Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: Railway Modelling (C J Freezer)

Freezer, C J Railway Modelling (1963) This is the second edition. I wonder what changes were made from the first one; and what changes Freezer would make if he revised the book today (he died about two years ago.) There’s no question that he expects people to make do with whatever materials and skills they have. Cardboard, wood, wire, and paper figure prominently. He assumes basic craft skills, such as cutting, painting (with a brush), sanding, gluing, and soldering. He’s writing at a time when the after effects of the 2nd World War were still felt. The Swinging 60s were still a year or two off, but Freezer’s repeated wonder at how “ridiculously cheap” the new products are reminds us that the sudden prosperity of the 60s was apparent, not real.

The illustrations are especially instructive. Consider the exploded view of a locomotive, properly shaded and hatched to differentiate the materials used. Or the diagrams of model buildings, or the cross section of a carriage. There’s enough information for a reasonably handy person to build the model. If nothing else, these drawings will inspire confidence: Freezer makes the whole process look so simple. He covers all aspects of railway modelling, including garden railways. It’s a charming book, definitely personal, with a dry humour that disarms even when he’s talking about things a modern writer wouldn’t even hint at, such as how to get the “domestic authorities” on side.

It’s well worth reading today. The text is clear and straightforward; Freezer has the knack of writing as if he were talking to you. The photos show then well-known model railways, such as Peter Denny’s. (Freezer was also editor of Railway Modeller, and used his contacts.) I enjoyed reading the book. A recent thread on uk.rec.models.rail that referred to freezer and others as inspiration for the current generation of modellers. Rightly so, and these pioneers of serious modelling have a continuing influence. They recognised, defined, and solved the problems, and their solutions have become standard operating procedures. ***

Custom Postage Stamps

Gian Gomeschi just commented on Royal Mail's plan to release a set of stamps in January 2010 depicting long-play record album covers. He thinks Canada Post should copy the idea. I concur. Those 12x12 covers are not only examples of high illustrative art, they are also a record of changing tastes and styles in commercial imagery. Not to mention the nostalgia factor, which I think drives a lot of extra stamp sales. Framed stamps and stamp sheets make a cool wall decoration.

His comments reminded me of Picture Post, Canada Post's custom stamp service. You can create your own custom stamps (domestic postage rate) at:

I've made three stamps so far. Here's the image I used on my most recent stamp. I like this service.
You get a sheet of 40 stamps for a little over $40 or about $1 a stamp. Cheap IMO, when you consider that your stamps will be unique and all your own. Highly recommended.