Proto48 today has become a viable gauge for modelers wanting to work in 1/48 scale.  We are fortunate to have a wide range of products available with many of them coming from Protocraft.   Norm Buckhart founded Protocraft to produce products needed in the Proto48 hobby.  The business has grown from its origin of supplying wheels produced by Steve Grabowski and his dad to an extensive line of exquisite brass freight cars, brass trucks, working magnetic couplers, wheels, driver parts and of course decals.

2011-chicago-2Norm is a native Californian raised in the Bay Area with a deep appreciation of the railroads and marine operations present in and around the San Francisco Bay.

His background includes a Naval aviator, Pan American pilot and real estate developer.  Model railroading has been a long term interest of his.

We are fortunate that Norm has demonstrated the ability to identify products needed in the hobby and getting them done.  Protocraft has developed a wide range of products that support accurate modeling.

Proto48 is about accurate modeling ranging from accurate gauge and wheel profiles to correct rolling stock and lettering.  Norm has set about the task of developing a magnetic AAR Type-E coupler, hundreds of decal sets with art developed from photos rather than type setting font like the old Champ and Walthers decals.  He developed and imported a wide range of accurate boxcars for specific prototypes for the major railroads.  Rather than a generic car, Norm has obtaining actual AC&F and Pullman drawings for the actual cars purchased by railroads.  The cars are done with the correct running boards, hand brakes, body details and trucks.  Speaking of trucks, Protocraft has developed a whole range of ball-bearing equipped trucks.  Finally, Proto48 modelers can purchase trucks based upon actual designs and not the generic “Bettendorf” design.

Along the way, Norm got involved with antique automobile ownership.  He still owns a number of classic auto and drives a few of them on occasion.  The photo below shows Norm on the left leaning against his Packard Model 640.  He is toasting his buddy with a glass of Teachers which is his favorite libation.


Norm’s home layout is remarkable in its dimensions in size and the amount of beautiful equipment running on it.   You can visit the Protocraft Layout page by clicking on this link  http://www.protocraft.com/Layouts.cfm?ItemID=490


soo-steelMany of the boxcars on the layout are Protocraft imports lettered with Protocraft decals.  The cars are all weathered and feature Protocraft’s magnetic couplers.


With this huge layout, Norm incorporated an interesting vignette of a barge and slip.  It fits perfectly with the San Francisco Bay Area theme.





The barge slip has created an interesting operating point. Norm has found that he enjoys loading and unloading cars on the barge. He has reconfigured a hidden yard in his shop to provide an off-stage destination for cars coming off the barge.   It turns out that this section of the layout is enjoyable to operate. Switching with a glass of Teachers is an ideal way of closing a long day of work on Protocraft projects.  Norm suggested it as a small layout for someone who enjoys switching. I will take a look at this idea and may develop it into a small layout concept.

Hopefully you enjoyed this quick look at Norm Buckhart.

Happy Trails,



4 thoughts on “FEATURED MODELER: Norm Buckhart

  1. Thank you Gene for the beautiful pictures and information on Norm Buckhart! As a Proto 48 enthusiast my favorite models are from Norm of Protocraft. Top of the line along with Lee Turner’s touch. Keep the beautiful blog’s coming. I like being able to make it difficult for observers to think they are seeing the prototype. Gene, your blog and modeling are the ultimate! Norm, your models and service are unsurpassed!

  2. good god Gene – that’s quite a blurb you wrote about me. Very flattering – now I have to keep living up to your kind words. Thanks for a saying such nice things. I hope it motivates others to model in 1/4” true scale and improve their discerning ‘eye’ for doing it right as they say. My goal is to make that easier for everyone, and I would say you and your efforts with the Proto48 blog go a long way by showing and informing modelers that it’s quite possible for them to model in as much detail as they are able and to find a lot of satisfaction in doing so. Regards, Norm

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