Neil Young and Lionel Model Trains
Neil Young took a 20-percent stake in Lionel trains in 1995. He enjoyed Lionel model trains in his youth and wanted his children to enjoy model railroading. However, his son Ben's cerebral palsy presented extreme challenges to that dream.
Ben's level of Cerebral Palsy prevented him from grasping objects, such as transformer controls, or flip switches. He couldn't even replace the model railroad cars that might derail.
Neil Young accepted the challenges presented by Ben's condition and set out to develop a completely new method to control his Lionel model train, in order to give his son the ability to enjoy the toy train experience.
Neil developed an alternative control device, called a Trainmaster Command Control. A type of paddle which could be used to run the trains. Ben leans his head into the paddle and power is applied to the track. He leans into it again and power is cut.
In addition, the controller is wireless. Neil's son can sit, or stand with the aid of a separate piece of equipment, and operate his model trains. Ben can accomplish the tasks with total control, by himself, and with precision. Considering Ben's suppressed motor control, it is an amazing accomplishment and a credit to both Ben and Neil Young.
There's some teamwork associated with running the track layout. As much as might be found on any typical father-son team. Ben starts and stops the trains while his father tends to the typical requirements of switch selection, accessory activation, and similar. Ben responds by adjusting the controls of the Lionel model train.
Neil Young's development of the controller pad gave his son the ability to have complete operating control of his model train system. Neil Young set out to overcome the restrictions that cerebral palsey placed on his son. He achieved that goal when others had doubt.
Neil and Ben now enjoy many hours together as a father and son should. Enjoying model railroading together with their Lionel model trains.