Finding the Nuts and Bolts of the "Enterprise"

Posted on Tue, August 23, 2016

Gary Kerr’s lifelong love affair with Star Trek and the starship Enterprise studio model has lead him down a number of interesting paths. From early pilgrimages to the National Air and Space Museum to admire the model on display to creating highly detailed blueprints of the model used, among other things, in the Star Trek – Deep Space Nine episode, “Trials & Tribble-ations.”

Last year, this fascination lead the “Trek-xpert” on an epic quest to find just the right hardware, the actual nuts and bolts, that make up the Enterprise studio model.

As a member of the Museum’s special advisory committee for the restoration and preservation of the model, Gary has assumed the role of Sci-Fi archeologist. He was kind enough to share some of his findings in the following report, available for download below. In it, he recounts his efforts over the past year to document missing parts and secure the hardware needed to restore the model. He also shares how major components of the model were replicated and some spectacular “ah-ha” moments.

Download the Report 

  • Line drawings.

    An overview of the AutoCAD file that was used during the restoration of the model. Believe it or not, there’s a method to my madness. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

  • Image of bridge dome with measurements on top and to the right AutoCAD drawings.

    Dimensions of the taller and less wide replacement bridge dome, which we believe debuted in "The Trouble with Tribbles," were obtained from photos taken during the model's arrival at the Museum in 1974.

  • Image of the deflector dish with measurements on top.

    Multiple photos of the long-lost deflector dish allow us to accurately recreate its design.

  • Drawing of dome tabs compared to the actual hardware.

    Caution: Objects in photos and drawings are probably smaller in real life. For some reason, the Enterprise model looks larger in photos than it does in person. The nacelle dome tabs are just a half-inch across, and the brass cap nuts are only a quarter-inch wide.

  • Measuring tape lined up against interior hole.

    The interior of the starboard wall of the hangar bay, courtesy of Ariel O’Connor and her iPhone. Other than a hole in the wall, there is no other evidence of a mounting point for the original side light. The side light may very well have been created by inserting a Plexiglas rod into the hole from inside and attaching a blinking light onto the inboard end of the rod. Also of interest, notice how different the portholes and windows appear from the inside (and how you create a green window by slapping some green Plexiglas over the inside of the existing colorless window).  

  • Graphic depiction of the evolution of the letter N

    The poor letter "N" is seen here with a 1/32" grid overlaid onto it. The grid is the same size as the other block characters in the registry number. The “N” went through a couple changes, but seemingly never quite made it from the drawing board to the model exactly right.

  • Drawings of the dome's measurements set against photographs of the original.

    Multiple reference photos of the original dome, combined with measurements of a resin casting of the dome's housing, allow us to accurately recreate the original dome.

  • Photograph of a hand holding hardware.

    You say you need to create a couple running lights for your starship? All it takes is a couple furniture nails from the UK and two extra-small finish washers from Virginia.

  • AutoCAD measurements laid over original photographs.

    In addition to using 1991 tracings of the side banner on the secondary hull as a reference for my plans, original source materials are used as references as much as possible to ensure fidelity with the original banner.

  • Someone holds up a small decal.

    One of Rick Sternbach's sample decals illustrates the small size of some of the technical markings on the model.