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Meet the modeler: Eric Schade

By Rene Schweitzer | October 20, 2021

Follow your interests, find friends in the hobby who inspire you, and always keep learning

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Two live-steam engines on a garden railway
Two live-steam engines on a garden railway
The engine at left is a modified Accucraft Emma, representing one of the engines Eric works on at the railway museum. At right is a modified Accucraft Dora joined with a scratchbuilt wooden coach to be a steam-powered railbus. Photo by Eric Schade

How did you get started in the hobby? 

I received an HO scale model kit of a steam locomotive for Christmas when I was 14 years old. I had fun following the instructions, then building a railway to run it on. I also liked building outdoor villages with buildings and roads with toy cars and real stones and plants. It was a good while before I could combine railways and outdoor modeling.

 

What was your first large scale locomotive?

Around 1990, I ordered an Aster Kit for a live steam geared Climax locomotive. The instructions were good and after a few weeks of work, I had a running engine. I learned a lot about how real steam locomotives work and how to build a working model.

A model engine plowing snow on a garden railway
The author’s modified 7/8th inch scale Accucraft Emma pushes a home-made wooden plow car. The snow is a bit sticky, creating clumps ahead of the plow and a particularly clear path behind it. Photo by Eric Schade

What’s your favorite part of the hobby?

I like building stuff. All of it. I build locomotives, freight cars and passenger cars, right of ways, bridges, stations, and houses. I plant mostly native plants which work out well in scale. I also enjoy running my railway and making videos.

Watch some of Eric’s videos:

Plowing the WQ after a December snow

A snowy morning on the WQ

Bells and whistles in the Maine woods

Life along the Winnegance & Quebec

What’s your least favorite part?

I would say the least fun bit is maintenance, clearing sticks and acorns off the track, regrading it, fixing stuff that show their years.

replica 1894 wooden railway coach
The author’s latest project is 12” to the foot scale. He is working with a crew to build a replica 1894 wooden railway coach for the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (WW&F) Railway Museum in Alna, Maine. Photo by Eric Schade

What has been your biggest modeling success?

The models I am most proud of represent their prototypes faithfully and run well on my railway. I have modified some commercial steam locomotives to represent my favorite prototypes and have been pleased with the results. I have also built some cars and coaches that are quite faithful to the prototypes.

 

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

I have occasionally been sad to have destroyed or changed beyond recall some models which were not quite what I wanted at the time, but in hindsight, I missed. I now try to fix old stuff with respect for their origins or just sidetrack them rather that toss them out or rework them to something new.

A model locomotive with tipper cars on a garden railway
The author enjoys scratchbuilding items for his railway, such as these tipper cars. Photo by Eric Schade

What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?

A new hobbyist will have best results if they follow their interests. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your work. Start small and keep learning. Find friends in the hobby who inspire you.

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