With just a few weeks to go until another shoot at the Stage Nine studio, STAR TREK CONTINUES volunteers are working to finish a breathtaking addition to the Enterprise – a full-scale replica of the Engineering Room that’s been under construction since May.
Will Smith is the mastermind behind TOSGraphics.com, the definitive source for information about The Original Series and the Matt Jefferies designs brought to life by studio carpenters. Smith is also the Art Director and Property Master of STAR TREK CONTINUES, working almost non-stop this summer to finish the mammoth undertaking.
In addition to the framing of walls and stairs, Smith has worked tirelessly to perfectly recreate the tiniest details of the third season Engineering Room –down to cast resin sliders that populate the control panels and the text labels on each console.
“We’ve really gone above and beyond in terms of accuracy. We want to make it look exactly right. Our fans deserve that,” says Smith.
When last we visited Engineering, it looked like a framing job being done for a small house. In June, July, and August, the framing was finished, thin plywood was cut and nailed in place, seams were puttied and sanded, and a primer coat of paint went up.
“All of the walls are finished now and the detail work has started to paint the room that familiar shade of gray. The dilithium crystal chamber that sits in the middle of the Engineering Room is done. The massive ceiling has been hung, and we’re working on the forced perspective section with the big tubes. Consoles have been drilled out for lighting, and the last element is about to be ordered – a steel railing and ladder assembly that will tie everything together,” Smith says.
About a dozen people have volunteered days, nights, and weekends to bring Scotty’s Engineering Room from drawing board to warp drive.
“A major discovery was a Florida firm specializing in Styrofoam fabrication. They were able to cut the ceiling ribs and panels right out of foam. They were so excited about working on STAR TREK CONTINUES that they delivered the pieces for free,” Smith says. “We’ve had them working on other parts, too, like the ‘plant-on’ wall pieces that will give the set a truly authentic look. I designed and drew the plans for the ‘plant-on’ elements after researching them for hours through screen captures from TOS episodes. Our foam contractor was able to fabricate them perfectly from our detailed drawings. It really is amazing to see it all come together.”
One of the most challenging ingredients in Scotty’s Engineering Room is still under construction – the large tubes that pulse with light as the Enterprise is put under pressure at warp speed.
“Since that area, which some people call the ‘warp core,’ was only ever seen from one camera angle, it took a lot of time to figure out exactly how it was built. With all of the other elements there are multiple camera angles, but those big tubes are only seen one way. We eventually figured out that each tube is separated by baffle walls that block light and serve to regulate how much light spills where. With that revelation, I was able to design with the same forced perspective that makes it look like those tubes go back much deeper than they do in reality. By the time the cameras roll, we’ll have all of the finishing touches applied and it really will look like you’re standing on the Engineering deck,” Smith explains.
Future additions are planned, such as the Emergency Manual Monitor room that features prominently in third season episodes. While it looks like that area is high atop the Engineering Room, in reality the Monitor Room set only stood about six feet off the stage floor.
“The camera’s lens does amplify what is built. When we first laid everything out and started putting up framing, the whole set looked too small. But now that the walls are being painted and the ceiling is in, it’s obvious that our recreation is almost exactly what stood inside Stage Nine at Desilu,” Smith says proudly.
One mystery not solved in the construction project is exactly where one might find Scotty’s Engine Room on the actual Enterprise. Some fans believe it was in the Primary Hull, near the Impulse Engines.
“To me, Engineering has always been in the Secondary Hull – the ‘lower levels,’ as they said in ‘Court Martial.’ So that’s where I believe it is,” says Smith. “I know our cast and crew will be amazed when they see what our fans have made possible. I especially can’t wait to see Chris Doohan’s expression when he walks into this set as Scotty for the first time.”