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Old February 21 2013, 02:54 AM   #65
Admiral Buzzkill
Fleet Admiral
Re: The 11-foot TOS Enterprise model-

..."One thing led to another and I decided to call my old friends at Desilu/Paramount TV (Herb Solow, formerly VP of Production at the studio, for one). Realize, in those days no one ever thought Star Trek would be heard from again. Star Trek was a royal pain in the (a--) as far as production execs were concerned. In fact, Gene Roddenberry had apparently tried, unsuccessfully, to get his hands on the Enterprise and they wouldn't let him have it. I was the only one, in the beginning--so I'm told--that they ever leant it to. Most of the problems came from all the years the show seemed to go ‘over budget.’ They were always fighting over budget--especially the cost of SFX. Roddenberry and Bob Justman were always having some disagreement with the ‘powers that be.’ When Star Trek went off the air, there was probably a collective sigh of relief at (the studio). There was no love lost between GR and the execs, so I'm told. In any case, I received permission to add the Star Trek Enterprise to our collection of displays." Approval was given by Herb Solow, but he since he was no longer at the studio, he "really deferred to the (Paramount) Properties Department for coordination." Thompson added, "Props was delighted to get it out of their hair."

Sitting unused in a corner of a prop warehouse for three years, the model was far from pristine. "It was gathering dust...a lot of dust," said Thompson. "Real dusty. It hadn't been covered in storage, at all. As I recall, the Enterprise was just sort of sitting on a raised platform back in the dark recesses of Props Department. No real damage, that I recall. Maybe a few light scratches from time. But, that could have happened on the SFX stage at Howard Anderson's. Howard Anderson's was just across the street from my office, and down a bit...but on the Desilu side. I visited there from time to time, since I worked in Post Production. We did a lot of business with Howard at Desilu (which) became Paramount TV after Lucy (Lucille Ball) sold the studio. Howard Anderson was a private company who leased space on the lot."
How tough was it getting the Enterprise’s lights, including the spinning lighting effect in the forward engine nacelles, working again? "We struggled only as much as you might when your Christmas lights would blow on a series circuit, and it still wouldn't light up. When we would get it working again in the nacelles, the turning action would cause the lights to loosen up again. We were constantly having to pull it apart. We didn't want the kids to be disappointed." But did the spinning nacelle domes, whose rotational speed could be varied by the control box, make a lot of noise? "Not really. I was surprised--it only had a mild whirring sound, as I recall. Maybe a hand-blender on low--not quite that loud." The original Christmas lights that came with the model were blown, and where do you find Christmas lights in April? Not to worry; resourceful GWC students located replacement sets at a local store.

The nacelle domes were white translucent hemispheres. Removing the exterior nacelle domes, there was a clear interior hemisphere with black lines that bisected the hemisphere, and this rotated at various controlled speeds. The starboard nacelle interior dome rotated clockwise, while the port side rotated counter-clockwise. Ten multicolored miniature Christmas lights were in each nacelle dome, just behind the rotating interior hemisphere.

Did you keep the Enterprise lights running all day long? Or just sporadically? "(We) only ran the lights--the engines--when we had people coming through. Or, if we decided to show it off to someone special." Did they conduct a lot of heat? "No , not much that I recall. There were quite a few lights in the side, in addition to the Christmas lights in the engines."

"When I took my family to the Smithsonian (seven or more years ago, Thompson recalled), they only had the model hanging in a flying position above the floor--no lights, no engines moving, no control panel, no cables." Thompson’s visit to the NASM was before the Ed Miarecki renovation, which returned the warp engine nacelle lighting effects to the model. Of the improvements made to the model by Miarecki in 1991-92, Thompson said, "Glad to hear it."
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