At last, I finally found a model I had wanted to build since
seeing the movie in 1968.
Starship Modeler was a tremendous asset in this endeavor.
Not only was it the means to acquire a copy of this kit, but
the build reviews of Karl Dodenhoff and Brian Thewlis proved to be quite
valuable in determining my own strategy in building and detailing the model.
Like both Brian and Karl. I was going to build a full
interior – both the flight deck and the Pod Bay.
However, that’s where the similarities in the final build stops, as I did not
wish to extend the Pod Platform outside the hull, so the Pod Bay Door could be
placed back into the “closed position,” allowing both levels of display, and I also
wanted to do a the flight deck lighting more in concert with the look of the
movie flight deck set.
The lower forward section of the flight deck, which mounts into the upper hull hemisphere was painted flat white, as a background for the decals.
The same material was used for the two small windows of the rear ante-room door. The rear door plastic was painted in clear yellow to set the proper lighting color.
The ante-room was assembled first. The floor, the side
walls and the rear door panel were bound by rubber bands and glued. Once dry,
the bands were removed. You can see how the translucent ceiling panel now
Next, it was time to look at the forward section of the flight
deck. In the film, you can see translucent panels ringing the outer surface of
the flight deck, between the rear walls and the forward panel.
The detail for these panels does exist on the part, but
needed to be cleared of material by means of the Dremel.
Once completed, the forward section was fitted to the
Ante-Room to create a single-unit assembly which would be fitted to the upper
hull later. I used a “jump-suited” technician figure from another 1/144 scale
model to replicate one of the Discovery crew checking the controls on the
Ante-Room wall. After painting the figure for the appropriate blue suit color
and facial and hair detail, he was secure to the Ante-Room floor.
The “well” around the forward windows was hand-painted flat
black, to match the look of the movie model.
The lower console section was also done in flat black –
primer white as the upper hull was prior to placement of the decals.
I decided to work on the Pod
Bay at this time, as the finished
height of the Pod
Bay would have an impact
on the lighting system.
The Pod bay was fabricated directly along the lines provided
in the Stargazer manual, with one exception, I think.
In my build, the ceiling of the Pod
Bay was set onto the interior top edge
of the Pod Bay walls instead of on top of them, so
that there was no extra height above the walls. This would allow the placement
of the ribbon LEDs to the ceiling after placement into the hull, without
interfering with the flight deck assembly above. This rrequireduired that the “ledge”
around the perimeter of the ceiling, as well as the dimensions of the in-set on
the right side, needed to be filed down.
The wall and floor decals were far more problematic than I
would have expected. Because they are so thin, it would have been better to
place them prior to assembling the wall onto the bay floor, but we managed to
get them in place anyway. After decal placement and drying, the interior was
over-coated in Dullcoat to seal the surfaces.
Early on, I decided not to try to extend a pod platform
outside the open Pod Bay Door, so that a way to reattach the door could be
made. This way the model could be displayed open or closed. So, to facilitate
the “open” phase of the look, the center Pod was fixed to its platform facing
outward. The two other Pods faced inward, in their “stowed” positions. Then the
Pod Bay ceiling with its translucent panel was installed onto the inside edges
of the walls.
The three positive and negative lines were combined and
insulated from each other to create a common connection point.
A trial fit of the Pod Bay
assembly into the Lower CM Hull indicated a very slight rise of the LEDs above
the edge of the hull. This would require that the flight deck provide a slight
degree of clearance when it was installed onto the Upper Hull.
This meant that the bottom edge of the flight deck unit be placed as close to
the edge of the opening for the forward console section on the Upper CM Hull as
possible, without light leaks. More on this later...
The Bay was removed from the Lower Hull
and a location for wiring exit was determined. A small hole was made
dead-center of the bottom of the circle of attachment between the Command
Module and the CM/Spine Adapter Unit. (--->)
For wiring clearance past the floor disk, a simple trough
was sanded out with the Dremel sanding drum.
Then the Flight Deck assembly was secured to the forward
console area as intended, making sure that the bottom edge of the Flight Deck
was as close to the bottom edge of the forward section opening as possible, to
allow clearance for the Pod Bay lights.
They were then located along side
of the Flight Deck on the hull’s inner surface as shown. Again, all positive
and negative leads were combined for common connection.
Once set, the upper and lower halves were brought together,
back edge to back edge, and the final electrical connections to the lead wire
was made, soldered and insulated.
Once the CM glue had cured, it was time to do a “light
check.” I connected the lead wire to the power supply and turned off the
workbench light. It was very easy to see where the seam between the upper and
lower halves still did not close completely. Even after sanding and testing of
the halves prior to paint. The thin gab was filled with super-glue, allowed to
cure completely, and then painted over them with flat black first, then with
flat Grey and then flat white to close the “wound.” Seam closed.
The Command Module/Spine Adapter Unit was fabricated next.
Each part needed to be drilled out, to accept the Spine Rod during final
assembly. Once each part was drilled
using a small drill press, they were glued together to complete the assembly.
The system was “honed out” by using a section of rod with a
slight burr on the edge, in order to open the long hole just enough to make
assembly easier later on. Once a smooth fit to the rod was verified, the CM and
CM/SAU were glued together to complete the forward section of the ship, (--->)
Reactor Unit & Spine Rod
The Reactor Unit was built up in direct accord with the
Stargazer instructions, except the hole for mounting the Spine rod was done to
each section of the assembly first. Using a small drill press, the holes were
drilled for the three Engine Bell Units first, then the central hole for the
spine rod on the other end, using shims to maintain “flatness” of the Reactor
Unit on the drill press floor. Then, Parts 22, 23 and 26 were all drilled out
for the spine rod as well.
The rod itself was a “composite” of a 36 inch long, 1/8”
brass tube with a slightly smaller steel rod slid into it for reinforcement. Super
glue was run into the joint between the two parts to lock them together.
The rod was used for the alignment of the pre-drilled RU
parts during assembly. The rod was first inserted into the central RU hole to
check for perpendicularity. Once convinced that the hole was “true,” the spine
rod was inserted again, tapped into position to “seat” it and locked with super-glue.
Part 22 was slid down the rod into position on the face of the RU and glued.
Part 26 was done the same way. The engine bells and two Part 25’s were located
on the rear face of the RU, glued and allowed to cure. (--->)
The instructions for the assembly of the Spine and its constituent segments provided full guidance on the make-up of each of the eleven segments, in terms of which parts are used and their orientation. The Stargazer manual alludes to fabrication of these components on the spine rod itself. In the review of the kit by Brian Thewlis, the idea of using a “jig” to fabricate the segments off of the model caught my attention. The “final” length of eh spine rod was determined by using a copy of the dimensional pattern from the manual, plotting off the distance for the eleven segments and adding the requied 2 inches of insertion length to support the CM/SAU assembly. The rod was then cut to length and the end de-burred and cleaned.
The result of the jig was like working with an engine stand,
as you could rotate the assembly to locate each new component in turn.
The “A” (Type 1) components are “full-length” and were
always placed first, if they were part of the segment. The smaller component
groups (“B” – Types 2 & 3, or “C” – Types 4 & 5) were connected and
spaced by drilling a small diameter hole in the adjoining faces of each part
and using a piece of steel “straight pin” inserted between them and locked with
super-glue, to create a physically stable sub-assembly. These were then glued
into position onto the support pieces in their appropriate locations. (--->)
These segment assemblies require patience, as they must be
solidly glued together in order to work with them, and even super-glue takes
time to fully cure. Once completely dried, each segment was inspected for gaps
between the central support pieces and the components. If gaps were found, they
were closed with additional glue and allowed to cure.
The central vanes for the two smaller dishes were yet
another matter, I could not get cut plastic pieces to look the way I wanted
them to, so I went to a local hobby store and after some discussions with staff
to tell them what kind of “cross-shaped” article I was searching for, I came
across a set of photo-etched metal parts for a ship model, which had small
cross-shapes on it, They were the right size to fit inside the diameter of the
small dishes! So, there they are.
After assembly of the vanes, the Antenna Complex was placed
on top of its center segment.
The central Pod Bay Door issue had still not been resolved.
The trick was to provided a stable enough means to keep the door in position for
the “closed: mode, and still be able to remove it fairly easily for the “open”
mode. The solution came in the way of placing a section of self-adhesive, soft
gel “foot” onto the inner surface of the door, so that he distance from the Pod
Platform to the edge would be set on insertion. A very small ribbon of plastic
stock was added, so that it bent over the top edge of the door and extended 1.5
mm away from the door. The result is both a “shim” to create the friction
necessary to hold the door in place, and a “tab” to pull the door free to change
to “open” display mode. As the tab is white and projects no more than a
millimeter away from the edge, it is not easily seen, so as not to detract from
the look of the model in “closed” mode.
The surface details of the Spine segments and the Reactor
Unit were brought out by using a wash of flat black acrylic enamel in acrylic
thinner, at about a 40:1 ratio, or about four
“brush-loads” of flat black into a 0.5 oz. bottle of thinner. The same
wash was used with a very thin brush to accent the seams of the CM and SAU
components. Then came detailing and panel painting. Extensive use of movie
still and comparisons to other builds were used for reference here.
The results speak for themselves.
As I said, I have been looking a long time to have a
properly detailed model of the Discovery. To see it completed, and sitting on the shelf is both
satisfying and surrealistic all at the same time.
Thanks go to Stargazer for producing the kit and Starship
Modeler for providing access to it!!