NMRA

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The National Model Railroad Association, or NMRA, is a non-profit organization for those involved in the hobby or the business of model railroading. It was founded in the United States in 1935, at a meeting in Milwaukee Wisconsin attended by modelers from both Canada and the US, and is now active in Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. It was previously headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is now based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The National Model Railroad Association

The NMRA has Divisions at the local level, organized into Regions. Divisions may have meets on a regular basis, and there are annual Regional Conventions which allow members to socialize, enter contests and attend clinics on various topics. At the National level there is a convention and train show held yearly.

The Conformance Warrant or "football".

The best-known activity of the NMRA is the creation of Standards, and documents known as Recommended Practices (RP), for model railroad equipment. Many standards defined by the NMRA are widely followed by the industry and modellers, including their HO scale track and wheel standards (S-3, S-4) and related RPs (RP2, 8, 10-15, and 25), the Digital Command Control (DCC) standard set (S-9.1, S-9.2, and RP9.1.1 through RP9.3.2), and NMRAnet standard set (S-9.7) in development.

The main reason for the creation of the NMRA was to encourage inter-operability between manufacturers, which was a serious issue in the early days. Your trains may or may not have worked on a friend's layout. Today, thanks to the efforts of the NMRA, that is not a problem.

The NMRA considers the education of model railroaders and encourages modellers to learn and improve their skills to be part of its mission. The NMRA runs an Achievement Program to encourage these skills, and runs modelling contests.

Promotion of the model railroading hobby is part of the NMRA's purpose. As part of their mission, the NMRA publishes the NMRA Magazine (formerly Scale Rails, and originally called The NMRA Bulletin) which features articles and reviews of interest to the members, as well as publishing new standards and NMRA news. The NMRA Magazine is exclusive to the membership. There may also be Regional and Divisional publications, check their websites for details.

The NMRA is home of the A.C. Kalmbach Memorial Library, which houses railroad-related books and videos, and was recently designated as the official railroad library of the state of Tennessee. The library is adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railway Georgia Division and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. It is named for Al C. Kalmbach, founder of Kalmbach Publishing, whose original magazines are Model Railroader and Trains. Al Kalmbach was also member number one of the NMRA, as one of the founders and supporters of the NMRA.

What is the Difference between a STANDARD and a RECOMMENDED PRACTICE (RP)?

A Standard is a requirement which is mandatory, "carved in stone" so to speak and must be followed to facilitate interchange or interface, whichever the case may be. These can be changed from time to time but ONLY by the vote of the NMRA membership after proper policy procedures have been followed and the membership has been fully informed. RPs are those figures that the Engineering Committee has established through actual tests and feel are beneficial to operation. These are not required to be voted by the membership except when in a package such as the Module Standards and RPs. These are presented to the Board of Trustees (BOT) for their study and approval.1

Examples of Standards and Recommended Practices

RP25 Wheels

The RP252 wheel design in particular has been critical in ensuring the reliability and interoperability of US-prototype model railroad equipment, since practically every manufacturer of such equipment uses wheels conforming to the RP. This is in marked contrast to the British market, in which there is no accepted standard among manufacturers. In Europe, the Normen Europäischer Modelleisenbahnen (NEM) standard is widely followed, but this is generally further away from prototype accuracy than NMRA standards, and the NEM wheel design is particularly so.

Digital Command Control Standards

The NMRA DCC Standards fall under Electrical Standards. S-9.1.x and S-9.2.x cover DCC Standards

The NMRA's DCC trademark
The original logo of the NMRA

See the external links at the end of this page for the NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices page.

Couplers

The NMRA has never defined a coupler standard, because the NMRA will not endorse a commercial product. The NMRA does test products and issue a Conformance Warrant indicating it meets the applicable standards.

Conformance Warrants

Many DCC manufacturers do not seek a Conformance Warrant, which does not mean the device does not meet the NMRA Standard. Products with the NMRA DCC logo on them must meet the NMRA DCC standards. If certain features are not available, for example certain speed step modes not supported, the packaging must state that so the buyer can make an informed decision, or the package may not carry the NMRA DCC Logo.


Additional Membership Benefits

  • The NMRA has over 100,000 images, drawings, plans and paint diagrams available online, with more being added. High resolution files are available for purchase, with a discount for members.
  • Achievement Program: As part of their education mandate, a Certificate is offered to those who learn and master skills needed. Completion of the program results in the award of a Master Model Railroader certification.
  • Conventions: The NMRA has the national convention annually. It usually runs for a week and features many clinics, layout and prototype tours. Regional conventions vary from two to five days, with similar features.
  • Special Access: Often as part of a convention, access is available as tours of prototype facilities, or layouts which rarely open to visitors. Speakers may also present a topic on model or prototype railroading or other topics, such as DCC, which are of interest. These speakers are often specialists in their field and can offer you unique perspectives.
  • Electronic Bulletins with late breaking news and updates.
  • Liability Insurance for clubs which are made up of 100% NMRA members.
  • Liability insurance for NMRA sponsored events, such as meets and shows.
  • Members Only Company Store. Great place to get mugs and Gauges, and other items.
  • Discounts and advance reservations on books offered for sale by the Kalmbach Memorial Library.
  • Modelling with the Masters: An intense workshop on beginner and intermediate techniques with instruction by Master Model Railroaders. Often offered at the National Convention, and sometimes at regional conventions.
  • Clinic slides, tapes and DVDs are available for rent.
  • Collection Insurance for your collection of model railroad related items

The NMRA makes available to its members a full collection of Data Sheets published on their website and new ones appear in the NMRA Magazine. These cover a multitude of topics in nine categories from tools, scenery, structures to locomotives and rolling stock.

NMRA Members are also welcome to observe Board of Directors meetings.

Footnotes

1: NMRA Website, Introduction and Overview

2: RP-25

See Also

  • DCC History - The history of command control up to the NMRA DCC standard.
  • NMRA DCC Plug - How the 8-pin medium-sized plug is wired up.
  • MOROP - The European standards organization for model railroads.
  • NEM - The model railroad standards issued by MOROP.
  • NMRAnet - Accessory bus based on CAN and Ethernet, in development.

External links

If you want more information on local divisions, see Regions

(Majority of this page's content was taken from Wikipedia)