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By Bruce Petrarca, MMR, AZ AP Manager


The Program

The Achievement Program (AP) is all about you: learning more so you can grow into what you would like your modeling to be.

The official word about the NMRA Achievement Program is on the NMRA website.

The AZ Divsion of the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) follows the National guidelines.

To get more information about the program, answers to questions or to get in touch with someone near you to help you with the process, contact the AZ AP Manager:
Bruce Petrarca, MMR
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A list of Arizona Division participants and the awards they have earned can be viewed HERE.

Monthly Deadline!

In order to have your certificate issued in a given month, I need your complete package by the 5th of the month. This allows me time to get it submitted to the Regional AP manager before his deadline of the 10th.

Write-up help

CLICK HERE for the PDF file.

This is a document that was put together by my friend, Duane Richardson, MMR. Duane is the son of Paul Richardson, MMR, who was the National AP Manager for many years. They were the first father / son MMR team. Duane is currently the Lone Star Region AP Manager.

This document is designed to help folks write down what the judges need to see in a contest environment to understand the model.

AP evaluation is a dialog between the team and the modeler, but it would be helpful if the modeler had answers to these questions either written down or on the tip of the tongue. I suggest printing this sheet and having it in a prominent place near your workbench. Reviewing it as you go can give you ideas of where to earn some extra points.

Evaluating your models

One of the misconceptions about the program is that you must enter contests to earn the required merit awards. NOT TRUE! You can have any of your work evaluated by a team of evaluators in a group setting. You can come to us or we can come to you.

Remote evaluation via Zoom and eMail is possible for many of these certificates:

  • Master Builder - Scenery
  • Master Builder - Prototype Models
  • Model Railroad Engineer - Electrical
  • Model Railroad Engineer - Civil

Many of the certificates are just a submission of paperwork to support the Statement of Qualifications (SOQ), which is best done by eMail anyway.

Only three certificates currently require in-person evaluation:

  • Master Builder - Motive Power
  • Master Builder - Cars
  • Master Builder - Structures

Contest Judging, while an acceptable method of earning a Merit Award, is not my recommended route. WHY? Judging is the selection of the best amongst a group and, inherently, competitive. The AP program is about being the best YOU can be, not YOU being better than others. With evaluation, there is time and dialog to help you improve your modeling and make sure the evaluation team understands your goals with the specific model.


Every month or so, the Desert Modeler newsletter is published providing AP program happenings and pointers.  Below is a list of  issues. Click on one to view it (PDF file).

MMR in a year

Starting from nothing, one could earn MMR in about a year, here's how. The following is based on HO (1:87.1) scale.

Find a photograph of a prototype scene that you would like to model. Build a layout on a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood that will include the scene you choose to model. In the process of modeling the scene, you will probably need to scratch build some structures and, perhaps a car or two.These count for both Prototype Models and the other certificates, such as Master Builder - Cars. Double duty!

Finish the 4x8 layout: wiring, track profile, ballast, scenery, etc. In the process build three hand-laid track pieces as required for the Civil certificate. Fill out the cars and structures you need. Write about it in a blog that is open to the public and write articles with photos for your NMRA newsletters (division and region) and perhaps for a national publication.

By judicious selection of tasks, you should then qualify for:

  • Golden Spike - get this ASAP, so as not to forget it
  • Master Builder - Cars
  • Master Builder - Structures
  • Master Builder - Scenery
  • Master Builder - Prototype Models
  • Model Railroad Engineer - Electrical
  • Model Railroad Engineer - Civil
  • Model Railroad Author
  • Master Model Railroader

 If you have an existing layout, get me or a member of the AP team over to look at what you have and help you chart a course to complete what you need.