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North Texas Garden Railroad Club


2019 Club Calendar

Apr - Dave & Gerry Minna
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
May - Cumbres Toltec Texas Visitation
Jun - Annual Meeting - Lane & Brenda Haviland
Jul - Work session - Discovery Gardens
Aug - Cook's Childrens Hospital/
National Garden Railway Convention/
Clark Gardens Festival
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


Thanks for checking out our April NTGRC Newsletter!  April is the first full month of spring, and generally the time of year when the leaves come out and the grass starts growing green.  According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this month’s name came from the Latin word aperio, meaning “to open [bud],” because plants begin to grow now.  Although you’ve probably heard the term “April Showers,” April is not the wettest month in terms of overall rainfall (the wettest month in Dallas is May).  The term April Showers comes from the frequency of short, regular showers.
April is also contains the dreaded income tax day – April 15th, when everyone’s taxes for the previous year are due.  According to the IRS, as of April 6th, they had only received about two-thirds of the expected returns for this year, so about a third of the population files their returns (or an extension) within a week or so prior to or on this date.
The focus of this newsletter though is trains, not the weather or taxes, so without further ado, read on to find out about what the club is up to this month!

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

We had a Wonderful Meeting in March

Peggy and Ron Trees opened up their home to a very good turnout. Ron did a lot of hard work laying track around his yard and patio.  I think he had five loops of trains going at the same time.  Food looked really good, but being on a portion-controlled diet, I could only watch as our members grazed their way through some wonderfully looking sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  I tried the veggie tray with two carrots and ranch dressing, then some celery (no dressing).  AND the Broccoli was suburb. The unsweetened tea was fabulous.  Some pictures of the group are below.

Pondering of the Month

The sales lady at Men’s Warehouse told me that usually, men’s waist size in pants does not change after the age of 40.  However, the inseam of the pant’s legs does get shorter and shorter.

It is that time of year again – at the annual meeting at Lane and Brenda Havilland’s home on June 9th, we will be holding our annual election of Board officers.  The Board consists of 7 people who are the core of our club and they make decision affecting how we move forward as a hobby.  We elect 50% of our Board every year. 

Those elected are ONLY elected to the Board, not a position.  Once the full Board convenes, various positions will be assigned.  (New/old members not in attendance at that meeting get the less desirable jobs.)

The terms of Lane Haviland, Thomas Lytle, and Cincy Roerig end this year; however, Cindy Roerig has notified the Board she will not seek re-election.  The terms of Pete Dahlberg, JC Greenlee, Johnny Nelson, and Ron Trees expire in 2020.

We need you to step forward and offer your name on the ballot for 2019.  So, if you would like to have your voices heard and be a part of the engine that runs the club, please send in your name to any of the Board members to be put on the ballet.  If you would like to nominate someone else, just be sure they are willing to participate.


APRIL 28th --2:00 PM —HOME MEETING Dave and Gerry Minna home, 6519 Deloache Ave, Dallas, TX 75225.  (Click HERE for a map)
MAY 4th Cumbres & Toltec meeting in Cedar Park, TX.   Train rides, short meeting and lunch will be provided.  The 50-minute meeting will start at 8:30 AM and then (if you are a member of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec {$35 dollars family membership} AND emailed in your reservations) there is a train ride to Burnett, TX.  In Burnett, a lunch will be served (Free) and then we will board the train back to Cedar Park.  We will have a private car for our members) Four years ago it was well worth attending.  Talk to Pete or Tom if you have any questions.  We have special room rates on May 3rd at the Springhill by Marriott in Cedar Park.  YOU MUST BE A MEMBER OF THE FRIENDS OF THE CUMBRES & TOLTEC and MAKE A RESERVATION WITH THE FRIENDS HEADQUARTERS TO THE TRAIN RIDE.  LIMITED NUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE.  It is only $35.  Where else can you get a 4 hour train ride and free lunch for $35 for two people.  No walk ups.

MAY Date and Time to be Determined  SMU Campus Library, One Day 1 or 2 loop train run. In Observance of the 150-year (Sesquicentennial) Transcontinental driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point Utah.  This event will be hosted by Dr. Russell Martin, SMU Library.  Other than Ron & Peggy Trees, any Mustangs in our group?

MAY 19th Setup, MAY 20th and 21st Train Run: Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, 2222 Welborn Street, Dallas, Texas 75219 (Click HERE for a map)

JUNE 9th – 2:00 PM: ANNUAL HOME MEETING Lane and Brenda Haviland Home

August 27th - 30th, - 35th NATIONAL GARDEN RAILWAY CONVENTION, Portland, OR.  Will you be there? Or will you be at Clark Gardens?

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:

Our March meeting was held at the home of Ron and Peggy Trees. If you were not there, you missed a first-class snack lunch, which included a cherry cobbler to die for.  In fact, Kay Williams walked out the door with an entire 12” pan full!
So glad to see Peggy on her feet again, Ron says keeping her vertical is a full-time challenge.  Ron has moved his layout from the living room to the back yard again and as usual, it was first class and running!  A few pictures are below.

We had a short meeting but Tom’s article told you about that.  The weather was perfect so we spent most of the time outside by the railroad.
I had a couple of new banners made to display at the shows, which we had in view at the meeting.  It’s included in the group photos above, but a stand-alone picture is below.

The change of watch for the board is coming up in a couple of months and there will be openings on the board for new members to be involved.  Please, email or call Tom Lytle or myself if you are interested in helping the Club.
The next meeting will be at the home of Dave and Gerry Minna on April 28th at 2:00 PM.   Then on May 19th we will set up for the Scottish Rite hospital show for two days, May 20th and 21st.

See you then.

Stay on track---Lane

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  What sort of site preparation is necessary to begin laying track outdoors?

A:   There are a number of ways of laying track outdoors. However there are a number of predecessor events which need to be considered before a method is selected.

First a track plan is needed. The track plan will not only tell you how much track is needed but will also show you what sort of grades are in effect (our trains like full size ones do not like steep grades). There are several track planning software packages (RR-Track, CADrail, etc.) available. I am familiar with RR-Track (current version 5.3) and like the way it operates. It uses libraries of sectional track from the major manufacturers making it very easy to try options on a layout. As pieces of track are used in the design, they are included in a Bill of Materials making it relatively easy to determine what you need to buy. Additionally, if you indicate elevations of track segments the software will calculate the grade between those points allowing you to decide if you need to make design changes to reduce grades. Finally, there are also libraries of the structures made by Piko and Pola so you can anticipate how much space buildings will take and allow for track clearance.

Second, if you are going to be using track power you need to plan how power will be provided to the layout. This will include providing for insulated sections (sidings) as well as providing for wiring to operate the switches (if you desire remote operation). It is much easier to install the “electronics” before or concurrent with the track installation than after the fact.

Third, you need to anticipate drainage issues. This would include not only washing out roadbed but also covering track in sediment resulting in much effort to clear the track. Additionally drainage can effect the electronics.

Fourth, look at trees and bushes growing near the proposed layout. Roots growing near the surface will grow and can raise sub-roadbed and track over time. During installation of track, it may be necessary to cut back surface roots.

It should be noted that due to the temperature changes in North Texas, it is NOT a good idea to use too many fasteners to connect your track to the sub-roadbed. Too many fasteners will prevent the track from moving as the rails expand and contract. This can result in the rails going out of gauge and/or buckling both of which can cause derailments.

Finally, you need to select the method you will use to build your sub-roadbed. There are a number of different ways to do sub-road bed and they are basically a tradeoff of cost versus effort to install. Some of the options are:
  • Split-Jaw PVC track support -  This system has PVC segments which match the dimensions of Aristocraft track. It is designed to be supported on PVC pipe pounded into the ground. This technique makes it easy to rapidly install and “level”. There is a lip on each piece to hold the track in place or the track can be screwed to the PVC. The downside is that it does not allow for custom curves or other track manufacturers. Also it is relatively expensive.
  • TREX “Ladder”  and   Although TREX is listed there are now a number of different “plastic” lumbers. Some may work better than others depending on climatic conditions. This approach uses TREX (plastic lumber) which is about 50% more expensive than pressure treated lumber. The advantage is that it does not rot and is ignored by insects. Also there is virtually no waste when cutting. Because TREX is plastic it will bend and so can be made to match any custom curve. Installation can be on posts (provided for in cutting instructions) or laid directly on the ground. If laid on the ground, it may be a good idea to dig a trench and put a layer of decomposed granite (DG) underneath for drainage. If there is any subsequent settling of the ground then the TREX can be lifted and more DG put in to level the settled area. Track can just rest on the TREX or it can be screwed down in critical areas.
  • Pressure treated lumber and landscape timbers-This approach uses landscape timbers driven into the ground as support with pressure treated lumber as sub-roadbed. It is recommended that pressure treated lumber be 1x and that two pieces be screwed together to counteract warping. There will be significant waste on curves. The process is to set the timbers in the ground, then cut them off to maintain grade and then screw the sub-roadbed to the tops of the “leveled” timbers. The surrounding ground will then be filled up to the level of the track. Again the track can be rested on the sub-roadbed or screwed down in critical areas.
  • Concrete - This approach provides a more permanent installation. Care should be taken with drainage to avoid creating accidental ponds. To use the concrete, merely create a trench several inches deep and then form up.
  • Landscape Pavers – This approach involves digging a trench, lining it with landscape fabric to keep out weeds, putting in several inches of crushed rock to allow for drainage and to permit easy adjustment of the pavers and then setting the pavers to follow the desired grade. Normally you would want to have the pavers approximately an inch out of the ground.
  • Gravel / decomposed granite with landscape edging – This approach also involves digging a trench, driving landscape edging to form the walls of the trench, lining the trench with landscape fabric and then filling the bottom of the trench with 1” gravel. On top of the gravel the trench will be filled with decomposed granite to the top of the edging. Track will be laid on the DG and allowed to float.
As you can see there are a number of different approaches which can be used. I don’t believe any one is better than the other, it just depends on how much effort you wish to spend and how much money you can spend to get it done.

Who's That??

By JC Greenlee

This part of our monthly newsletter was going to be for us to get to know each other a little better.  The intent was for each month we would 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 planned to move to other members.  Unfortunately, it seems at this point like the remainder of our members are all in the witness protection program and can’t divulge any information to us.  So, unless members support this approach, this column will have to be cancelled because we can’t get our members to send in their bios.  If members have something else that they would like to read or see as a column, please let me know.

Below are some pictures from Clark Gardens of the new buildings that Mike Pritchett has rebuilt and some of the work that Pete Dahlberg and I have been doing on the new inside.  Last photo is one of the buildings I have yet to rebuild.

Until the next station.- JC Greenlee

That completes our April Newsletter.  This Spring looks to be a busy time for the Club with several events for us to enjoy.  I hope to see many of our members at Dave and Gerry Minna's home on April 28th. 

Thanks for reading.
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