In July 1985 at the NMRA 50th Anniversary Convention in St. Louis, MO, Thomas B. Moore won 1st and 2nd place with Randy Wilson winning 3rd place in the Diesel model category. All three models were set to 1/4" AAR standards. Afterwards, Moore and Wilson agreed to collaborate on promoting 1/4" AAR, along with Moore's friend, Roger Akester. Wilson wrote NMRA President Paul Shimada in January 1986 and recommended that the NMRA consider a new Technical Department Committee specifically to deal with 1/4" AAR and volunteered for the post. Shimada referred the matter to Department Chairman Jim Monroe, who appointed Wilson to head 1/4" Finescale Committee 636.2. The position later broadened to include all scales. By the time of the O Scale National Convention at the Marriott Hotel in Burlingame, CA in June 1986, Wilson had sent inquiries to a number of manufacturers and called a meeting for interested parties at the convention. Discussion began with many ideas about the name but quickly came to turn on a remark by Stan Padgett that the name needed to be useful in other scales besides 1/4". Wilson turned to the chalkboard and wrote, "PROTO: 48", the room fell silent for a moment and everyone agreed that was it.
After the meeting was over, Wilson signed up Bill Boren of KTM, Dale Darney of V&T Shops, Jim Harper of High Sierra Models, Thomas B. Moore of Thomas B. Moore Company and Bob Smith of Central Locomotive Works to serve on his committee. From that point forward, 1/4" AAR became PROTO:48 and began to gain it's legitimacy within the NMRA. Wilson fought for two more years for recognition within NMRA, while Moore published a PROTO:48 Newsletter during that time.
Today, Proto: 48 is firmly established as an alternative to O gauge. A wide range of products is offered increasing the pleasure of accurate model building and operation. You can purchase wheels, trucks, flex track, scale turnout kits, diesel conversions, and even Proto:48 steam locos. It is possible to model in Proto:48 without even owning a lathe or the knowledge on how to operate it. Firms offering this service can convert even steam locos. Protocraft and NWSL have developed drop-in geared wheelsets to convert P&D, Weaver, Car Works and Atlas diesels. Protocraft sells a wide range of wheels and loco tires to ease the conversion process.
Recently, Glacier Park Models has imported a number of Southern Pacific steam locomotives with optional P48 conversion drivers and wheels. The models can be converted within a few hours using simple tools. RY Models has imported several diesels with P48 wheels installed along with a wide range of trucks.