28 January 2016

U.S.S. Enterprise Refit Restoration, Part 2

"THERE she IS!"

Above is the model of the Enterprise I built in 1992 –in the most basic way possible: I separated the parts from the sprues (but I didn't use clippers and I didn't sand down the burrs), I glued the pieces together (rather messily, with Testors little tube of glue), I painted a few key parts (using artist acrylics and a paint brush), and I applied the very few decals provided (using just warm water and who knows what to apply them; some slightly crooked and/or not accurately/precisely positioned).

While recently blogging about my past models (almost all built between 1992 and 1995) I felt a slight sense of remorse about not building them to their fullest potential (or at least cleaning up seam lines and gaps!). I do understand that this feeling is entirely hindsight based on my new knowledge and growing skills as a modeler, and I did have plenty of fun building them at the time (what other reason is there?), and I felt fairly satisfied with my results back then.

But, all the same, part of me kind of wants a bit of a do-over, somehow. I know I can build and detail all of these ships better now (maybe even install some lighting!) but I don't want to get new kits and build them all over again, and I can't really pull these ones all apart and rebuild them from scratch (despite the SPS motto). I just have to accept it and move on with new and different kinds of models (several of which have already been completed and several more are currently under way).

But this Enterprise is different. Her design is super iconic and the refit first seen in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture is, in my opinion, even better than the original one from the '60s. With Star Trek's 50th anniversary coming up in September this year, I feel that restoring my model would be a nice way for me to celebrate one of my favourite series.

Meanwhile, the original 1960s studio model is undergoing its own restoration.

There's a whole host of aftermarket parts available for making this specific kit more accurate and easier to light, but those are mostly good if you're building this from scratch. I'm not at all opposed to aftermarket parts, but I just don't feel like chopping up this kit, despite its deficiencies. Being a restoration and not a refit of the refit, apart from a new set of (aftermarket) decals (this time making it the 1701 instead of the 1701-A), a new paint job, some sanding, brass and plastic reinforcements, and a new stand, this model will be almost entirely box stock.

Dismembered in drydock.

In my previous post there's a picture of the saucer section half attached to the neck, the glue having given way a bit over the decades. There, I doubted whether I should complete the separation to make my restoration easier, but, after looking closer at the model I realized it would benefit me if I broke it apart. There was only a tiny amount of bonded plastic transferred from the saucer to the very back of the neck. I'll be strongly reinforcing this whole joint later on.

Sanding test.

I initially planned to fill the weird brick-like texture (intended to simulate the "aztec" panel pattern which was painted onto, not scribed into, the refit) with Bondo and then sand it smooth, leaving only the deeper grid lines on the saucer and key panel lines on the engineering hull. That inspiration came from this series of videos, but I found a blog where the modeler was just sanding down the "bricks" because their scribing isn't as deep as the desired grid/panel lines. The result won't be as smooth, but it'll save me a step and a lot of work.

Sanding test.

My model's warp nacelles broke off not long (months? years?) after I built it, so it hasn't been on display since the mid-'90s, and that's bugged me for a long time, so, among much else, this restoration will finally allow me to display the ship –intact– once more. My plan is to install brass rods in the pylons and then into the engineering hull for support –I won't let them break off or droop this time!

Sanding comparison.

The far left tip of the nacelle is sanded, making that area look overexposed, but it's actually revealing the white plastic which had yellowed over the decades. I used a bunch of emery boards for the first pass over the nacelles, then moved to proper (150 grit) sandpaper for the rest of the ship.

Engineering hull.

It still looks pretty "bricky," but that's just because of the yellowing; after priming, painting, and decals, I think they'll barely be noticeable.

That square hole in the bottom was where the kit-provided stand fitted, but I'm going to use a brass rod for mounting on a nice base later on.

Saucer sanding comparison.

Here's another comparison of the sanded and unsanded hull. I had to be careful not to sand away the tiny phaser bumps (painted blue; three each, top and bottom) or the clear plastic navigation lights at the edges (also three each, top and bottom). The four triangular details on the edges of the photo are the Reaction Control Thrusters which the new decals will help define.

Saucer sanding comparison.

Here's a good look at the difference between the sanded and unsanded parts on the underside of the saucer, as well as the opening where the neck attaches. I'm glad I separated those because it's making the restoration much easier, allowing me to deal with one sub-assembly at a time without worrying about breaking things. I'll have to sand down or scratch off that orange-brown Testors glue residue at the opening if I want the new glue to adhere properly.

Sanded and filled...mostly.

Well, there she is after hours of gruelling sanding and not-so-gruelling seam/gap filling (and then some more sanding). I still need to do a bit more filling with the Bondo on the window joints around the outer wall of the saucer. So far, so good; I'm excited about this model again after more than two decades.

The next phase will be removal of the paint and then applying first coat of primer to make sure all my gaps are okay.

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