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Old November 4 2013, 12:52 AM   #420
Praetor
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Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
Re: Scaling the Excelsior Filming Model

I'm glad to see you kids can entertain yourselves while I'm away.

All kidding aside, I have been enjoying the minor derail, which IMO isn't really a derail at all. This thread has learned and evolved, and is probably building a time machine right now. Albertese and Mytran, thanks for visually reinforcing that it is indeed possible that the TOS and TMP Enterprises are the same ship.

Meanwhile, I had decided to go back to basics. I'd realized that I had reworked my original cross section so much that I couldn't rely on its proportions anymore. The more I studied both Tobias Richter's render and the model study drawings I linked to upthread, and compared them to my drawing, as well as the few good photos of the model in profile that there are, the more convinced I became that I my overall outline was out of whack. Further, the more convinced I was that this deck arrangement is completely correct, at least as far as the model is concerned:



So, I redrew my Excelsior and recreated the deck arrangement based on this, expecting the secondary hull decks to be 12 ft and the saucer decks to be 9.5 feet, both in keeping with the refit Enterprise and to line up well with the saucer window edges:



After some time, I realized that I also need to consider the possibility that the Excelsior decks were all one height, and were actually 9.5 ft as I found them to be on the Enterprise-D:



For my money, the second option made the saucer deck alignments a little weird. To line up with the "upper rim" on the saucer edge (the single row above the outer rim) I couldn't actually make the main rim two decks thick... I had to shift the decks upward so the outer rim isn't consistently two decks thick as it is on the refit Enterprise.

Anyway, after this, I did a bit of math:

Version One:
12 ft secondary hull decks:

12ft/29px = .413793 ft/px
5080px * .413793 = 2102.1 ft = 640.72 meters

To confirm that the differences in my deck spacings were close, I tried to back into the same size from the saucer decks:

9.5 ft primary hull decks:

9.5ft/23px = .4130 ft/px
5080px * .4130 = 2098.04 ft = 639.4 meters

So this gives us an Excelsior just about two meters shorter than the Enterprise-D!

Version Two:
9.5 ft secondary hull decks:

9.5ft/29px = .3275862 ft/px
5080px * .3275862 = 1664.13 ft = 507.2 meters

Surprisingly, this doesn't actually give us the official 467 meter length, although it's kind of within a margin of error. Most interestingly, it's only a meter from the DS9 Technical Manual's "wrong" 511 meter figure.

If we assume all the decks are "actually" 9 feet...

9ft/29px = .310 ft/px
5080 px * .310 = 1576.6 ft = 480.5 meters

So, if we make all the decks the same height, and get close to 9 feet, we actually get pretty close to the official 467 meter size.

This led me to realize: I think I know where this whole scaling issue comes from! I think that the modelmakers copied the secondary hull and saucer rim window spacings from the refit Enterprise, not realizing that Mr. Probert intended the refit Enterprise to have different sized decks between the saucer and secondary hull. They added a few rows, of course, to the side of the secondary hull to denote Excelsior's bigger size, but pretty closely maintained consistent scaling between the saucer rim clusters and secondary hull rows.

In turn, Mr. Nilo Rodis (who seems to be the first to put forth the 467 meter figure) probably assumed all decks were the same height, maybe not noticing how the window alignments on the saucer don't quite work out. He probably made the main saucer rim two decks thick as on the Enterprise, made them all 9 foot decks, and then came to the 467 meter figure which later became official. However, perhaps even unintentionally, by copying the window alignments from the Enterprise, this train of thought ends up being just wrong.

In makes too much sense to not be true right?

Taking a look at the two differently sized Excelsiors and some friends (another huge image):


Even the big Excelsior still feels smaller than the Galaxy and Ambassador to me. The saucer is smaller and the Excelsior is almost about two-thirds engines, compared to the bigger saucer and shorter nacelles on the Galaxy and Ambassador. (And lest we forget, about half of the Excelsior's secondary hull is hollow.) Further, neither the small nor larger refit Enterprise feel out of whack next to either Excelsior, so I don't think my ability to complete either the large or small Excelsior is contingent on figuring out which Enterprise scale is a necessary evil anymore.

Most interestingly, take a good look at the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-A against Excelsior in comparison to these famous scenes:



Please note that I haven't altered the above scaling; this is the larger 640 meter Excelsior alongside the 642 meter D and 305 meter A from the prior image, with the 9.5 ft decks of the three scaled to match. (The 12 ft deck heights of the refit and Excelsior also match.)

Eerie, right? Definitely within fudge factor range.

So at long last, I think I have finally, truly found what size Excelsior "should" be according to the original model. The remaining dilemma is whether to go with this size or the official, smaller one. The secondary hull deck alignment is definitely now correct based on the window rows and remains unchanged between the two versions, but if I decide to use the smaller scale, I end up with an Excelsior that has kind of weird saucer deck arrangement.

Whatcha think?
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