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


2020 Club Calendar

Sep - Clark Gardens Festival - Cancelled
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show
- Cancelled
Nov - Home Meeting - Cancelled
Dec - Christmas Party - Donna Orr & Roger Shank

2021 Club Calendar

Jan - Plano Train Show

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the August NTGRC newsletter!  With the COVID threat still in full force, I’m beginning to think I’m in the great Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where I’m trapped in a time loop and forced to relive the same day repeatedly.  The only thing we seem to have going for us here in North Texas is that we’ve had a relatively mild (stress relatively) summer thus far.  Officially, to date Dallas-Fort Worth has had only two days thus far that have hit the magic 100-degree mark, although the heat index has exceeded 100 several more times.  In any event, we actually have a Club event to report this month, as well as some other new articles to keep you entertained in these uncertain times.  Read on to see what your Club has been up to, and discover several other interesting train-related articles from the great world of railroading.

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Your club is doing all it can to think of venues where all our members will be safe.  These are times we will win over, but it will take a while.  Stay safe.

I will let you read about our meeting and Swap ‘n Shop in Vard Moore’s article.  We met (approximately 40 people), enjoyed each other’s company, and we all stayed safe.  We celebrated Susan Foster’s (mayor of Plasticville) 30th birthday.  Though no one dared ask her which anniversary of her 30th birthday it was.  We had cake and sang Happy Birthday.

Trains were all running in the Gardens, thanks to Pete, Charlie, Paul, Julie, Patrick and Johnny.

Some members brought items to find a new home, others took them to a new home and some just moved some out and new items in their home.

Club provided the meal; Street tacos, quesadillas and Nachos Grande were enjoyed by all and many said it was really good food.

There might not be any events in this calendar year due to COVID, and our annual Christmas gathering is something we will decide much later.  We will see if this COVID is dying out or just laying in wait for an unsuspecting host. We will cancel all home meetings for 2020 and there will be no Train runs as the Fall Plano Train show, Cooks Children’s Hospital and Scottish Rite Hospital train runs are all cancelled for this year.

So, in August let’s think about helping out and think about a couple of hours providing love to trains.  Contact Ron Natinsky (214 415 2400) for Discovery Gardens and let him know you are coming; Pete Dahlberg for Clark Gardens (817 478 4776) or David Valdez (917 939 6400) to work on the trailer.

We held our second board meeting in person since the restrictions were placed on restaurants and gatherings, at Spring Creek BBQ in Grapevine, Texas.  All board members were present: Remember we elect members to the board not to specific positions.  Positions were determined at the first board meeting after the election.  Your new board members and positions are:

Thomas Lytle              President
Vard Moore                 1st Vice President
Dr. Johnny Nelson       2nd Vice President
Ron Natinsky               3rd Vice President
Patrick Miller                Secretary
Pete Dahlberg             Treasurer
Ron Trees                    Editor/Webmaster


This is reprinted with permission from SVGRSC newsletter “VALLEY FLYER,” Volume 31 Number 7 July 2020  (August 2020 newsletter).

COVID Entertainment     By Suzy Namba

Here are some websites that can help fill a portion of that void that was created by our lack of safe availability to visit each other’s railways this year:  Check out over 90 minutes of some of our club members’ layouts and 3 days of layout tours from the 2019 NGRC in Portland.  Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum’s new G Scale layout (10.5 minutes)  Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. This ride on is located in Los Gatos, CA. (9.5 minutes) Palo Verde & Southwestern Railroad. This G scale USA Trains Big Boy is shown pulling 152 cars at a weight of 406 pounds! (8.5 minutes)  Central Iowa Garden Railroad Society’s 2013 Open House (4.5 minutes)  Great Western Reserve Railroad, Montgomery, OH (8.5 Minutes) Medford Oregon Garden Railroaders’ layout at Medford Oregon Railroad Park (9.5 minutes)

PLEASE, ALL OF YOU MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND COME TO A BOARD MEETING.  We hold them on the 4th Tuesday of the month (unless there is an event close to the end of the month, then we will hold them at the event) at 6 PM (because we go through and get our dinner, and eat and discuss our Club) at Spring Creek BBQ,315 W State Highway 114, Grapevine, TX 76051.  Watch for BOGO coupons in a mailer in your mail box.   

But anyway, we will resume board meetings and home meetings as soon as it is safe for our mature and more experienced club members to safely attend.  See the event schedule below:

Pondering of the Month

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt, and is named 'Ahmal.' The other goes to a family in Spain; they named him 'Juan.’

Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

What is your Club thinking about?

We have the second LED light fixture to install in the trailer and replace some tie down rings.  Looking for a warm day and one which David, and Tom will be off at the same time.

Still have some bridges to install at Clark Gardens. 

We have outdoor water proof wiring to run from the control area to tracks at Clark Gardens

We also have some track leveling and re-ballasting at both locations of Discovery and Clark Gardens.

And we have some cedar planking to remove and replace.


SEPTEMBER  5TH AND 6th Clark Garden’s Labor Day Weekend Train show. Set up on September 4th, with a No Host dinner to follow at the Mesquite Pit in Mineral Wells (not in Weatherford).  Hosted dinner on September 5th by Clark Gardens.  Reservations @ Best Western Mineral Wells 940-325-2270  cancelled

SEPTEMBER 27th—OCTOBER 20th, Texas State Fair... Ron Natinsky needs members for two blocks of time daily during the Fair to run trains.  Free parking and if names turned in, in advance free Fair Admission for two. (two must run the trains) Cancelled

OCTOBER 12th One Day     Fall Council show Plano— cancelled
NOVEMBER Date TBD, Scottish Rite 2-day train run. Cancelled
NOVEMBER Date TBD, Home Meeting Cancelled
DECEMBER 6th, 3 PM Annual Christmas Meeting Donna Orr’s and Roger Shank’s home.  {possible cancellation}
JANUARY 20TH AND 21ST PLANO TRAIN SHOW Setup on the 19th at 1 PM followed by a no host dinner at the Bavarian Grill.  More information to follow.
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

Finally, a club meeting! We held our July meeting at Clark Gardens. Clark Gardens, currently closed except to members, opened up for us to have a meeting with proper precautions against the coronavirus. We had the large East tent all to ourselves. With the two giant fans and plenty of shade, it was as comfortable as you can get outdoors in July in Texas. There was plenty of room for social distancing. People wore masks, and our club president, Thomas Lytle, had “Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad” masks for sale. He also took temperatures of everyone, per instructions of the county judge.
The club hosted a catered dinner of Mexican food – quite tasty. There was plenty of ice water available. There was even a birthday cake as one guest was celebrating her birthday. Tables were set up by the Clark Gardens folks for our swap and sell event. We did not set up the club trains in the tent for this two-hour event, but the Clark Gardens permanent layout was available for viewing. Contact Pete Dahlberg if you would like to help work on this layout. Clark Gardens is closed right now to non-members but is scheduled to reopen this fall September 4th.  Alas, the coronavirus has caused a postponement of the Clark Gardens Model Train Show, which usually ushers in their fall season the weekend before Labor Day.
Many thanks to Clark Gardens and the Clark family.
Since we had a meeting in July, this month’s episode is titled “Coronavirus Chronicles: Places You Can’t Visit Now.” The big event this month, and I mean really BIG in the world of garden railroading, was the opening on July 1st of the layout at the Berg & Tal Abenteuer-Resort, also known as the Snow Dome Bispingen. Bispingen is a town in Germany, about 60 km south of Hamburg. The Snow Dome is a large, all year artificial ski slope to which additional attractions are being added. The “Modellbau Welten” is built underneath the ski slope, so it is roofed. However, there are no side walls, so it is an open air G-scale (1:22.5) layout. Construction took 14 months. The layout and view paths cover 12,000 square meters (about 3 acres). There are 20 kilometers of track. They have 500 trains running though 50 “model worlds.” The model worlds are themed to various locations all around the globe.

                       Layout under construction under the ski slope

Portion of layout at Berg & Tal Abenteuer-Resort

Unfortunately, we cannot travel to Germany right now because of the coronavirus, but we can watch videos on the internet:
    (in German)
   (in English)
or look at the Facebook for the “Snow Dome Bispingen” page for some more videos.
The folks at Bispingen have applied to the Guinness Book of World Records to be recognized as the world’s largest model railroad. The current holder of the title is not far off, in the city of Hamburg proper. It is the massive HO (1:87) layout of the “Minatur Wunderland.”  It even includes a large model airport for our aviation enthusiasts. Their website is .
Also of note in Hamburg is a large scale layout on the second floor of the Museum of Hamburg History (Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte). It is 1-gauge, that is to say, 1:32 running on the same 45mm track as LGB etc. It is a club operated layout with more emphasis on operations, modeling some of the area around Hamburg. The club website offers the best information.
Actually I haven’t been to Hamburg yet, so if you get there before I do bring back pictures! In the meantime, watch your emails as coronavirus has disrupted our club schedules. Contact me, Vard Moore, , if you would like to schedule a home meeting. Public health restrictions appear to be pretty limiting in the near future.

Here is our schedule for the next few months, subject to change:
SEPTEMBER 5th -6th – (Set-up 4rd) Clark Garden’s Train Show   Cancelled
New dates will be posted soon so you can just move your Reservations @ Best Western Mineral Wells 940-325-2270

SEPTEMBER 27th—OCTOBER 20th, Texas State Fair Cancelled
OCTOBER 12th Plano Train Show One Day     Cancelled by North Texas Council of Trains
DECEMBER CHRISTMAS DINNER 6 December@ 3PM – CHRISTMAS PARTY Donna Orr and Roger Shank’s home

JANUARY 20th, Set up 19 Jan @ 1:00 PM Plano Train Show No Host Diner 5:30 PM Bavarian Grill on Friday 19 January.

Texas Discovery Garden News

By Ron Natinsky

Happenings at the Garden Trains at Texas Discovery Gardens
Despite the summer heat and Covid-19, things are happening at Texas Discovery Gardens.
First off, after three months of being of being closed down due to quarantine, Texas Discovery Gardens is open again. Currently the hours are 10-5 on Wednesday thru Sunday. We only run the trains on Saturday and Sunday. You can imagine that after being closed for that long and there being nothing else open at Fair Park, that it’s been slow for attendance to pick-up. The,n combined with continued limitations of the number of people allowed, it’s hurt attendance. Still no more birthday parties and only small weddings. Kind of a bummer but we’re dealing with it. The trains have been running on Saturday and Sunday for the last 2 months, chugging and rumbling along.
Actually, that gives more time to deal with maintenance and additions. Been re-ballasting the track. I still can’t figure where the decomposed granite that we used for ballast goes. The same thing happened at my house; the ballast just disappears. Somewhere there are tons of ballast.  Along the rock hauling agenda, we picked up more than a ton of pebble stone and spread it around the town areas over the base rock. It now looks a lot nicer. Where were all those hard-working club members when we were hauling it from Russ’s very cute Honda Ridgeline Pickup (only a quarter ton at a time) to the train layout?
Some big news is that the air-conditioner is finally installed and powered up in The Discovery Station Depot building. Although it’s a window style unit we actually had to cut an opening in the side wall and install new studs and bracing for the unit. Why you might ask? Well, the rear window was actually too shallow when opened for the unit we needed. And secondly, installing it at the west side was better for the building by being more out of the way. Thirdly, it was way more difficult and Russ and I enjoyed a challenge. And fourthly it proved our engineering and construction skills. Ran power and we’re ready to sit back with a cold one.

So on to the latest news from the Discovery Gardens. We inherited a small version of Big Tex during the build. Not sure where it came from, but it looked like something that was built by the crew at Paul Busse’s joint, all-natural stuff. Well, all the “all-natural stuff” was disintegrating and poor old Tex was almost back to the dust that he came from. So, I undertook the job of ripping him back to the ones and using canned foam and building him back up. I discovered during the job that the Great Foam that I’ve used in the past is not that great. The foam is not an even consistency and tends to be goopy. I discovered at Home Depot that they also carry Loctite Foam. It’s got even tiny bubble and seems to hold together better. I’m not sure but it’s a different chemical type of foam, feels softer and nicer. Not that it matters for most applications but it’s bright white in color and says it won’t be harmed by UV. So many cans later I’ve got Tiny Tex, or whatever we decide to call him, well on his way to being rebuilt. After all the foam work is completed and I get his head on I’ll start painting him. Nancy said she didn’t know I had sculpting skills in my toolbox. Since the State Fair is not going to happen this year then this is the only Big Tex at Fair Park. Anybody have an old cowboy hat I can use?

Now back to the Depot building. Built a test track so I can test engines and cars inside the cool Depot building instead of outside. Put the workbench to good use to repair the sound system on the Sante Fe B unit. It’s back to new now. Geezz that German engineering is great, but it takes a wizard to take apart that B unit just to get to the insides. Once you do it it’s easy.

Actually, yesterday we had a surprise visit to the Texas Discovery Gardens. President Tom and his 2 grandkids came down for an inspection tour. I didn’t hear any complaints, so I think we passed with flying colors.
So, if anyone has time on Saturday or Sunday, come on down to Texas Discovery Gardens and help out. If nothing else, you can run the trains. Oh yes, the next project is to install Pink insulation board to the walls of the Depot. Volunteers? Trains open 10-5 on Sat and Sun.

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  There was no real question posed this month, but there has been discussion over the years about how to keep a Bachmann Big Hauler (4-6-0) on the track.

A:   The original Bachmann Big Hauler (and the Anniversary version) has a front truck which is made of plastic.  The purpose of this truck is to guide the drivers into curves and as a power pickup. The problem is that because this truck is made of plastic, it is light weight and can easily bounce off less that perfectly smooth track. In addition, it is connected to the body of the engine with a plastic shaft which is approximately 1/8” in diameter. This can easily snap off.

The original solution was to put additional weight on the truck. At Clark Gardens, we had access to some sheet lead which we cut to fit over the axle supports (front and rear) and hot glued in place. Another solution for weighting the truck would be to use the self-adhesive tire balancing weights available at a tire store. Although this worked better, it did not fix the issue of the plastic shaft snapping.

A better solution is the newly designed Bachmann front truck. It is made of metal and uses a different method of attaching to the body of the chassis. It is currently available from the Bachmann parts department but in limited quantities to each customer. Because of the new method of mounting, you can either buy a new chassis bottom plate or modify the old bottom plate to accept the new mount.

This is the new front truck. The square plate to the left is the mount for the the truck to the bottom plate of the chassis. The wires are the power pickup and are long enough to reach the main pickup point in the chassis.

This is an old style chassis bottom plate (3 screws hold it to the chassis). The original truck mounting area is the curved cutout in the chassis bottom plate. The new truck mounting area will be inside the chassis bottom plate to the right of the blue tape. 

Steps: 1. Unscrew the square mounting plate from the arm of the new truck.

2. Turn over the chassis bottom plate.  Note: White paper added to increase visibility of placement. Blue tape indicates thickness of wall connecting lower section of chassis bottom plate.

3 Center the square mounting plate on the chassis bottom plate so that you can drill a hole for the mounting plate shaft. 

4. Put the mounting plate shaft through the hole in the chassis bottom plate and mark for the 4 mounting plate holes. 

5. Drill the 4 mounting plate holes and install the mounting plate using nuts, bolts and washers. 

6. Turn over the chassis bottom plate and drill a hole centered on the blue tape.

7 Thread the power wires through the hole in the blue tape. 

8. Reattach the new truck to the mounting shaft.

This is the new truck mounted in the old chassis bottom plate compared to an original truck mounting (upper chassis) .


The Dining Car

This month's Dining Car features breakfast recipes from Cooking Gourmet in a Tiny Kitchen, with Executive Chef Jean Pierre Guerin of the Rocky Mountaineer.  It is reprinted with their permission and our thanks!


Rocky Mountaineer showcases the Pacific Northwest through to the Canadian Rockies — some of the most stunning scenery in the world. The gourmet cuisine offered onboard is equally impressive and offers a taste of the bountiful regions along our routes. Our delectable cuisine has become an integral part of the experience and is a key contributor to our status as a world-renowned, award-winning train.

Our award-winning Chefs at Rocky Mountaineer are the tiny kitchen experts and know when it comes to kitchen space, size doesn't matter. So, if you've been hesitant to cook gourmet meals at home because you have a small space, lack of kitchen gadgets or find you need a little help in the culinary skills department, these recipes and tips are for you!


Jean Pierre Guerin – Executive Chef (RMC)

An award-winning chef in Vancouver, BC and abroad, Jean Pierre Guerin began his career at five-star hotels and restaurants in France, Canada and the Caribbean.

He was Executive Chef at the Pan Pacific Hotel's Five Sails Restaurant, one of Vancouver's finest dining establishments. Jean Pierre was also Executive Chef of Lalique Restaurant in Hong Kong and has worked as Head Chef for the prestigious British Columbia Club. He created meals for the likes of former President Bill Clinton, Meryl Streep and Princess Diana. The recipient of many culinary awards, Jean Pierre Guerin is known for his talents in creating mouth-watering fusion cuisine.

Frédéric Couton – Executive Chef (RMC)

Born in the French Alps, Frédéric Couton trained in Michelin-starred restaurants before moving on to hone his culinary skills in the Hilton hotels of Paris, Geneva, Montréal and Bangkok.

After relocating to Vancouver, Frédéric took a position as Executive Chef at the prestigious British Columbia Club. Following that, he became Executive Chef at Vancouver's Cannery Seafood House Restaurant, an institution in Vancouver's dining scene since the early 1970s. He has won many international awards in culinary competitions both at home and abroad. Frédéric Couton is known for his innovative creations and his artistic presentations.


Weight has long been the measurement of standard used by professional chefs. With tightly and loosely packed ingredients (not to mention liquids with radically different properties), it's simply the best method for getting great results from a recipe. Weight is already the system for cooking in countries like England, Australia and South Africa, while Canadian and American cooks tend to rely on volume. Of course, not everyone owns a cooking scale. And the whole point is moot if you can't use the recipes. To help you navigate the confusing world of cooking measurements, all the recipes in this book include metric and volume amounts. We've also created this handy guide for those who cook by volume. We hope you enjoy the experience of recreating these Canadian-inspired recipes in your own kitchen.


Serves 6


250 g       2 cups       cake flour
1 tsp                          salt
1 Tbsp                       baking powder
200 g       1 ½ cups   dried cranberries (previously soaked)
2                                large eggs
200 ml      ¾ cup        light cream 10%
1 Tbsp                       butter, melted

Cranberry Marmalade
400 g        4 cups       cranberries (fresh or frozen)
3 Tbsp                        sugar
7 Tbsp                        berry syrup

  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt together
  • Add the sugar, then stir in soaked dry cranberries
  • Add eggs, light cream and melted butter together in a large bowl
  • Add these wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well
  • Ladle pancake mix onto lightly oiled frying pan
  • Slowly cook until golden on both sides
Cranberry Marmalade
  • Add oil to a pan on medium heat
  • Add the fresh cranberries and sugar
  • Once sugar has dissolved, add the berry syrup
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened
  • Serve warm and drizzle with fresh cranberry marmalade


Serves 4

Scrambled Eggs
8                              free range eggs
to taste                     ground pepper
to taste                     fine salt
100 ml       ½ cup     whipping cream

Crème Fraîche
100 ml       ½ cup      whipping cream
2 Tbsp                      buttermilk
to taste                     salt and pepper
4                               spring onion

200 g        1 cup       smoked salmon best quality/pre sliced
1 Tbsp                      fish eggs caviar
to taste                     breakfast sausage
to taste                     selection of seasonal vegetables

Crème Fraîche
  • Combine whipping cream and buttermilk
  • Add chopped spring onions to whipping cream and buttermilk
  • Cover and refrigerate for three days until thickened
Sausage and Vegetables
  • Slice seasonal vegetables – mushrooms work well; add to a well-oiled pan
  • Add sliced breakfast sausage
  • Add blanched potatoes; season
  • Cook 5-10 minutes
Scrambled Eggs
  • Whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper
  • Add whisked eggs to pan and stir continuously on very low heat until eggs have thickened and are almost cooked, but still soft
  • Immediately remove from heat and add whipping cream
  • Add scrambled eggs to centre of plate
  • Spoon crème fraîche directly over the eggs and garnish with fish caviar
  • Place smoked salmon beside the scrambled eggs
  • Add the cooked vegetables and sausage
  • Serve dish immediately

Make sure you stir the eggs continuously – they cook quickly. Remove from heat just before they’re cooked because they will continue to cook in the pan and quickly become overcooked. Add whipping cream to keep them moist


That’s it for our August Newsletter!  Everyone please take precautions and stay safe from COVID-19.  Since the remainder of our Fall events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, I hope to see many of our members at our next scheduled event, our Annual Christmas Party in December.

As always, thanks for reading.
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