Is this therapeutic?

I could really use another opinion on this. I've talked to six prosthetics guys and they all told me it's not possible. What I want is a set of prosthetics that will allow me to work a stick shift truck, and get back on a motorcycle. Basically I need some legs that will allow me to work a clutch and gas pedal. Both of which require some "feel". They'd also need to be able to work foot controls on a bike and allow me enough movement to be able to hold the bike up at a stop. Know of any way to do this? On Everest a gentleman with no legs summited. So prosthetics must be pretty good, can you get me back in my truck and back on my bike?
Would 30 inches be a good height for a lay out? In pictures I notice they're pretty high. Six inches lower than the kitchen counter would be good, then make it narrow enough so I can reach the middle from either side.

My friend drives a pick-up with an automatic transmission. He uses his prosthesis to operate the throttle and his cane in a holder to operate the brakes. He doesn't ride a motorcycle that I know of.

I'll send you a private message and give you his name and number.

Harry,There is NO real height rules as such because its a personal thing..I am 66 inches and like my industrial switching layouts at 50" for a better closeup view.
as for if its possible i think it would be, i would go with o scale its not a tedius as n and ho, and mth railking makes alot of pre-built stuctures more, expensive though. and another down fall is its takes up space but it leaves many options and easy to work with.
Welcome to the forum, Harry. I'm Claudia --- the one Josh (jbaakko) mentioned in post 7 of this thread. He's right about the advantages of larger scales I started modeling in HO scale, but found G-scale a much better choice for me. I'm over 70, not so agile any more since Arthur-Itis moved in, and the ol' eyes aren't working like they used to either. But stuff happens. Your courage and positive outlook is truly inspiring.

Some would call my layout a "toy train" because it's not based upon any prototype, and even its era is somewhat in question. It runs outdoors on a narrow garden terrace that's raised 30 inches so I don't have to crawl around on the ground to work on it --- or play with it.

I run a mish-mash of equipment, from Playmobil to LGB 1:20.3 scale 1890s narrow gauge, to a modern Acela-type train that's 1:32 scale and represents standard gauge. They all run on 45mm track (1-3/4" between the rails), and building from scratch is easy (and acceptable), using a scale of 1/2" to the foot. Rivet-counters shudder when they see it, but hey --- it's mine, and I love it. :)

Please make yourself at home here. I look forward to learning more about your modeling plans and progress, and wish you well.
Harry first of all welcome aboard, this is a great forum with an ample supply of great members. I am sure 100% you will enjoy this hobby, i like to go into the garage for a while and just do a little bit, it takes my mind off the everyday hassle's and problems.

any questions at all just ask away
All the plans I have seen thus far on the internet call for wood lay out tables. Well what about steel? I have 3 steel workbenches I used to build engines on. They're 72" long and 42" deep. I could easily cut the legs down to get it at the height I want with a oxy-acetylene rig. I'm a big believer in recycling the old to new uses. Waste not, want not. I figure I can take one of the old benches, cut it down, grind off the rust and oil, shoot it in some tractor enamel, and have a real nice sturdy bench. Then I have 2 more to add on if I go that big. I built these benches myself many, many years ago. The frames are made of 4 inch square tube, lots of crossbracing, the top is 1/4 inch plate. They have incredible strength, I had a Cummins out of a Dodge on one, completely tore down. That's close to 2,000lbs of engine, parts, etc. Sorry, just felt the need to brag on my handiwork. Lots of memories with those benches. Built engines, transmissions, Becky's kitchen cabinets, my daughters dollhouse, and a thousand other projects on those benches. I'd love to use one on this new venture if track can be laid on a steel top.
Steel is even better than wood, because you avoid humidity expansion/contraction issues that occur with wooden benchwork. I read an article in MRG where a guy did exactly what you mentioned.
Harry, it sounds like you're well into this now!

When it comes to "standards" height, or style are always up to you! Yes, reading into most model railroading magazines, you'll find that picking an era and being historically accurate is the "norm", and higher, "standing view" layouts are, but, heck 30" should be perfect, as long as it good for YOU! reading the posts, I's say S scale, which is 1:72 (remember Ertl tractors, and allot of Matchbox/Hotwheels), would be "perfect" for you. You'd have good luck with HO (1:87) though as there are plenty of John Deere, CAT & Harley trains, and I'm sure you can find the other stuff... Heck, who says your cars & trucks HAVE to match the scale!? (just the hobby "norm") I'd say go with what ever catches your eye!

P.S. Hey Claudia, have I just been missing your posts? How was the rain yesterday (the 27th?)...
Harry, what you use for benchwork, what scale you choose and the other decisions involved, it's all up to you. What do you want to do?

A word on scale, you'll want something that you can work with fairly easily, S or O scale could be a good choice, but if you have to watch the spending HO may be better, as it is cheaper. It is what I work with and I really enjoy it. I know what it's like to have limited use of your hands. My arms are numb from the elbows down, yet I can still put together some fine things and I can service my locomotives. I too had to go through physical therapy and I found that the better I can get at handling difficult tasks, the closer I get to being able to work well again. I can do things now that I couldn't do just 3 years ago. At one point, I had a lot of trouble walking, even with the braces. Now I can get around pretty well, though a waxed floor can be pretty scary. Another problem I had was with painting, my hands shake. What do you do when life hands you lemons? You make lemonade! I made a brace that I use to stabilize my arms so my hands don't shake. It limits what I can do somewhat but I get good results.
Josh said:
P.S. Hey Claudia, have I just been missing your posts? How was the rain yesterday (the 27th?)...
Josh... No, I've been lurking more than posting lately. Rain? Hmmmmm. Yeah! Glub Glub Glub! Fortunately, no damage to the layout this time, though. I guess the weeds were thick enough to protect the ground from washouts. :D

The wind got us though. We think most of the ridge caps from our roof wound up in Oceanside somewhere. The roofer is coming tomorrow. :eek:
Harry - as an ex- motosickle rider my self I understand your pain at having to not be able to ride. However, there are other things, like this hobby, that you can do, and lots of people who will be pleased to offer advice and help. Your comment about having grip problems reminded me of a post on another group that I was unable to find - I put a help request on there and got a link to the post I wanted. It is
And if you want to see the sort of thing this guy is doing, look at his post for the Peanut Butter lid challenge - his start on page 9, but there is some amazing stuff on there -He posts as Train Clown (real name Christopher)

hope it helps, and inspires you
Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
Last edited by a moderator:
Welcome to the forum, Harry. I've been reading the previous posts with some interest and you've been getting good advice. One thought occurred to me is you didn't specify what kind of limitations you have in your arms(I process SSA disability applications, I think of these things). However, if you can still use an oxy-acetylene torch you should have enough strength and fine manipulation ability for model railroading. Nothing in this hobby requires herculean strength so your biggest challenge might be keeping your hands steady for detail work. The "third hand" vise mentioned earlier is excellent advise even for those with good use of their hands and arms. This hobby can also be very mentally challenging. You will find out about that when you get into what cars, trucks, industrial equipment, advertising, architectural styles, and on and with the railroad you are modeling.

As for making things as accurately real as possible, I agree with the others who have chimed in, only if that is what you want. If you want to build a completely unreal whimsical layout, go for it. The idea is to have fun.
My main limitation is with my shoulders and my elbows. Dislocations and lots of torn tendons and ligaments. Had some road rash on my hands, that's mostly healed up. So mostly I'm stiff, I have a hard time rotating my shoulders and flexing my elbows. If it's in my lap I can handle it pretty good, although the scar tissue on my left hand makes my thumb and forefinger less agile. Right hand is ok, not great but better. Reaching for anything is a bit of a chore. Up until a week ago I couldn't even put my hat on. Getting better though. Hope to get out of this power chair soon. I want a plain old wheelchair that I push around myself. Feel too crippled in a power chair. I'm not entirely sure if I have the dexterity to operate an oxy-acetylene torch. Only one way to find out right? Jump in and give it a go. Basically what I've been doing. Seeing what works and what hurts.
With a steel top bench the track will just lay on it then right? Hard to drive a nail through plate steel!
You guys are the nicest people. What's the best hobby store to go to in Reno Nevada?
Harry, if most of the problems with your arms are from dislocations and damaged ligaments and tendons, those will eventually heal, and you'll have a fairly good range of movement. Believe me, ligaments and tendons I know about. I was a biker myself at one time and took a pretty bad spill, though I got lucky, the worst injury being 2 fractured vertebrae in my upper back, along with a bunch of torn muscles and a ligament torn loose in my right knee.

On the steel top on the bench, if you want to anchor the track, you may want to put some plywood down on it. Foam board is another possibility, though I don't know how available it is in Nevada.
You might want to start just building modules, That way you can learn a few tricks,what works and what wont for you. Ones that turn out can be added to each other creating a large layout...ones that don't,strip and try something else. I suggest starting with foam on framework or just layered foam board...lighter for you to handle alone and then glue track on road bed. Track on steel will "echo" too need something to deaden the sound. And foam is easy to add to,as everything can be glued or liquid nailed to it.