A RADICAL LUNAR RECONSTRUCTION !
(as described by François O. Beaulieu)
[all photographs are copyright 2000 by Alain Gadbois]

When I first heard about the new model kit of the Time Machine that Lunar Models introduced in 1995, I hurriedly ordered it. But I had one little problem: I had little model-building experience and couldn't consider tackling such an elaborate project. Luckily, a good friend of mine by the name of Alain Gadbois happens to be a professional prototype builder and model designer. Needless to say, I asked Alain if he would build Lunar's Time Machine for me. He said he would be glad to when he found the spare time.

It wasn't until the summer of 1997 that Alain took a good look at the kit. But once he did, he pointed out that he could probably improve on it a bit. He asked me for photos of the real movie prop and copies of the original blueprints; then, he took out his calliper and measured everything. The next thing I knew, he was planning to rebuild most of the parts !

I also discovered that spare time was something Alain didn't often have ! Although the project was initiated in the summer of 1997, it is still going on today ! But Alain assures me it should be completed fairly soon. Here then are a series of photos and comments on the gradual and radical reconstruction of Lunar Models' Time Machine by Alain Gadbois.

The control console was not perfectly cylindrical and had to be substantially reworked in order to look acceptably symmetrical. In the process, a few rivets were sanded off and had to be replaced with tiny beads. The blue and gold base on which the three light globes rest was inaccurate, poorly cast and slightly off-centre. To conform to the design of the real console, it had to be completely rebuilt using fine plastic strips. I suggested to Alain that, for a more realistic effect, the white resin parts depicting the light globes in the Lunar kit should be replaced by the top sections of LEDs. I found an adequate set and gave it to him. As I did, I haphazardly mentioned that they were not the same shades as those on the real prop. (The yellow was a light lemon shade and the green, a light apple). However, when Alain showed me the final result, I was surprised to find that he had tinted the LEDs to match the true shades of the globes !

[Note: On this photograph, the globes were placed on the base temporarily, for purposes of illustration. This explains why they are not properly aligned nor centred.]

Alain thought that the display panel looked somewhat shoddy and the oval windows a bit too small. In an attempt to improve it slightly, he added an oval brass ring and a tinted glass window to each of the three screens. However, in his enthusiasm to embellish the console, he mistakenly added a brass rim around the slit in which the lever is anchored ! To create the lever, the original Lunar part was used. However, the oversized transparent plastic bead supplied in the kit was replaced by a smaller facetted Swiss crystal. Furthermore, a metal tip was fitted onto the lever's base. This tip may be inserted into anyone of three small holes within the slit on the console. The holes were added by Alain to allow one to position the lever at various angles. To add a final touch of realism to the console, Alain applied a fine "faux marble" finish to the handle, so as to match as closely as possible the veining and shade of the marble on the original lever.
 
A simple mounting jig was designed to build the three lamp cages out of brass wire.

The dish-support shaft was poorly cast from a two-part mould that was evidently crooked. It required extensive work to smooth out the flaws. However, it was impossible to salvage the original set of three discs mounted at the top of the shaft (but cast with it), so Alain decided to cut it off and replace it with his own set of hand-made discs. The scrapped Lunar part appears in the foreground. In order to approximate the look of oxidized brass, a warm shade of gold was chosen.

[Note: the gold tip at the top of the shaft is an error and has since been corrected.]

The miniature electrode cones on the motor housing were not only poorly cast, they were all off-centre and had to be cut off and replaced. New electrode cones were cast and properly aligned on the motor housing. The mould for the substituted parts is shown at the back.

[Note: Although the original electrode cones have white rims, they were mistakenly painted in gold. This was partly corrected before assembly.]

The new electrode cones were then accurately positioned on the motor housing. Alain also decided to cut off the outer rings from the large tumblers and mount them directly to the framework (see photograph below). The colour of the motor housing was chosen at a time when little information about the correct shade was available to Alain and myself. It actually is fairly close to the shade of the real motor base as it is appears today. However, we now feel that, in its original state, the shade was somewhat bluer.
Alain wanted to meticulously reproduce the coiled wires running from the top of the shaft to the motor base - right down to matching the exact number of coils on the originals. For the wires, he decided to use a fairly rigid brass wire so that it would keep its shape. The L-shaped rods on which each coiled wire is fitted are also reproduced. On the original movie prop, the rods are unpainted metal that is deeply oxidized. Therefore, we decided to leave these rods unpainted.
(More photos showing the finished assembly. see pages 4 and 5)
The resin framework in my kit was somewhat flimsy and irregular. Rather than waste time trying to salvage it, Alain decided to discard it and hand-form a new one out of aluminium wire. Here, the new framework is shown alongside the original resin version. Note the tumbler rings mounted to the back.
The resin railing also would need a lot of work. Although, at first, Alain tried to smooth it out, he soon decided he might as well replace it too. Besides, he had found a few errors in its proportions. Also, the two corners at the back had to be modified to match the curvature of the corners on the real Machine. The curvature of these corners on the Lunar version appears to be based on the blueprints. However, in this instance, the blueprints had not been followed by the builders of the real prop.

 

 

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The Time Machine Project © 1998 Don Coleman
Web Site © 1999 Don Coleman
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