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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


Happy New Year!  Welcome to the January 2020 NTGRC Newsletter.  While every article or broadcast I have seen on this subject has been calling this year the start of a new decade (including my introduction to last month’s newsletter), Art Dingee pointed out that since we use a calendar that roughly starts with the birth of Christ, historians assigned the number 1 to year 1. Therefore, a new decade will start with 2021 just as the next century will start with 2101. You really can’t have a year zero.  In any event, we’ve got an exciting year planned for the Club, starting next week as we run trains at the Dallas Area Train Show in Plano, and continuing throughout the year. 

Astute readers will recall that on January 2nd, we sent an email alerting our members that the Dallas Children's Hospital was planning on taking down their train display to put in a Starbucks and a Panera Bread. In an update to that story, we’re happy to report that the Hospital has changed their minds - the trains will now be incorporated in their new lobby renovation.  It seems an eight-year-old girl who recovered from leukemia credited the trains for a major part of her recovery.  She started a petition that gathered over 52,000 signatures to save the trains.

On that pleasant note, read on to see what your Club has been up to, and what we have planned for the coming months..

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

By Dang and by Golly, I am going to get this article into the Newsletter guru before Pete Dahlberg sends in his.

It is 30 December 2019, and the year and decade are almost over.  I went to pay my taxes today at the ‘new and larger and improved’ Dallas County Tax Office.  I have never had to wait over 5 minutes to pay my property taxes in the year’s past at the old smaller office.  (Titling a vehicle or registering one, or getting license plate renewal; well, that was a different story).  At noon, there was over a 2-hour 40-minute wait for property taxes and 5 plus hour wait to get a car registered or renew license plates.  Gee, I can’t wait for the government to run all the medical facilities where I need to go to see a doctor.  Yes, I left and went and mailed it in.  (only a 40-minute wait at the post office-I needed them to postmark my receipt and envelope.)

We had a good year this last twelve months.  New things we tried seemed to have been liked by most.  The swap shop was fun and lots of items were moved from one home to another.  Thanks to all who both brought items to sell/swap, and also those who took them home.  Another was the outside loops at Discovery Gardens in Dallas.  Three loops up and running.  We now have outdoor loops on the east side (Discovery Gardens) of the metroplex (Dallas/Collin County) and also the west side (Clark Gardens) of the Metroplex (Parker/Palo Pinto County).

Great Annual Christmas Gathering at Donna Orr’s and Roger Shank’s home with light show and lots and lots of indoor trains.  Outdoor track is there, but needs help.  It never recovered from the flood of 2015 and 2017.  Fun was had by all.  Well, most.  Chinese gift exchange was great gifts but Lane lost the most prized gift that his wife wanted.  Try again next year Lane.

As far as activities go, I think all the months are accounted for except for a home meeting in February, but that is Vard Moore’s backyard and bailiwick.  He will find us a spot I am sure.

As I write this, we have our three grandkids (5, 6, and 8), my son and his partner, my daughter AND a new addition to our clan.  NO, not a baby, but a 17-year-old exchange student from Italy.  Paola is with us and my wife and I are really into introducing her to new things.  One recently was hibachi cooking.  Watching her eyes as those cooking utensils whirled and twirled in the air was amazing, but when that grill burst into flames, those eyes were as wide as the old moon hub caps of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  She is a straight A student and is wanting to be a psychiatrist. She is an amazing young lady.

                                                         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.  The January board meeting will be held during the Plano train show.  (On Saturday around noonish - location TBD.)

Pondering of the Month

I look at people and sometimes think "really? -- that's the sperm that won?"

What is your Club thinking about?

We have the second LED light fixture to install in the trailer and also need to replace some tie down rings.  Also, larger wheels on 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 in which David, Patrick and Tom will be off at the same time.


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

February Home Meeting - OPEN

March 29th, 2:00 - 4:00 PM:  Home Meeting - 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

AUGUST - Cook’s Children’s Hospital
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

How many of you run streetcars without the overhead wires? While LGB does have model catenary wires and poles for sale, and streetcars and electric locomotives that can run from either track or the overhead wires, many of us we just run them from the track. Oh, I have set up a simple circle with overhead power temporarily, but most of the time, I run from track power. With longer tracks and critters like squirrels, rabbits, possums, hawks, and bobcats having their run of my backyard, serious use of overhead for my streetcars and electric locomotives is not very likely. Well, overhead wires are something that some prototype operators would like to get rid of as well, especially in tourist areas.
I first got a whiff of possible solutions in Bordeaux, France. In the central area frequented by tourists, they run their streetcars without overhead.  They have something running down the middle between the rails. Shades of Lionel! Reasonably confident that they had no intention of killing off too many tourists, I walked all over the tracks, even in the rain.

Rather curious about having survived, I tried figuring out how they did it. Eventually I had to resort to the Internet. Apparently both the power and ground connections are both through that center thing.  It is divided into short segments. The trick is controlling the power so that only those segments directly below the streetcar are live. Everything not under the streetcar is turned off. Thank goodness their software is relatively bug free.
My next encounter with streetcars running without overhead wires was in Seville, Spain.  There they avoid overhead wires in the central city by raising a pantograph at the stops only. Special supercapacitors allow charging in 30 seconds. Additional charging is provided using regenerative braking. This technique saves construction and maintenance costs – no overhead wires and no complex systems running along every length of track. Perhaps a similar system could be developed for battery powered model trains.


The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  How about power supplies?  Had I known that G took 14 to 21 VDC when I started, I would not have purchased my Tech3 Model 9500 Power Command from MRC.

A:  It is true that G generally takes a higher voltage to run trains than the smaller scales. However another important factor to consider is the amperage being drawn by G equipment. Most G starter sets will include a power pack which will handle the engine of the set plus perhaps one lighted car. In other words, these packs have about a 2 amp capacity.
A rule of thumb for figuring what you will need is as follows:
  • Each locomotive which will be operating on the track at the same time will draw between .75 and 1.5 amps each. There may be some exceptions where the individual draw can go as high as 3 amps.
  • If incandescent lights on the cars are going to be used you can figure a draw of .5 amp per lighted car. If the car uses LEDs for lighting, the draw will be significantly less perhaps as low as .05 amp per car.
  • If a smoke unit is going to be used, figure on .75 to 1 amps per smoke unit. Note some locomotives have multiple smoke units.
If you add up these amperage draws, you can then appropriately size the amperage needs for your power pack.

Another factor to consider when getting a power pack is whether it puts out pure DC or if it puts out PWM (Pulse Width Modulation).

PWM is a system where a constant voltage (let’s say 24v) is put out by the pack but through rapidly turning that voltage off and on makes the devices using that voltage think that they are getting a lower voltage. PWM has been around for a fairly long time and is often used to control industrial motors. Because the voltage being modulated is high, this may cause the motors to run hotter. In the early days, LGB warned against using PWM because it would damage their sound systems.

Pure DC is generally more expensive than PWM systems.

A final thing to consider in getting a power pack is whether it has a set of accessory connectors that will put out a constant voltage (usually close to the maximum voltage of the pack).
The twist on the accessory connectors is whether the output is AC or DC.

While the trains run using DC, some accessories, most notably the LGB EPL system, require AC to operate as designed. Specifically, the EPL system needs 17v AC for proper operation.

Any additional comments are welcome.

That’s wraps up our January Newsletter!  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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