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  • Joy in Rediscovery, Part One.

    2011 - 03.31

    aka Finding  the Meaning Model Railroad Edition?

    So my model train locomotives that I’ve been waiting around a half a year for arrived in the mail last week. So. Exciting. Few people will understand why, but it is. I subscribe to the Milwaukee Road Modelers Yahoo usergroup, which is an incredible resource and a fascinating discussion forum that I’d recommend to anyone interested in such affairs. On the group, one member Eric, who is like mister milwaukee electric, chimed in that he had gotten two of them, and one couldn’t pull much weight. Naturally I had to test mine, but my train layout was packed up in boxes. What to do…?

    First, I went digging for spare track. There was an old fluorescent light cardboard box stuffed full of it out in the garage. This I had wisely purchased off eBay a long time ago, and it had formed the backbone of my old layout in Chicago. Second, a trip to the local hobby shop for some rail joiners. I know I have a ton of them somewhere, but a daunting stack of sealed boxes packed tight with many small objects stood between them and myself. Armed with these, and a power transformer which had been easy to locate among the moving boxes, I set up a long, straight test track to find out how many cars my new engines could pull.

    Somewhere along the line of setting this up, I had the thought, wow, I wonder how long it’s been since I’ve actually set up a train track on the floor? Probably not since I was a kid. For that matter that last time I ran a model train was the beginning of last June. Ten months ago.

    With the train on the track, I turned up the juice. It was the same transformer I had as a kid, the same knurled handle applying those volts to make a miniature fantasy-land come alive. A familiar old feeling I hadn’t felt in some time came rushing back; the excitement of a tiny network of gears and axles churning under my command. There is some child-like wonder inherent in the animation of these bits of plastic that takes me back to someplace hard to reach, someplace hidden. Late that night, I myself was transported; backward through time, lying on the carpet, watching the long stretch of passenger cars move back and forth.

    A friend of mine once said, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do on your railroad–it’s YOUR empire.” Indeed. And while my empire resides primarily inside of boxes at this point, I have no doubt that these two will be big stars when it makes a triumphant return.

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