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Welcome the 16th edition of the Proto48 Modeler.  We hope that this website stimulates your interest in building scale railroad models.   Our focus is on modeling and techniques with the goal of improving skills.   Proto48 breaks with the traditional O gauge in that we model using prototype standards scaled to 1:48.   We use a 4' 8 ½" track gauge with a prototype wheel contour.

The website provides modelers with the latest information of suppliers and products useful to Proto48 modelers.   We feature models and layouts from some of the finest ¼" scale modelers in the country.   The hobby of model railroading, in general, has been drifting away from its foundation of building scale models to buying the latest ready-to-run imports. The trend is changing the skill base of the modelers and the range of products available in the hobby. We would like to continue the traditions of modeling building done to a higher standard of accuracy. This doesn't mean we are all fanatics but just folks who want something out of the ordinary. We all enjoy a hobby that allows each one of us to express our interests and to learn.

You will find a number of new items listed along with more pictures from some of the finest P48 modelers in the country. We can always use more material that will permit more issues to be published each year. As always we are indebted to the modelers who take the time to send material to share with others. We hope that this spirit of sharing will continue allowing us to bring fresh material to the web so that it can be enjoyed by everyone.

Short History

The Proto48 movement has been going for over 50 years and has gained the respect of many in the model railroading community. Proto48 exists because modelers desire to accurately model prototype railroad equipment including track gauge and wheel profile. Many of our newest members migrate from other scales such as HO. While the equipment is the same, the wheels and track must change to adapt to the correct 4' 8 ½" gauge and dead scale wheel contour. Achieving accurate models in smaller scales is a challenge especially as one gets older. Replicating the detail in ¼" scale is easier and achievable. We encourage you to give it a try. You will find challenges to model in this scale but that is part of the fun to solve modeling problems. It is a departure from the current trend of open the box and put the train on the track. While you can use ready-to-run equipment built in China, you will have to change the wheels to run on the 4' 8 ½" gauge. Once you do that you will find that there are other improvements that can be made to the details and soon you will become hooked. Proto48 is a small movement within the ¼" scale community.

Our focus is on standard gauge modeling. Proto48 defines a gauge and wheel profile for locomotives, cars and track but it also expresses a concept of finescale modeling. Our models start out with the correct gauge of 4' 8 ½" and scale wheel profile and continue throughout the model to create an accurately scaled replica of the prototype.

Tom Mix’s scratchbuilt CB&Q 2-6-2 is an example of the best in Proto48 modeling

Quarter-inch scale offers railroad modelers a huge potential in terms of size and mass. It is big enough to permit the craftsman to accurately portray things like underbody details, doors, roof walks and ladders. Proto48 standard gauge modelers tend to strive for higher levels of detail and accuracy like their narrow gauge brethren.

Lead Photo

This issue features a bit of anthracite railroading on the cover.   The caboose is a Lackawanna prototype built from general arrangement drawing and lots of photos of the prototype. This particular car was the standard until the railroad started building steel cars in the early 1950s.

Proto48 on the Web

There are two forums on Yahoo Groups that focus on Proto48

The first is the Proto48 Modeler: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/p48_modeler/

The second is P48 Layouts hosted by Brett Whelan

Mike Cougill, Editor of O Scale Trains, has updated his site with a decided P48 twist. I think you will find it to be interesting. I did! Go to http://www.cougillstudios.com/ By the way, O Scale Trains has greatly increased their Proto48 content since Mike took over. There is a renewed interest in model building. The magazine will be running a series by Tom Mix on building a CB&Q early diesel from brass. Consider subscribing to OST.


Updates to the Site:

"Photo Gallery" has several new photos of fine scale models and layouts 

  • New products that are usable by Proto48 and standard O (rolling stock)

Industry News, Shows and New Products:

The latest information about new and interesting products that are useful the Proto48 modeler as shown below:

Local Shows with Proto48 Content:

2011 O Scale National in Santa Clara:

The O Scale West for 2011 returned to its traditional time and format.   The show was well attended with a mixture of O and S scale modelers.   The number of sellers appeared to be down this year.   As always, Rod Miller and his hard working crew put on a great show.   Each year, Jim Harper hosts a Proto48 modelers meeting on Saturday morning. It is an opportunity for newcomers to ask questions and get answers from experts like Jim.  The discussion is interesting and is well attended.  

O Scale West Convention
9-11 February 2012 Santa Clara, CA

O Scale West continues in the same venue at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  You can obtain more information about the event at this site http://www.oscalewest.com

Chicago Midwest O Scale Meet
11-13 March 2011 Lombard, IL

The show is held at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. The show has a huge selling floor, operating layouts including a Proto48 modular display. Visit their website for more details.

O Scale National Convention
20-24 September 2011 Indianapolis, IN
The 2011 convention will be combined with the Fall Indianapolis meeting and held in the Wyndham  Indianapolis West hotel.    James Canter and Ron Sebastian of Des Plaines Hobbies have joined forces to create a show with great potential.   The last National in Indy was a major success so you can expect to see a similar show.   You can get more information at their website.    http://www.2011oscalenational.com

Stocking Dealers:

Des Plaines Hobbies
1524 Lee St, Des Plaines, IL 60018

The shop moved to a new location in the same shopping center. The new store is even larger than the previous location. They stock 1/48 scale and building supplies.

Caboose Hobbies
500 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
Stocks San Juan trucks and wheels

Coronado Scale Models
1544 Cypress Street, Phoenix, AZ  85006
(602) 254-9656

This shop has served the needs of fine scale modelers for over 40 years. The owners are active scale modeler having produced some beautiful locomotives and cars. Their shop offers excellent mail order service and knowledgeable assistance. You might check out the Photo Gallery for some of Stan Schwedler's fine work.

Sources of Prototype Information:

Railway Prototype Cyclopedia
RP CYC Publications Co.
P.O. Box 451
Chesterfield, MO 63006

The team of Ed Hawkins and Patrick Wider has produced 21 volumes of important information on prototype railroads with a primary emphasis on steam and early diesel era subject matter. The most recent issue covers USRA steel boxcars.    

Steam Era Freight Cars

This website has been around for a while and recently taken over by Rob Adams, a P48 modeler who recently converted from HO. The original site was created by Ted Culotta but his Speedwitch business took off and allowed little time for the site. Rob is now updating the information. The site has a lot of useful information compiled by Ted and others along with a large number of model and prototype photos.

Speedwitch Media

Ted Culotta established this business to develop prototype kits, decals and publications containing prototype data. He has published several useful books and magazines. While a portion of the products are for HO modelers, the books are a very useful reference for researching prototype information.    Recently, Protocraft has started releasing a number Speedwitch’s HO decal line in O scale.   The artwork has been translated to the larger scale by Norm Buckhart and added to his extensive line of decals.   His models and decals are all of the HO market.  

Supplier News:

American Switch & Signal
1945 N. Hwy 300 West
Winamac, IN 46996
John Pautz has added several new switch parts to his lineup within the past month. All of the parts are made from Right O' Way rail and are cast in nickel silver. He has a wide range of frogs, guard rails and points for popular rail sizes. See the latest brochure in the Suppliers section.

All of the parts are done to Proto48 track standards.
Link to PDF

Archer Transfers
PO Box 1277
Youngsville, NC 27596

Archer Transfers has solved one of the more difficult problems in modeling steel equipment.   They have invented a process to deposit a 3D resin on Microscale clear decal film.   They have expanded their line to include various rivet patterns and sizes, safety tread material, fasteners, panel lines and even louvers.   The product is very useful not only to solve difficult fabrication projects but it also saves a lot of time.   The decal is cut out and applied to the model like a normal Microscale product.   We recommend you do not use any decal solvent until it is has evaporated all of the water and you are happy with the position.   They you can apply the solvent around the edges.   The film will disappear.   The decals must be covered with paint since it will chip off otherwise.  

Custom Decals
Gerald Glow
1303 De La Garza Place
The Villages, FL 323162

Jerry Glow’s custom decal line was brought to my attention a while back.   He offers a wide range of lettering sets for largely Midwestern and Southeastern roads in steam era schemes.  The interesting part of this is that he will print them in O scale with a minimum order of two sets of each set desired.   He does all of that for around $20 for the two sets.   The lettering appears to be opaque and sharply printed.   I have ordered a couple different sets and have been impressed with the quality and delivery time.    The set shown below is for a USRA rebuilt double sheathed boxcar that was painted green and lettered with orange stencil paint.   Jim Zwernemann model of the prototype is shown below. 

Rails Unlimited
126 Will Scarlet
Elgin, IL
Ted announced his latest urethane kit for the Northern Pacific 36' double sheathed boxcar.   He also had the Milwaukee Road 36' stock car for sale.    Rails Unlimited has an extensive line of kits and is also an excellent dealer for general model railroad merchandise. He stocks O in depth and gives reliable service.

Glacier Park Models
P.O. Box 244
Ukiah, CA 95482
707-391-4476 (voice), 707-463-6988 (fax)

The next imports from GPM will be Southern Pacific Mk-4 class 2-8-2.   There will be two SP prototypes modeled in different eras.   Pilot models for SP Mk-4 3218 and 3227 were on display.   They will be offered with the unique 120-SC-1 whaleback tender along with the 120-C-3 on the later version of 3227.   Both of the pilot models shown have a number of corrections to be made to prior to the start of production.   As with nearly all pilot models, the builder will misinterpret information provided or newer information has come to light allowing the importer to make the changes.  

As with all of GPM's ¼" models, these will be offered in standard O gauge and with an optional Proto48 conversion wheels. They will be delivered painted and lettered with operating lights and provisions for DCC and sound installation. All of the previous steam locos from GPM have sold out within days of arrival in the country.

This underside view of the 120-C-1 tender shows the details that you can expect to see in this model when it is imported in 2011.    

SP Mk-4 3218 will be available with the 120-SC-1 whaleback tender.    These tenders were taken from old cab forward mallets when they were scrapped.   It imparts a uniquely SP look to the locomotive. 

Hi-Tech Details
P.O. Box 244
Ukiah, CA 95482

Hi-Tech Details is a newcomer to O scale detail parts but has been around for a while supplying the HO market with innovative details.    Their first O release is a molded rubber air hose that include the angle cock and glad hand.   You can also get the rubber hoses with a brass bracket for hanging them on the end of cars. 

Mullet River Model Works
118 Hudson Court, Plymouth, WI 53073

Mullet River Model Works has released a kit for the ACL ventilated boxcar kit in O scale.  This is a very popular car and was seen running all over the country. The kit consists of laser-cut wood, etched brass underframe and details and decals. Glenn Guerra is working from plans and technical data provided by A.T. Kott.

The partially complete pilot model is shown  

RY Models
7 Edgedale Court
Wyomissing, PA 19610

RY Models will be importing Vulcan and PRR 50-ton freight car trucks in Proto48 this year. The Vulcan is common to SP and UP rolling stock.

RY Models has the following trucks available in P48: Bettendorf freight and caboose style, PRR Crown 70-ton truck, National B-1 and the “L" section Andrews available in P48 currently. This truck was used extensively on cars built in the late teens and early 1920s.   Many trucks like this continued in work train service after being banned from interchange service.

They have announced plans to import models of a Matheson Dry Ice car and an ACL ventilator boxcar and ATSF Bx-3 and Bx-6 boxcars.   RY is currently taking reservations on these models.    

Nickel Plate Models
13732 Lakeside Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029

NKP Models will be setting up a new website that will provide information on their current line of products and some very exciting developments in the works.    Here is a firm that has been around for a while providing O scale modelers very accurate decals and imported kits and finished models. The models follow the Nickel Plate Road prototype but have use to a wide range of models. They have recently released custom decals for the NKP yellow striped diesels both road and switcher styles. They have imported a range of custom etched and formed passenger cars and freights car from England. They offer Proto48 trucks for their recent war emergency caboose. Their products are high quality and are worth a look. They are also the source for many different NKP decal sets including the NKP War Emergency boxcar release by Chooch.

18498 Half Moon Street
Unit 203
Sonoma, CA 95476-4835 (707) 935-7011 (voice message)

Protocraft is a key supplier of Proto48 wheels, parts and conversion sets. They have released most of the old Chooch line with the addition of passenger car trucks. Their website has been completed rebuilt with a complete catalog.    Protocraft continues to add new products frequently so it is worth a periodic visit.

Protocraft will be releasing a new flex track with Code 125 rail.   Micro Engineering will produce the track from Protocraft’s dies.   This product will be sold in boxes of 50’ for $169.00.   This minimizes the problems of shipping individual sections and the risk of damage.   The track is 32” in length which is caused by the fact that the tie strip die is 8” long so four shots create the section.   It should make building a railroad much easier in Proto48.   Watch Protocraft’s website for an announcement.  

They are with their factory in Korea on their first imported brass car.    The car is based upon an AC&F wood reefer design used by a number of operators.  Many of these cars were decorated in with complex graphics for “private owner” billboard reefer era.    The model will come with brass trucks and bracketed wheels (rib back) in both O gauge and Proto48.   Norm expects that this will be followed by a modified 1937 AAR boxcar with an interior height of 10’ 6”.   This car will also come with trucks and be available with different details to fit prototype cars.   
Protocraft is producing Barber S-2 70-ton and 100-ton roller bearing trucks in both P48 and O gauge.   These trucks are based upon actual engineer drawing.   Speaking of trucks, they have imported several new passenger car trucks in Proto48 will ball bearing on the axles.   The trucks include Pullman Type 242, 2410 and 61-UDO.   You can also get 4-wheel lightweight trucks like the 41-N, 41-ND and the SP Daylight triple bolster truck.

Protocraft has recently expanded their offerings of decals.   They concluded a deal with Speedwitch Media to license the artwork developed by Ted Culotta for his line of kits in HO.     Protocraft has taken the digital art and scaled it and refined it to fit ¼" scale.   The decals are printed by Microscale.   In addition the Speedwitch decals, Protocraft continues to release new decals covering a wide range of roads and car types.  They will be releasing a new UP boxcar set in yellow for the 1937 AAR cars.   A good color match for the boxcar is Tru-Color Rust.

Protocraft is rapidly becoming the principal supplier of O scale decals in the hobby.  With the closing of Champ and the withdrawal of Microscale, we will have to depend upon key suppliers like Protocraft for all-important decals.  

RL Design
14123 206th St.
S.E., Snohomish, WA 98296-3947

Rick Leach has started production of the new NP diesel decal sets.   There will be two sets covering F-units and GP/ switchers.   The sets are very complete with all of the known lettering for all major diesel classes that ran on the NP from the late 1940s up through the late 1960s.    Production has been delayed as efforts were made to make sure the decal ink matched the color drift panels for both the yellow and red.   Special care was taken to ensure that the color was still accurate after application over the black car body. 

Please note that Rick is now taking PayPal for payment as well as checks and money orders. Check out the catalog sheet for ordering information.


Red Cliff Miniatures
2166 Thomas Trail
Santa Clara, UT 84765

Jim Harper has purchased his old line of switch and track detailing parts from his former hobby shop.   He is now offering an extensive line of Code 100 and 125 track parts.  
Please see the new catalog sheet via this link


Greg Komar
13704 Country Court Drive,
Tampa, FL 33625

Komar offers a wide range of high quality dry transfers covering Midwestern and Eastern railroads in some detail. I have used his sets with great success on several models. He doesn't have a website but we loaded his latest listing on the site as a PDF.


San Juan Car Company
P. O. Box 1028
Durango, Colorado 81302
Phone: 970-385-5256

San Juan is tooling the production version of the Type-E AAR coupler based upon the principles defined worked out on the narrow gauge Sharon.  John Parker has indicated that coupler will be available in 2011 depending upon the production schedule at their Chinese factory.    San Juan is hopeful that work will restart on the long-awaited drop bottom gondola.    

They have launched a new website and appear to be updated on a regular basis. 

Scale Hardware
1736 NE 16 Street
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33304
(954) 609-4108

Scale Hardware offers a wide range of small details machined from brass that will become an indispensible part of your parts selection.   The offer scale machined rivets and simulated square nuts and hex nut along with bolts.   In addition, you will find a range of very small threaded bolts, nuts and taps.   The smallest threaded bolt listed is .5 mm which as a .020” threaded body.  

Southern Car and Foundry
970 Sunshine Land, Suite D
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

Jon Cagle has been busy this winter preparing new models for release.   The 60’ Harriman cars are finally ready to ship.   New stirrups were developed to provide an accurate yet durable design.  is releasing two new Harriman 60' passenger cars.   The first is an RPO and the second is the straight baggage.    These kits will feature upgraded stirrups that are etched brass rather than the cast brass offered on the 40' RPO/Baggage.   The kits are complete with underbody details including the correct Schedule LN brake equipment. Correct decals are now available from Protocraft in both Aluminum Bronze and Dulux Yellow.   

SC&F will release a new kit for the Canadian Pacific “minibox” all steel boxcar.  The prototype was built in very large numbers (7500) starting in 1929.  A considerable number of these cars could be seen all over the US.   It was a pioneer design that was a precursor to the 1932 ARA steel cars designed in the US.     The kit features a one-piece urethane body with a separate roof.   Most of the major structural underbody details are on the body casting.  SC&F will provide etched brass parts to complete the underbody, stirrups and ladders.   You will also find plastic detail parts from Chooch Enterprise and San Juan Car Company.    The kit will be complete less couplers and trucks.   The coupler boxes are separate so mounting the Kadee box will be easy to do.    RL Design has developed a special decals set for two of the railroads schemes covering the late 1940s well into the 1960s.   The famous “Spans the World” lettering will be included in the set

SC&F is preparing additional freight car models for release this year.   The first up will be a Standard Tank Car (STC) 8,000 gallon insulated car.    The model will be urethane and feature decals for the Akin Gasoline Company.   The car can also be lettered for a wine car.  Gibson Winery leased cars from GATX. 

Following the tank car release, a kit for the ATSF Bx-12 raised roof boxcar will be released.   The car was a rebuild of an earlier single sheathed design in the early part of WWII.   The Santa Fe raised the roofline by 12” and added a Murphy raised panel roof.   It was a most unique prototype that ran well into the modern era. 

8 Old Rectory Gardens
Thurlestone, Devon TQ7 3PD

Mike Calvert and Jason Dickie have a couple of new projects in the works.   Gilmaur produces photo etched kits of rolling stock and diesels that are well engineered and relatively easy to assemble with either solder or CA adhesives.  

Mike showed a couple new items at the O National in Santa Clara.  The first is a SP F-50-4 40' flat car which was built with a Bettendorf “I" Beam underframe.   The second was a B-50-5 boxcar with a Pressed Steel side sill.   In addition, a SP signal tower was shown.  Hopefully, there was enough interest to warrant production of these items.  The picture was taken with a Droid phone and is not of the highest quality.

Updated  February 2011