Page 18 - May June 2020
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 Model Railroad Engineer – Electrical
This is one area that most modellers I have come across have the most fear! I can understand that, when electricity leaks you can’t see it, but you are not going to be working with mains electricity. It’s only about showing that you can make trains run where and when they should. There are six sections, with a lot of choices in some. Don’t be frightened to get advice either, remember the AP is all about learning and improving your skills. Also contrary to popular belief, you can use DCC. Please use this link to explore the full requirements :
Chief Dispatcher
This is a category which I found the most rewarding (so far), as it rewards you for just operating, no modelling required! Many members seem to start this category, but few seem to finish it. Why? The requirements are quite straight- forward: Participate in the operation of a model railroad, either home or club (which includes the popular modular meets) 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 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
Plus, there is a little paperwork, which again is not hard (if you don’t overthink it).
The layout does not have to be American and does not have to belong to an NMRA member. It could even be done on a suitable live steam garden railway! Full requirements here:
Photo: Earning their hours at the dispatcher’s desk at Armitage Free-Mo in 2015 (Mike Arnold photo)
Service to the Hobby (three certificates available)
Association Official
This is my personal favourite. The best two years I had in the NMRA BR was as Region President. Working in a team
as good (oops I nearly missed an ‘o’!), working in a team as good as I was blessed with, was humbling and I felt very honoured to have been part of a team giving something valuable back to the Region. It wasn’t a chore – it was a tremendous pleasure and I made many more friends than I would have normally. This category can be as simple as 3 years as an official (member of the BoD).
If you want to improve what the Region does for its members – this is your chance to stand up and make it count. I did.
Association Volunteer
Possibly one of the easiest categories to complete. If you do anything in organising, helping out with, or giving time to NMRA events or services, you accumulate points towards achieving this award. I should be flooded with Statements of Qualification (SOQ’s) for this.
Read the requirements here:, download those SOQ’s here: and get them filled in and signed off as you do it - it’s easier that way!
Model Railroad Author
You don’t have to be an expert wordsmith to complete this category. You are not expected to be publishing books for this. In fact, presenting a clinic, producing a blog, and articles for the Region magazine and electronic newsletter all count towards this. This is where I wish I had kept a record of all the articles I have had published somewhere! There is always a need for Roundhouse articles – tell us what you are doing, the Editor will help you with spelling and format, you don’t need to feel inadequate or embarrassed, we are all there to help you.
In Conclusion
A few important points to sum up with: Don’t read into what’s required more than what is actually required. Duplication of paperwork has been mostly eliminated. The maximum points come from conformity, and this means proving what you have built is based on prototype practice. We need to see how you built it, what you used and what you have based it on. This is about observation and sound engineering principles. We all played with some form of building blocks as kids – the lessons learned from this generally suffices.
If you do not want to take my word for it, the NMRA website carries copies of articles on the different categories outlined above, written in 1991-93 (from ‘The Bulletin’) and 2008 (from ‘Scale Trains’). See this link for more details:
Please see the new website for a complete overview of the Achievement Program categories and associated forms
        sharing know-how
   ROUNDHOUSE - May/June 2020

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