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


2017 Club Calendar

Dec - Christmas Party - Donna Orr & Roger Shank

2018 Club Calendar

Jan - Plano Winter Train Show
Feb - Louis & Suzette Seldon
Mar - Ron & Peggy Trees
Apr - Scottish Rite Hospital
May - Donna Orr & Roger Shank
Jun - Annual Membership Meeting Patrick & Donna Miller
Jul - OPEN
Aug - Cook Children's Hospital
Sep - Clark Gardens
Oct - Fall Plano Train Show
Nov - Texas Western Train Show
Dec - Christmas Party - TBA

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


We're rapidly approaching the Holiday season - Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and then it's on to Christmas and the New Year. The leaves are definitely falling and the weather is starting (finally) to turn cool.  Read on and find out the details from our recently completed Texas Western Train Show in Forest Hills, and our upcoming Christmas Gathering on December 2nd. 

The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

This ‘retirement’ of not going to the high school on an almost daily basis is too tiring and keeps me too busy.  How in the world did I get anything done in my prior life?  I have been working (sometimes making money) up at our FAVORITE restaurant, the Bavarian Grill.  Helping the owner (and club member) Jurgen accomplish things that must be done while the restaurant is closed.  Keeping an established facility that is almost 24 years since it opened running so that there are not any inconveniences for the guests sometimes pushes the limits of possibilities.
I have also been out to Clark Gardens to look over the train loops out there.  They have been up for 13 to 14 plus years, exposed to the elements and bridges and trestles need much work to keep the trains running smoothly.  The board has approved some work sessions in December, January, and February to assist Pete and Paul to get the track level, straight and covered with decomposed granite (DG).  We will ask for as many members as possible to help spread DG, then brush it into the sleepers.  Also, we will be asking for help to level trestles by replacing supports, then covering those supports and some track edges with a faux look using pre-cut cedar limbs to keep the ‘view’ rustic.  Then, I was up at another member’s outdoor layout to eye ball outside buildings and a way to illuminate them at night.  AND doing favors for other members helping them illuminate rolling stock with interior LED lighting.
Speaking of successes, another is our club. (Yes, I am repeating myself from last month.)  We have had a great number of members show up for both the set-up and the tear-down.  That has been absolutely OUTSTANDING.  This last show we tried something new, the installation of two sidings for the larger outer loops.  (We are using the sidings to assist in train change outs to make the exchanging of trains faster with less down time of a running train.  Also, we can display more trains even if two are stationary.)
NOW, the board discussed trying something else new.  Since we have two sidings that will assist those bringing trains to quickly change-out positions with another train running on a loop, we will add something else new - a matrix that you will fill in to run your trains.  We tried it at the Texas Western Train Show and as we use it, you - our members, can make suggestions, and we will modify it.  We’ll try it again for the Winter Plano Show in January.  It will have a loop listed along one side and time slots across the top.  You pick the date, time and loop that you wish to run your train.  When you email back your desired date, time and loop, you will also tell us the type and length of train you are wanting to run. The request will be handled on a first come - first reservation basis.  (A Stainz engine 0-4-0, with 3 Ore cars requesting one of the large outer loops, will most likely be relocated into one of the dog bones or even the over under.)  Remember, expensive, detailed and easily breakable rolling stock might not want to be located on the outer loop.  Little hands and small excited feet can easily cause a derailment with nasty results to small plastic pieces on cars and locomotives.  Also, we have had cars drive away from auto transports and military tanks rumble away to another battle field front while the train continues around its loop.  So be careful what you ask for.  You just might get it.)
I still have a plaid long sleeve men’s shirt that was left at the Plano show. I even took it to the laundry. If not claimed at the Texas Western show, I will add it to my shirts as it fits nicely.   

Reminder:  Your 2017 Dues are still only $25.00 for this year (AND now your dues will also include 2018) AND a Life-Time Membership is still only $250.00.  Those Life-Time memberships make a wonderful gift. There are still a few members that have not renewed from 2016/2017.


December 2th Christmas Party, 3PM, Donna Orr and Roger Shank home in Rockwall.  Come enjoy the Light show at dark.  Details are in the Flyer below

January 19th set up for January 20th and 21st Plano Annual Winter Train Show
May your tracks be true; do not take any dead end sidings and keep her between the ditches

The Combo Car

By Lane Haviland, VP.

Last Sunday, we completed the TEXAS WESTERN TRAIN SHOW, which, as I understand was pretty successful.  I was not able to be there until the end, but we did get 2 new members: J.C. and Sharon Greenlee, and David and Gerry Minna.  Welcome to both!
We are coming up to the Holiday season already and our Annual Christmas Party is at the Donna Orr/Roger Shank home in Rockwall.  It will start at 3:00 and continue until all the wine is gone.
Donna's details are in the flyer above, but note that we will have a Chinese gift exchange, so bring a wrapped gift up to $20.00. One per person.
Below is a more detailed schedule for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018:
2017 —
2018 —
JANUARY 20th & 21st (setup 1PM on the 19th) PLANO ANNUAL WINTER TRAIN SHOW.  Details are at:
MAY Date and Time TBD Donna Orr & Roger Shanks, HOME MEETING
JUNE ANNUAL MEETING Date and Time TBD Home Meeting Patrick & Donna Miller, HOME MEETING
JULY TBA Home Meeting - OPEN
SEPTEMBER 1-2  Clark Gardens Festival set up 2 pm Aug 31
OCTOBER Date and Time TBD at Dave and Cindy Valdez, Home Meeting

We'll fill in those TBD dates and times as soon as we know them.  For those members hosting home meetings, our website requires that we have a specific date before we can put it on the calendar.  So if could select a specific date in the month you plan to host, we can then update our website's event calendar. 

Also, please note that our July, 2018 HOME SHOW MEETING is still OPEN.
Please let me know BY EMAIL ( if you are interested in hosting our July meeting and we will get you on the schedule.
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 several 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 affect 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   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.
  • 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 expend and how much money you can spend to get it done.

The Dining Car

By Kim Lazzari

It seems that every year I try to do it all, and always fall short. The holidays get more difficult to plan, and never enough time to fit in everything I'd like to do … I cannot be the only one!  You'd think that having no family to speak of in town would take some pressure off, but no, commuting a family, pups, and meal to Kansas from Texas for Thanksgiving is going to take everything out of me this holiday season! With that in mind, I'm digging into my railroad recipe repertoire for ideas that can come together in a pinch for a lovely Thanksgiving meal I can put together over 300 miles away from my home kitchen, and in reverence to our ties to Missouri, Kansas, & Texas nowadays--one that hails from  the MKT Railroad. They've served me well in the past, and this will continue!  I've come across it in many cookbooks and on websites, and the Katy Peach Cobbler would be perfectly at home along turkey and the trimmings on any holiday table. It varies slightly from each publication, but the one offered on the The Katy Depot website which they began serving in 1953 contains the most peaches and butter … excellent credentials in my book!
Katy Peach Cobbler
                      Batter:  1 cup flour                                      1 cup sugar
                                   3/4 cup milk                                   2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Melt one stick of butter in a baking dish and pour batter over top of butter.  Add 1/2 cup sugar to 3 cups sliced peaches, which have been mixed with 1/8 teaspoon almond extract and one tablespoon of cooked tapioca.  Add to top of batter. Bake about 35 minutes at 400 degrees.  Serves 10. 

That's all for our November Newsletter.  I hope to see many of our members at our Christmas Gathering at Donna Orr's and Roger Shank's home in Rockwall (and remember to let Donna know what side dish you will be bringing).  Thanks for reading.
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