Fortunately for me, whatever the answer, my song should be fine thanks to poetic license. LOL.

Incidentally, what inspired me to write the song in the first place is two-fold. First, I decided I wanted to write a real train song, but came to the conclusion that I know little about real trains, but much more about model trains because I have had Lionel trains and accessories all my life. LOL. Secondly, I loved the McComey and Tuoy train video entitled "Pennsylvania Suite" that featured two great layouts, one of which was Phil Klopp's previous layout and the Shaker tune, Simple Gifts, which is heard while watching the video. That gave me the idea that music and model railroading can be a great combination.

By the way, I love getting feedback from others about my song. 

Arnold

 

 

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

Arnold D. Cribari posted:

So you see, since the chorus of my song talks about a master model railroader, and one of the verses references the operating log loader and operating milk car, I was very interested to know if a hobbyist could qualify as a  true master model railroader if he/she had those toy-like accessories on his/her layout. LOL.

Lionel or other operating accessories would have no impact on Achievement Program certification one way or the other. They simply would not be part of the criteria for meeting any of the program criteria. You could have a hunderdof them on your layout as long as you were able to meet the requirements for each of the specified achievement levels.

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