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


2018 Club Calendar

Dec - Christmas Party Lane & Brenda Haviland

2019 Club Calendar

Jan - Plano Winter Train Show
Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Ron & Peggy Trees
Apr - Dave & Gerry Minna
May - Scottish Rite Train Run/
Cumbres Toltec Texas Visitation
Jun - Annual Meeting TBD
Jul - Cook's Childrens Hospital/
Aug - Frisco Train Show
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival/
Fall Plano Train Show
Oct Home Meeting TBD

Nov - Home Meeting TBD or
Scottish Rite Frisco
Dec - Christmas Party
Roger Shank & Donna Orr

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the November, 2018 Newsletter!  We’re approaching the Holiday season with seasonal cold temperatures to match.  The leaves are starting to fall in earnest which is always a pain regardless of whether you have an outdoor layout or not.  The Club has been busy, with two home meetings to report since our last Newsletter, as well as preparations for our upcoming Christmas Party at the Haviland’s. Read on for all the details.

Our most recent home meeting was at Thomas and M’Lou Lytle’s home in Carrollton on November 4th.   If you did not make it you missed four great things:  First is that we had some great guests: Max Clark and his wife Beverly, the developers of Clark Gardens, as well as Carol Montgomery and her husband Mark.  Carol is the Chief Executive and General Manager (and a bunch of other things) for Clark Gardens.   The second major item was Carol and Max presenting an award plaque to Pete Dahlberg for his many hours of work restoring the trains to full operation and his diligence in coming every Tuesday to accomplish this task.  The third item was Carol and Max presenting the NTGRC with a plaque for all of our work in the layout restoration: Mike Pritchett on the building refurbishment; David Valdez on his excellent bridge construction and the replacement of the old wooden bridges (also known as the peacock’s perches); Pete Dahlberg, who headed up the whole team effort and especially track, ballast and bridge replacement; and Thomas Lytle on LED lighting of the interior of the train house and also the LED lighting of the miniatures of the diorama of Mineral Wells and Weatherford buildings.  The last major item was the devouring of three levels of chili, homemade corn muffins (regular and jalapeno), and the wonderful dessert cake.  The Club consumed over eight gallons of chili, one half sheet cake, eight two-liter jugs of soda, and almost 35 bottles of water.   Pictures of the meeting are below.

Our Christmas gathering is getting closer and closer, and the Havilands are needing information for meal planning.  Brenda has agreed to take on this monumental task.  She is compiling information for Hors d'oeuvres, main side dishes, and desserts.  Whichever category you pick needs to feed approximately 10 people.  The main side dishes need to complement our entrées of Prime Rib or Salmon Filet. 

Please RSVP whether you are coming (either yes or no), and if you are coming, which side dish you would like to bring.  Please email your RSVP and side dish information directly to Brenda:  Do not reply to Lane please - we want the information to get to Brenda accurately.

The Haviland’s address is:  302 Bluff Ridge Road, Weatherford, TX 76087.  Phone 817-244-7010 if you get lost.  A GPS will bring you to Bluff Springs Estates.  The gate will be open.  Drive to the top of the hill and turn right.  Then drive to the bottom of the hill and turn into "Twin Creeks" 302.  The second gate will also be open.  A map of the parking area is below.  All who don't want to walk up the hill can park in the compound at the front door.

Here are the best routes to get to the Havilands. From the North or East:


From the South or West:


The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Clark Gardens

As President of the Club, I wish to thank Max Clark, his wife and his family for the plaque they presented to our club for the updating and renovation of the trains at Clark Gardens.  Many manhours were put in to level and re-ballast hundreds of feet of track; many of the old rotted wooden bridges have been replaced with three more to go; outdoor buildings have been removed; then re-glued; re-painted; re-assembled and returned to the gardens for many more years of display time.  The train house lighting has been replaced with era looking Edison bulbs.  All lighting has been replaced with LED blubs in the building and inside the model buildings.  A few more and some minor wire replacement is forthcoming.

Upward and Onward

We are coming up to the holiday season.  Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas.  This is a time for family, friends and togetherness.  Count your blessings not your shortcomings or shortfalls.  Each of you has something to be grateful for from the past or the present.  Whether it is large or small, great monetary valve or no monetary valve.  Something simple as a memory or complex as building a home you put your love and heart and soul into to accomplish.  Running a 26.2 marathon; walking a 5k fund raiser; or just being able to walk across the room.  We all have blessings.  We just sometimes have to pause and think about what they are.  Remember, life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer to the end, the faster it goes.  Be grateful for each day when you wake up in the morning.  It does not matter how much pain you’re in, or the sorrow of loss on your heart.  It is another day.  This is the season to reflect on just how great your life is.  It is up to you to make the best out of each and every day.

My blessing that I must share are really two.  First - my wife’s health issues are being treated or gone and she is returning to a balanced normal life.  This happened once we found the right doctors that could diagnose the causing issues and treat or eliminate them.  The second is my 49-year-old nephew.  He was diagnosed 14 months ago with stage 4 esophageal cancer that was in his upper stomach and lower esophagus.  Today, he is 4 months totally cancer free.   I am so blessed this year.

I am looking forward to spending time with family, friends, grandkids, children, and neighbors over the next 6 to 9 weeks.  To me it is a joyous season, but memory reminds me of family and friends that are no longer here. This is where I think of each and every one  of them individually and wonder how their lives would have been today if they were still among us.

I thank you all for being my friends.  As different as we all are, I look at each of you as a friend.

Upcoming Events

December 2nd - Christmas Gathering at Brenda and Lane Haviland’s home in Weatherford TX.  See the information above for details.

19th & 20th January - Winter Plano Train Show at the Plano Conference Center with club no host dinner to follow at the Bavarian Grill.

May 4th, 2019 - Cumbres & Toltec meeting in Austin Texas

August 27th - 30th, 2019 - 35th NATIONAL GARDEN RAILWAY CONVENTION, Portland, OR.  Will you be there?

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 Lane Haviland, VP.

Howdy Folks:

On October 21st, we had our first home meeting at the lovely and unique home of Dave and Cindy Valdez.  They have a large courtyard behind a toy filled hanger feeding on to a runway.

Dave is a Captain for American Airlines but loves to fly his own Cessna around the country.  In the hanger is the structure of a replica of a small plane he is in the process of building.

Dave has also acquired a 1-1/2 gauge live steam engine and a number of cars, which are moved to various locations to run with live steam clubs.

The courtyard is filled with a great G gauge layout still under construction but running while we were there.  Dave has built all his own bridges and viaducts, laid track and is running all battery-operated engines.
Cindy fixed a multitude of goodies to munch on and then gave us a tour and demo of her new Tesla electric car.  Very impressive.

To those who could not make it, you missed a unique experience. Dave is giving me a run for the money on who has the most toys!!

The Board is constantly recycling its members and we really need some new blood to keep moving forward.  Johnny Nelson and James Greenlee are the latest new board members and we thank you guys for volunteering --- we are just hoping we can keep Johnny awake!


Stay on track---Lane

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

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.  They are used as follows:
  • Conductive grease – This typically contains carbon which means that it is dirtier to apply. It is used when there is an electrical pickup attached to the sideframes of a truck (typically on an engine). You will need to place some in the journals on the sideframes where the axle enters the sideframe. The grease will provide for lower friction and will enhance the electrical connectivity. Failure to lubricate the journals will result in the ends of the axles and the journals getting worn excessively. This will result in a rougher ride and poor conductivity. If you use a non-conductive grease, then electrical conductivity will be reduced. However, non-conductive grease is preferable to no grease at all.
  • Non-conductive grease – This is used inside gear boxes and is thinner (more liquid) than conductive grease. Enough grease should be used so that the driving and driven gears will be lubricated fairly rapidly once the engine is started. If non-conductive grease is not available, conductive grease or heavy gear oil may be used temporarily to avoid dry gears. If gears have been cleaned of old grease, then some heavy gear oil in addition to the non-conductive grease will help to spread the grease faster.
  • Heavy gear oil – This is used on gears where it is not possible to use grease.
  • Light oil – This is used on metal on metal contact surfaces such as the running gear on steam engines or axle bearings. It should also be used on cars where the axles enter the sideframes.
  • Conductive lubricant (conductive oil) – This is used on electrical wipers to reduce friction and improve conductivity.
The frequency of oiling and lubricating (greasing) varies with the type of equipment, the amount of running and with the weather..
For engines, you should at a minimum follow the manufacturer’s recommendation of lubrication, generally every 40 – 60 hours of run time. Beyond this you should be examining and listening to your engines for any unusual squeaks or grinding noises. If something seems unusual check it and oil and/or lube as necessary. This will include:
  • Checking the sideframes and axle ends to see that they have sufficient grease (These are often overlooked.)
  • Checking the motor frame bearings for oil
  • Checking the gears in the motor for grease
  • Checking the electrical pickups for heavy wear.
When checking areas that are greased, you should look for dirt and other contaminates such as fine plastic burrs and brass dust. This type of contamination can cause premature wear and tear on gears and other parts. If there is more than a little contamination of the grease, it should be removed and replaced with fresh grease. To remove old grease you can scrape it off or use a plastic compatible solvent such as 3M brake cleaner or Dawn liquid soap.

For rolling stock, you should examine the ends of the axles and the sideframe journals every 10 – 20 hours and oil (or grease) as necessary. As noted above, if you are using grease vs oil you should look for contaminates and if found remove the old grease before applying fresh. If you find that the end of the axle is significantly worn, you should replace the axle. Similarly if you find that the sideframe journal is more oval shaped than round, you should replace the sideframe.

If you are running your equipment continuously for long periods of time, you should be checking your lubrication more frequently. Continuous running will result in a heat buildup which can create the need for more frequent lubrication.

Similarly, if you are running in warm to hot weather, you should be checking your lubrication more frequently. As with long run times, higher temperature will result in a heat buildup which can result in the need for more frequent lubrication.

An additional item to look at if you are going to be running for long periods of time, i.e. 12 hours per day, seven days a week, is the bolster where the truck is joined to the car body. Generally the truck frame and the bolster are both made of plastic and will wear over time. When the bolster is worn, the car body will ride closer to the wheels and may jam the wheels on curves. An additional problem that may occur is that the car may wobble excessively perhaps even to the extent of causing a derailment. A plastic to plastic lubricant such as Teflon or PTFE will slow down this wear.
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.

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 each lubricant.
  • Excelle
  • Labelle
  • Hob-E-Lube
  • Bachmann
  • LGB
  • Lionel
  • MTG
  • Piko
  • 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.

Who's That??

By JC Greenlee

This part of our monthly newsletter is going to be for us to get to know each other a little better. Each month we will take one or two members of our club and publish a mini bio on what that member would like others in the club to know about them. The following is the format of what we would ask you to share with us:
  • Where are you from and how long have you been in North Texas?
  • What do you do for a living? If you are retired what was your claim to fame?
  • How long have you been into G Scale or Garden Railroading?
  • Have you done other scales? If so, what scale: Z N HO On3 Large Scale?
  • What is your favorite Railroad? Why? If you don’t have one, is there a particular type of locomotive that you like or a certain time period that you like?
  • Are you into all brands or are you into specific brands: LGB, Pico, Aristocraft, Bachmann or ???
  • Do you currently have a layout that you would want to share with us? Pictures etc., or a small story about it.
  • As we have our home meetings where we see each other’s layouts could you take some pictures that we could post before coming to your house?
  • Anything else that you would like to share with us?
  • Any advice that you might pass along that would help us with our layouts?
  • Last but not least, we would like to see anything that you might be working on that you want to share with the club.
Okay there you have it - if each of you would write something about you we will get it into the letter in the coming months.  The more that share the more we will have to put in this section.  I am going to start out for the first few months on members of the board first then the members.  We started last month with Tom Lytle and me, JC Greenlee.  One old member and one new.  Next month I will need a write up of Cindi and Johnny.  Hope they read this column.
Here is the bio of Lane Haviland - our 1st Vice President:

My life started on Jan 11, 1941 in Mt Vernon NY at 2:10 in the morning. My first 4 years I lived in Mt. Vernon during the war years, black outs and air raid sirens were the norm — which I remember well. My dad was in the Coast Guard where he piloted private vessels in search of German subs trying to enter NY harbor.
In 1945 my dad became manager of the Port Chester NY division of what was then called the New York Tel. Company. So, we moved to Port Chester where I lived in 2 houses during my formative years.  My Dad was President of the Siwanoy Counsel of the Boy Scouts of America, so my only brother and I became Scouts of course.
In 1954, we moved to Westport Conn, where I graduated from Staples High School in 1959.  My dad was always into boating and the United States Power Squadron, and I continued the passion for boating throughout my life. I continue to be active in the Fort Worth Sail and Power Sq. and have held every office from Commander on down at least once. We have had numerous boats over the years, from sail to powerboats.  We have bareboat chartered sailboats and trawlers all over the world.  This is the best way to explore new shores and countries on your own.  We have taken and taught Seamanship, and Navigation for the Squadron for many years also.
I had several years as a HAM radio enthusiast, but took particular interest in Sailing.  When I was 15, I started racing and crewing for members out of the Pequot Yacht Club in NY.  Later after moving to Texas in 1967, I spent most of the 70’s racing boats of my own on the area lakes.
In 1959, I graduated high school and my parents shipped me off to Valley Forge Military Academy, for disciplinary reasons they said.  I was not the best student and needed some direction.
I graduated from VFMA Junior College with an Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts in 1962 and spent a year working as an electronic technician for a local company. I soon became disenchanted with EE and moved to an interest in Industrial Design.  Most of my vacations were spent working on a survey crew, finally as crew chief for an engineering company in Connecticut.
In 1964, I was accepted into the Univ. of Kansas School of Industrial Design, graduating in 1967 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Industrial Design and Commercial Art.
Between these years at KU, I attended a specialty college in Conn called the Silvermine College of Art where I specialized in Sculpture.  This is where I met my first wife.  We were married a year later at KU and had a son, Chris, in1965.  This marriage didn’t last and I went on to move to Dallas in 1967 and start a cosmetic company with a friend of mine.  This did not work out due to lack of funds, so I took a job with Container Corp of America in Arlington, as a Structural Designer.
I moved on into sales in 1973 when I got tired of designing packaging for salesmen making all the money.  I did quite well over the years, and started my own Rep firm in 1985.  I continue to this day.
During the Vietnam era, since I was in College and married and had a child, I was deferred from the draft. However, I used this time to get a private pilot’s license and rack up some hours toward Multi-Engine and commercial licenses. So, I applied to the NAV CAD program with the Naval Air Force but was never called, and at age 26 that was it.  I had totaled a Cherokee 180 in the Ozarks in 1966 and became somewhat disenchanted with flying. That and the cost moved me back into sailing again.
During my years as a bachelor, I dated a “cowgirl” and acquired a number of horses, learned to ride, and rented out stables for friend’s horses.  After a while I was kicked, tossed in the dirt and dragged too many times for my liking so I started raising tropical fish.  This hobby melded into raising Angel Fish.  My brother and I built two large buildings in which we raised 15,000 angels a month at the high point.  In 1974, imports from China and some corrupt wholesalers forced us into selling the company.
Brenda and I married in 1974 after meeting her on a sales call one day.  We had our first date on Lake Grapevine on my sailboat.  Figured if she could last a day on the boat, we were good to go. After growing up in Oglesby Texas, she had never been on a boat before, I think she had seen water before but that’s it.  She brought with her, two young sons, David and Michael, and Chris lived with us during college so we became a blended family.
Over the years she became a good sailor on her own.  We have captained charters for years and both have scuba training, which was used all over the Caribbean and on other charters.
During the 90’s we started our motor cycling period. We both rode Goldwings for years as well as several other Hondas and one Harley—which I hated.  A trip through the Smoky Mountains was the highlight of 20 years of riding with the Goldwing Road Riders in Fort Worth.  We made many friends, which have remained after the club disbanded in 2008.  We finally sold all our bikes while we still had all our limbs attached.
My love for trains started at age 6 when I got a wind-up train for Christmas and then moved on to Lionel fever at age 10.  Trains kind of took a back seat at age 15 when I discovered girls, cars, sailing, and Ham radio, but was rekindled at age 40 when Brenda bought me a G gauge set up one Christmas.  I had been collecting HO for years but never got a layout built.  The gauge was just too small to see over the years and with the new sound technology of G scale, I was hooked.  We joined the NTGRC and the rest is history.  Unfortunately, Brenda does not share the same enthusiasm for trains as I do, but she is very tolerant of my passions for Jaguars, trains, sailing and archery.
As for the future, we plan to sell our home and buy a large Class A RV and travel the US for a year.  After that, a small home and continue on.  After all, at 77, I have only lived half my life and this brief history was only a small part.
Okay for next month we will need BIOs from Cindy Roerig and Johnny Nelson.  Then for January look for Bio’s from Pete Dahlberg and Ron Trees.  This will finish up our board and then we will get started on all of our members.
I just bought some solder and seal connectors (below).  Has anyone else tried them out?  Hope to let you know how these work out.

Until the next station.- JC Greenlee

That's a wrap for our November Newsletter. I hope most of our members can make it to our annual Christmas Party on Sunday, December 2nd at Lane and Brenda Haviland's home starting at 4:00 PM.

Thanks for reading.
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