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


2019 Club Calendar

Jul -
Dr Jon Williamson
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


Welcome to the combined June and July NTGRC Newsletter!  We're now at mid-summer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and we have yet to see actual temperatures get to 100 degrees or above, although the heat index has gone above the century mark several times.  So you could say that we're actually having a mild summer (relatively speaking).  I'm sure we'll make up for it as we go through the end of the month and into the furnace that is usually August.  While we Texans generally consider ourselves a hardy group, an unofficial poll recently revealed the list of our greatest fears (see below): 

Despite the heat though, we have a number of items to report, so read on to find out about what the club has been up to these past two months!

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

Two new members elected to the Board and one old coot re-elected!

Welcome Patrick Miller and Vard Moore to your Club Board!  Both were elected at Lane and Brenda’s home meeting/annual meeting on June 9th.  Yours truly was re-elected (rigged election - must be the electoral college and not the popular vote).

We had our first board meeting with newly elected members attending on June 25th at the Spring Creek BBQ in Bedford.  At this meeting positions for board members was determined.  Remember, we elect board members, then the members decide which positions they will fill for the next year.  Board members are NOT elected to a position.  A ballot was taken at the meeting and the following is your board for the 2019-2020 club year.
President                    Thomas Lytle
1st VP                          Vard Moore
2nd VP                         JC Greenlee
Treasurer                     Pete Dahlberg
Secretary                     Patrick Miller
Webmaster                  Ron Trees
Public Relations           Johnny Nelson
Did YOU Know

Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, had been agreed upon as the point where two railheads would officially meet, following meetings in Washington, D.C. in April 1869, where it was also agreed that a ceremony would be held to drive in the Last Spike to commemorate the occasion on May 8th.  However, it was delayed two days because of weather.  Then 150 years later, three of our club members were there to celebrate the occasion AND take a ride on the recently refurbished “BIG BOY”, # 4014 now re-numbered to 4848.  Gary Vigen and his wife Glenda, along with Dr. Johnny Nelson, were present (but not wearing club shirts or hats) and Gary has written an article about their experiences in the Travels section of this Newsletter.

Pondering of the Month

My Super Power is holding on to junk for years and then throwing it away a week before I need it.

What is your Club thinking about?

We are going to be discussing upgrading all of the electronics and power supplies at Clark Gardens.  Currently trains are running on electronics that are about 15 years old, but designed over 25 years ago.  Power supplies are not pure DC (direct current), but pulse wave DC.  That type of power plays havoc with locomotive controller boards and motors.  One system has been purchased and will be used for future testing.  Come to the next board meeting and join in the discussion (all are welcome at our board meeting - not just our board members).  Total for all systems and a back up piece for each different type of equipment will be about $2600.00.


July 21st 2:00 PM Home meeting at Dr. Jon Williamson's office.  263 Hickerson St. Cedar Hill, TX. 75104 (It is in a strip center). Click HERE for a map.

August 5th 8:30 AM Train Run at Cooks Children’s Hospital, 801 Seventh Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76104   Click HERE for Cook details, and select Maps and Wayfinding for parking and a campus map.

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

August 31st, September 1st Train Run at Clark Gardens Train Festival and Opening Day - Set up August 30th at 1:30 PM No Host dinner following set up at Mesquite Grill and BBQ.  Clark Gardens Hosted dinner on 31 August for Club members. (RSVP Let Tom Lytle know if you are attending for a head count) (Best Western Mineral Wells has a $59 per night room rate if you book now.  Last year it went up to $175 two days before the event.   You can always cancel.)

October 19th Train Show, Plano Events Center, One Day, Set up October 18th at 2 PM.  No host dinner to follow at the Bavarian Grill, 221 W Parker Road, Plano, TX on Friday 18 Oct.

November TBD Home Meeting Can you host?

December 8th 4 PM Christmas Gathering Donna Orr and Roger Shank’s home.  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

June - By Thomas Lytle for Lane Haviland, VP.

I will fill in for our 1st VP who’s major responsibility is venues for home meetings, train runs, train shows and then telling all about what we have done at the last event.  Posting the Event Schedule and keeping it current is also, under the title and responsibilities of the 1st VP.  But since the resignation of Lane Haviland, this position was open in June  Therefore, I will talk to you about our last event which was a home meeting at, none other than, Lane and Brenda Haviland’s home. 

They did a great job with the food and the venue.  Pulled pork and BBQ smoked brisket, coleslaw, deviled eggs, chips and dips galore with a Cherry surprise and Apple cobbler for dessert.  Door prize was a USAT Box Car that went home with Kay Williams and his wife Teresa.  I think he will have to get additional storage area for his trains.  His wife said what he has is full now.  A few pictures from the meeting are below.

This was our annual meeting so there was a vote taken for three open board slots.  Those running were Dr. David Minna; Thomas Lytle; Patrick Miller and Vard Moore.  The next board meeting was held June 25th at Spring Creek BBQ in Bedford. (1509 Airport Freeway, Bedford).  During this meeting, board members decided who will be filling and serving the club in what positions.  Remember, we elect board members not to certain positions.  Patrick Miller, Vard Moore and I were elected for a two-year term.  Those currently serving with one-year remaining on their tenure are Dr. Johnny Nelson; Pete Dahlberg; Ron Trees and JC Greenlee.

Now at the Haviland’s home, the train collection, car collection and museum quality doll houses were worth getting a Visa in your passport to drive all the way out to Weatherford.  We had 30 sign-in, but by a roster review, my count was 36.

The President of the club presented the greatest State of the Club message ever given.  Membership was up by four but unfortunately, we lost two members this past year.  Treasury is healthy and large enough we will fit our treasurer with an ankle monitor until he comes back from Colorado working on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.  We have had some fun events, and more planned in the future.

I want to thank all those that ran for a board position.  It is nice to have more running than positions open.  That gives us a selection.  BTW all were within one or two votes of each other.  That shows that we have quality in our members.

Last item is that I would like you all to mark your calendars for December 8th.  That is our Christmas gathering at Donna Orr and Roger Shank’s home.  There is a light show to music that you do not want to miss.  It would be great to have each member and their significant other to come to this event.  Can you imagine 106 people attending a club gathering.  It might even get Donna and Roger to get their out door train running for us with the light display.

July - by Vard Moore

If you haven’t heard, Split Jaw Products, the maker of popular rail clamps and other products, is closing down soon. The last day to order some products such as roadbed, railbed, carriers, and EZ Loaders is August 1. Other products must be ordered by October 1. It is anybody’s guess which retailers will have what inventory available after that.
One product I won’t be ordering is the Split Jaw power supply connector. Instead I will make my own power connectors using regular Split Jaw rail joiners.  It isn’t hard. You will need ring connectors that are appropriate for the wire that you are using and possibly a longer screw. I am using 12 gauge landscape wire right now so I bought the ring connectors shown below. The wire gauge is shown on the package (12-10 AWG for me).  If you are using over the joiner clamps, you may want to buy longer screws. The Split Jaw screws appear to be 6-32 x 5/8 inch socket head cap screws.  I purchased Hillman 3179-D 6-32 x ¾ inch socket head cap screws at Ace Hardware. Note that socket heat cap screws are classified as a “specialty fastener” and not usually kept with regular or machine screws. The direct to rail clamps are smaller, so the original screws should be fine.

Crimp the connector to your wires and you have a power connector. If you were using a rail clamp anyway, you have saved a little money. I did fill the crimped joint with a little solder and put a little red electrical tape to keep track of wire polarity. The connector show has worked great for quite a while.

Aside from saving some money, there are a couple of advantages. You can buy ring connectors for a wider range of wire types. This technique also powers two pieces of track at once.

The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q:  What are reputable sources for the different G scale manufacturers?

A:   Following are dealers that I have successfully dealt with in the past. This is NOT an inclusive list of all reputable dealers, just those that I go to when I want/need something.

To the best of my knowledge (alphabetically):

eBay – In general this is a “buyer beware” situation, however a number of the hobby shops will have a presence on eBay. One of the earliest adopters of this approach was Al Kramer (ana.kramer) who started on eBay when he had a brick and mortar store (SanVal Trains). Al closed SanVal and now sells primarily off eBay. He does other on-line presences (Al’s Discount Trains and Roll-EZ Wheels). The Favorite Spot is also a significant eBay presence.

Al’s Discount Trains (Roll-EZ Wheels) – this is Al Kramer formerly of SanVal Trains. Al handles USA Trains, Aristocraft (when available), Bachmann, Kadee, Phoenix Sound and his own line of metal wheels (Roll-EZ).
Gold Coast Station – This is a brick and mortar store (2 locations) in California ( They handle primarily LGB, Piko, USA Trains and GCS customs.

Kidman Tree Farm (Reindeer Pass RR) – This is a brick and mortar store in Ankeny, Iowa with a significant on-line presence ( Reindeer Pass has a website which is very similar to the site of RLD Hobbies. The two companies are not related but do share a similar shipping location. They handle Accucraft (including AML and AMS), Bachmann, Bridgewerks, Hartland Locomotive Works, Kadee, LGB, Phoenix Sound, Piko, SplitJaw, USA Trains and Reindeer Pass customs.

Rio Grande Southern Railroad Hobbies – This is a brick and mortar store in Whitewater, Colorado ( They handle Accucraft and Berlyn Locomotive Works. They are primarily a source of 1:20.3 equipment.

RLD Hobbies – This is a brick and mortar store in Albion, Illinois with a significant on-line presence ( RLD (Robbie Dascott) has a website which is very similar to the site of Reindeer Pass. The two companies are not related but do share a similar shipping location. Robbie handles Accucraft (including AML and AMS), Bachmann, Bridgewerks, Hartland Locomotive Works, Kadee, LGB, Phoenix Sound, Piko, SplitJaw,  USA Trains and RLD customs
Star Hobby – This is a brick and mortar store in Annapolis, Maryland ( They handle Bachmann, LGB and USA Trains.

The Favorite Spot – This is a brick and mortar store in Denton, Texas with an on-line presence ( They handle Bachmann and some Piko equipment.

TrainLi – This is a brick and mortar store in Reno, Nevada with a significant on-line presence ( They handle LGB as well as Trainli customs.
TrainWorld – This is a brick and mortar store in NYC with a significant on-line presence ( They handle all scales but the “G” manufacturers include  Bachmann, LGB, MRC, MTH, Piko, Pola, and SplitJaw.

There is a closed group on Facebook, G- scale swap and shop.  You must be a member of this group to see it and participate (just look up the group and ask the administrator to be added). Members of the group can post items that they would like to sell OR members can post items they would like to purchase. If someone is selling, they must enter a firm price (there is no negotiation or bidding). The administrators of the group do a good job of enforcing the requirement for a posted price. Payment is usually via Paypal.  The items I have gotten have been accurately described. Prices are generally fair.

Who's That??

By JC Greenlee

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 newly elected First Vice President, Vard Moore. 

Where are you from and how long have you been in North Texas?  I was born and grew up in Dallas next to the old Cotton Belt tracks (now Dallas North Tollway). I moved back to Dallas in 1984.

What do you do for a living?  If you are retired what was your claim to fame?  I am retired from Raytheon and Texas Instruments. I also taught at Texas Tech for a while after getting my PhD in Mathematics at Univ. of Illinois under W.W. Boone. I attended Rice as an undergraduate.

How long have you been into G Scale or Garden Railroading?  I got interested in LGB while on a research fellowship at the Univ. of Bonn, West Germany and started collecting some LGB about 1980.
Have you done other scales?  What scale Z N HO O On3 Large scale?  My childhood trains were American Flyer S gauge.

What is your favorite Railroad?  Why? If you don't have one is there a particular type of Locomotive that you like?  My favorite railroads are the Berner Oberland-Bahn, Wengernalpbahn, and Jungfraubahn complex in Switzerland.  Alas, they haven’t been modeled by the G scale manufactures but I do like the Rhätische Bahn (RhB). You gotta love the Krokodil.

Are you in all brands or are you into specific brands LGB, Pico, Aristocraft, Bachmann or ????  LGB for European, but I also have some Aristocraft and USA Trains for American.

Do you currently have a layout that you would want to share with us? Pictures, ETC. or a small story about it.  I have a lazy man’s layout running around the pool on the pool deck.

Until the next station.- JC Greenlee


Golden Spike 150th Anniversary Celebration
By:  Gary Vigen 16 June 2019

My wife Glenda and I traveled to Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10 for the 150th anniversary celebration of the transcontinental railroad.  However, the 2 days prior to traveling to Utah, we celebrated our number 3 daughter who was pinned as a nurse and graduated from UT Arlington.  Family celebrations lasted until about 11pm on May 9.  Alarm was way too soon at 2:30am May 10th to catch the early flight to Salt Lake City.

Luckily everything was on time so we were on schedule to make it to the 12 noon ceremonies.  On the way, we passed through Ogden, Utah to pick up fellow club member Johnny Nelson who decided at the last minute to attend the event since I let him know he could ride with us.  Only cars needed a ticket for entry at the National Historic Site so we had an extra place for Johnny.  Car tickets had sold out within hours from the time they went on sale in early April.

The road to Promontory Summit was very desolate, but it did not take long until we entered traffic for the event.  Later we found out attendance was around 38,000 so there were quite a few cars.  We parked in a field and had to walk a ways. 

There were several VIP guests speaking at the event including the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chau.  We had to watch on the large screens because of the large crowd.

The Central Pacific Jupiter and the Union Pacific #119 were already parked nose-to-nose when we arrived, and the Golden Spike ceremony took place using a special tie with pre-drilled holes.  There were other ceremonial spikes from Utah, Arizona and Nevada as well.  All the ceremonial spikes were driven with a very wimpy “tap” and not a full blow that would have been done for a regular steel spike.

Both the Jupiter and the #119 were beautiful machines with very ornate paint and metal trim.

Descendants of the Chinese railroad workers (who were the largest group working in the west on the Central Pacific) were well represented at the event with several wearing period Chinese garments.

Later that day we attended a musical play entitled “Gold Mountain”, a story about the Chinese railroad workers of the Central Pacific and a love story between a Chinese railroad worker and a Chinese servant.   Below is writer and some cast of the play.

The next day we took a bus to the Heber Valley Railroad tourist train. 

Unfortunately, 3 minutes out of the station the locomotive hit an improperly set switch and derailed.  Luckily it was at a low speed so there were no injuries.  However, our excursion ended and we headed back to Ogden.  That evening we attended the banquet for the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Historical Societies.  They had quite a balloon display.

The keynote speaker spoke about the demise of the Southern Pacific, which was ironically tied to the rise of Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Our final day in Ogden was the city festival and the departure of the Big Boy.  Ogden is a nice city and it was well decked out.

Departure of the Big Boy drew a large crowd as well.

None of us rode this beast.  Something about the $3000-$5000 price tag stood in the way.  However, a lot of people chased the train as it made its 3-hour trek to Wyoming including Johnny.

All in all, a great trip and I was very glad to experience this historical anniversary.

That completes our combined June/July Newsletter.  Everyone try to stay cool in our Texas heat.  I hope to see many of our members at Dr. Jon Williamson's office in Cedar Hill to see his office layout on July 21st. Then it will be off to set up a train run at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth on August 5th - always a rewarding experience! 

As always, thanks for reading.
Copyright © 2019 North Texas Garden Railroad Club, All rights reserved.
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp