Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 1 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - The Beginning

Welcome to day 1 of 180 days of Achievement Program Cars!  My goal is to build eight cars before our September Regional Convention's Contest.  That's about 22 days per car. Given that I work 70+ hours a week and have little children at home this will be tough.  So follow along as I crank up the workshop.

Why did I decide to work on A/P Cars?  Simple.  I just moved to Utah and lost my huge basement layout.  Right now I barely have room to work on modules.  So instead of continuing my plan to finish the Dixie Central layout, I'm going to side track to A/P Cars while I'm working on new basement space (or and out building/extension to the house).  I don't want to loose a minute!  I'm too far behind already.  I should have wrapped this up 20 years ago.

The first thing that I must do for this adventure is re-read the rules for A/P Cars.  They are located on the NMRA website here...

It is important to thoroughly understand the rules for the Certificate.  You don't want to waste time and money working on stuff that won't get you where you are headed.

I think it is important to have a Mentor or Mentors (or coach) as you go through the process.  I'm lucky to have two good ones.  Larry Smith, MMR has been my mentor for quite a while and keeps me on the right path.  Mark Evans, RMR AP Chair is a local friend and talented modeler.  He's in charge of kicking me in the pants.  Both of these guys are willing to help me with whatever I need and that is a great thing.  I love 'em both.

The next step is to plan, plan, plan.  Most of this I've already done and you can follow along with this link to my tracker page:

My plan has been reviewed by my mentor/coach Larry Smith, MMR, so I know I'm in pretty good shape.  One thing I need to do is to make sure I can get enough points for at least four of these models.

These models aren't being built just for the A/P Cars.  I like On30 and these will go on a future layout or module one day.  Don't build stuff that you don't have a passion/need for otherwise you won't put your heart into it.

To make sure I'm not building frivolous models, I'm going to do a step that sound kind of crazy to most people.  I call it pre-build judging.  This is where you pretend in your mind that you have finished this model, and then using the NMRA guidelines you score it.  You will find out quickly that a flat car has a really hard time getting to 87.5 points!  Never start building something that even if it is the best in the show can't physically score 87.5 points right out of the chute.  Its a waste of time.

Luckily only four of the eight have to score at least 87.5.  I'm scratchbuilding all of them because it is easier and I'll have all of them judged.  I should be able to get 50% of them in the merit award category.

So tonight I printed out the Judging Forms and the Judging Guidelines.  After a quick review of the guidelines I'll score each imaginary model.  You might laugh at this but I've judged enough contests that I seldom miss by more than 2-5 points.  I pre-judge models for friends all the time and often just do it over the internet with photos.  It is great practice and it lets the modeler know right up front what might kill their points so they can fix it up front.  Usually it has something to do more with the paperwork than the model.

I'll post the scores tomorrow.

Meanwhile I'll print out the three articles on the Master Builder Cars series on the NMRA site:

Category 2. Master Builder - Cars
Master Builder - Cars
Merit Award Winning Cars
2008 Article from Scale Rails 
Lots to read!!!

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