On The Bench 31: Enterprise B/Excelsior Project part 1 by Don Matthys

So the fun begins.

The first step in setting up a starship model for lighting is to start opening up the kit plastic by locating the positions of the ports and windows. This is where careful research comes into play. The best references to help me is the excellent photos located at Peter Savins Pedro’s Shiporama web site featuring about 30 pictures of one of the Excelsior motion control studio model on display at a ViaCom store in Chicago.

For the Enterprise “B”, the book “Star Trek Sketch book: Generations/First Contact” shows details particular to that starship. Here I have marked in place the locations with a fine marker on both the primary and secondary hulls the locations of the windows and ports.

With a small bit chucked into a motor tool, I open up the circular ports that I have located. On the horizontal windows, I drill three successive holes very close together. Then a #11 Exacto knife blade cuts the inside out. One other motor tool bit I am fond to use is a tiny air turbo tool burr to remove the material moving it back and forth in the tiny slot at a slow speed. In the inside surface of the model, I clean away plastic kit styrene debris.

Small jewelers files (4 inch) are used to clean the horizontal window slots up even more. Do not be concerned if the slot is oversize or a little bit to rough on the edges. Once the holes are filled with clear liquid casting resin and sanded smooth on the outer surface of the model masking of the windows and ports at uniform height and width will keep them straight during and after painting the exterior colors. The round circular port will utilize .020-.030 diameter fiber optic. This will be done later.

The next important step is to opaque the interior of the model. I use black paint sprayed through an airbrush. To check to see if the light is successfully blocked I check the coating of paint near a light source in an otherwise darkened room.

Filling the windows is is the next step. I like to use a two part clear epoxy like resin made and sold as “Envirotex” or “Ultra-Glo”. Essentially it is the same two equal part mix product that cures solid within 24 hours. Prior to filling in the windows I apply transparent tape (ie. 3M Scotch Magic) up against the exterior surfaces.

Next mix two equal parts of resin (avoid making air bubbles while mixing) then with the tip of a tooth pick I pick up a small drop of the clear mixed resin and let it flow into the window cavity from one side. When full move on to the next window.

Sometimes air pockets will remain close to the exterior. To get rid of these I slightly pole a tiny hole into the tape on the outside with a sharp fresh #11 Exacto blade. You can only do this in sections at a time on the kit so I do a section of the windows and prop up the kit part to keep the resin level as it cures. Otherwise the resin will flow out and cause a mess.

Tool List: (SO FAR)

  • Marker Pen, fine tip.
  • Motor tool or drill pin vise
  • #70 Drill bit (Walthers)
  • Burr , Smallest turbo Burr made for Contenti Tools air driven Turbo tool a –tiny dental burr will suffice as well.
  • Airbrush
  • Black Paint, White paint

On to part 2

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