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USS Excelsior NX-2000

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This is practically a re-mastering of the Lunar Models 41" USS Excelsior for my personal use. This kit is very old and very inaccurate. I build one back in the early 90's right out of the box. Back then, the internet wasn't around to obtain the resources and references needed to realize just how far off this kit really is.

Here is the first OOB build


I first started out on the solid resin cast of the superstructure. Details, decking and shape on this part were all wrong, I set to grinding and cutting away what isn't right, and gluing back on what is.


There are more pics in the slide show I will provide at the bottom of this post showing just how much altering had to be done.

Here are the results compared to the old build that wasn't altered.


The NX version has a distinctive single Dome Crystal. The kit's is all wrong. Here is the trench and dome assembly that slides into the round cavity and will be back-lit. Also, a corrected scratch built shape of the bridge dome is just sitting in it's place.


The superstructure shown above will be vacu-formed in clear, and so will the bridge dome to allow lighting. The styrene deck plate detail will also be added after vacu-forming so that their detail isn't lost in the process.

Edited by Vidar 710
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After correcting the primary hulls superstructure, I moved on to scratch building the Planetary Sensor Dome seen on all Trek ships in on shape of another. It was constructed with styrene, resin, and cardboard tubing. The dome was made from molding the surface of a 120mm diameter Christmas ball ornament.

It started with a base.


Built in the flood light patricians after hand drafting a scaled template to make the shapes.


Here is a comparison of the kit part compared to the scratch built part.


After casting the resin dome off the ornament, the details were scribed in and the styrene details were added on. There are a few more things to do, but this is how it sits now.


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The saucer is badly detailed and inaccurately profiled. The bottom half of the saucer comes like this.


I scratch built out of sheet styrene a 2-ring adapter that corrects both the profile of the saucer's belly and adds the well known ringed trench.


Here the adapter has been installed after removing the required material from the bottom half of the saucer.


There is another trench to be added where the neck/dorsal meets the saucer. Until I determine the shape of the neck/dorsal assembly, I can then cut the proper shape into the bottom saucer half.

Next will be to fill in the badly out of scale deflector grid pattern in the skin of the hull. This has all ready been done on the top half. This is a side-by-side of 2 top halves, one filled the other not.


Edited by Vidar 710
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Small Update.

Continued work on the Planetary Sensor Dome.

Material must be cleared out to allow lighting of the partitions. Here it is marked out to be cut away by a Dremel.


Here the material is removed.


Not much work left to finish up the partitions. Then I need to mold and cast the dome section as a clear part.


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Wow... THAT is a lot of work. At least you HAVE a kit to start from. The LM Excelsior was one of those grail kits I always wanted. I just never managed to find one to purchase (and the one from "The Collective" I hear was worse).

It IS a lot of work, but that is what Tracy is all about. He is constantly doing some heavy mod or scratchbuild!

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Correcting the Secondary hull.

The fan tail on the Lunar Models kits has a swoop instead of a step. The culprit is removed.


To ease gluing in the corrected plating, sheet styrene tabs age glued into place to aide assembly.


New plates added and filled.


To determine the correct shape of the bow, I zoomed in on images of the studio model till it match the same size as the kit. I then made paper templates to help make the corrected bow shape.


Re-enforcement was added to correct some warp and shape issues with the kit part.


With the top hull plate glued into place, the shape issue is quite noticeable.


Using Aves Apoxie Scultp, I fashioned in the new shape of the secondary hull's bow.


Next will be to fill in any flaws, sand smooth and prime. The new shape will be used to vacuum form a whole new secondary hull in clear for lighting.


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Leveling the hull and filling and flaws in the skin at this point...


Just about ready for its first coat of primer, then I'm sure a few putty-sand-primer sessions after that to make sure it's ready for the vacuum-form machine.


Couldn't help but to get that first coat of primer on before leaving on my next 4-day trip in the morning.


Several flaws to fix then re-prime before it's ready to vacu-form.


Edited by Vidar 710
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Another round of filler on the secondary hull.. It has all ready been re-primed.


To start wrapping up the Planetary Sensor Dome assembly, I tapped it in place to allow the walls to be glued into place properly and follow the contour of the saucer. I made them over-sized for ease of placement while gluing.


The excess is trimmed away and sanded smooth.


The light trenched are smoothed out to match the profile of each spot light patrician.


After some repair to some flaws, the entire Planetary Sensor Dome assembly is placed to check the fit. It's still not quite done.



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Scratch-Building the "Lip" on the bow of the Secondary Hull.

The lip is the exact same height as the thickness of the fantail under the main shuttle bay doors.


A scrap piece of sheet styrene is used as a base to build a mold and mark out the shape of the secondary hull's bow.


90deg triangles were used to ensure that the mold wall is positioned perpendicular to the base.


The mold and the bow of the secondary hull were coated with mold release, then the hull was placed in position. The resin was pre-mixed then poured into a disposable squirt bottle for precision application into the mold's cavity.


After the resin cured, the hull was pulled away from the resin, then clay was pressed in to hold the lip in the mold. The lip (secured in the mold) has excess resin removed by flat sanding unwanted material down to the mold wall.


The new lip part is pulled from the mold, then cleaned of mold release agents.


The lip is super glued into place, feathered into the bow, then filled and sanded.


With the final shape of the Secondary Hull's bow established, I can now move on to shaping the parts for the dorsal/saucer pylon assembly - which in return will determine the shape of the dorsal trench in the saucer.


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Using scaled images matching the scale of the kit, I have discovered that the various sub-sections of the model are not scaled properly to one another. The saucer is acceptable being only 1/8" too big in diameter. The Secondary Hull is almost 2" too long, and the Warp Nacelles are about 1.5" too short. I'm fixing the later two. The nacelles are easy - I'll use the technique for altering the length of airliner fuselages. Here is the solution I came up with to fix the length, correct to position of the aft step in the hull, as well as the over-all shape of the secondary hull.

Here, the unwanted material is marked out in pencil.


The forward cut is where the aft step in the bottom of the secondary Hull should be. Here, the forward cut is being made.


In this pic, the hull is now being checked next to a scaled image of the studio model.


The fantail, which is correctly shaped compared to the studio model is cut away from the unwanted hull section.


After gluing sheet styrene to the opening of the hull sections, they are sanded smooth. The bulkheads will help retain the shape of the hull sections, and will provide an excellent gluing surface. Here, the now miss-matched hull section are glued together using a center-line reference and clamped.


Close-up of the fantail glued back into place.


Since the fantail is very accurately shaped compared to the studio miniature, the forward hull sections sides will be altered to flow into the fantail. The studio model will give excellent references to the contours of the sides of the secondary hull.


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Small update, but it was a bunch of work to get here...

Here, the secondary hull is re-assembled, the sides cut away and new top profile is set blending the whole hull from bow to stern. In this pic it also has been "pointed up" at the edges/corners with Apoxie Sculpt. After 24hrs of cure time, it will be sanded down to refined the edges so that detail is not softened too much during the vacu-forming process on the new clear part.

I'm VERY happy with how the modifications turned out. It looks dead on to the studio mini.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Little bit of a detour going on with the secondary hull. I found that the fan tail wasn't exactly symmetrical after all! The taper to the point was not directly amid-ships, or center. It was off to starboard about 3/8". Once I fix that, I will post pics of the new finished secondary hull master.

In the meantime, my sheet styrene showed up from California while I was out on my last trip. 3 sheets of 60" X 26" X .02", and 3 sheets of 60" X 26" X .03" will be use to make 82 parts for the dorsal/pylon plates, Nacelle plates, and Nacelle pylon plates that are beneath the pylon blister/junction. The larger plates in each section will be .02" thick, while the smaller spacer plates are .03" thick.

I am also experimenting with a 4" diameter dome casting for the Planetary Sensor Dome compared to the initial 4.5" diameter I all ready made. It matches the studio model images, but it still seems too shallow in 3D. Pics of that to come to see what you guys think.

Happy Holidays! It'll be good to be home for a 10 day stretch!


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The new master for the secondary hull is DONE!

Here's a length check.


Here's a shape check.


I wasn't happy with the scribing on the first attempt with the Planetary Sensor Dome, plus I thought it looked too flat. I went and bought 4" balls and casted the surface on one of them.


The first, on the right vs. the new on the left. Much cleaner and the radii's are much more accurate.


Note* This part will be molded and cast in clear. I found an image showing the outer ring in the resin part and the inner ring of the styrene ring illuminate.

The process from raw casting, to sanding down to 4.2mm, the scribing and adding the styrene details.


I injected slow curing resin into the cavity between the skin of the assembly and the initial disk assembly. This gave the part strength,and allowed me to shape the surface for a flat fit with the dome sub-assembly.



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I've had several emails and messages asking why I need to clear cast the Planetary Sensor Dome. They don't see any evidence of it ever being lit. This isn't a CGI image, but the studio model in "Search for Spock". Take a close look at the dome.


Just the dome will be clear, not the flood light patrician section. Once the clear casted dome is light blocked and painted the hull color, the two radii's will be re-scribed clean of primer and paint to allow light from a white LED to pass through.


Edited by Vidar 710
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  • 2 weeks later...

Taking a step back. I have only one image of the Trans Warp Crystal on the NX studio miniature. I finally scaled it up to the size of the model and I discovered the ping pong ball idea turned out too big, and the bird cage framing is too thick... It's enough to bother me, so I'm fixing it.

Here the crystal's trench opening is reduced in diameter by adding styrene and filler, then sanded smooth.


I used a 1 1/8" wooden ball to make the master for a new dome. Here a ball is buttered with Bondo to fill the wood grain.


After sanding, it was primed and buffed to a smooth polished surface for molding.


A casting was removed from the mold and ground down to the correct diameter to fit the new opening in the trench.


My green work mat and a drafting compass was used to determine dead center at the top of the dome. This was to reference the bird cage framing that will be added to the resin dome master with styrene. The first of the framing is added. The scale image of the studio model determined this ring to be 1/4" inner radius, and 1/2" outer radius.


Using my mat references as a tool, I was able to place the first 8 radii's with 4 strips of 1/32" masking tape.


I then rotated the dome 22.5deg to add the second 8 radii's evenly spaced in between the first set.


I cut the dome away from the table and spayed it with primer. The masking tape was removed to uncover clean gluing surfaces for .03" X .03" strip styrene to finish the bird cage framing.


This will be molded, then cast in Smooth-On Crystal Clear 202 along with the bridge dome and observation dome for lighting purposes.

I'll try to finish up the framing and post pics before leaving on my next 4-day trip.


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Wrapped up the Trans Warp Crystal Dome master.

The .03 x .03 strip styrene is added after the whole strip had been wrapped around a 1/4" dowel for a smooth curve then snipped to length.


The new dome framing is clipped and sanded down to the height of the ring. It was then sprayed with gray primer. This shot shows the ping pong ball effort next to the new accurate dome.


The new dome is test fitted into the new opening in the crystal's trench.


Before I make a mold of the new dome master, I need to router out resin material, sand, then polish from the inside of the dome to hollow it out. This will help light the part more effectively.


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I had pulled out what I had completed so far on the filling and "re-surfacing" of the top half of the Primary hull. Due to the deflector grid being so badly out of scale, I thought that I would have to level excessive filler over the top of the entire hull surface to cut down the chance of the filler shrinking, then revealing the grid as Seam Shadows. In doing so, I didn't take in account that the Lunar Models vacu-formed hull is much thinner and would have adverse effects to a "sheet" of acrylic putty as a new skin. Over the passed couple of months since doing the initial filling, it started distorting the surface due to filler shrinking and making large divots in the hull's profile.

So, the filler had to be sanded all the way down to the styrene while still filling the deflector grid...


To fix the damaged areas, I used a heat gun for mono-coating RC aircraft and pressed the hull back into the correct profile. Several layers of filling and sanding took place to ensure the hull had the correct profile...



Then, primer and filling back-n-forth came out with results I'm finally happy with...

From this...


To this...


The opening under the top of the primary hull piece will be closed with a large single sheet of styrene to prepare it for mounting. Then the top of the hull will be ready to be turned into a tool to vacuum form a new clear upper hull half. This part, and the secondary hull will be filled with expanding Plummer's Foam for support to prevent distortion during the vacu-forming process, and mounted on 3/4" thick wooden platforms cut, shaped, and sanded to fit by slightly undercutting the masters underneath to lift them off the vacu-form table for a full clean pull.


Edited by Vidar 710
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  • 5 months later...

TrekModeler.com has finished the lighting kit for this project. Here are the subcomponents of the kit.

I guess I'm gonna have to finish this project after all!

How it will be mounted.


The Boards.


The Nav Lights and Strobes. Navs cycle 1 sec on/of, and the Strobe cycles 1/2 sec on/off.

Click image below to see flasher/strobe effects video.


Planetary Sensor Dome Assembly Lights


Primary Hull Window/Thuster Port Lighting.


Primary Hull Impulse Engine, and Impulse Crystal.


Secondary Hull Lighting.

Aft Section.


Forward/Ceiling Lighting.


Forward Lower Section.

Deflector Dish, Cargo Bay.


Power Connections and Switching.


Warp Nacelle Flood Lights and "Optional" Warp Effect.


I will get right back on this after IPMS Nationals.


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  • 2 weeks later...

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