Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Greetings and salutations!!  My name is Ben Rohling, and I'm an addict..... I'm addicted to 600 Volts DC. For years growing up, I was an avid traction modeler.  What is traction? Have you ever seen the movie " Who Framed Roger Rabbit "? You'll remember the subplot of the movie was the plan to purchase and kill the Red Car, A.K.A Pacific Electric. There's your traction. " Oh, you mean trolleys." Traction includes trolleys, but let's not neglect the CTA with its third rail power, or the system that was in place in Washington DC where power was carried in a slot between the rails.

 So how is it a grizzled biker with several motorcycles and a 1964 Merc in the garage find themself wrapped up in model trains? The seeds were planted early....on my fourth birthday, my Mother arranged for me to take the controller of Chicago Aurora and Elgin (CA&E) car 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, IL. Motorman and longtime FRTM volunteer, Don MacCorquodale patiently supervised me behind the controller. One of my earliest memories, pulling the controller handle into the first power point and feeling the earth move under my feet is something I never quite got over. My father put together my first layout at age 6, consisting of a oval of track with a passing siding and two AHM trolleys, one of which had the motor leads reversed. Many hours were spent with the trolleys playing a game of chicken, waiting for the next "cornfield meet". As the years marched on, time saw me build a bigger layout and spend  a stint involved in the Illinois Railway Museum's electric car dept. as well as play a good part in starting a railroad explorer post that's still hanging on by a thread. By the time I was 19, I had a nice collection of stuff, but decided I wanted to be a teenage delinquent, and the hobby went into mothballs.
 Fast forward to Christmas day 2012. I presented my children, Gabriel age 7 and Sonya age 12 with one heck of an HO layout.

 Three tiers connected with 3 seperate controllers, automated switches and the whole nine yards. In addition to their stuff, I felt it was time for a few of my trolleys to come out of hibernation. After a Saturday night with a soldering iron, old memories of just how much gratification I got from these came flooding back. After a trip to see some old friends at Valley Model Railroad Club in South Elgin, I realized it was time to start work on a few more pieces of equipment and begin to rebuild my empire.

 Follow me as I resurrect what was once an impressive collection of cars for a kid, build a few new ones and rekindle my interest in traction modeling.

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