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Disabled Model Railroading

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  • Member since
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  • 7 posts
Disabled Model Railroading
Posted by JJRR on Monday, July 22, 2019 2:27 AM

I am disabled with permanent brain damage that is mild enough but still effectous enough to be a pain in my eh. I got this and other physical injuries from a wicked crash (me; pedestrian. Driver; doing 110 km/h) that happened when I was 17 in 2005.

I don't let that stop me from doing model railroading at all, in fact it gives me all the time during the day that we all wish we had to spend at our layouts. I'm really lucky that way, in fact I need to take breaks from modeling!

I like all the artsy stuff that goes into modeling. Painting is soothing, which is good for brain injury survivors. building plastic kits is really cool. Obviously running the trains is awesome but I like adding and building the most because it's what I like, beneficial to the fact that it is beneficial to the brain to keep active doing something. Contributing to my own 4x12 layou is a good way of keeping my brain working.. My favourite part of building/adding to my layout is wiring/electronics.

I have always been fascinated with electricity. I think that signals and lights and whatnot are really cool, and it's really cool to see a well illuminated layout at nighttime when it's nighttime on the layout or in the dark.

I toil for my electrical systems though. Because of my disability it's really hard for me to focus and I find myself working for about 2 days / 1 night to get something as simple as a couple of LEDs hooked into an SPST, making about 472,000,984.7 mistakes along the way (just a random, fictitious, not too embellished number). Wiring all 9 blocks on my cab eh was turmoil for 6 nights straight, but cab b was just wiring into the feeders and only took 3 or so nights. I find it really difficult, but I dig in.  My ABI (acquired brain inbjury) also led to frustration issues, but mring gives me the least amount of frustration PER hour I put into it and Per unit of effort I put into it.

If anybody is reading this I say that it is great for just anybody to have a hobby, but especially important to have a hobby, especially one like trains, if you or someone you know has a disability that affects the mind/brain. I'm only 30 (in 2019) but the thing is, my mind would be on the descent more rapidly than mind's get old, and more rapidly ontop that an injured brain's mind gets old if I wasn't into trains.

If you have a disability of any kind at all, don't be afraid to get into model railroading hardcore. I was, and I'd be alot farther along if I wasn't. I loved trains since I was a little snot faced brat, and have lived on my own since I was 21 and I've had the living space to build an actual real layout for the last decade. I only got serious into building a layout this year (or was it last year?) and have been chugging and chuffing away at it over the year(s?). I'm glad I do this now, and if you have a disability you can't work at a job with and have plenty of time during the day, you WILL feel better about yourself one day when you look out over your layout and say "Look at what I've accomplished despite adversity" and you will be better off.

Personally, just in my case, my 4x12 freelance DC layout is probably the only lasting thing I have accomplished. Sure I've done plenty of side work for neighbours and family when I need a couple extra dollars (disability in Canada is only $1,100 per month, leaving me only $420 or so per/mo to spend on my layout), but I can't hold a job. I can't do much, if any, physically effortous stuff, I have no focus or concentration, a bad attitude that I don't know when to check, and understanding things stymies me lots and lots, and I get way too easily frustrated. HOWEVER, trains... yeah, that's my thang eh!!!

If you are disabled, or someone you know is, then don't be afraid to get into mring hardcore. it is not as difficult as you make it not. With your disability you already know all about compensating for how you have to do things, and can apply this to say, reaching accross the layout in wheelchair racers, or using more forgiving, not instant glue for people who have "happy dances" or sudden twitches, etc. Fort people who are headbangers like me, we've got to write down in schematics and in words the connections we intend to make, checking off each step. We've got to make our track plan as simple as is neccessary for our own perticuliar head-bash, )ie mine is an inner loop and an outer loop. one lap of the outer is 100 miles of main, and the inner goeth down to the towns. 5 laps or 500 miles is full-circle. oh boy do I ever have a whole world in my head and on paper. all freelance eh.). But the point is, no matter your adversity, just go for it and just do it, or spend your life trying. Don't worry about how good it looks, don't worry about how proto it is, i mean maybe worry about trackwork to avoid derailments and electrical work so you have powered trains, but as long as you have done a little of all the aspects of mr ing, no matter how well, then you have started a layout.

Also, never ever give up. I toil, I toil and labour and struggle, I've bled on, sweated while working on, and might not have not cried over my layout, but I keep chuffing away, my 16 cylinders roaring up what seems like a 5 or more % grade in terms of effort and devotion. 

Soooo, I'm going to type out here before i reach 1,000 words and nobody reads this through.

Do it, don't let adversity stop you, keep on going down those tracks towards layout building operation and maintainance, and be proud of what you have accomplished despite your disability holding you back, be even more proud because of that!!!

  • Member since
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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, July 22, 2019 9:59 AM

Bravo!  I agree that regardless of disability, any hobby provides avenues for you to learn new things.  Hobbies offer creative ways of broadening how we view a particular subject.

Hobbies offer people a lot of positive gains.  Studies have shown that people who do hobbies have healthier outlooks.  Viewing thing is a positive way reduces stress and negativity.  Both have the ability to make people less willing to trying new challenges.  A growth mindset is invaluable for everyone.

  • Member since
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  • From: Boise, Idaho
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Posted by E-L man tom on Monday, July 22, 2019 11:16 AM

JJRR,

So good for you!  I don't have any disability (other than ADD), but sometimes I get down on myself over my work in my professional life. When my mind turns to the trains, that eases me into a world that helps me forget my failures and frustrations.

On the wiring part, (one of my least fovorite things to do in model rialroading), it took me about a month to wire the control panel on my old layout. I figure you don't necessarily have to have a disability for things that you're not familiar with to take extra time.

One last thing, you are blessed to find something that makes you want to get out of bed each morning, and that is a very positive thing!

 

Railroad on!

 

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
  • Member since
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  • From: Great Plains
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Posted by York1 on Monday, July 22, 2019 2:40 PM

Congratulations, JJRR, on working through your disablility.  Many people probably would have given up long ago, so I applaud your efforts.

I agree with you about the mental aspect of keeping busy with the railroad.  I am retired, and the layout gives me a reason to get up in the morning.

Thanks for posting your story.

Saints Fan John

  • Member since
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  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, July 22, 2019 3:12 PM

Hello All,

Welcome Welcome to The Forums JJRR!

In addition to being a railfan and owner of the freelance Buckskin & Platte HO scale railroad I am also a skiing & snowboarding instructor at The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Every day we assist people with T.B.I.'s to achieve their goals.

Thank you for sharing you story with this community.

Occupational Therapy- -no matter what the form- -is great for folks with T.B.I.'s.

I am glad that your form of O.T. is in the model train world.

Frustration can be a hurdle with T.B.I.'s (and P.T.S.D.).

Don't worry if it takes you...

JJRR
...making about 472,000,984.7 mistakes along the way ...

We all have made 472,000,984 mistakes, don't let that 0.7 get to you...welcome to being human.

Find what attracts you to this great hobby and focus on that.

Don't fret on what can not be achieved, focus on how you succeed!

Take a look at my signature and...

I hope this helps.

Post Script:
There are many participants on these forums with alternate abilities. Please feel free to reach out to them, or myself, when things get overwhelming.

jjdi

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
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  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 6,148 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Monday, July 22, 2019 4:02 PM

Good to hear from you JJRR. What part of the Great White North are you from? I am about an hour SE of Vancouver. 

I returned to MRR when a certain type of Arthritis hit me hard and fast and MRR helped me remain sane for sure. 

My son and I worked a lot with disabled sports, mostly Sledge Hockey. It included a lot of wounded warriors with a vast spectrum of injuries including brain injuries. I have seen the frustration caused by brain injuries first hand, however witnessing the tenacity of people that still want to participate to their limits is inspiring to say the least.

Welcome aboard, hope to see a lot more contributions (and pics) from you.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

Moderator
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Posted by Steven Otte on Monday, July 22, 2019 4:15 PM

Just look at this. Nothing but support and positivity. Sometimes I love this Forum. You guys are the best. Big Smile

--
Steven Otte, Model Railroader associate editor
sotte@kalmbach.com

  • Member since
    September 2003
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Posted by mlehman on Monday, July 22, 2019 4:43 PM

I agree, Steve. Come here if you want supportive and encouraging interactions and good advice on how to achieve your goals.

I'll also speak up as to the fact that many here have similar, if less severe struggles to overcome. I started building my layout after a shoulder operation in part as a means to rehab the shoulder. There's also 3 or 4 significant back injuries involved. Staying beneficially active is something a layout helps with, in part because it's a way to have great fun while building towards your model railroading dreams.

As the OP provided extensive evidence for, you can do just about anything if you apply a little thought to a situation. One thing that's helped me a lot with shoulder and back issues is to use square drive screws. You just need to keep the bit in the hole, which is much easier than the pressures involved with keeping a Phillips head driver in a Phillips head bit.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Monday, July 22, 2019 5:34 PM

 Indeed, as Mike said, a lot of us here are getting older and it means changing the way we do things, so we can keep enjoying this hobby we all share a love for. There's always a way, as the OP has shown. Another good example is the simple control for Lionel trains that Neil Young helped develop so his son (and others) with CP could enjoy running trains too. 

 There's a sense of comraderie and helpfulness in this hobby that isn't always so obvious in other hobbies. Sure, we don't always agree, but in the end - the a repectfulness for other's accomplishments, even if what they did is not your favorite thing. That people can carry on in the face of, in some cases quite extreme, adversity only adds to the overall sense fo community.

 The way I see it, when life throws you a curve ball, you can go hide in a corner or you can carry on to the best of your ability. It's not easy, but since when is it ever easy? People like the OP are an inspiration to everyone. 

                           --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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    June 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Monday, July 22, 2019 7:12 PM

JJRR,

Great to hear from you.  I'm glad you found this hobby.  As you say it's a great hobby for anybody.  As you noted it can be both soothing and challenging, there are so many parts to it.  I have found it to be a great stress reliever - even when I make a mistake and have to redo something.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    September 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
  • 1,072 posts
Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, July 22, 2019 7:42 PM

Hello All,

Steven Otte
Just look at this. Nothing but support and positivity. Sometimes I love this Forum. You guys are the best.Big Smile

I'm not crying...You're crying!!!

...

 

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Brisbane Australia
  • 535 posts
Posted by Alantrains on Monday, July 22, 2019 7:52 PM

JJRR what an inspiration you are for all those withspecial needs particularly ABI.

Loved the positivity in your post keep it coming.

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

  • Member since
    August 2011
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Posted by "JaBear" on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:07 AM

Gidday JJRR, Welcome to the forum.

JJRR
Soooo, I'm going to type out here before i reach 1,000 words and nobody reads this through.

Well, I 've read, and checked the word count, (1054Smile, Wink & Grin) and will say that not one word was a waste.

Hope to read more of your eloquent positivity.

Cheers, the Bear.Smile 

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:51 AM

 

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story Yes JJRR.

I hope you visit here and give us updates frequently. Model railroadinhg has been my passion and relief for stress and frustration for over fifty years. 

Definitely a worthwhile hobby and hearing of stories such as yours make it even better.

Regards, Ed

  • Member since
    October 2018
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Posted by Bigjim7 on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 6:51 AM
Thanks for posting your story. I agree a hobby is a great escape for many reasons for many people and can really be a Healthy for the mind. Hope to hear more about your Layout.
  • Member since
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Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 9:56 AM

JJRR
Personally, just in my case, my 4x12 freelance DC layout is probably the only lasting thing I have accomplished. Sure I've done plenty of side work for neighbours and family when I need a couple extra dollars (disability in Canada is only $1,100 per month, leaving me only $420 or so per/mo to spend on my layout), but I can't hold a job. I can't do much, if any, physically effortous stuff, I have no focus or concentration, a bad attitude that I don't know when to check, and understanding things stymies me lots and lots, and I get way too easily frustrated. HOWEVER, trains... yeah, that's my thang eh!!!

 

Well it looks like you are doing ok or at least the best that you can. Walmart will hire you at $12/hr or so to greet people in their store. (If you live close enought to one... after all, I assume that you cannot drive.

Your willingness is what matters.

 

Do you live with your parents or are you in some sort of an assisted living situation.

 

As for me... (I am a *LION*) I love wiring and soldering.

 

This is the relay room that powers the signals of the LION...


 

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 11:14 AM

I'm always impressed by the resiliency and determination of those who are dealt a hand that would stop others dead in their tracks.  Bravo to those who refuse to roll over, including our OP.

I'm sure I have forgotten others, but Blind Bruce comes to mind as another used-to-be poster here; haven't seen him post in quite a while...?

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    April 2003
  • From: Clinton, MO, US
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Posted by Medina1128 on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 12:11 PM

kasskaboose

Bravo!  I agree that regardless of disability, any hobby provides avenues for you to learn new things.  Hobbies offer creative ways of broadening how we view a particular subject.

Hobbies offer people a lot of positive gains.  Studies have shown that people who do hobbies have healthier outlooks.  Viewing thing is a positive way reduces stress and negativity.  Both have the ability to make people less willing to trying new challenges.  A growth mindset is invaluable for everyone.

 

I have to agree with kasskaboose. Bravo for not letting your disability prevent you from enjoying your hobby. Because of a spinal cord injury, I had put off modeling for almost a year. Because of my aggressive rehabilitation regimen, I regained my ability to traverse the stairs to my basement, er, train room.

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    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, July 27, 2019 12:45 AM

Hi JJRR!

You are a good example of the power of positive thinking!Thumbs UpBowYeah Keep it up!

I don't have anything even close to what you are going through, but my back problems put a stop to me building my own layout several years ago. Fortunately, at about the time that I gave up on building my own layout, I joined the Barrie Allandale Railway Modellers. The club was in a rough situation when I joined, but since then we have found a new clubhouse and we are well along with the construction of a new permanent layout. I'm having a ball! The club chose my layout design over several others. What's not to love?

What's even better is that my severe depression is being mostly held at bay because of my involvement in the club. In fact, I am now the President. Dealing with all of the myriad of issues that have cropped up has been a challenge, but the depression has only reared its ugly head a couple of times in the past three years. In fact, my involvement in the club forces me to maintain an even keel which is exactly what I need.

I do have one bone to pick with you!Wink You have been a forum member for several years, but you have only posted six times. Unless your post count is wrong, IMHO you have denied us the pleasure of interacting with you for far too long. You are an eloquent writer Bow and I'm sure you have much more to offer. Please speak up more often.Yeah

And where the heck did this 1000 word per post rule come from?!? If that were true I would have had half my posts deleted by now!!!LaughLaughLaugh

Cheers!!

Dave

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    November 2012
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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, July 27, 2019 10:55 PM

Keep up the great work.  Having a disablity can wreak havoc with all facets of one's life.  There are many things I wish I was good at, or better at, but do to my own disablity that I was born with, that will not happen.  Having mental/brain disablities is the invisable one to many others in the world.  Sometimes not being very obvious unless your around that person constantly.  I know your struggles all to well.  My brain process slower and differently and yours got changed when the accident happened.  I cannot multitask, stuff to complex overwhelms me and I have to walk away from it or I will have a melt down.  In my live steam modeling in gauge 1, I love coal firing, but its to complex to deal with constantly as its a balancing act to achieve a good run from a model.  My anxiety goes thru the roof, followed by a melt down.   I find scenery work and accurate benchwork almost impossible and I lack the patience to build many of the more complex kits, yet I love to fine tune and tinker with brass locomotives and vintage live steam models.  I rely on others to help me with what I cannot do myself.  For many years I was to proud or ashamed to ask for help, but with help from my therapist to accept that I am autistic and no matter how hard I try, there are some things I will never be able to do or do to my satisfaction.  And that asking for help is ok and does not make me less of a person.  By accepting my disablity, and getting help thru the state, led me to get my good job with FCA automobiles at a local factory, with support in the factory to help me cope with the working conditions and noise, better understanding from my wife and many other facets of my life.  Keep up the great work and dont let what you cannot do or do well get you down.     Cheers   Mike the Aspie

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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