The latest news about the NTGRC.
North Texas Garden Railroad Club


2019 Club Calendar

Nov - Discovery Gardens
Dec - Christmas Party - Donna Orr & Roger Shank

2020 Club Calendar

Jan - Dallas Winter Train Show
Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Home Meeting TBD
Apr - Jack & Joyce Huffman
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
Jun - Annual Meeting - Vard Moore
Jul - Robby Greene
Aug - Cook's Childrens Hospital/
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Sep - Texas State Fair
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show

Nov - Home Meeting TBD
Dec - Christmas Party - TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


We’ve now made it fully into Fall and even transitioned out of Daylight Savings Time back to Central Time.  The State Fair of Texas has ended, and the NFL season is halfway complete.  The Club has completed several events recently but still has a number of items on our calendar for the remainder of the year.

Thomas will discuss the success of the train display at Discovery Gardens, but one of our other recently completed events was the Fall Plano Train Show in October.  As usual we had a great crowd come and help setup, take down, and support running our trains during the event.   For this time only, this event was only a one-day show, instead of the normal two days that this show usually runs.  Thanks to all the members that came out and helped with the event – it was a great time despite the shortened schedule.  A few pictures of our layout and the crowd are shown below.

After we completed the completed the setup on Friday afternoon, a large group of members went to dinner at the Bavarian Grill, which is owned by one of our members, Jurgen Mahneke.  As usual, the food was delicious, the atmosphere was outstanding, and the camaraderie was unsurpassed.  Our thanks to Jurgen for his hospitality.

For those that missed the Fall Plano Show, you will have a second change soon since the Dallas Area Train Show will again be held at the Plano Event Centre in January.  This event will revert back to its normal two-day time frame. 

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

It seems that I am just writing a new column and the print is still wet on last month's piece.  Pete Dahlberg has been shaming me, because he is ahead of me in submission.  I just cannot believe that a new month is already here.

I have been hearing that the Discovery Gardens train runs have been successful.  Again, my thanks to both Discovery Garden’s, Dick Davis, and to our club member, Ron Natinsky who spearheaded this project.  Job well done!

This Sunday, November 10th, we will hold our first “Swap & Shop” meeting at Discovery Gardens (in case you missed seeing it at the State Fair).  We (I say we loosely, as it was Pete Natinsky and a crew from the Club) that has installed 3 loops of track.  I expect a lot of you will come on Sunday, look over train items (and some go home with more than they brought), stroll the gardens, run trains and just have a great time. 

         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, centrally located.) If so, please contact one of our board members.

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.  This month’s meeting will be on Tuesday, the 26th of November.

Pondering of the Month

Admit it.  Life would be so boring without me. 

What is your Club thinking about?

We have the second LED light fixture to install in the trailer and we need to replace some tie down rings.  Also, we need to install larger wheels on some of our racks (which will require 1 ½ inch of post to be cut from the top end 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.


December 8th 4 PM Christmas Gathering Donna Orr and Roger Shank’s home.  Christmas light show to music.  Something to see.  Can we get 100% of our members to attend?  Mark your calendars now!
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 OPEN

One Last Item (Again and Again)

I have lost many good train club members in the past couple of years.  Some have been harder to say my good-byes to, but one thing most have had in common is they did not leave their spouse or family members an up-to-date or accurate inventory of their train collection.  Please do not do this to your loved ones.  The club has stepped in to many homes to gather, clean, box and inventory for the surviving spouse or family.  As we are all aging (that’s getting older in years and longer in the tooth (and if you do not know what the last comment means then you are not yet old)).  We cannot climb up into attics in the middle of the summer or dead of winter to look for trains and boxes that your trains might go into.

The club has an excel spread sheet with titles that will assist you in gathering the information your family will need to know upon your demise.  Ask the president for a blank copy if you would like to start your accountability.  (You will also need your list for your insurance company should your home have issues like a flood, fire, high winds or a tornado.)


Three of you have asked for the Inventory Spread Sheet.  That is encouraging.

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, VP

I was in Europe most of October so I can’t really report on Club news.  I did get to spend some time train watching at the Cologne and Amsterdam train stations. Here is a picture of the very busy Köln Hauptbahnhof, which is adjacent to the famous Gothic cathedral, the Kölner Dom.

I spent even more time watching trains at the Amsterdam Centraal Station (yes, two a’s). I was lucky enough to have a view of the tracks from my room. Unfortunately the windows had serious reflections that show up in my pictures. Fortunately I could lounge in a chair and snack and drink while watching from above. The elevated tracks are difficult to view from the ground.

Dutch trains favor color schemes of yellow and blue, or white with yellow and blue accents as shown above.

The Amsterdam Centraal Station (yes, the Dutch love their double vowels) is an unusual and huge structure. The arched roofs of the train shed are flanked on one side by a wonderful red brick traditional structure, show in the picture. I did not have a good vantage for a picture of the other side, but it is very modern with shops and restaurants.  Amsterdam is laid out as semicircle with the Centraal Station at the center of the circle. The trams and canal boats come in on the old side of the station. Buses and the subway come into the modern side with ferries just outside. Larger ships dock a short walk from the station.

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  I am just starting out to build my train collection.  My cars have a multiple collection of knuckle couplers and the old “Hook and Loop” connections.  I have noticed that the different brands of cars with their knuckle couplers do not match up and sometimes disconnect.  I like the knuckle couplers because they look more realistic than the Hook & Loop connections.  If I decide to stay with the knuckle couplers, which is the best one?  (Price is a consideration)

A:  First, there is no single right answer.

If you are going to be running on relatively rough track, the best answer is to go with the hook and loop. They do not look realistic but they will stay together and all manufacturers’ hook and loop will go together.

If you are lucky enough to be running on smooth track, then you should consider the following:
  • Which manufacturers’ cars do you have the most of? If you do not have to replace those knuckle couplers, the overall project will be less expensive.
  • Are you willing to run with conversion cars where one end of a car has one style of knuckle coupler and a different style on the other end? In many cases it is a very easy process to remove a knuckle coupler and replace it with a different brand. Then that car can be used between strings of different manufacturers.
  • Will you be using truck mounted or body mounted couplers? Truck mounted couplers are the more common style with rolling stock straight from the manufacturer. However, due to the differences in truck construction there is a bigger chance of vertical mismatch between couplers of different manufacturers. Depending on the coupler manufacturer you choose, you may be able to adjust the height of the coupler to minimize this vertical mismatch. The trade-off is the amount of effort required to mount the new couplers. Body mounted couplers are designed to allow for vertical adjustment when they are being mounted. The trade-off with body mounted couplers is that larger curves in the layout are required to accommodate the swing of the cars.
Note: A number of years ago Garden Railways magazine did a comparison of the major manufacturers’ knuckle couplers and how well each matched up with the other manufacturers knuckle couplers. That article should be available (for a fee) from the magazine.
At one time there were 5 major manufacturers
  • LGB – these were the original hook and loops and knuckle couplers. It was generally felt that LGB’s knuckles were oversized (which accommodated vertical discrepancies). LGB was also noted as being more expensive than other manufacturers except Kaydee. When LGB went through their bankruptcy, the supply of their product dropped. It appears to be recovering now but you may find LGB couplers difficult to get.
  • Aristocraft – these couplers have double pivot points (one behind the head of the knuckle and the other where the coupler joins the truck). There are two different models of the Aristocraft coupler which are almost impossible to visually tell apart. The older model was problematic on coupling (even with another Aristocraft coupler). The newer model evidently does not have these problems. The Aristocraft knuckle is oversized, but not as pronounced as the LGB. The big issue at this time is that Aristocraft closed its doors in December 2013. All existing stock was sold off at that time. A member of the family that owned Aristocraft is attempting to rebuild the business under the name of “Polk’s Next Generation”. At this time product from Polk’s is in short supply. In 2019, the availability of Aristocraft / Polk couplers is almost non-existant.
  • Bachmann - has two separate lines of “G” product, the Big Hauler series and the Spectrum series. They are in two different scales. The Big Hauler is in 1/24 and the Spectrum is in 1/20.3. Because of this the couplers are of different sizes and may look strange if the wrong one is put on a car of differing scale. Bachman couplers generally will couple well with other makes.
  • USA Trains – The USA Trains couplers are generally closer in size to the prototype which makes them more susceptible to vertical slippage. Generally USAT uses truck mounted couplers, but with some exceptions such as the modern passenger cars they use body mounts. Some of their locomotives also use a body mount approach.
  • Kaydee – this company is the de facto standard for couplers in the smaller scales. They are the closest in size to true scale and can be used in either truck or body mount situations. With perhaps the exception of LGB these are the most expensive couplers. It should be noted that Kaydee has recently released a remote control coupler. This is an expensive option and requires that receivers be placed in each piece which is to have the remote capability.
It should be noted that PIKO entered the “G” train market several years ago. Their product appears to be very similar to LGB albeit less expensive. I have no experience with the PIKO product and so cannot comment on how well their couplers perform.

My personal preference is to keep the equipment as it came and create a transition car if and when it is necessary.

That completes our November Newsletter.  I hope to see many of our members at the Discovery Gardens this Sunday for our first “Swap & Shop” meeting.  A number of our members have signed up for a table, and I’m sure that there will be a great redistribution of trains and accessories at this event.

As always, thanks for reading.
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