"I would like to point out that the "Brandon" approach from "Galaxy Quest" is pretty close to the "Thermian" approach..."
I think there is one good example that suggests the opposite, i.e. the upper side of the pilot Enterprise's
The actual 11' VFX model had these unique black stripes port and starboard: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdoft...57619514479789
Unfortunately, the VFX footage never made it to the screen but the "Brandons" know that the (pilot) Enterprise
used in the VFX for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (re-used thoughout the series) did look like this - and blueprints of the pilot version would feature these unique surface details (as did some shots in TOS-R, amazing they noticed that!)
The "Thermians" couldn't possibly know as it had never been shown on screen. Instead they would continue to assume that the pilot Enterprise
in WNM still
looked like in "The Cage": http://tos.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...hasgone130.jpg
The interesting dilemma is that both approaches are right and wrong at the same time.
Welcome back and I think I know your feelings - I'd also wish my garage would look like this...