Refurbing My Old 18" AMT USS Enterprise

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TimeyWimey

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I dragged my old AMT Enterprise out of my parents' attic a couple of weeks ago, and it was in a sorry state. I'd done a lot of modifications on it back in 1979-ish, in order to light it up, but for some reason I never got around to painting it. It ended up packed away in the attic for a few decades.

Here's what she looked like when I got her down. The tube cement I used to use gave up the ghost on a lot of the parts (I've noticed this on many of my old models - that stuff doesn't last like the liquid cement that properly bonds the plastic together), and somehow the engine struts got snapped off, leaving their tabs glued into the holes in the secondary hull. In this picture you can see some extra parts - there's a mix of this blue plastic later version and white parts from an earlier version. In the lower left, you can see two different deflector dishes, and some extra engine parts.



Here's a closeup where you can see how I carefully cut out each of the windows with an Xacto knife and filled them with what appears to have been white glue. There's a 1/8" jack on the bottom to supply power, and a big flashlight bulb inside the secondary hull. The white domes on the front of the engines are grafted in from the older white kit (so light can show through them) and the white domes on the top and bottom of the primary hull are the ends of tanks from a Space:1999 Eagle model. There were a bunch of tiny lightbulbs inside the model, probably none of them (except the big flashlight bulb) bright enough to really be seen in normal room lighting. Perhaps that's why I abandoned the project.



When I cracked open the saucer, I discovered there was a blinker circuit with tiny lightbulbs, to blink the red and green port/starboard marker lights. I'd forgotten I'd even included this! I wired it up, but my Dad almost certainly drew up the circuit for me. I was thrilled to find that it still works - here it is caught mid-blink:



In this refurbishment, the first order of business is to replace the light bulbs with LEDs, partly to make them brighter, and partly so I don't have to worry so much about one of them burning out when it's sealed up inside the model. I'm not going to worry about improving the accuracy of the model - my plan is to finish it as it was originally intended to be finished, except with more reliable lighting.

Here's the blinker with the bulbs replaced with LEDs:



I started re-assmbling the secondary hull, reinforcing some areas with sheet styrene (including along the sides of the hull where there were just tiny alignment tabs), installed styrene tubing to rout wires, and started installing the new LED lighting:



Here's the secondary hull all glued together, with three white LEDs inside. Now the lighting is actually visible in normal room lighting. I'll have to do a lot of masking around all those windows and paint a dark coat to block light bleed-through before it gets its final paint job.

 
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TimeyWimey

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Here's a closeup of one of the bussard collector domes, and some parts I'm going to use to light it up. The dome itself is the dome from an older white-molded Enterprise, carefully grafted into the ring from the newer kit. The white plastic is pretty thick, so it will take a lot of light to show through it - the amber grain-of-wheat bulbs I originally used had no hope of doing the job. Since this is a restoration, not a re-do (If I was going to go for full-on accuracy, etc, I'd be better off starting from scratch with a new model - I just want to preserve this old kit and make it presentable), I'm not going to be replacing the domes or doing any fancy whirling-lights animation. Instead, I've cut out a plastic disk (seen in the photo) on which I'll be mounting four LEDs and their current-limiting resistors.



Here's one all wired up and ready for testing.



Success! Not an impressive light show, but actually visible under normal room lighting. This is what I was trying to achieve 35 years ago. :)

 
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Robert McLain

Sr Member
Great job so far:) Man, I got such a sense of nostalgia seeing that blue plastic. I've built every version of this kit way back when, but the blue is the coolest.

Can't wait to see her finished!

Robert
 

Wes R

Legendary Member
Looks really good. I honestly prefer these older kits even if they had their various issues. I had an AMT one in the late 80s that probably was from this same mold and i had tons of fun building it even if it ended up looking horrid.
 

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trekriffic

Sr Member
I have the tin box reissue unbuilt up on the shelf right now and it's molded in that blue color. It's a really lovely shade. I got all nostalgic reading thru this thread. Is your father still around may I ask? I'm sure he'd get a kick out of seeing that old board he designed for you.
 

TimeyWimey

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have the tin box reissue unbuilt up on the shelf right now and it's molded in that blue color. It's a really lovely shade. I got all nostalgic reading thru this thread. Is your father still around may I ask? I'm sure he'd get a kick out of seeing that old board he designed for you.

Yep, Dad's still around, just celebrated his 80th birthday. He used to draw up circuits for me all the time, and even before that he used to build me stuff, even customize my toys - he added an audio oscillator to my G.I. Joe "Adventure Team" vehicle, including a microswitch that was activated by a flat spot he filed on the base of its rotating antenna, so the oscillator sound would change as the antenna went around.
 

TimeyWimey

Well-Known Member
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Here I've glued the secondary hull onto the lower half of the saucer. The saucer plastic was slightly warped, and the connection point had been partially broken, so I added a thin strip of styrene to one side to make it level, and glued it in place with plastic cement. After that was dry, I filled some of the gaps with super glue. After that was dry, I put Tamiya putty in the seams (still waiting to be sanded at this point) and added some epoxy from the top side. I'm obviously trying to make sure this thing stays together this time.

To the right is the top of the saucer - I've started some filling and sanding. way back when, I grafted some clear plastic panels into the surface where the four white blocks should have been. They're larger than the blocks, and will be masked to the right size. It's tricky hiding the seams. I think the inset parts are acrylic, which is much harder than the styrene. I think it'll be pretty good, I'll have to hit it with some primer to make sure.



Here you can see one of the pylon supports I made from some sheet styrene to fit inside the engine pylon (leaving space behind for the wires). Much more solid than the original tabs.



Test-fitted the engines and the top of the saucer without glue - she's starting to look like the Enterprise :)

 

TimeyWimey

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The dome on top of the bridge had caved in, so I removed it, and did some looking around for suitable replacements. Turns out EMA model supplies in the UK have acrylic domes that are about the right size - and I found domes there about the right size for the bustard collectors. So yeah, I said I was just going to make it presentable but not try to improve it, but I think I'll upgrade those engine domes. It'll be a little while until those parts arrive from the UK. Apart from a couple other dome sizes (I think I got one the right size for the beacon over the hangar doors), I also ordered a pin vise (can't find mine) and some white Millput, trying to meet the minimum order amount.

Meanwhile, I ordered decals from JTGraphics, and also a replacement deflector dish, since the existing ones are both a little damaged. They have a lot of upgrade parts there - I had to stop myself. :)

EMA is a great source for scratchbuilding parts, if you haven't checked them out, you should.
 

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