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North Texas Garden Railroad Club


2020 Club Calendar

Feb - Home Meeting TBD
Mar - Ron & Peggy Trees
Apr -
Jack and Joyce Huffman
May - Scottish Rite Train Run
May-Jun - National G Scale Convention
Jun -
Annual Meeting - Vard Moore
Jul -
Robby Greene
Aug - Cook Children's Hospital
Sep - Clark Gardens Festival
Oct -  Fall Plano Train Show

Nov - Discovery Gardens Swap and Shop
Dec - Christmas Party - TBD

Details at

NTGRC Events Update


Welcome to the February 2020 NTGRC Newsletter!  Astute observers will note that February this year has 29 days, instead of the normal 28, thus making this a Leap Year.  One solar year, which is the amount of time it takes our planet to accomplish one full rotation about the sun, takes roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. That extra five-or-so hours nobody likes to talk about are precisely why we have leap years.  The point of leap years is to help adjust the 365-day Gregorian calendar you find on your desk or phone to the solar calendar, and make sure we celebrate solar events like the spring and autumn equinoxes with some regularity every year.  Sometimes, adding that extra day to February every four years still doesn’t quite do the trick, which is why scientists sometimes call for a Leap Second like they last did in 2015.

How do you remember if it’s a leap year?  If the last two digits of the year are divisible by four (e.g. 2016, 2020, 2024…) then it’s a leap year, although Century years are the exception to this rule. They must be divisible by 400 to be leap years—so, 2000 and 2400 are leap years, but 2100 will not be one. As a bonus, U.S. leap years almost always coincide with Presidential election years.

Now that you’re educated on Leap Years, let’s move on to subject matter you’re more interested in – trains!  Read on to find out what your Club has been up to and has planned for the future.


The President’s Car

By Thomas Lytle

The end of January is coming near and it is time for articles for our newsletter.  I just do not feel in the mood for writing as outside right now it is overcast, wet and cold.  In a few days (if American Airlines would stop changing equipment, departure and arrival times and in general messing with the reservations I made nine months ago to get seats with more leg room (costing more $$$$) - only to lose them on an equipment change because the new aircraft does not have enough of them), I cannot wait for my girlfriend and I to get on a plane and land 8 plus hours later in Maui.  There it is usually warm and sunny AND the only thoughts of trains I will have is a possible meeting with the two owners of the Pineapple Express.  It is a Porter steam engine (like at Six Flags) and a couple of cars for people to ride on/in.  It runs from Lahaina to Kaanapali - but not daily anymore.

Just an update that a work crew hit the club racks and changed out ALL the old 3-inch wheels for new 4-inch wheels.  Some were in such bad shape we had to scrap the entire rack and replace the rack with a new one.  All are now sporting new wheels and with care should last longer than the 10 years the older 3-inch ones lasted.  In addition, we added canvas covers with transparent sides (to see what is on the rack) with zippers on all four corners and up the middle of the larger side.  This will replace having to use shrink wrap.  So we will see how this works out.  Also, we are replacing the 1-inch wide tie down straps with 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inch straps.  Not that we needed the extra strength, but we're hoping they will not tangle and knot up like the smaller straps did all the time.

Now that the racks are sporting new sets of wheels, the trailer is next.  The tires on the trailer are over 11 years old, and are not safe anymore.  So new sporting trailer wheels are coming before we tow the trailer again.  That will be to Scottish Rite on May 17th for a 2-day train run on the 18th and 19th of May.  Mark your calendars.

NOW, down at the Discovery Gardens, some members have still been very busy - especially Ron Natinsky.   He supervised the installation of a train shed, that overlooks most of the track and loops where the trains run.  While awaiting installation of electricity to the building, he has been installing shelving.  This building will be heated and cooled by a window heat pump once power is available.  The building still needs electric interior lighting and outlets installed on all the walls and multiple outlets where the power controllers will be placed.  Once all of that is completed a good sturdy work surface is needed for repairs, and wall and ceiling insulation installed.

If you are interested in helping in the above areas (electric, lighting and outlets; insulation, and a work bench; contact Ron Natinsky at 214 415 2400.

The west side has also been busy at Clark Gardens.  Crews working with Pete Dahlberg and JC Greenlee have been replacing 25 plus year old power controllers and remote controls with new full filtered power units and controllers that are fully digital.  Also, wiring and other essential components are being replaced.  All locomotives have been serviced and needed parts have been ordered and installed awaiting the Spring Opening.  Trestles and bridge supports have also been replaced. 

Thanks to all the above for helping with “TRAINS”

PLEASE, ALL OF YOU MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND COME TO A BOARD MEETING.  We hold them usually on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 PM at Spring Creek BBQ, 3514 W Airport Freeway, Irving 75062.  We go through and get our dinner, then eat and discuss our Club.  Watch for BOGO coupons in a mailer in your mail box.  On some months we hold the Board meetings in conjunction with events, like we did last month in January at the Plano Train Show.

Pondering of the Month

I look at my wife’s horoscope every morning.  I do not believe in that stuff, but my wife does.  I just want to find out what kind of a day I am going to have.

What is your Club thinking about?

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

We also need new tires for the trailer.


February Home Meeting – To Be Determined!  We’ll advise members via email if/when a venue is found.

March 29th, 2:00 PM - Home Meeting at Ron and Peggy Trees: 3513 Pinnacle Bay Pt., Little Elm TX 75068.

APRIL 28th, 2:00 PM – Home Meeting at Jack and Joyce Huffman’s.
MAY 18th-19th, 7:00 AM - Scottish Rite Train Run 2 Days, Set-up Sunday Afternoon May 17th: 1 PM
MAY 30TH - JUNE 6TH NGRC, Nashville Tennessee
JUNE 14th, 2:00 PM - ANNUAL HOME MEETING at Vard Moore’s

JULY TBD, 2:00 PM – Home Meeting at Robby Greene’s
AUGUST 5th, 8:30 AM – Train Run at Cook Children’s Hospital
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.
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

It was wonderful to have the full two days for the January Train Show in Plano. Two days of running and great attendance. Of course, things started with the Friday set up. Dave Valdez arrived well ahead of schedule with the trailer. The early start meant tracks were laid running with plenty of time left for putting out the scenery.

 A few pictures of the event are below.

Here is another view of the finished layout.

We adjourned to the Bavarian Grill for the traditional post set up dinner. We had about three dozen attendees, which may be a record, but member Jurgen Mahneke had tables ready for our whole bunch.

Saturday and Sunday our audience arrived with a particularly large turnout for the Train Show on Saturday morning.

Not only did members pitch in for the setup on Friday, running trains on Saturday and Sunday, and the take down on Sunday, we got additional work done in changing out the 3 inch wheels for 4 inch wheels on the equipment racks that go in the trailer.  The racks had to be cut off on the top as well because the new wheels made the racks too tall for the trailer. Crews worked Saturday and Sunday on that project out in the parking lot during the show. It turned out to be a little more work than anticipated, but that only shows how much the change was needed. Thanks to all who help set up or take down, and special thanks to those who took time away from running trains to work on the racks out in the parking lot.


The Mail Car

By Pete Dahlberg

Q: Power controllers/transformer combos - What voltages; AC or DC?; accessories again voltages and AC or DC?

Difference between transformer and controller if separate?.

Pros and cons for combo and separate units.

A:   These questions are a continuation of last month’s discussion.

The separation of the power supply and the device for controlling what goes to the track appears to be unique to large scale trains.

In the traditional approach, a power supply is integrated with a device (rheostat) that will vary the voltage going to the track. This is often referred to as a transformer or power pack. In this integrated approach it is possible to have both DC and AC power coming from the device although the AC voltage typically is NOT variable. Typically, the DC voltage will adjustable between 0 – 24 volts for large scale. If present the AC voltage will be in the 15 – 18 volt range.

In the non-integrated approach, there is a separate power supply to which a voltage control device is attached to vary the voltage going to the track. Typically in this approach there is NOT the capability for an AC accessory connection. Maximum voltage which can go to the track is limited by the output of the power supply, although it is frequently 24 volts DC. When buying equipment, you must match capabilities.

If the power supply has sufficient amperage capability, multiple voltage control devices could be attached to a single power supply in the non-integrated approach. There will be a slight drop in voltage when multiple control devices are running multiple trains. Since typically the power supply is the most expensive part of a power pack this would allow for optimizing the cost of controlling multiple trains.

In the simplest situation, the integrated and non-integrated solutions are identical. There are options which can be applied to the non-integrated solution which may make it easier to use. For example, there are radio-controlled throttles developed which can be substituted for the manual control devices. This would allow the user to remotely control a train from anyplace on the layout as opposed to having to return to a central location for control.

A downside for having a single power supply driving multiple control devices is that if there is a significant problem on one loop, it could damage the power supply which would be driving the other loops. If the power supply is blown, no trains will be able to be run. Therefore if multiple trains are to be run from one supply it is very important that the wire(s) running from the control devices to the track(s) be fused to isolate shorts from the power supply.

Another option which could be applied to a non-integrated solution would be to apply DCC equipment in place of the control device(s). DCC applies a constant voltage to the track and uses decoders in each locomotive to control the trains. A discussion of DCC is beyond the scope of this article.


Integrated unit
  • Everything in one package
  • Possibility of AC output
  • Not expandable
  • Catastrophic event on one loop will not knock out other loops
Non-Integrated unit
  • Separate power supply and controllers (need to match capabilities)
  • No AC output
  • Expandable / upgradable
  • Catastrophic event on one loop may knock out other loops unless properly protected.
Any additional comments are welcome

That’s a wrap for this month’s Newsletter.  As noted, as of the date of this Newsletter, we still haven’t found a venue for this month’s meeting, and when/if we do, we’ll send out an email blast letting our members know of the date and time.  Otherwise, I hope to see many of our members at our next scheduled home meeting at Ron and Peggy Trees’ home (3513 Pinnacle Bay Pt. Little Elm, TX 75068) on March 29th.   

As always, thanks for reading.
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