Restoring AMT-Ertl's U.S.S. Enterprise Kit

   With the model fully assembled, it was time to paint. I was really pleased with how the build and lighting worked out and wanted to give the Enterprise a paint and marking job that was worthy. A little pre-paint-prep was needed.

    The model is covered with a series of small raised rectangular and circular outlines representing windows. They're all a little oversize and most are in the wrong positions so they were all sanded off. Correct windows would be applied as decals after painting.

   All illuminated domes and pre-painted areas like the copper sensor dish and sensor platform were masked off with masking tape and Parafilm "M" laboratory film (Fine Scale Modeler, Feb. 1993). The model was then sprayed with automotive primer.

   Before spraying on the main color, some parts like the impulse engines and the rear warp engine caps were masked off. These would remain the dark gray of the primer coat.


   Colors from Tamiya's line of acrylic hobby paints were used. With a full three-quarter-ounce (23ml) jar of gloss white as a starting point, I mixed in the other colors little by little until I got something that I thought looked like the light gray color of the big model, kinda-sorta keeping track of what I used. Measurements below are all approximate:

White (X-2)........................2 jars 
Smoke (X-19)...................1/2 jar
Clear Blue (X-23).............1/4 jar
Chrome Silver (X-11).......1/8 jar
Black (X-1)........less than 1/8 jar
Metallic Gray (XF-56)......4 drops

    The above list clearly shows that the process of matching the color had gotten away from me. By the time I finished mixing, it looked like I had enough paint to cover the 11-foot studio model. And, yes, I was serious about those 4 drops of Metallic Gray. Still, I thought it was a good match for color in my photos and decided to go with it. 

    Using a Badger 350 mini spray gun, the model was given three heavy coats of the color mix over the course of two hours, using a hair dryer to try to speed up the drying time. This Enterprise was a uniform shade of gray and remained un-weathered, just as I'd seen it in the Smithsonian. I was pretty satisfied that I got the color right. The paint looked very close to the color of the big model in my photos. Tamiya Clear was then sprayed on to prep for decals. 

    For most of the kit's run, AMT-Ertl provided a decal sheet with letters and numbers in the typeface commonly known to Windows users as "MachineBT." The markings on the Enterprise studio model were a slight variation on the typeface "Amarillo USAF" which is commonly used on US military vessels, aircraft and even NASA spacecraft.

   For accurate markings, I purchased an Estes flying Enterprise kit which was a rarity in 1990. I was lucky enough to find one at a very reasonable price from a local hobby retailer who just wanted to get rid of it. 

   The differences are illustrated at left. Also included is the font "Microgramma," shown here because it was used in Franz Joseph's STAR TREK BLUEPRINTS and many other drawings. This font was also used for starship markings in the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast and all Treks that came after, including J.J. Abrams' reboot.
   Some markings, such as the triangles on the saucer bottom and the mysterious, not-seen-on-TV shapes on the secondary hull bottom were airbrushed onto clear decal film before being applied to the model to help avoid positioning problems. Little numbers on the side of the hull were made from 1/4" dry transfers reduced to 1/32" on a copy machine directly onto decal film (this was 1991, long before I would be in posession of a personal computer). New engine pylon grids were made by making an oversize master with Letraset diamond grid screen, reducing it down and copying that onto decal film.

   When building the model, some grooves were filled in on the backs of the warp propulsion units and on the hangar deck.  They were  replaced with 1/64" dry-transfer stripes on decal film.

    I made window decals by burnishing sections of Woodland Scenics white and black dry-transfer striping (1/32") onto decal film and applied that to the model for windows with sharp edges and corners. I used photos of the TV model and drawings in SHIPS of the STAR FLEET as a placement guide.

   The left side of the Enterprise studio model is devoid of any details and markings. This is where the wiring for the lights entered the model so it was filmed from the right side only. This allowed me to use some imagination (gasp!) for the window placement on the left side of my model.

   To save time and effort, I clear-coated the model and decals with Krylon Crystal Clear and finally Krylon Matte Finish out of spray cans. I could have used Tamiya Clear which was the same brand as the colors used on the model but that would have required me to set up my airbrush and compressor. Again, I should have known better but I thought I could get away with it. (Why not? Tamiya and Krylon both say "acrylic" on their labels!)

   I learned something that day.

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chapter 7
chapter 8
chapter 9
chapter 10