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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old February 16 2011, 10:52 PM   #1
Smellincoffee
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Engineering -- Warp Engines?

Although I saw episodes from the original series first, TNG was the first Trek series I became familiar with, and I grew accustomed to its engineering being dominated by a long "warp core" in the backround. This showed up in games and in Voyager as well, so I regarded it as normal.

When I started watching TOS in full (via DVDs, instead of catching reruns on television), I looked for TOS's warp engine -- and saw none. Engineering was a large room with consoles, albiet with "something" in the background hidden behind a mesh that Scotty often looked toward.

What was behind that mesh? Did TOS have a 'warp core' of sorts? What were its engines like?
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Old February 17 2011, 12:12 AM   #2
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

The "warp core" was a later invention; the term was never used in TOS. The pipes behind the mesh screen at the far end of the Engineering set were just a forced-perspective gimmick to make a small set on a Hollywood soundstage look bigger.

In-universe, the pipes have been interpreted as plasma conduits leading to the nacelles. Or, if you follow the Franz Joseph plans that show Main Engineering at the back of the saucer, they seem to have something to do with the impulse engines.



Some sources call the objects on the right side of the picture "standby power units," whatever those are supposed to be.
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Old February 17 2011, 07:34 AM   #3
Captain Robert April
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

On the show, that big tube assembly was never explained one way or the other, and the folks on set never really gave it a great deal of thought. It just had to look like a big powerful futuristic engine of some sort. Throughout the series, there are tech references that can be interpreted any number of ways, including the FJ model with Engineering up in the primary hull next to the impulse engines.

One thing that was fairly consistent, though, was that those on the set, most importantly Matt Jefferies, were of the opinion that Engineering was down in (duh) the Engineering hull.

In my attempt at deck plans, in trying to accommodate the references that imply that the big glowing tubes have something to do with the impulse engines (like in "The Doomsday Machine") while not discounting those that indicate it has something to do with the warp engines, I went with the explanation that it's the main power manifold, distributing energy throughout the ship from the main reactor, located one deck down. That covers pretty much everything.

I've never liked the "plasma conduits to the nacelles" explanation for a number of reasons. First, they're clearly pointed in the wrong direction. Second, it puts Engineering waaaaaaaaay too far back in the secondary hull, right up against the hangar deck, and I prefer to have a little breathing room in that area.
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Old February 17 2011, 04:39 PM   #4
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

Even Jimmy Doohan on the Tomorrow Show with Kelley, Koenig and Ellison, stated that Engineering was in the secondary hull, pointing to it, in fact.
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Old February 17 2011, 06:16 PM   #5
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

The single warp core first made it's first appearance in ST:TMP, it was represented as something new and different.

From dialog in TOS, the Enterprise Prime would seem to have possessed multiple matter/antimatter reactors, personally I believe there were six, three in each of the nacelles themselves, close to the warp coils, although others hold that the reactor (single) or reactors (multiple) are in the "belly" of the engineering hull.

As to what is behind the mesh? Again personal opinion, I believe that it is actual part of the deflector system, the main engineering room is near the shuttle deck and the door usually used to enter is aft of the room itself (from Immunity Syndrome), the chamber with the pipe reaches forward towards the large dish on the front of the engineering hull (Paradise Syndrome). When Spock over-taxes the deflector in that episode, we see a minor explosion in the pipes.
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Old February 17 2011, 06:53 PM   #6
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

I made me attempt at drawing the warp "area" for TOS... pic to follow once I get ink in my copy so I can scan.
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Old February 17 2011, 07:00 PM   #7
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

I may be the lone voice in the wilderness here, but the existence of the single "core" in TMP forward thru TNG and beyond, never impressed me as the "whole story". For one thing, both "canon" and "fanon" tech references have repeatedly said over and over again that starships employ multiple reactors. (A vivd example of this is in "Day of the Dove", when Spock uses ship's sensors to track the pinwheel alien "near reactor number three".) There are also mentions of "the matter-antimatter nacelles", making it clear that the ship's outer pods also play some role in the whole matter-antimatter fusion / warp propulsion game.

Here's the way I see it: fuel for the warp drive is stored in the nacelles. There are obviously caches of matter and antimatter in other parts of any given starship (for torpedoes, etc.), but the nacelles are the ship's "main payload". The nacelles are housings for the actual engines as well. Each nacelle is actually a linear string of smaller, spherical engine assemblies. Each engine assembly houses its own reactor, as well as a coil assembly, in a bundle. (In "The Doomsday Machine", Kirk promises Decker "we'll take her in tow", an obvious inference that the Constellation could be salvaged despite Scotty's pessimism that the ship's warp drive was "a hopeless pile of junk." Kirk must expect that a repair crew can salvage enough of at least one assembly in each nacelle to get the Constellation to low warp speed so she can make it back to a repair facility. So Kirk is already planning to tow the Constellation out of the asteroid field and into open space so she can either be repaired there and sent to base or wait there for a mobile dock to come to her.)

Each starship would have multiple reactors housed in the nacelles, as well as a central "control reactor(s)" in the ship's warp engine room. In addition, each ship must have an impulse engine room (we see one in "The Alternative Factor") to power and control the secondary propulsion. When the Troyan spy sabotages the Enterprise's warp engines in "Elaan of Troyus", he must've damaged the control reactor.

So the idea of a "warp core" need not necessarily mean that the pot-bellied stove churning away next to Geordi would be the only power reactor on the entire ship. Far from it.
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Old February 17 2011, 07:03 PM   #8
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

The single warp core first made it's first appearance in ST:TMP
...To be sure, the glowing thing in TMP and ST2 was never referred to as a "warp core", nor was its replacement that was glimpsed in ST6.

The TMP thing later went on to serve as a "plasma conduit" in the TNG engineering set, and we might just as well assume that it was a "plasma conduit" in TMP already. OTOH, the ST6 thing was explicitly used as a "warp core" in TNG... But then again, four examples of Uhura's earpiece were used as antennae in some fancy-schmancy sensor prop!

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Old February 17 2011, 07:07 PM   #9
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

It could also be that the Connies used a radically different from of warp-drive than other ships before and after her.

Could be one of the reasons why she was able to set speed records and so on with ease...

And it is part of the reason why the class was retired "suddenly." Advances in propulsion technology rendered this design obsolete.
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Old February 17 2011, 07:16 PM   #10
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

As already said, the glowing warp core/intermix chamber is an invention of TMP. Since the NX-01 had one, it's fair to assume in a reverse-continuity way that the TOS Enterprise did too, albeit unseen or just not obviously visible (the STXI Enterprise's warp cores were inside the huge silos, for example)

Doug Drexler's Constitution-class cutaway (which enlarged the ship by 50% in order to fit the sets inside the 23 decks, btw) seen on-screen in "In a Mirror, Darkly", postulated a horizonal warp core beneath the engine room on deck 19, connected to that double-tank thing in the centre of the room where Scotty played with the dilithium crystals in "Elaan of Troyius".
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Old February 17 2011, 09:29 PM   #11
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

I think these pipes lead to the warp pylons. If I can remember they redressed the TOS enginering deck two or three times during it's 3 seasons. ?
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Old February 17 2011, 09:59 PM   #12
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

TAS: One of Our Planets is Missing offers its own interpretation of the pipes, at least within what the dialog calls "the antimatter nacelle". There is a discussion of this segment elsewhere in The Trek BBS. This TAS episode was written by Marc Daniels, who directed many TOS episodes. However, I've not seen any source in particular credited with this interpretation, so it could have been Daniels himself, GR, animators at Filmation, or somebody else.

Personally, I've always suspected that the zapping in the pipes seen here was the inspiration for the same in the TMP engineering section.
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Old February 19 2011, 09:33 AM   #13
Captain Robert April
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
The single warp core first made it's first appearance in ST:TMP, it was represented as something new and different.

From dialog in TOS, the Enterprise Prime would seem to have possessed multiple matter/antimatter reactors, personally I believe there were six, three in each of the nacelles themselves, close to the warp coils, although others hold that the reactor (single) or reactors (multiple) are in the "belly" of the engineering hull.

As to what is behind the mesh? Again personal opinion, I believe that it is actual part of the deflector system, the main engineering room is near the shuttle deck and the door usually used to enter is aft of the room itself (from Immunity Syndrome), the chamber with the pipe reaches forward towards the large dish on the front of the engineering hull (Paradise Syndrome). When Spock over-taxes the deflector in that episode, we see a minor explosion in the pipes.
That does beg the question, though, why was Scotty trying to charge up the Constellation's deflector when he was supposed to be charging up the impulse engines? Plus, his dialogue doesn't go, "If I push this deflector too hard, it'll blow apart!"
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Old February 19 2011, 03:33 PM   #14
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

Smellincoffee wrote: View Post
Although I saw episodes from the original series first, TNG was the first Trek series I became familiar with, and I grew accustomed to its engineering being dominated by a long "warp core" in the backround. This showed up in games and in Voyager as well, so I regarded it as normal.

When I started watching TOS in full (via DVDs, instead of catching reruns on television), I looked for TOS's warp engine -- and saw none. Engineering was a large room with consoles, albiet with "something" in the background hidden behind a mesh that Scotty often looked toward.

What was behind that mesh? Did TOS have a 'warp core' of sorts? What were its engines like?
Behind the mesh was TOS's look, for the 'warp core'.
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Old February 19 2011, 07:27 PM   #15
T'Girl
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Re: Engineering -- Warp Engines?

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
why was Scotty trying to charge up the Constellation's deflector
Because they were in an asteroid field?

Scotty and his team were in the main engineering room in the secondary hull, (not the impulse engine control room in the saucer section) because they were using the warp engine control circuits and warp instrument panels to control the impulse engines.

it'll blow apart!
Scotty was indeed referring to the impulse engines there.

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