Sunday, February 1, 2015

Golden Spike - #1

A New Year’s Resolution (Challenge)


I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve broken more than I’ve kept. This year will hopefully be different. No more losing weight, drinking less, exercising more or any other of the usual resolutions that hear about this time of year. This year is about a challenge that I will make to myself. To be a better modeler!  Now that sounds like something that I should be able to accomplish. The other types of resolutions can take a great deal of time and commitment to complete and that sounds like something that is more work than fun. I have to work to live, but I don’t have to live to work.
So what is my challenge for 2015? To begin the journey on the path for the Achievement Program as outlined by the NMRA. Will I ever become a Master Model Railroader? Who knows? Frankly, who cares? The idea is to challenge myself to become a better artisan at my craft. The title that goes with the ultimate goal does not mean that much to me. It is the journey to get there that means more. After reviewing the guidelines for the initial step for the Golden Spike Award, I spent some time reviewing my layout and rolling stock. So what are the qualifications for achieving the Golden Spike?

  • Rolling Stock (Motive Power & Cars):
    • Display six units of rolling stock either scratchbuilt, craftsman kits or detailed commercial kits.
  • Model Railroad Setting (Structures & Scenery):
    • Construct a minimum of eight square feet of layout including scenery.
    • Construct five structures either scratchbuilt, craftsman kits or detailed commercial kits.  If a module has less than five structures, additional structures separate from the scene may be presented.
  • Engineering (Civil & Electrical):
    • Three types of trackage required (e.g. turnout, crossing, crossover, etc.).  All must be properly ballasted and installed on proper roadbed.  Commercial trackage may be used.
    • All installed trackage must be properly wired so that two trains can be operated simultaneously (e.g. double track main, single track main with sidings, and block or command control).
    • Provide one additional electrical feature such as power operated turnouts, signaling, turnout indication, lighted buildings, etc.

For this post, I’ll talk about the first one; Rolling Stock (Motive Power & Cars). After reviewing all of my rolling stock, I came up with five pieces that easily fit into this category with minimal work. The rolling stock I chose, do not have to be in a contest or reach a certain score to be used for the Golden Spike. They just have to show that I did more than open the box and place it on the track. Things such as adding knuckle couplers and making sure they are properly adjusted, adding metal wheels, new paint and/or decals, weathering or any other small changes that you make to the model. Things we do all the time when preparing a model to be added to the layout or for display.

As for the sixth one, I decided that it should be something that would challenge me. At the November 2014 meeting I won a raffle for a Tyco Ralston Purina reefer car. Some would say, “Big deal! It’s a cheap toy car that comes with toy train sets.” I looked at it and said to myself, “How can I take this ‘Toy’ and make it into model to be proud of?” This is where the challenge for the New Year begins. My plan is to maintain the “essence” of the car while adding body mounted Kadee couplers, new trucks with metal wheels, details and weathering. Something I hope I will be proud of and not hide in box under the layout.

In future posts I will talk more about this “journey” towards the Golden Spike Award and hopefully inspire some of you to challenge yourself in 2015.




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