My Firefly PAL project hit a snag...

Gary Weaver II

Sr Member
Well, as I promised a couple weeks ago I am working on an integral color, hollow, multipart casting of the PAL Communicator Unit from Firefly.

I'd like to give a great thanks to Toothtech for lending me his original PAL unit for molding.

However, when I recieved the unit I was informed that it has also been loaned out for another casting run. No big deal for me - I planned on a more detailed replica anyway so I viewed the runs as distinctly different.

Here is the unit as it arrived...


I got the unit all prepped for molding Friday night, but it was a little more of an adventure than I anticipated.

Before I recieved the unit I was told that the previous caster "fixed" the flexible button with black gasket silicone. As you can see it is not smooth at all like the switch top. Brian also thought this was why the unit smelled of fresh silicone.


Well... To start my dissassembly, I tried to take the battery cover off and it was held on pretty good with a little bit of the same stuff. In looking at the part I realized there was NO way they could have molded it without disassembly. The speaker area is to undercutted to give you the available castings from this member have.

If you look at this back view you can see that the back was removed at some point. There were some scratches near the battery compartment that look like a knife slipped while trying to undo the glue...


Well, knowing what I needed to do. I proceeded on. I got the back off and this is what I found...


Now I was shocked to see this, but I COULD have believed that this was done in the factory to make the units watertight. At least that is what I thought until till I started looking. I found that those two light blue wires coming from the yellow taped plate weren't connected to anything. Also there was a wire completely undone from the switch at the top of the unit.

Lastly when I got all this undone (and its still a mess to look at) - the speaker was held in with a ring of similar black silicone - on TOP of the clear glue that originally held it in place. Also this stuff has the smell of fresh silicone - not stuff thats been sitting in a case for 23 years (I found a 1982 date on the inside of the box).

I'm convinced that this is the final result of previous caster putting the unit back together after he had his way with it... I know Brian is upset to have seen these images. I'm not to thrilled about it myself. However, I can remove most the unit and thankfully the electronics still function to a point.

I think this should function as a pretty large wakeup call to anyone that wishes to loan out original parts for casting. Make SURE your caster realizes the value of an original part and treats it as such...


fried mon calamari

Well-Known Member
:eek :angry

I can see where maybe the previous caster (don't know who it is) getting it apart and finds it needs ae little more...agressive...disassembly. But one would think a call to the owner before doing that kind of damage would be the miminum.

Hopefully there's more to this story from the other guy.
Think I'm going to pull mine apart and see how it looks inside comparatively.

Man, I'm really sorry to see that, Brian. :(


Sr Member
First off, I just want to say that I'd prefer that this thread not turn into a bash fest (not that something like that ever happens here :unsure ).

What's done is done--I've talked to the parties involved and while I'm still less than thrilled about the way some things were handled, I'm partially to blame so things are kosher as far as I'm concerned. :thumbsup

Since the PAL was a gift from a friend (thanks Chris), I'm a little overprotective of it--even so, asking before dismantling would have been the best things to do.

During the molding process I was made aware that there were some issues with getting a good cast--I should have been more inquisitive and asked about the problems and solutions.

It looks like things are going to be OK--other than Gary having to do a massive clean up before molding, the PAL is in decent condition physically with electronics that are functional (just in case I need a warbly, annoying alarm :lol )

Lessons to be learned? If you're loaning something out, ask what's going to be involved in whatever the borrower is doing (molding, measuring, etc). If you're borrowing, ask before doing anything that might even remotely involve damaging or devaluing the piece.

Gary Weaver II

Sr Member
I agree with Brian 100%. This post was NOT intended as a witch hunt - rather a warning if you are loaning a prop to be reproduced -OR- are reproducing a part for someone.

ALWAYS ask before you do something or if a wrinkle pops up notify the owner immediately.

Now onto the story about this PAL. The black silicone is a completely innocent mistake. My understanding is that a black gasket silicone was used to reseal and reassemble the unit. The original silicone was a white material. However, this silicone was not an adhesive type but instead made for embedding the circuit boards in the box. It has a different chemical property in that it doesn't really "stick".

As I said perfectly innocent, but it's left me one hell of a mess to repair and restore :)

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