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


2020 Club Calendar

Jul Robby Greene - Cancelled
Aug - Cook's Children's Hospital - Cancelled
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show
- Cancelled
Nov - Discovery Gardens Swap and Shop
Dec - Christmas Party - TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the NTGRC June 2020 Newsletter.  I’m sure with all the COVID-19 restrictions we’re observing, the reality is that cabin fever is starting to set in – I know it has with me!  If you’re looking for a great series about railroads to help you pass the time, I highly recommend the AMC series “Hell on Wheels.”  David Minna turned me on to this series, and it’s a terrific way to spend about 40 hours. This Western series is about the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States, and chronicles the Union Pacific Railroad and its laborers, mercenaries, prostitutes, surveyors, and others who lived, worked, and died in the mobile encampment called "Hell on Wheels" that follows the railhead west across the Great Plains and through the Rocky Mountains.  The series begins in 1865, shortly after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and ends in 1869 with the driving of the “Golden Spike” and completion of the railroad with the joining of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. The story focuses on a former Confederate soldier who initially joins the railroad to track down Union soldiers who murdered his wife and son during the Civil War.  In the process he becomes a foreman and eventually chief engineer on the railroad.  There are 57 episodes, spread across 5 seasons, and it is available to stream on Netflix, or it can be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

Even though the Club has had to cancel or postpone a number of events due to the pandemic, we still have news to report, so read on the see the latest news about what your Club has been up to.

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Gosh, May is over already?  Where did it go.  It seems it was just the 7th of May when I was writing my last article for our newsletter. 

Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel our June meeting at Becky and Vard Moore’s home, scheduled for 14 June, (Flag day), due to the county/state restriction on numbers in groups.   We will honor the guidelines issued to us to follow.  We’ve also cancelled our July meeting at the home of Robby and Heather Greene as well as our one-day train run at Cook Children's Hospital in August.

Thanks to those that helped at Discovery and Clark Gardens.  Discovery Gardens is still closed to the public but track maintenance is still ongoing.  Though Clark Gardens is open to the public and weekdays and weekends seem to be well attended, train maintenance is ongoing there also.  Club trailer maintenance and 7-inch track installation and maintenance was put on hold when Cindy Valdez’s mother fell, broke her hip, and had surgery.  She is now mending and in a rehab facility.

So, let’s think about helping out and spending 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 first virtual board meeting on the 27th of May.  We used Microsoft Teams and I think ALL had a learning experience.  Then someone asked if we have the recorded version on our website.  Recorded??  You can do that?  We will look into it.  Not like breaking bread together, but we did have a good meeting.  Attended by yours truly, Pete Dahlberg, Vard and Becky Moore, Ron Natinsky, Dr. David Minna and Gerry, Pat Miller, Ron Trees, Cindy Roerig and JC Greenlee. Good ideas were floated around.

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.

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

I always wondered what the job application is like at Hooters. Do they just give you a bra and say, "Here, fill this out?"

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 3 bridges to install at Clark Gardens.  Four people needed to accomplish this task.

We have outdoor waterproof 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.


JULY Home Meeting TBD, 2:00 PM - HOME MEETING Robby Greene - Cancelled

July 26th (Tentative) - Swap and Shop Meeting at Clark Gardens –
Check your email for the latest details.

AUGUST 5th 8:30 AM to 4 PM, Cook Children's Hospital Train Run One Day - Cancelled

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

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)

OCTOBER 12th One Day     Fall Council show PlanoThis event has been cancelled

NOVEMBER Date TBD, Scottish Rite 2 day train run.
NOVEMBER Date TBD, Swap Shop at Discovery Gardens.
DECEMBER DATE & LOCATION TBD Annual Christmas Meeting.

2021 National Garden Railway Convention (NGRC) – Nashville.  This event was postponed from 2020 and will now be held May 30th, 2021 to June 5th, 2021 – see for details.

2022 National Garden Railway Convention (NGRC) – Denver.  Originally scheduled for 2021, this event will now be held in 2022 – see for details.

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.

                                                    State of the Club

This information is normally presented at the Annual Home meeting in June, but since that event had to be cancelled, it is presented here for members to review:


Current membership        59 (14 permanent) Plus 1 member who says they will update.
Last year                          53 (11 permanent)

A new train display went into operation at Discovery Gardens in 2019 just in time for the State Fair of Texas.  Since then, many improvements have been added.  The largest is a “Train House” – a climate-controlled facility that provides close and secure storage and the ability to work on trains that need a small amount of TLC to keep running.  Ron Natinsky and Russ Foster have been the primary movers and shakers on this project along with Pete Dahlberg and others laying track, ballast, electrical lines, and assembling/placing buildings
Work on the Club trailer has been required to replace wheel bearings and brake parts.  Also, LED interior lighting has been installed after some minor rewiring.  This summer, new tires will be installed as the tires on the trailer are way past safety since being manufactured.


Discovery Gardens opened this past club year in September 2019 for the State Fair of Texas Opening.  Hard work, coordination and planning done by Ron Natinsky culminated in two loops of track at the Gardens just in time for the opening of the State Fair.  Russ Foster, Pete Dahlberg, Jerry Raskin and others spent many hours making this happen.  Since then a large storage shed has been added right on the tracks.  We can now securely store and also maintain our trains right on the spot. The building is air conditioned and heated.

The Clark Garden’s Fall Opening Festival is one of our club favorites (and a nice money maker for our budget) and has been a success each year according to the Garden’s managers.We have been asked to return this Labor Day weekend again.It is a beautiful setting. The Clark Garden’s trains have undergone a major renovation these past two years.Lots of work thanks to JC Greenlee; Pete Dahlberg; Mike Pritchett; Julie/Paul Gramza; Jack/Joyce Huffman and Cindy/David Valdez.Updates include reworked locomotives; new steel bridges and bridge supports; re-glued and painted houses; replaced ballast and some new track. Also, this year there are new power supplies, and remote controls PLUS the return of a multi-stop trolley line probably mid-summer 2020. Additional work includes stone bases for buildings to reduce mud splatter from rain, full re-ballasting of the layout, and designing a method to replace siding on elevated loops.
New Lionel track and new Lionel locomotives and cars are in the planning stages as is a new HO layout.  An N scale layout is also in design, although both the HO and N will be done by other clubs. All the smaller gauge displays will be inside the train house.

Scottish Rite Hospital has been a lot of fun every spring with a large turnout of families, but not this year.  This year was cancelled due to COVID-19. We hope to return next year and it will be at least a 2-day train run; if not a 3-day train run.

The January Winter Plano Train show was held this year as it has been in the past.  In addition, a Fall Plano Train show is scheduled to be held October, but will be a single day event.  This show is also subject to cancellation.  So, at this time there are two shows held in Plano, October and January and together they bring in about $1,340.00 a year to our club.  These shows are put on by the North Texas Council of Trains and Pete Dahlberg has been putting together the home visitation booklets for worker credit: he is now also the new Council treasurer.  So, congratulate Pete (or offer condolences) when you see him.

Cook Children’s Hospital is scheduled to be held during the month of August again this year (so far).  Last year we had one of the largest drop-by visitations so far. Cook’s is still a single day event due to security, and the increase in visitation was mainly due to Cook’s internal communication and our club’s relentless pursuit of them notifying their staff.  This year it is scheduled to be held on August 5th unless stopped by COVID-19.

We had some wonderful home venues for this past club year:  The Haviland’s hosted our last Annual meeting last June, and Donna Orr and Roger Shank had a great Christmas gathering.  Dr. Jon Williamson opened his office for the Club to see his new overhead layout last July.  The Trees’ March meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19 however, as was the Huffman’s (April), the Moore’s (June), and the Greene’s (July).  Also, our first Swap and Shop was held at the Discovery Gardens in November.  We had a good turnout and many brought stuff to sell (and did so, but left with new items to take home).  We’re looking forward to members hosting upcoming home meetings again - both the Huffman’s and the Moore’s would like to host future meetings once the Coronavirus safely subsides.

It is the goal of the Board to have home meetings and displays on equal footing, with approximately six of each, in a given club year.  In addition, it is also the goal to divide those events and place them all over the Metroplex.  North, East, West and South.  This allows those members who like home meetings ample opportunity to intermix with club members and discuss “Trains”.  Shows and displays also allow those members who love to run their trains for both their and other’s enjoyment an opportunity to do so.  And for those that love to do both, we are there for you all year long.
We have increased our membership to a new high of 59 members (from 32 in May 2014) – the highest number we have seen in recent years.  Part of that is because we want to both increase our female membership and to attract younger members to lower our average age of members.  We have discovered that there are many females who are the primary movers and shakers interested in trains - not necessarily the male spouse/significant other.  In addition, we are working on increasing the number of younger members and lowering the average age of our members.  Our members range in age from 20 years old to 89 years young.  Our female members are becoming more active and attending more shows, displays, home meetings and National Conventions.  Our younger members have difficulty getting out of school/work to attend some events and help in set up.  That is understandable.  We also have members whose sons, daughters and in some cases, grand-sons and grand-daughters have come to assist us.  We want both of these trends to increase in the future.

Remember, if we do not engage our youth and peak their interests in model trains, our club will die and wither on the vine.

Respectfully Submitted - Thomas A. Lytle, President

Response to the State of the Club

In response to the State of the Club message, Thomas received the following email from Ed Acklin.  It is reprinted here with his permission:

FYI, I did read the entire State of the Club Report.  You did a good job with 6 fingers.  Thanks for the effort.  It was very informative.

As I was reading it, your note about ages struck me.  I have been involved with Radio Controlled Model Planes a whole lot longer than I have with trains.  I am a very long-time member of the North Dallas Radio Control Club (model airplanes).  We have a flying field up north of Lake Lewisville with a 500’ x 50’ asphalt runway, plus hanger shed, container storage buildings, electrical service, concrete walks, and crushed concrete entry drives and parking areas.  Altogether, we have over $250K invested.  Our membership used to be 250-300 dues paying members, but in recent years, that has dwindled to about 150 now.  We have an area with engraved bricks for members that have passed away that now is quite large.

Where we once enjoyed a sizable budget surplus, we now have to closely control our expenditures to make sure that we don’t have to dip into our reserves to keep the club solvent.  One of the problems is our dues structure.  Our dues are substantial but we reduce them by 50% for 65 and older.  But we now find that our membership has now aged to the point that the average age is over 65.  Plus, we are not attracting a lot of younger people like we used to.

The point in tell you all of this is to give a warning;  The North Dallas Radio Control Club is in danger of "Dying of Old Age”!

As the average age of a Club’s membership goes up, the availability of members willing to work and keep the Club going goes down.  The longevity of the Club is dependent on drawing new younger people in.  There has got to be more than 60 people in the Metroplex that are active G-Scale Modelers.  I believe that now is a good time for the new Board to start looking for ways to build up the membership.  I am sure there are a number of creative minds that can think of ways to attract new members.  Websites are outdated.  Especially websites that are not frequently updated.  YouTube and FaceBook are apparently the social media of choice.  Perhaps, the Board could identify and recruit someone to get active on these.  I hope you get my drift.  And No - I am not looking for a job.

But I do hope that the Club will recognize the need to get busy and build the membership.  Don’t let NTGRC die of Old Age.


The Combo Car

By Vard Moore

Unfortunately, this is another episode of the Coronavirus Chronicles: Meetings That Didn’t Happen. Previously we heard a little bit about the home meetings at Ron & Peggy Trees’ home and Jack & Joyce Huffman’s home (February and March meetings) that were cancelled.
The May meeting was to be one of our children’s hospital exhibitions – always a favorite with those running the trains as well as the patients, parents, and staff that view them. It was to be our annual visit to the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. Of course, first priority is the safety of the children and staff, so cancellation was certainly the right thing. Here is a picture from our 2019 visit.

The June meeting was to be at the home of Becky and Vard Moore. We cancelled for the safety of members from the Coronavirus, however, we did have a mom and her two offspring attend. Apparently, they did not get the email.

My theme for the June was GARDEN Railroad, which is to say that Becky did most of the hard work. We planted a number of candidate small plants that fit with a garden railway to see which ones will survive in Texas.  Becky created a Fairy Garden to supply clientele for the railroad. I was tempted to work hard, but I stayed true to my concept of the Lazy Man’s Layout around the pool.

The July meeting at the home of Robby and Heather Greene has also been cancelled due to the Coronavirus.  Robby is a pastor, so he is often working for Sunday meetings and we do not get to see him often enough. I really wanted to see his layout. The board is looking into the possibility of an alternate meeting site where we can meet and follow social distancing and other state and local guidelines. Keep watching your emails.
The August visit to Cook Children’s Hospital is also a cancellation due to the Coronavirus. When we do have hospital visits again, try to attend – it both fun and a worthwhile experience.
Train Days at Clark Gardens is on the schedule for September 5th and 6th (that is Labor Day weekend, but not Labor Day itself). Several club members have been working diligently on the permanent layout at Clark Gardens.
As far as October goes, the North Texas Council of Railroad Clubs has decided to cancel the 2020 Fall Plano Train show due to the Covid-19 crisis. The Council feels that there is currently too much uncertainty regarding the health of our members, vendors and attendees. They are still planning on a January 2021 show and a show in the fall of 2021.
Another event in September/October is the State Fair of Texas. Officials are expected to make a decision in late July regarding the State Fair. Should the State Fair take place, members will have opportunity to man the layout Ron Natinsky and some of our members have created at the Discovery Gardens.
The Club did receive an email from Shel Travis about the progress on his new layout.  His thoughts are below:. 
Thanks to a rail [un]bender, GHRR has ready to paint/stain concrete rock and improved trackage with a long main spur; a second spur by a new company station; a crossover connection allowing inner 8 to be a reverser (folded wye).  Track is done! 

River sealant w tint to imply depth and paint the rock walls is next.

Amazing how much the concrete now looks like indoor Paper Mache & plaster - hope sponged paint and diluted black wash work the same... 

I still have 20 plus curved track pieces to straighten with nine done - it's not easy.


The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Pete submitted his Mail Car input early this month as he is currently in Chama, New Mexico volunteering at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  He submitted some pictures of the work he is doing at the pass on the Cumbres & Toltec, as well as the following observations:  Restaurants are closing early (about 7 PM).  No indoor dining.  Lots of to-go orders.  Chama is a tourist town, and there are no tourists.  Trains run only from the Colorado side to the halfway point and return.  Full trips will start later this month or July first.  For now, the Chama to the halfway point route is dead.

Basement that was covered by the floor.

New floor over the basement.

Siding 2020

New Gate 2020

Free ranging critters they are trying to keep out.

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 for additional comments. His 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, ie. 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.

The differences of synthetic vs natural lubricants will be addressed later.

That wraps up June's Newsletter!  .Check your emails for the status of the tentative Swap and Shop at Clark Gardens in July, otherwise our next event is the Labor Day weekend event, also at Clark Gardens.

As always, thanks for reading.
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