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


2019 Club Calendar

Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show
Nov - Home Meeting TBD
Dec - Christmas Party - Donna Orr & Roger Shank

2020 Club Calendar

Jan - Plano Winter Train Show
Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Home Meeting TBD
Apr - Home Meeting TBD
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
Jun - Annual Meeting - TBD
Jul - Home Meeting TBD
Aug - Cook's Childrens Hospital/
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Sep - Home Meeting TBD
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show

Nov - Home Meeting TBD
Dec - Christmas Party - TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the September NTGRC Newsletter!  While we're at mid-September in time, our constant high temperatures and little rainfall make it seem like we're still back in August!  This is always an exciting time of year though - we completed our annual Labor Day weekend train run at Clark Gardens, football season is starting up again and the fortunes of our favorite teams are starting to take shape, and the State Fair of Texas will be opening in a few weeks on September 27th.  Read on to find out the details of what the Club has been doing for the past month, as well as upcoming events for the Fall and beyond.

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

It is now Wednesday after Labor Day, and the webmaster is pushing your Board for their news articles.  I am just starting to recover from the ‘flood’ the previous Friday, the day before the annual Labor Day Weekend Train Show event at Clark Gardens.  Over an hour of heavy, heavy rain.  The staff at the Gardens showed up with squeegees to help push away the water, but the harder they tried, the heavier the rain fell.  The pictures below will give you some idea of the deluge.  

Now, the bright spots were that when we laid the carpet, we left almost 18 inches between the rolls, and that allowed us to extend our layout.  It also turned into five water features like canals, as the water ran through to the other side.  No avail, all the carpet was still damp to wet on Sunday afternoon.  David Valdez got it home and laid it over the trailer, the boat, and the truck (no not his wife’s Tesla).

Now let me digress.  Thursday evening, the night before he was to bring the trailer to Mineral Wells, David hooks up our trailer and was about to go get the tires checked for proper air pressure.  He found a buddy bearing blown out.  So, at 9:00 PM at night he is replacing that bearing with a bearing a neighbor (who saw him working on the trailer and found out what was wrong) went and removed from his trailer to loan us.  Well, the borrowed bearing was not in that good of condition either, but much better than the destroyed bearing.  How nice for that neighbor to step up and assist David.  David was done by 9:30 and inside eating dinner.  (I don’t think he ever did get the tire pressure checked.)  That bad bearing could have failed on the road the next day.  By the time you read this, all four old bearings will have been replaced with new buddy bearings.  Thank you, David and your un-named neighbor!

AND My thanks to all of you who came out, set up, ran trains and helped tear down.  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Discovery Gardens

Two loops are installed, leveled, decomposed granite (DG) installed, tracks powered and running trains.  Corporate sponsors (guys with the big bucks) will not receive their money until October 1st, and the Gardens will receive money after that for the big stuff.  BUT our club members stepped up under the control of Ron Natinsky and got the job done in two weekends. 

Now they need volunteers to come run the trains during the State Fair.  See the information below from Ron on how to do it and how to get your free pass and parking into the Fair.

Contact:  Ron Natinsky - - 972-732-4000

There has been great progress on getting the garden trains constructed at Texas Discovery Gardens (TDG). We have two loops, one larger than the other, completed with track and ballasting. They’re both wired up and we’re getting ready to work on buildings and some other decorations. This weekend we’ll be finishing the control center and getting some sidings in place. The loops are large radius so they should handle any equipment. And yes, it’s track power with Bridgewerks power packs. We also have people, animals and all sorts of decoration to place around.

If you’ve not come out to help with the construction it’s not too late, we’re trying to work on Saturday and Sunday at 11, so if you’re interested please email Ron Natinsky at   Ron has had a lot of help from Pete Dahlberg, Gavin Dickson, Russ Foster, John Kersey, Patrick Miller, and Jerry Raskin.  They hauled rock, decomposed granite, built walls, laid track and more.  If you can’t work, you can always lend moral support or bring some trains to test on the trackwork.

The next big thing is to get as many volunteers as possible to help run the trains during the State Fair. If you’re interested, please contact Evann Whitt at Texas Discovery Gardens, and let her know what you’re interested in doing. She is trying to set up 2 time frames each day, from opening to early afternoon and then from early afternoon till about 7-8. She is very flexible on the times, so if you can’t do those slots exactly then, get with her and she’ll make adjustments. She also has TDG volunteers that want to help but they know nothing yet about the trains so they can be a good support team. They really need someone there at all times to be the key train person at the control station.

Now, what do you get if you volunteer you ask?  She will supply you with a pass to get into the State Fair for free and there is parking right next to the TDG. Those two things themselves are priceless, getting in for free and really close-in parking, it can’t get much better.  Evann can use help at whatever times and days you can schedule.

So if you’re interested, contact Evann and remember that if you have a spouse/partner/significant other/friend/child/ etc., that will be coming with you  (to help you run the trains) please get their name on the list as a volunteer so they can get a pass to get in also. Obviously, they won’t need a parking pass.  Evann is waiting for your email to volunteer at  If I’ve missed anything please email me with any questions about the trains at, but Evann is the person keeping the schedule. The dates for the State Fair are Sept 27 thru Oct 20. Let’s show TDG and the State Fair that the NTGRC can step up to the plate and help. This will expose garden railroading to a huge number of people (almost 3,000,000 people attend the Fair) that could get interested and even join the club.

Oh yes, one final item, if anyone has their own trains that they want to run at TDG while you’re volunteering, the answer is yes, you can bring them and run them on the layouts. The Bridgewerks power packs are waiting.

Oops, one more thing. This is a permanent layout, so after the State Fair, the Texas Discovery Gardens will be running the trains on a to-be-developed schedule. So not only will they be looking for volunteers but this can also be a place for those that either don’t have their own layout or just want to get together and run trains to meet and run their trains.

Pondering of the Month

The moment when you are watching your steak on the grill and you can feel your mouth starting to water………
Do Vegans feel the same way when they mow the lawn?

What is your Club thinking about?

We are moving ahead with bridge repair and replacement at Clark Gardens.  Bridges and buildings that the peacocks and guineas can’t destroy by perching on them.   

Also, Pete Dahlberg and JC Greenlee are replacing power packs and new controllers.  The old units are over 15 years old and were designed many, many years before that.  Changing power to pure DC and old mechanical controls to solid state are coming along very well.  AND it is almost $500 under budget.    Thanks to Pete and JC!


October 12th Fall Plano Train Show, Plano Events Center, One Day, Set up October 11th at 2 PM.  No host dinner to follow at the Bavarian Grill, 221 W Parker Road, Plano, TX on Friday 11 Oct.

November TBD Home Meeting Can you host?

December 8th 4 PM Christmas Gathering Donna Orr and Roger Shank’s home, 2625 Rolling Meadows Drive, Rockwall TX 75087.  Christmas light show to music.  Something to see.  Can we get 100% of our members to attend?  Mark your calendars now!

One Last Item

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.)


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, 1st VP

I missed the outing to Clark Gardens, but it looks like a big success in spite of some rain. Ron Trees took some great photos, a few of which appear below. The layout certainly looked terrific, and I think that the parallel streetcar lines are a great addition.

Many people were at the Clark Gardens ‘Train Fest” for the setup and both days of running. The list includes Jeff Boggess, Pete Dahlberg, Paul Gramza and Julie Spencer, JC Greenlee, Brenda and Lane Haviland, Joyce and Jack Huffman, Tom Lytle, Patrick Miller, Bob Milow, Johnny Nelson, Mike Pritchett, Ryan Reed, David and Edi St. John, Ron Trees, and Cindy and David Valdez. John Kersey came to run his train as well. We also have a new member, James Dolande, who joined Saturday. I hope no one was left off the list. Apologies to Art Dingee, who was left off the list last year.
Well, where was I during Clark Gardens Train Fest?  My wife, Becky, and I were at this year’s National Garden Railway Convention in Portland, Oregon. The convention was a great success with five days of tours of layouts that we attended. There were additional layouts in the pre-convention and post-convention tours that were not on the bus tours and we did not see. In additional to lots of very nice G scale layouts, we saw (and rode on) some 7 ½ inch gauge layouts.

Remarkable layouts included an indoor G scale layout, larger and definitely more detailed than the layout at TrainTopia in Frisco. It is not generally open to the public, and the same owner has a huge 7½-inch track with a massive trestle. On the other hand, the Molalla Train Park at Shady Dell ( is open to the public on summer Sunday is with lots of 7½-inch gauge and some G scale. There was a tour inside the Molalla Round house with over thirty tracks of live steam 7 ½ inch gauge locomotives. There was also a visit to the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club’s 4200 square foot HO layout ( in Portland. It is open to the public a few weekends a year (November?) with a paid admission. We also enjoyed a visit to Staver Locomotive where there is a very large set of G gauge tracks dedicated to running live steam G scale (
The real highlight of the convention was riding in a train pulled by the famous Southern Pacific GS-4 steam locomotive 4449. It was once part of the Freedom Train, but now restored to the Daylight paint scheme. It is located at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center ( in Portland.

Upcoming National Garden Railway Conventions will be in Nashville (May 31-June 6, 2020) ( and in Denver (2021).

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  A light on my equipment has burnt out. How can I replace it?

A: The simple answer is to buy a replacement lamp from the manufacturer.

However, the problem will be determining which lamp you need to purchase and how to remove the old burnt out lamp. The answer to these questions will vary markedly depending on which company manufactured the piece.

USA Trains has a very helpful service department so finding the correct lamp is merely describing to the technician which locomotive or car it is from and where the lamp is located. Unfortunately USAT does not have any wiring diagrams nor exploded parts diagrams to help with the removal or installation. Some lamps are plug-ins while others are soldered to circuit boards. It should also be noted that lamps can be either incandescent or LED.

LGB has wiring diagrams as well as exploded parts views which contain detail part numbers. Train-Li has on its website the diagrams. However finding the diagram(s) appropriate for your equipment is difficult since they are not organized by model number. It should be noted that LGB frequently will use the same fixture for lamps of different voltage so you will need to be careful to match your lamp with the voltage present in the fixture.

Bachmann has exploded parts diagrams available for many of their items, however I do not recall ever seeing a wiring diagram. Presumably from the parts diagram, you will be able to order the appropriate lamp, however if the part is not available you may not have the specifications for ordering a substitute.

Aristocraft had both wiring and exploded parts diagrams available on their web forum. Unfortunately, this site is no longer available. As sources you may look for other Large Scale forums for help. Examples are: George
Schreyer, Greg Elmassian

Good luck!

Who's That??

By JC Greenlee, 2nd VP

This part of our monthly newsletter is going to be for us to get to know each other a little better.  The intent is for 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.   We started out for the first few months with members of the Board, and then plan to move to other members.  This month we will provide the bio of our Board Member and Public Relations Officer, Johnny Nelson.

Where are you from and how long have you been in North Texas?  I’m from Henderson, TX, and have been in North Texas since 1977.

What do you do for a living?  If you are retired what was your claim to fame?  I’m a C.P.A and a Professor of Accounting and Finance.  I’ll be retired when they read my eulogy.

How long have you been into G Scale or Garden Railroading?  Since 1980.

Have you done other scales?  What scale Z N HO O On3 Large scale?  In addition to G scale, I’ve done N and HO scales.

What is your favorite Railroad?  Why? If you don’t have one is there a particular type of Locomotive that you like?  My favorite railroad is the Cumbres and Toltec.  I like Union Pacific and Santa Fe locomotives. 

Are you in all brands or are you into specific brands LGB, Pico, Aristocraft, Bachmann or ???  I like LGB, Aristocraft and USA Trains.

Do you currently have a layout that you would want to share with us? Pictures, ETC. or a small story about it.  I don’t have a current layout – Tom ate all of my money.

Anything else that you would like to share with us?  I’m a Vietnam Veteran with the U.S. Army from 1971 – 1973 and was awarded a Bronze Star.  I was a Soldier of the Month with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.

And just in case you don't recognize Johnny as he is pictured above, below is a picture of Johnny as you may be more normally used to seeing him.

Until the next station.- JC Greenlee


A Ride on the “The Canadian”
By:  Vard Moore

Last fall Becky and I rode Via Rail’s  “The Canadian” from Toronto to Vancouver.  We were with a tour group in the train’s Prestige Class, which is much nicer than anything that I have seen on Amtrak, but rather pricey too.  The train itself is a wonderful collection of refurbished 1950’s streamliner cars with fluted siding.

The trip was four nights and days following Canadian National tracks passing through Winnipeg, Edmonton, Jasper and Kamloops on the way to Vancouver. The scenery is wonderful starting with a huge expanse of forest with few roads and settlements. This is followed by wide open spaces.  The journey ends with the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. If you want snow-capped peaks, you may prefer the Rocky Mountaineer, because freight train delays put us through Jasper National Park about midnight. The Rocky Mountaineer is daylight only and not a sleeper train. The Rocky Mountaineer includes Banff on some routes instead of Jasper. Historical note, originally “The Canadian” was run by Canadian Pacific and went through Lake Louise and Banff.

The Prestige Class has very nice double room accommodations with a private/bath shower, couch, and at night a fold down “Murphy” bed, which seems slightly larger than a standard double bed. Pay attention to the thickness of carry on luggage as you put it under the bed at night. Prestige class has exclusive access to two sleeper cars and the tail end dome/bar/observation car until after dinner. Three concierges attend to the needs of the Prestige passenger including bringing drinks and hors d'oeuvres to you up in the dome. Meals and drinks are included.  The food is well prepared with soup or salad and desert courses included for lunch and dinner.  It is more of a luxury experience much like that of dining cars back in the fifties, not the stuff you get today. The dining car is shared with Sleeper Plus passengers.
Sleeper Plus accommodations include berths (with a curtain at night like in the old movies) and cabins for one, two, or three, which seem similar to Amtrak accommodations. Cabins have a private toilet (covered by bed at night so you might have to wander to the public rest room at the end of the car), but there is only one shower shared by everyone in the car. Sleeper patrons have meals in the dining cars included, but have to pay for alcoholic drinks.
Economy (coach) class seating is also available.  All passengers have access to the Skyline dome cars, where economy passengers may purchase food and drink. However, the number of passengers exceeds the number of dome seats. A panorama car is available on the mountain part of the journey. It is the only car that is not a classic streamliner car.

You will see lots of freight trains along the way. There are four complete train sets for the Canadian. Ours started with over 20 cars and picked up more in Edmonton. The train is downright beautiful. Oh, and you will see quite a few bald eagles on the western slopes. After Vancouver, go to Victoria on Vancouver Island if you can. You can see Butchart Gardens and maybe some nautical Eggliners in Victoria Harbor.


That's a wrap for our September Newsletter.  Hang in there through our Texas heat - I'm sure that Fall and cooler temperatures are just around the corner!  I hope to see many of our members at our next event, the Fall Plano Train Show on October 12th at the Plano Events Center,

As always, thanks for reading.
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