Large Scale Central

NMRA Panel Discussion

I’ve been asked to be on a panel on “The NMRAs role in scales larger the HO.” Representing Large Scale will be myself, @Stan_Ames, and @kstrong (Kevin Strong). Other scales will be a 3-railer, S scale, and a 7 1/4" modeler.

The intent of the panel is to discuss how much, or lack of influence the NMRA has in the larger scales, versus how intertwined it is with HO and N scale. Historically, this has come up in the past, maybe 15 or so years ago, and there was much heated debate about it.

I would again like to open the discussion. How do you view the NMRA? How do you view the NMRAs standards? How do you think the NMRA views Large Scale? How do you think the NMRA could provide benefit to Large Scale as a whole? Are any of you NMRA members?

Let’s try and keep it civil this time. I will be moderating the thread.

Not a NMRA member. No real desire to join. Only interested if they make the archives accessible to digital research. But from what I’ve read that’s a long term goal.

NMRA feels like it treats the other than HO scales as “ugly step children”. At least that’s my perception.

Do I use NMRA standards? I have no clue. I’ve always just used a 1.575" back to back spacing for trucks and 45mm track gauges. When I build turnouts, I don’t even worry about check gauges or anything like that. A properly build turnout will function without guardrails.

As for couplers, I’m slowly modifying the fleet to #1 scale Kadee, mounted close to buy not quite #1 height (I’ve put a spacer in the gauge to raise it about 1/16").

Decoders? Sure. Now that I’ve got ESU decoders working with my Protothrottle, I guess I’m using NMRA standards for that. But I don’t keep track of CV settings or anything as I just use the Lokprogrammer.

Not an NMRA member either…

Way back, if I remember correctly, the NMRA wanted to try to make all these ““regulations””
for G-scale without considering that there were numerous different scales within the
““G-scale”” tag… I think that is what upset folks the most…

I have no idea what any NMRA standards are, so I don’t know if I comply with
any of them…

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I agree with AndyC, they all belong to an HO club that has the “Big Man Syndrome”, and I’M the word around here. Isn’t G Scale great, we all do what works for us and we all seem to work together, how is that.

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I have been an NMRA member off and on over 40 years. Currently I’m not a member.
The first problem here in the first comments, is the trend to say why they aren’t interested, or won’t join or show support for the NMRA.
Most Large Scale interest group members don’t seem to understand the importance of STANDARDS, yet without knowing, or thinking; they are already using, or dependent on them. (Standards are NOT Regulations)
The standards set by the NMRA, are there for anyone to comply with, or use them when needed, without being members.
The one area of concern by some of us, is the way the NMRA “Seems” to look at anything out of the realm of O, S, HO, or N. Often you get the feeling that “They” consider everything else as toys, while forgetting in reality, all Model Railroading, is a bunch of people, playing with toys, supposedly resembling the tools of the Rail Transportation industry. Museum quality models, of course are another story.
This is just my observation, after over 50 years having fun, modelling the railroad industry, as my hobby.
Others, of course, are free to disagree, as we all see our hobby from various areas of interest, and no-one is wrong, as long as they are HAVING FUN.
Fred Mills

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I think you make a very valid point(s).

Does some of the confusion about standards exist because of the gauge 1 standards that are very very similar but yet slightly different than the NMRA?

I think of large scale as the wild wild west of HO during the 60’s and 70’s. You have a minority ( I’d say the group that participates at LSC to be this part of this group) that a: has knowledge of standards and does things beyond “buy the train set and put it together”.

I bet if you polled every household that had a HO/O model train set that ran around the Christmas tree they would have no clue who the NMRA is or why it’s important.

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I have never considered Joining the NMRA either. Standards are important, and i follow there limited standards for large scale 1:20.3 or “F” scale.

Unfortunately these standards were developed after many Model companies did there own thing, and as such had limited acceptance in the market. hopefully i am wrong but i also think we have seen the peek of activity in our large scales several years ago (2008) or so and have been in decline since. would love to see a resurgence, but space and time for most is at a premium. it would be nice to see the appropriate Kadee on each new model for example, or to get a common draft gear box that accommodated other makes of couplers without butchering the model. but at this point in time unless a brand new Manufacture entered the field, do not expect change.

Al P.

I recall 2 NMRA events. First, a long time ago, was the attempt to impose a little order on the scales, calling them F scale (1:20.3), G scale (1:22.5) and A scale (American, 1:29.) I think there was a T for Thirteen (as in 7/8ths scale.)
As you probably know, the F scale stuck, as most 1:20.3 modellers came from other scales and understand what Fn3 means.

The second event was an attempt to set coupler heights - and they really confused everyone by ignoring all the other scales except A. It turned out the proposal was generated by a 1:29th modeller who wanted his Aristo and USAT stock to couple without having to change couplers on one of them. By the time we got to this understanding, everyone was up in arms about the idea of a ‘standard’ coupling for everything from Gauge 1 to F scale.

Kevin will remember both of these, as he was involved, and there may have been more. I thought the 1/29th coupler ‘standard’ was a very good idea, even if Aristo and USAT ignored it! In theory, that could have lead to a conversion coupler mount from someone like Kadee which would have made everything work together.

I believe at this point NMRA has the G1MRA wheel standards adopted somewhere in their paperwork. That is another area that desperately needs work. The UK guys have standard track and standard wheels. It makes life much easier.

The original TOC (The Old Curmudgeon) was the most virulently against the NMRA. I never quite understood what they had done to him to make him so anti-NMRA.

Having multiple scales in one gauge does present a problem for standards like couplers. Nothing we can do about the various scales. But like Al said, I think the hey days of large scale in general are over. Both price wise and product available wise. However for us scratch builders and kitbashers it’s still prime time. But again those are a minority within the hobby.

Standards don’t really apply to me, As I have no standards to begin with other than my own as that is how I was raised. However I really enjoy modeling Amtrak along with bashing/building including other things that “catch my interest”. I have “no interest” in paying $50/yr to be NMRA member.

I’m just playing with “Toy Trains” in my yard but I’m also thinking NMRA should “Not” put a standard on “Large Scale Outside”. Or perhaps go back to calling it “Garden Railways” ?
I’m running high speed trains outside …realistic or not I don’t care. But I can tell ya’ if you don’t check on the English Ivy after a good rain It can totally wreck the Amtrak schedule for a few hours!

A few Veiwliners with a baggage Viewliner along with a 1700 baggage and some mail cars all to my “model bye eye scale”

Can NMRA do that?

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I too remember several rounds of NMRA Standards being proposed (and ultimately adopted) with the LS forums quite united in a “we don’t need no stinkin’ standards” refrain. In fact, we did need standards. Unfortunately, with very low NMRA membership in the large scales, NMRA didn’t have the teeth to lean on the manufacturers to get their standards implemented.

Can this change in the future? I don’t think so. For no reason other then a widespread disdain for the Enema Ray as it was so fondly refereed to be the aforementioned TOC.

Personally, I don’t think there is really much else the NMRA can offer large scale until such time as they have recruited a significant number of LS members. I don’t see that ever happening. I’m not a member and have no reason to join.

As Fred mentioned, the standards are out there for anyone to use for free. I follow some of them, but since I use commercially made track, I’m only following wheel standards. Even then I can only come close since many of the wheels produced in LS are non-standard as well.

So does the NMRA have a role? Sure. They can continue to maintain, and update the standards documents and provide those standards to manufacturers. Whether or not they follow them will probably depend on cost and convenience.

You forgot that the NMRA can possibly find manufacturer’s that can still spit out “models” like they do in other scales!

Following up: Why do you think that the NMRA treats Large Scale as the red-headed step child?

Have you experienced any kind of feedback from the NMRA directly, or is it “I heard that…?”

Have any of you ever submitted an article about LS to Model Railroader, or any other non-LS magazine and had it rejected?

Is it because there is no LS content in magazines in general?

I’ve chatted back and forth with Joe Fugate of Model Railroad Hobbyist about article ideas that he would be interested in. He flat out said to me, not interested in a large scale article, they are the lowest rated ones. The only way he would be semi interested in one is if the article was focused on methods that could be used in smaller scales. Whatever that means.

I have really no desire now to try and pursue writing an article for a hobby magazine after that. Large scale is just seen as the toy train crowd. I posted this years MIK build over at MRH and got crickets in terms of responses. Apparently scratch building in large scale is not of anyone’s interest.

A few years ago, Can’t remember how many, Garden Railways came out with a contest about LS railroads that run diesel locomotives… I figure, why not, so I submitted mine… Got notified that I was in the top 5 or 6 whatever, then within 24 hours was notified that, ohhh, we made a mistake and you didn’t place… After that, I had absolutely no desire to try it again…

Bob, I’ve had quite a few articles accepted, but only one rejected (by NG&SL Gazette.) I don’t see why that is relevant to this discussion?

Well, the coupler standards was discussed here on LSC or MLS, I think. The NMRA guy who ran 1/29th participated in the thread.

There are several threads on MLS where Kevin and others discuss the need or lack of standards. They tend to ask for help from people involved, like you and Kevin!

In looking for the thread, I did find this (a bit long but interesting attitudes):

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No-one said you had to become a member the benefit from the NMRA. If the major 1/29th (and 1/32nd MTH) manufacturers adopted the same wheel standards and the same coupler type than you wouldn’t have to make ANY modifications to run them together.

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I’m trying to find out if anyone has submitted an article on Large Scale to what otherwise is a traditionally HO and N scale magazine like MR, or the NMRA monthly magazine, and had it rejected because “we don’t do that here”.

There seems to be a widespread belief that “they just dont like LS” and I’m trying to find any evidence of that.

I’m sorry they didn’t see the wisdom of giving you a prize, but it was a contest, and they don’t always tell you what they are looking for when they start judging.
I wouldn’t think that should keep you from participating in the future.

Considering the abuse they got from TOC, I suspect the NMRA believes the opposite: LS just don’t like NMRA ! Quite a few people (@rooster, TOC, etc.,) clearly don’t like NMRA, which I find surprising as they never really did anything for LS. Aristo did more by labeling boxes “LS29” or similar.