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BUILDING AND ACCURIZING ERTL'S ENTERPRISE NCC-1701-E
By: Lauren M. Oliver
Ertl has done a fairly good job on this model as compared to most of their Star Trek line. This
kit comes in 36 pieces, 9 of which are clear. All parts that need to be clear are clear. The
saucer section comes in two main pieces, an upper piece, and of course, a lower piece. Fit on
the saucer is excellent and the trough where the two pieces join should be there, no need to
fill it. The secondary (or stardrive) hull also comes in two main pieces, a left and a right
half. The fit on these two parts is not stellar and needs some work. My major gripes about this
kit are as follows: The warp engines need some work on the bottom (ie: puttying and sanding to
get some panels blended together into 1 continuous panel) the tunnel that houses the deflector
has some (ugly) recessed panel lines that shouldn't be there and need lots of puttying, sanding
and super glue to correct, the struts that connect the stardrive hull to the nacelles don't bend
at an angle near the root like they do on the studio model, the recess where the ship registry
and banner go on the stardrive hull has a raised panel that should be filed and sanded away, &
lastly, the RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters that go from the upper and lower halves of
the saucer don't line up (the lower part of the thrusters needs to be filled and painted on in
a different location). I must also mention the fact that this model is in the same scale as
Ertl's previously released Enterprise NCC-1701-D (how thoughtful of them). During the course of
this article I will describe to you how the deficiencies of the kit will be corrected and how I
will modify, and detail the kit so the two hulls can disconnect.
The first task I tackled was the one presented by the deflector housing. I began by
applying Squadron White Putty to the recessed panel lines with a toothpick. After the putty
had dried fully I went at it with some 200 grit sandpaper. I then applied another layer of
putty since the first coat inevitably shrank. Once again I waited for it to dry until I sanded.
Next I spread super glue onto the putty (once again using toothpick). The super glue took an
hour to dry whereupon I sanded it with the 200 grit then moved on to increasingly finer grits
until the piece regained its original luster. The clear deflector part was then painted
(on the back) with a custom-mixed orange and when this had dried it was glued to the housing.
So much work!
Next up was the problem of the nacelle struts. I began by taping together the two halves of the
left strut and then laid them down on a flat surface and made a 90 degree cut to the immediate
right of the first flush vent (the depression with all the raised panel lines going forward).
I then took the tape off the pieces and glued the halves together with super glue (keeping the
cut apart sections separate). I then took the cut-apart piece with the grid (the cut-part that
connects to the nacelle) and filed away at the surface where it had been cut so that it would
connect with the other part at an angle. The cut-up piece was then glued back together with
super glue and the joint where they met was filled with putty (then sanded, then filled again &
sanded, then coated with super glue and polished). I repeated this on the right strut.
Correcting the channel on the stardrive hull where the ship banner goes was tough. To start with
I taped off the surrounding area with many layers of Scotch tape to protect it from scratching,
then I took out a model file and started grinding, and grinding, and grinding, until finally the
"panel in the channel" was flush with the rest of the channel, whereupon any small bumps left
were sliced off with an X-Acto knife and any imperfections filled with putty (and so forth). The
channel was then sanded smooth and polished with increasingly finer grit sandpaper. This was
repeated on the other side of the star-drive hull.
Assembling the halves of the stardrive hull was nerve-wrecking. To begin with, I glued the
deflector housing to one side of the hull with plastic glue, and when that had dried I
strengthened the join with super glue. I had already sliced open a place for one of the IC
(Integrate Circuit) connectors to be glued so I went ahead and super glued it there. The IC
connector would connect with another connector embedded in the saucer, this way I could hold
the 2 hulls together securely but still have them be able to disconnect. I then took the halves
of the star-drive hull and glued them together. Once again I used super glue to strengthen the
join. Now cam time for puttying (ughh!). Any & all gaps were filled the aforementioned puttying
process. One minor change I made to the stardrive was to leave off the stand connector.The hole
where this piece (& the rest of the stand) would go was used instead as the place where a brass
tube would go. This tube was super glued in & some resin poured down it for extra reinforcement.
A brass tube of a smaller diameter fits inside to support the model.
The saucer section has only two things wrong with it as far as I can tell. The first is that an
entire line of windows (or most likely the secondary navigational deflector)is missing, but they
would be too small to be noticed even if they were added to the model. The second problem is
that the thrusters on the bottom of the saucer are in the wrong place, they don't match up with
the upper saucer ports. Just fill the lower thrusters with putty, let dry and sand flush with
the surface. Later you can paint the thrusters on in the right place, a very simple fix.
NOTE: Construction pictures to come soon!
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