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Age of Discovery

[Proudly Sponsored by BLAP! Models]

by James Lowe

Scale: 1/450

I built this Discovery inspired spaceship about 2 or 3 years ago. It was my first attempt at building a large, freelanced spaceship from odds-and-ends, and although its construction is somewhat crude, it's still one of my favorite models.

As its name implies, I a big fan of the 2001 spaceship Discovery, and with a large collection of discarded plastic vitamin and supplement bottles, I thought I had the basic components to build something interesting that was inspired by Discovery. Also, I wanted the spaceship to have some sort of shuttle-bay, and the Bandi 1/450-scale Thunderbird 2 kit provided just the vehicle to build one for. If the T-bird 2's scale is the reference, then since the Age of Discovery is about 58 inches long, its scale length would be about 2,175 feet, or about 2/5 of a mile long, making it roughly 3x the length of 2001's Discovery.

The model was built using a 1-1/4 inch PVC pipe as a spine. Plastic vitamin bottles were prepared by cutting off their threaded ends and drilling a drilling a 1-1/4 diameter hole in their bases. They were then slid onto the spine and epoxy was used to hold them in place. Removing the labels from the bottles was a little tricky. The old technique of using a hand-held hair-dryer to gently heat the label and peel it off was applied many times. Any residue from the label's glue was removed by lightly scrubbing the bottle with a critic cleaner and then cleaning up with warm water. The main engine outlet on the back end on the main spine was an air exhaust cover from a broken hair-dryer. The forward module that contains the shuttle-bay was a plastic protein jar, and the fairing between it and the other modules on the spine was a foot from a discarded computer floor-stand. The semi-spherical flight-deck extension was from a Christmas ornament kit. The airlocks on the lower portion of the flight-deck extension were snap-caps from vitamin bottles.

The two outer propulsion cylinders were the cores from paper rolls used in a large computer plotter. Their output ends are fitted with nested PVC pipe joiners.

Cutting out the shuttle-bay from the protein jar was an exercise in patience in order to get the doors to line-up and the interior walls to fit.

All the interior walls are made from 0.040 and 0.060 inch sheet styrene and glued in place with either superglue or epoxy. The shuttle-bay, along with its sliding doors, was given some detail from plastic parts sourced from styrene shapes, and 1/25 scale car and HO-scale building left overs. The grating on the ceiling of the shuttle-bay was scavenged from a PC fan outlet.

The dish antennae on the shuttle-bay module are from AMT/Ertl's Moonscope kit. The larger antenna located about halfway down the spine is a two-part affair: the support is from a Braun electric toothbrush, and the dish is the only surviving part from a long gone MPC Pilgrim Explorer kit.

When it came time to paint, the entire ship was primed with Krylon flat black and then base coated with Krylon silver. A wide range of spray can colors were used to paint the ship in an afternoon long outdoor painting spree. After drying for a couple of weeks, watercolors were generously applied for further surface effects. Squares and squiggles were applied to some modules with waterproof black pens of various sizes. The whole thing was sealed with Testor's Dullcoat.

Image: Engines

Image: Under construction

Image: Port

Image: Starboard

Image: Shuttle bay (starboard side)

Image: Looking aft

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This page was last updated 19 February 2010. © 2010 Starship Modeler