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North Texas Garden Railroad Club


2020 Club Calendar

Jan - Plano Winter Train Show
Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Ron & Peggy Trees
Apr -
Jack and Joyce Huffman
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
May-Jun - National G Scale Convention
Jun -
Annual Meeting - Vard Moore
Jul -
Robby Greene
Aug - Cook's Children's Hospital/
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show

Nov - Discovery Gardens Swap and Shop
Dec - Christmas Party - TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the NTGRC December Newsletter.  Think about it - not only is this the last Newsletter of 2019, it’s also the last Newsletter of this decade! 

Since we are a garden railroad club, I was looking for some interesting gardening information to include, hopefully one that would also touch on the holiday season.  I found this article on “Why Do We Kiss Under the Mistletoe? The Meaning and Folklore Behind Mistletoe” from The Old Farmer’s Almanac to be pertinent for this time of year:

Also, before I get to our regular sections, I’d like to pass along a program recommendation from long-time member Ron Natinsky.  He found a series that was on HGTV in the UK that can now be found here on YouTube.  Here’s the link to the first program:  There are a total of 16 programs in all.  Ron found it super interesting in that the “gardens” that they have in the UK are all very tiny but they manage to do a lot in them.  There are also a lot of live steam and other garden rail projects that were interesting.  This series starts with a guy named Mark Ford and his idea to create a garden railroad and the steps he took from design through construction. During the various programs he visits other garden railroads large and small for ideas.  Ron ended up doing a “binge” and watching all 16 in an afternoon, and thought that maybe some of the other Club members will enjoy them too.  Thanks for the tip Ron!

All in all, the Club has had quite an eventful year, as well an interesting November and the first half of December, so read on the see what your Club has been up to since our last edition.

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Thanksgiving is past and Sunday has come around.  All the family is gone, the hubbub of the holiday is a distant memory.  Did not gain anything as on Thursday we all went to the Keg Steakhouse.  I brought home half of my Caesar salad, most of my turkey dinner, and my desert.  Well, M’Lou, thinking she was doing me a favor, threw away my salad, as it most assuredly was not good anymore, thus tossing away my dinner.   So, no turkey this year for the big turkey. 

Pete Dahlberg has been shaming me, because he is ahead of me in submission of articles AGAIN.  I just cannot believe that December is already here.

We saw the wonderful job and track runs at the Discovery gardens.  They need building donations to start some small villages.  Then I am hoping this spring the lady with the green thumb will be planting some vegetation around the tracks.  A train workshop/storage building is being built on site as I write this article.  Lots going on at Discovery.  They are running trains on the weekend.  Contract Ron Natinsky if you would like to run your trains or run theirs.  They need volunteers.  A few photos of the venue are below.

When you read this, we will have had our first “Swap & Shop” meeting.  It was held at Discovery Gardens (just in case you missed it).  We (I say we loosely, as it was Pete, Ron Natinsky and a crew from the Club) have installed three loops of track.  A lot of you came on Sunday, looked over (and some went home with more than they brought) train items and strolled the gardens, ran trains and just had a great time. I think it was a success and we will have another one there next year.  Below are some photos of the bargain shoppers and swappers.

For those that may have missed it, I wanted to share with you what you and your club is taking to Toys For Tots this Christmas: 30 sets of Lillabo wooden train sets as shown below.  We hope some little ones will have a better Christmas this year thanks you all of YOU.

                                                         HELP, HELP!

Your club has lost the hanger that we have been storing our Club trailer in.  Do you know of a space (preferably, inside) that we can store it?  (Also, preferably centrally located!)  If so, please contact one of our Board members.

Also, we're looking for a host and/or hostess for our February Home meeting.  You can pick the date and time and the Club will provide a stipend for expenses. If you would like to host the group, please contact one of our Board members and we'll put you on the calendar.

PLEASE, ALL OF YOU MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND COME TO A BOARD MEETING.  We hold them at 6 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.  There will be no meeting for December and the January board meeting will be held during the Plano train show.  (On Saturday around noonish - location TBD.)

Pondering of the Month

I can’t blame the holidays; I was fat in August.

What is your Club thinking about?

We have the second LED light fixture to install in the trailer and need to replace some tie down rings.  Also, we installed larger wheels on our racks which will require 1 ½ inch of post to be cut from the top so it will roll into the trailer.  We’re looking for a warm day and one which David, Patrick and Tom will be off at the same time.


January 18th & 19th Setup on the 17th at 1 PM Plano Train Show.  No host dinner following set up on Friday evening at the Bavarian Grill at 5 PM.

February Home Meeting - OPEN

March Home Meeting, TBD  - Ron and Peggy Trees.

APRIL Home Meeting TBD, 2:00 PM Jack and Joyce Huffman
MAY 18th-19th, 7:00 AM Scottish Rite Train Run 2 Days, Set-up Sunday Afternoon 17 May 1 PM
MAY 30TH-JUNE 6TH  National Garden Railway Convention, Nashville Tennessee
JUNE Home Meeting TBD, 2:00 PM ANNUAL HOME MEETING Vard Moore

JULY Home Meeting TBD, 2:00 PM - HOME MEETING Robby Greene
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 Ron Trees

The Club held its annual Christmas meeting at the home of Donna Orr and Roger Shank earlier this month.  As usual, Donna and Roger outdid themselves with their traditional Christmas decorations, both outside and inside their home.  Their home is known throughout the area for its spectacular outdoor light show, which is fully choreographed and set to holiday music, which drivers can access by tuning their radio to the appropriate channel.  Their holiday dinner was delicious, and there was a great turnout of Club members for the event.  The Chinese gift exchange was also a hit, with more than a few items finding themselves under temporary ownership, until they were “stolen” by another Club member until they became frozen from further pilfering. A few pictures of the event are below.


The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  What do you know about track?  Different sizes for what?  Different alloys, different connections?  Can stainless steel be used with brass?  What about any other alloys out there?

A:   Here’s what I know about track
  • 3 different sizes - code 215, code 250 and code 332. The number represents the nominal rail height in mm.
  • Code 332 is the size of the most common manufacturers (Aristo, LGB, USAT, AML, Piko). It is larger than scale height.
  • Code 250 is supposed to be scale standard gauge while code 215 is scale narrow gauge.
  • Because code 250 and code 215 are scale, wheel flanges of non-scale cars may hit the ties.
  • Track is most commonly bought as “sectional” with rail and ties already assembled. Ties and rails can be bought separately and this is commonly referred to as “flex”.
  • Sectional track typically comes in “standard” lengths and on curves with “standard” radii.
  • It should be noted that track from different manufacturers will have slightly different “standard” sizes (rail height, length, and radii). This may make it difficult to connect track from multiple manufacturers.
  • Flex track typically comes in longer lengths and requires the user to bend their own curves.
  • Sectional track can also be custom bent but this requires some work and specialized tools.
  • Sectional track typically comes with “joiners” that allow connection of track pieces.
  • Joiners vary in holding capability and in ease of connection. This may have an effect on electrical connectivity.
  • An alternative to joiners are “rail clamps” which are designed for more permanent connections and to provide improved electrical connectivity.
  • There are two styles of rail clamps. The first style directly clamps to the rail and replaces the joiner. The second style goes over the joiner and is referred to as “over the joiner” clamps. In my opinion the first is preferable for a permanent layout while the second can be used to supplement weak joiners on “portable” layouts.
  • There are a number of manufacturers of clamps. The most commonly used clamps are from Hillman and SplitJaw. The clamps have slightly different designs and users will have their preferences. Note: Both Hillman and SplitJaw have now gone out of business. Their clamps are still available but typically will be used. This should NOT effect the operation of the clamps. I have seen ads for clamps by AML and Piko but have no experience with them.
  • Clamps will typically cost about $1.50 per clamp with discounts for purchasing larger quantities (100+).
  • Common metals used are Brass, Aluminum, Nickel-Silver, and stainless steel. The most expensive is Nickel-Silver and Stainless. Brass and Aluminum are less expensive. None of it is cheap.
  • Supposedly Nickel-Silver has the best conductivity with Stainless having the worst conductivity of the 4 metals.
  • Brass and Aluminum can oxidize with the aluminum oxide being much less conductive than the brass oxide.
  • Different metals can be mixed in a layout but due to the different conductivity of each there may be issues with track power and there may be reactivity at the joint of different metals.
  • Nickel-Silver and stainless are more difficult to bend than Brass or Aluminum.
  • All of the above presume that power to the train will be furnished through the track.
  • If battery power or live steam are used track can be made from steel or plastic.
If anyone would like to throw in their comments, please send them in.

That’s it for our December Newsletter!  I’d like to wish all our members a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as we swing into the decade of the 2020s. I hope to see many of our members at the Dallas Area Train Show in Plano on January 17th through the 19th.

As always, thanks for reading.
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