Ted Schnepf
O Scale Hall of Fame Chicago - 2018

Ted Schnepf is a major O Scale dealer. He manufactures fine scale car resin kits, sells unique railroad photos and has a custom line of O scale decals. He frequently opens his huge Milwaukee Road layout to visitors introducing most to real operating sessions. His layout is a must see event.

"I started with a Marx train and a Model Trains magazine subscription, but by high school had found On3. College (civil engineer), Military service (army-Vietnam), and a 28 year railroad career (Milw, ELS, Wis DOT, BNSF), with five moves, slowed On3 modeling.

My model railroad business, Rails Unlimited, started in 1983, at first part time between railroad jobs, and then in 1998 as a full time business. Selling at my first March O scale meet was in 1985, now 33 years ago. About two years later started selling the urethane O scale cars. Today the Rails Unlimited urethane car line has 30 models and growing.

In 1989, we built a new home, with a large basement. I organized Fox Valley O Scalers club, to help with construction of a standard gauge layout with some On3. first track was laid in 1990, followed by the first O scale meet open house in 7/92, for the Chicago O Scale National. Thousands of visitors of all scales have toured the layout over the years, including participants of the annual Chicago O Scale Meet in March. Probably the most famous visitor was hall of famer John Armstrong. I once had two major model railroad magazine editors visit the layout during an RPM op session and were at arm's length of each other.

The layout (basement) was expanded in 2007. The layout has several unique features. There is a 90 foot long , 8 track, reversing loop hanging from the ceiling. At one point two yards are piggybacked above each other in mushroom style. The railroad's long mainline climbs through grades, with no helixes, to reach all levels, from knee height to well over 7.5 feet above the floor.. The model features five large yards, with 585 car capacity, and a future yard with another 390 car capacity. The layout has five generous staging yards for about 2000 cars. The second level of the layout is cantilevered from the wall, so there is no support posts interfering with the lower sceniced level. The track work uses large #8 and #10 hand laid turnouts. the smallest turnout, infrequently used is a #7. The track plan uses many double end tracks. The layout includes large railroad size industries, such as a seven foot long freight house. Many structures are built to match specific prototypes."

Ted Schnepf

Scott Mann
O Scale Hall of Fame Chicago - 2018

Scott, through Sunset Models and Golden Gate Depot has promoted O scale with great affordable locomotives and passenger cars, especially his brass steam locomotives, full line of plastic diesels, and full Name trains. He is now the leader in introducing new O scale products.

Norm Buckhart
O Scale Hall of Fame Chicago - 2018

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.

Norm 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.

Norm’s home layout is remarkable in its dimensions in size and the amount of beautiful equipment running on it. Many 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.

Gene Demling