Building the Dream: The Motion Picture USS Enterprise Refit Replica – PART 2

  • -

Building the Dream: The Motion Picture USS Enterprise Refit Replica – PART 2

*** Continued from PART 1 ***


BELOW: March 28, 2019 – Dan Grumertez and Kurt Kuhn viewing the assembled size of the model as it is first placed on it’s armature.

It was only December 2018 that this build really kicked into high gear in order to show it at the 2019 Escape Velocity Convention. It was then when my wife Melanie and I made the decision to donate this model to The Museum of Science Fiction in June 2020. Being that 2019 was the 40th anniversary of Star Trek The Motion Picture’s release, what better way to celebrate that fact than to have the world’s first studio scale sized miniature for all to view. With that in mind, suddenly there was a looming deadline that felt more and more like that of a Hollywood film deadline. HA! Some of you reading the article know this feeling! LOL. What is very memorable is how many challenges came up during this short 5 month period, including no sleep for the entire last 7 nights before a very late departure to get the model to the Convention in time that was located across the country.

The Push is ON!
Hours were increased greatly at this point…

..Enter HELIOS Models & Lighting, MarZee Fabricators,
Tyler Harshman, and Dustin Ashton

As you can see in the above photos, we had received the light & sound boards from HELIOS Models & Lighting in Germany, and the armature parts that were fabricated by MARZEE Fabricatiors in Phoenix, AZ. The primary hull armature, being that it would carry great weight, was made of steel. Dan designed it to house the entire Shuttle Bay within it. Again.. this feature was a bit wasted since we did not use the Bay after all. That stated, Dan’s design of it was perfect for this feature, and very strong. The Pylons were also made of steel, and even though they were made thick, they still had the issue of having “flex” in them. That is when we had welder Tyler Harshman strengthen them by adding angle iron. It did a great job in stopping the ‘flex’ that was happening. The neck was made of elevated sections up to where the saucer section would connect. Being that the saucer is massive, the armature needed would need to be a more light weight material, yet strong to last the ages to come. We decided upon aluminum for that purpose. Even so, the assembled armature part was very heavy… especially with the fiberglass parts attached. The neck would eventually be strengthened to hold it all straight and firm.

The Light and Sound board that HELIOS built for us is fantastic, providing the entire music and light-up sequence for the Enterprise as it starts up and leaves the Space Dock for the first time in Star Trek The Motion Picture, then going to warp speed with a bright flash of the engine nacelles. We also asked Daniel Beck of HELIOS make it so that on the 15, 30 and 45 minute of each hour the vessel would drop out of warp (with appropriate Impulse Lighting) and fire two volleys of Photon Torpedo’s before going back into warp. Three minutes before the top of each hour, there would be a drop from warp speed sound, (like every 15 minutes before that), and it would go into a complete power down… as if it were back in Space Dock again. Then at the top of the hour the process would start all over again. This made for a very crowded viewing area around the model as each new hour began. It was very cool to witness everyone’s reactions!

At this time I brought on a professional cabinet maker, Dustin Ashton, to build the base we designed together, and the crates the model would travel in. Dustin made this base beautiful, and the cabinet made for great sound with the speakers installed.

In these next photos you will see more progress, and even famed Appraiser Leila Dunbar with us. Famous for the Antique Road Show, and having appraised the full sized Shuttlecraft Galileo prop, among other rare and high priced items, Leila will be doing the final appraisal on this piece. You will also see the moving Van (Box Truck) that my wife Melanie and I drove the model in while traveling over 2,500 miles in 3 days (on our wedding anniversary, no less) through the worst weather possible… Snow, Tornado’s, Winds, Torrential Rains, and 5 foot visibility Fog! It was a true adventure we shall never forget… and we did it with the Starship Enterpirse!! Potholes be damned!! LOL.

Dan spent the last hours of the darkened night, which was now morning, working on the wiring of the model. He literally had a mass of wires that would be the last connections of what HELIOS Models & Lighting provided to us to bring the Enterprise REFIT alive. Dan completed the last solder connection, and brought it over to my home to be set up for the first time, and tested. It was at 3:12am on 5/20/19 , in my own garage, that this model would be turned on for the first time. I had tears in my eyes, and the room was silent. Dan Grumetez, my wife Melanie, William McVey, Sr. and the cabinet maker Dustin Ashton, (whom both came over to assist in those early hours), along with myself simply watched it come alive for the first time.

Note that at this point, these are NOT photos of the completed Enterprise.
It still needed much work when it arrived at Escape Velocity.
These do show the first assembly and activation.
You will notice that even some of the paint mask still required removing.