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North Texas Garden Railroad Club


2020 Club Calendar

Jul - Swap 'N Shop - Clark Gardens
Aug - Cook's Children's Hospital - Cancelled
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Sep - Oct - State Fair of Texas
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show
- Cancelled
Nov - TBD

Dec - Christmas Party - Donna Orr & Roger Shank

2021 Club Calendar

Jan - Dallas Area Train Show (Plano)
Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Home Meeting TBD
Apr - Home Meeting TBD
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
May - Jun - NGRC Nashville, TN
Jun - Annual Home Meeting TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the July edition of the NTGRC Newsletter.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve already passed the Summer Solstice (on June 21st), meaning that our days are now getting shorter.  Thus far, it also hasn’t been an exceptionally hot summer, although our forecasters are predicting 100-degree temperatures and above within the next week.  We hope our members and their families have avoided COVID-19, and will continue to take precautions until things slowly return to normal.  Like the rest of the world, the Club has had to cancel a number of events due to the Corona virus, but hopefully we will be able to slowly reopen with our scheduled Swap ‘n Shop event at Clark Gardens in Weatherford on July 26th

Read on for further details on this and other events the Club has planned for the coming months.

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July.  Unless that holiday ends up being hijacked also.  These last three weeks have been horrible.  Stuck inside with nothing to watch but rioting, vandalism, arson, thugs beating up people and chaos.  I feel so grateful to my cities police and also to the Police Department of the City of Dallas.

The 26th of July we will be holding our “Swap ‘n Shop” at Clark Gardens (567 Maddux Road, Weatherford, Tx 76088).  We will have the outdoor trains at the Garden running, the Train House open (social distancing please) and will be providing a dinner at about 3:00 PM to our members.  Tables that are requested in the RSVP emails will be set up to display your items for sale or trade.  This event is not open to the public - only members (and their guests; however, $9.50 will be charged for guests of members for dinner, but only if they are listed on the RSVP that they are coming.  Otherwise they may not get a chance to eat.)   We will have swamp fans in the BIG TENT and AC on in both the Train House and a room near the BIG TENT.

We will adhere to all current recommendations and guidelines.  The newest is, of course, we will ALL wear a mask, no matter what the age.  If you can walk and talk, you must wear a mask.  And yes, I understand that State guidelines do not require masks for those under the age of 10.  Unfortunately, we will require them unless you are eating or drinking a beverage. When you do not have on a mask you must maintain a distance of 6 feet from persons other than your close family.

I have been reaching out to other clubs that some of our current members have been associated with in the past or still are members.  I am asking if they are experiencing a growing or shrinking membership.  Are the members average age increasing?  What are they doing to try to attract younger members?  What is their dues structure? What is an email link to their newsletter or could I be added to their distribution list? So, far I have information on 7 clubs, mostly in the west.  Do any of you know of a club in the Midwest or Northeast or the Southeast?  If so, please let me know.  If you have a contact or email address that you will share please do so. I will publish this information as I gather it in the future.

So, in July let’s think about helping out and think about a couple of hours providing love to trains.  Contact Ron Natinsky (214 415 2400) for Discovery Gardens and let him know you are coming; Pete Dahlberg for Clark Gardens (817 478 4776) or David Valdez (917 939 6400) to work on the trailer.

We held our first board meeting in person since the restrictions were placed on restaurants and gatherings, at Spring Creek BBQ in Irving Texas.  All board members were present with the exception of Dr. Johnny Nelson, who was still teaching in East Texas, and Pete Dahlberg, who was “working on the railroad” literally, in New Mexico and Colorado.  Remember we elect members to the board not to specific positions.  Positions are determined at the first board meeting after the election.  Your new board members and positions are:

Thomas Lytle              President
Vard Moore                 1st Vice President
Dr. Johnny Nelson       2nd Vice President
Ron Natinsky               3rd Vice President
Patrick Miller                Secretary
Pete Dahlberg             Treasurer
Ron Trees                    Editor/Webmaster

Board members will be sworn in at our next meeting.

PLEASE, ALL OF YOU MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND COME TO A BOARD MEETING We hold them on the 4th Tuesday of the month (unless there is an event close to the end of the month, then we will hold them at the event) at 6:00 PM (because we go through and get our dinner, and eat and discuss our Club) at Spring Creek BBQ, 3514 W Airport Freeway, Irving 75062.  Watch for BOGO coupons in a mailer in your mail box. 

But anyway, we will resume board meetings and home meetings as soon as it is safe for our mature and more experienced club members to safely attend.  See the event schedule below:

Pondering of the Month


What is your Club thinking about?

We have the second LED light fixture to install in the trailer and replace some tie down rings.  Looking for a warm day and one which David, and Tom will be off at the same time.

Still have 3 bridges to install at Clark Gardens.  Four people needed to accomplish this task.

We have outdoor water proof wiring to run from the control area to tracks at Clark Gardens

We also have some track leveling and re-ballasting at both locations of Discovery and Clark Gardens.


JULY 26th, 2:00 PM Swap ‘n Shop, Clark Gardens…. Swear in of new Board Members and Club hosted dinner
AUGUST 5th 8:30 AM to 4 PM, COOK CHILDRENS Hospital Train Run - One Day (expected cancellation)

SEPTEMBER  5TH AND 6th Clark Garden’s Labor Day Weekend Train show. Set up on September 4th, with a No Host dinner to follow at the Mesquite Pit in Mineral Wells (not in Weatherford).  Hosted dinner on September 5th by Clark Gardens. Reservations @ Best Western Mineral Wells 940-325-2270

SEPTEMBER 27th—OCTOBER 20th, State Fair of Texas... Ron Natinsky needs members for two blocks of time daily during the Fair to run trains.  Free parking and if names turned in, in advance free Fair Admission for two. (two must run the trains)

OCTOBER 12th One Day     Fall Plano Train Show — cancelled by North Texas Council of Trains.
NOVEMBER Date TBD, Scottish Rite 2-day train run. Possible cancellation
NOVEMBER Date TBD, Home Meeting.
DECEMBER 6th, 3 PM Annual Christmas Meeting Donna Orr’s and Roger Shank’s home.

May your tracks be true; your stay on passing’s be short; do not take any dead-end sidings and keep her between and out of the ditches.

The Combo Car

By Vard Moore

Time for another episode of the Coronavirus Chronicles: Meetings That Didn’t Happen. The National Garden Railway Convention in Nashville scheduled for the first week of June, was postponed a year. So, what is a National Garden Railway Convention like, and would you want to go?
I had noticed the ads in Garden Railways magazine, and the National Garden Railway Convention (NGRC) was conveniently scheduled for Tulsa in July of 2017, so I decided to attend.  After that I was hooked. I have attended the 2018 NGRC in Atlanta and the 2019 NGRC in Portland.  Due to the coronavirus, the Nashville NGRC was moved from June of this year to May 30th 2021 to June 5th, 2021.  The website is, but it hasn’t been updated. The next NGRC after that will be in Denver from June 20-25, 2022. There is not much information yet at either. The 2023 NGRC is going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area. Again, the website doesn’t provide any details yet.

Nickel Creek Watershed RR in Tulsa

So, what happens at a National Garden Railway Convention?  Events are centered at a convention host hotel and organized by the local Garden Railway Club. You can book the hotel using a convention rate. Typically, you check in at the NGRC registration desk and are given your name bag, a book with detailed information about the convention events, tickets for the events for which you have paid, and maybe some souvenir swag.
For me the heart of the convention are the layout tours occurring on several mornings running until early afternoon. Each layout is usually open only one of the days. The layouts are quite spread out, but each day has layouts in one section of the host region.  Addresses, descriptions, and often pictures are in the convention book. You can use your own car, or pay to ride convention buses. The buses save you from navigating in a strange city, and you have the company of like-minded enthusiasts from around the country and a sprinkling of foreign visitors as well. The buses on a given day visits each layout in a different order to minimize crowding. Sometimes there are more layouts than can be covered by one bus, and buses will have a slightly different set of stops. A very few layouts may not be bus accessible. I did not use the buses in Tulsa. The buses in Portland were very good. We even had former local member Michael Barnes as our excellent host on one bus. The Atlanta convention had some problems with their buses. One bus was stranded for hours with a flat tire – fortunately NTGRC members Wayne, Dick and Joan Meyer were driving their own car and rescued me. Also, Atlanta was one bus short for the BBQ at Stone Mountain. Again, a local member, Tom Lytle, commandeered a minibus and was able to transport myself, Cindy Roerig, and a few others. In any case the layouts at all the meetings were superb. There was lots of variety and convinced me that garden railroaders are far, far more creative and free spirited than folks in the smaller gauges. You may get tired, but you won’t get bored.

Pic N Grin Railroad aka "The Rock" in Atlanta

Coeur D'Alene branch of the NP in Portland

Afternoons and sometimes evenings have clinics in the vendor hall. The vendor hall is great considering the limited number of local dealers common in our hobby. Two of the conventions had a very convenient UPS booth for shipping purchases home. However, I took extra luggage and bubble wrap when flying. There are modeling contests and some operating sessions. Of course, there are also social events typically including an ice cream social, a BBQ, and a final banquet. A highlight of the Portland convention was riding behind SP 4449 in its Daylight livery to and from the rather disastrous BBQ.  You can see a short video of 4449 on the Club Facebook page.

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Pete is still in Chama, New Mexico volunteering at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  In our June Newsletter, Pete submitted some pictures of the work he is doing at the pass on the Cumbres & Toltec, and below is a follow up picture, showing the erected siding on the building.

Fun with a 15 mph breeze

This month’s Mail Car question on lubricants is a completion of the discussion started in our June Newsletter, and addresses the differences between synthetic vs natural lubricants.   

Q: What do I need to do to lubricate my trains? What should I use? Where? Should old lubrication be removed? Should I use petroleum based products or synthetic?

A: Although I have some experience in keeping trains lubricated, I asked Mike Pritchett and Tom Lytle for additional comments. Their information is included in the answer below.
First, there are 5 major lubricants that we will regularly use:
  • Conductive grease
  • Non-conductive grease
  • Heavy gear oil
  • Light oil
  • Conductive lubricant
All of the above need to be compatible with plastic.

Answer continued

Synthetic vs “regular” lubricants

The first difference between synthetic and “regular” lubricants is that the regular product is refined from petroleum while the synthetic lubricant is manufactured to only include the specific chemical products desired (even though they may be based upon petroleum). This means that the synthetic lubricant is inherently cleaner than the regular lubricant.

Other differences between synthetic and regular lubricants are:
  • Regular lubricants will change viscosity with temperature changes, synthetics do so on a much slower scale. This is important when you are talking about automobile engines but is much less significant in the temperature ranges in which we operate our trains.
  • Regular lubricants viscosity will also break down over time, synthetics do not.
  • The Ph (degree of acidity) will change over time, synthetics do not.
  • Both regular and synthetic lubricants will by design carry debris away from the parts we are trying to lubricate. Synthetic lubricants will coat the debris making it less damaging while regular lubricants will not coat the debris.
  • Regular grease will harden over time particularly if the parts it is lubricating are not used. Synthetic grease does not harden.
  • Synthetic oil has smaller molecules than regular oil and the molecules do allow electron flow. For this reason, it can be used where conductive lubricant would be otherwise needed.
Tom Lytle is a proponent of synthetic lubricants. His choice is the Mobil 1 20w-50 for wheel bearings and drive rods and Mobil 1 Synthetic grease for gear boxes. We have been using these products at Clark Gardens for the past couple of years with good results.

Manufacturers of Lubricants

The following is a partial list of manufacturers of “regular” lubricants. Some will only offer specific lubricants such as light oil or conductive grease while others will offer a full range and in some case kits which include samples of each lubricant.
  • Excelle
  • Labelle
  • Hob-E-Lube
  • Bachmann
  • LGB
  • Lionel
  • MTG
  • Pico
  • USA Trains
Most of the major automotive lubrication companies will offer a synthetic oil and grease which could be used on our trains. The biggest issue will be that typically the oil is sold by the quart and you will have to find a smaller applicator bottle in order to conveniently apply the oil where needed. You may want to save some bottles from the “regular” lubricants for this purpose.

That’s a wrap for the July Newsletter.  I hope to see many of our Members at Clark Gardens on July 26th.  Please take all necessary Corona Virus precautions and stay safe!  

As always, thanks for reading.
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