Return to the BUILD
“Begin building your U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D with one of the most recognizable elements – the main command bridge on top of deck two. Plus the beginnings of the lighting system.”
I can not describe how excited I am to be building a large-scale model of one of my favorite starships! I do want to give fair warning though, I will be doing a lot of modifications (mods) along the way. I know the Star Trek Galaxy class quite well and there are things I want to improve and/or correct. That will make some of the stages in my build much longer than normal.
Materials: Here I will describe the materials the supplied parts in each stage are made out of. All of the screws are metal, so I will not mention them. For instance, in this issue, everything is plastic except for the metal Deck Two.
Magazine – Issue 1
- Assembly Instructions: Building the Model
- Designing the ‘D’: How Andrew Probert defined the look of the 24th century
- Building Bridges: The Enterprise D command deck could have looked very different!
- Lost Generation: The cadet crew that almost flew as THE NEXT GENERATION
A 4-page color leaflet with photos of the completed model and its features
Life-Size Poster – 39 x 27″ (99 x 69 cm)
A foldout poster with life size color images of the model and the final dimensions:
- 70 cm Length
- 50 cm Width
Early Subscriber Gift – Insulated Metal Mug
Before we get started, I wanted to show that this 1:900 scale U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1071-D does indeed have two-color ‘aztec’ patterns over the base hull color pre-painted on the exterior surfaces. It does not photograph well (just like the real studio models), so I had to really crank up the contrast here to make it easier to see clearly:
Fitting the Main Bridge Module
Throughout this build, I will try to show which part of the starship we are working on using a customized version of my copy of the 1996 Enterprise D blueprints by Rick Sternbach. The red sections will show the sections we are working on next and the grey will show the previously completed sections:
Fit the Main Bridge Module into the matching recess of the Bridge Base as shown:
Secure these parts together from below with two (2) AP screws.
If you are interested in a complete listing of the screws we will be using during the build of this model, check out The Screws page:
With the Main Bridge Module attached, I wanted to add the missing clear viewport dome at the top center of the bridge itself. To do this, we need to drill through the plastic. I started with a tiny 1mm bit in my Pin Vise Hand Drill to create and center a ‘pilot’ hole. This hole needs to go down through both of this Main Bridge Module and the Bridge Base that this mounts to, so the holes line up:
One by one, I went up a bit size to enlarge the hole a little further each time. Making small increases in the size of the hole keeps the drill bits from tearing up the plastic:
I finished the hole by working my way up to a 3mm (~1/8″) bit:
If you take your time here, it should turn out decent:
Next, we need to create the transparent dome. Other builders have discovered many options to use here, from another model’s miniature headlights to using the optical lens from an old CD player. After some testing, I decided to use Microscale Kristal Klear. This is a liquid very similar to white glue, but is much more clear when it dries. I prepared for this mod by grabbing a toothpick, some water, and a few cotton swabs:
First, I put a small drop of the Kristal Klear on the end of the toothpick and carefully ran it around the upper edge of the drilled hole. If you then slide the toothpick across the opening, the liquid should close over the hole creating a film barrier. It is quite tacky and likes to stick to itself. If you make a mistake, you can use the water and a cotton swab to clean up any excess before it dries:
This should dry in 15-60 minutes, but I had to leave it overnight to fully set into a clear window. The more humid it is in your work area, the longer it takes to dry:
Then, to create the raised dome, I put another drop of Kristal Klear on top of this ‘window’. Since this stuff shrinks some when it dries, I made my ‘blob’ a little larger than I wanted:
Finally, after drying overnight again, this is our finished bridge viewport. It shrunk down to a nice low dome shape. The LED for the Bridge Rear Windows will be installed right under the hole we drilled, so it will light the dome from below. I have seen other builders paint the top of this dome a yellow or orange color, but I left mine clear. You will see why farther down in this stage:
Installing the Bridge Lights
Identify the square LED at the end of the yellow/white wires of the Bridge Lights (marked ‘C’).
TIP: I created an entire page that explains all of The Electrics that will be included with our model.
Fit the rubber-covered leads of this LED on either side of this tiny square pin on the underside of the Bridge Base, as shown:
Cover this LED with the Bridge Rear Window, slotting it into the Bridge Base, as shown.
Make sure the LED is flat or else the windows will not seat down all the way:
Fit the rubber-covered leads of the other Bridge Lights LED (with the red/black wires) on either side of this other square pin on the underside of the Bridge Base, as shown:
Cover this LED with the Bridge Front Window, taking care not to trap any wires under it.
Like before, make sure the LED is flat or else the windows will not seat down all the way:
At this point, these two window parts are not secured in place just yet. However, when I held them in place and looked at them from the top, I noticed two things that bugged me. First, they stick out of the hull and they really should either be flush or slightly recessed. Second, there was some overspray on every window from the reflective silver paint applied to the bottom surface. I needed to remove the windows and fix this:
I worked on sanding down every window (on both parts) using 2400, then 3200, then 4000 grit sandpaper sticks:, testing the fit of the windows to the Bridge Base multiple times along the way, until they were sanded down to where I wanted them. I stopped at 4000 grit to leave the windows somewhat opaque/cloudy so they would diffuse light better. If you want completely clear windows, continue sanding with 6000 grit or higher:
As I mentioned before, I did not paint our new bridge dome. I want it to remain clear and uncolored when it is not lit up. Instead, I decided to change the color of the LED that lights the Bridge Rear Windows. I used a yellow brush tip Sharpie to coat the entire LED, then I used a red Sharpie to add a few dots to warm it to a more amber color (I tried an orange Sharpie on the entire LED, but it didn’t look right). Not only will this affect the Conference Room (Observation Lounge) windows at the rear of the bridge deck, it should also light the bridge dome in the same way.
I then reassembled the Bridge Windows to the Bridge Base, including both LEDs. I think the windows being recessed looks a lot more accurate:
Fitting the Bridge Bottom
Another Mod Zone right away! Since I am in the USA and we are behind other countries in this build, I was concerned about seeing light leaking out from under the Bridge Base once it is installed. To address this before it affected our build, I created a gasket. I started by taking some 1mm thick self-adhesive black foam sheet and cut out a piece just larger than our Bridge Base:
Next, I very carefully trimmed the foam sheet down to the shape of the Bridge Base:
Then, I gently test fit this foam piece down into the Bridge Bottom opening and trimmed off any extra as necessary. I did not stick it in place just yet:
Since the wiring and mounting screws need to pass through the foam sheet, I had to cut the center out to allow for this:
Finally, I removed the backing paper from the foam sheet and stuck it down into Bridge Bottom opening:
Thread the plug end of the Bridge Lights wiring through the center of the Bridge Bottom, as shown:
Secure the Bridge Bottom to the Bridge assembly from below with two (2) AP screws.
With the foam sheet gasket in place, I needed to squeeze these together a little, but it tightened down just fine:
Fitting the Emergency Flush Vents
Yep, another Mod Zone here too. Take a look at this picture of the Emergency Flush Vents on the actual six-foot studio model. As you can see, they are base colored, opaque, curved, and recessed:
Our stock Emergency Flush Vents are just wrong. They supplied one that is black and one that is clear and lights up. These are not windows…
And, when I test fit one to their openings in Deck Two, they also stick up out of the hull:
Time to fix this. I broke out the sandpaper sticks again, and like with the windows earlier, I used 2400 then 3200 grit to grind them down:
I kept sanding and test-fitting them until they were recessed into the hull, like this:
The next step was to correct the color. I tested a few different paints on the underside of Deck Two to see which was the best match to the hull color:
The closest match I found was Citadel’s Administratum Grey acrylic paint. So, I bought a bottle of this in their ‘air’ formula and airbrushed both vents:
Since I had the airbrush set up anyway, I also decided to add the two red Umbilical Connect Port markers you can see in the same six-foot studio model picture above. First, I used some fine line pinstriping tape to mask them off on both sides:
Next, I used painter’s tape to cover up the area surrounding the markers so I wouldn’t get any overspray on Deck Two:
Finally, I airbrushed both markers with Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red acrylic paint:
This is the final result after letting the paint dry and removing the tape, not too shabby at all! If you make a mistake, you can safely wipe off acrylic paint with water or alcohol as the it seems the model is painted with enamels.
Fit the Emergency Flush Vent Left (marked ‘L’) into the matching openings at this location on the underside of Deck Two.
The image in the instructions shows this part marked ‘R’, ignore it. It is a misprint:
Identify the square LED at the end of the yellow/black wires of the Deck Lights (marked ‘B’) and fit the rubber-covered leads of the LED on either side of this pin on the underside of Deck Two, as shown:
Cover the Emergency Flush Vent Left with the Emergency Flush Vent Left Bracket, aligning the pins as shown:
Secure the bracket down with one (1) CM screw.
Since I did not want my vent lit up, I removed this LED and cable before securing the bracket down. However, I saved this Deck Lights cable as the one of these LEDs will used to light the lower Saucer Deflector Panes in Stage 59 (and I used the second LED to light the second half of my Arboretum).
Also, since this is a brand new build, I want to start suggesting using 3-in-One Oil on all screws going into metal:
In the same way, fit the Emergency Flush Vent Right (marked ‘R’) into the matching openings at this location on Deck Two:
Cover the Emergency Flush Vent Right with the Emergency Flush Vent Right Bracket and secure down with one (1) CM screw:
This is what our modified Emergency Flush Vents look like from the outside:
I think these modifications did help our Deck Two look more accurate than before:
Installing the Front Window
It seems like every step needs a Mod Zone, doesn’t it? Here, we are going to fix a few things regarding the Deck Two Front Windows. Due to the way these ‘dark’ windows are painted, some of the LED lighting can leak around them:
Luckily, this was an easy fix as I just hand brushed some Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black acrylic paint on the backside of each ‘dark’ window, being sure not to cover any ‘clear’ windows:
When I test fit these windows into Deck Two and held it up to a bright light, this paint definitely helped keep any leaking light to a minimum. However, I noticed another problem. Like the Bridge windows, these windows stick up above the surface of the hull (especially on either side). As before, I started sanding them down:
This was after I already sanded them down some, but they still poked up out of the hull on either end. So, I kept sanding:
Once I was happy with the depth of the windows, I felt like giving a few of the front windows a different color for some variety. I used a turquoise brush Sharpie to ‘paint’ the backs of these two windows on either side:
After all this modding, here is what our Deck Two Front Windows now look like. It is a lot of work to sand down every window, but I really enjoy the recessed appearance more than what it was originally:
Fit the Deck Two Front Windows into Deck Two, as shown.
NOTE: I took this picture before I added the turquoise colored windows from the Mod Zone above:
Cover the Deck Two Front Windows with the Deck Front Window Reflector:
Slide the LEDs of the Deck Front Window Light (marked ‘A’) into the slots on either end of the Deck Front Window Reflector.
These LEDs are wired to the same plug so it doesn’t really matter which one goes into which side, but this is how the instructions show it. Just make sure both LEDs are both lying flat inside their slots:
Secure the Deck Front Window Reflector to Deck Two with four (4) CM screws:
Connecting the Bridge
Turn Deck Two right side up and fit the Upper Sensor Platform ring into the matching opening as shown, ensuring you align the four pins and four posts so it sits flush:
Secure the Upper Sensor Platform into place from below with four (4) AP screws:
Fit the Bridge assembly we built earlier into the Upper Sensor Platform, feeding the Bridge wires down through the central hole:
Secure the Bridge assembly to Deck Two from below with three (3) CP screws:
Fitting the Escape Pods (Lifeboats)
Carefully remove the Escape Pod Covers from the sprue.
If you look closely, you will see that these covers are marked ‘L’ and ‘R’, with three of each. The instructions do provide a diagram with part numbers where each of these should go, but unfortunately the sprue is not marked with any of those part numbers. No worries, we will figure it out:
I recommend using sprue cutters or sharp hobby knife here to have as clean a cut as possible. We want all the edges to be smooth, so you may need to sand down any remaining burrs. I also kept the L and R covers separated:
Push the pins of the Escape Pod Covers into the matching locations along the front edge of Deck Two.
I started with the covers marked ‘R’ for the right side (facing forward from the rear) of Deck Two. The pins on the back of each cover are designed to only fit into one location on the right edge of Deck Two. I laid them out in front of each matching recessed cover location, like this:
Next, I carefully pressed the pin of each Escape Pod Cover into its appropriate hole until they sat flush with the hull:
Then, I repeated the same process with the covers marked ‘L’ on the left side of Deck Two:
That’s it, we have finished Stage 1! This is what we have built so far, and it is looking pretty darn good!
That has to be the longest amount of time I have ever spent completing the first stage of any of my builds! Still, after a long two-year delay to redesign this model, we have finally started on a momentous journey! I hope this partwork build up can come close to my lofty expectations, but I have already needed to fix a few things so far. While we have only assembled the main bridge, I am absolutely happy with the result!
Stage 2 – Bussard Collector/EM Field Projector, Nacelle Frame/Front/Upper, Warp Engine Field Grills