Re: New Standards for Freight Cars Models

Denny Anspach <danspach@...>

In the strongest terms, the long term health of our good hobby requires the existence of core fundamental standards and "best practices", a thoughtful means of such development, and an effective and diplomatic means of encouraging acceptance by both manufacturer and user.

That said, I increasingly feel that the standards Conformance program in and of itself may well be a major obstacle to this goal, is a dead end, should now be honorably but firmly retired, and then replaced with a new program that addresses the land as it currently lays. The Conformance program was generated at a "green field" opportune time of much less sophistication in our hobby. For various reasons the program fell fallow, and in the process it has subsequently became overrun by events. IMHO, the current attempt to now put this old wine into new bottles is destined to failure, is indeed failing (at least in my eyes), and worse, it is seriously diverting resources and energies from a new more positive program that might well be engaged more productively to fashioning a worthy successor. R.I.P.

Dennis Storzek's astute comments say a great deal about the nature of current dilemma. The current successful model railroad industry as we know it obviously thrives in the absence of warrants, and are indeed leery of them for good reasons. A lot of water has passed over the dam, never ever to return- and efforts to do so are futile.

As to critical reviews: I DO note the very well intended current warrant conformance comments in one of our publications- but I have perceived it to be pretty ham-handed, negative like a Scarlet Letter, and not very instructive. A far better and more effective and instructive program would be to dispassionately tabulate in some simple but effective graphic way the perceived important Standards or RP measurements on one side vs. the same real time measurements of the model in question on the other side. Readers and manufacturers alike are then free to learn and then draw their own conclusion, free of an offensive and confusing CONFORMANCE NOT AWARDED stamp).

It is also good to hear the news that a publication is seeking help for its critical reviews, and that they will be now be getting that help from "NMRA Members". It is filling a glass only half full, however. Speaking for myself only, the overwhelming majority of such qualified fine modelers in my extended circle of friends are not NMRA members (they probably should be, but they are not). To exclude (and thus not encourage) the wider world only increases a perception of a self-feeding inward-looking insularity.

Published Model Review examples in the MR press that come to mind:

A review of an expensive model steam locomotive that features a broadside photo demonstrating clearly that almost one half of the locomotive frame is by design and in fact missing, i.e. not there. This glaring defect is ignored, and when challenged the reviewer/ editor avers that "The world is flat".

An expensive model steam locomotive with commonly-known serious sound quality issues is reviewed with a single comment, "The locomotive emitted the appropriate sounds".

A popular scale sized coupler is reviewed as "unsatisfactory" because it would not reliably automatically couple on "curves". Unsaid was that the test curves were 22" or less- not exactly the minimal curvature the majority of potential modeler/users of scale couplers might be in fact using, not would the prototype equivalent without its only problems requiring manual coupler centering.

As an aside, I admire Mike's forbearance for an open discussion of this broad and important topic on this intelligent and very knowledgeable list. As an offering to our moderator, I will now gratuitously and publicly withdraw my recent aspersions on his eye sight (even if true).


Denny S. Anspach MD

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