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Hey Gang,

So late October of 2011, Paul Salamoff, Brian Uiga and I embarked on a pretty special project. As some of you may know, Paul is the current owner of the Doctor Who TARDIS Console as seen in the 1996 Fox TV Movie and used on-screen by both Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. It's a fabulous looking prop and still in fairly good shape. The electronics were still in working order and a number of the switches and knobs were intact. Paul himself had already built a replica of the central column or time rotor to complete it as the console did not include this when he purchased it about 6 years ago.

The Console on set in 1996

More Pics and info

Paul's Custom Remade Rotor

Here's a few pics of how the console looked prior to October, 2011.

Console in 2009

And here's a neat video where we featured this for a Dr. Who PBS Marathon on KTEH in fall of 2009:

(Console portion runs 0:30 to about 3:45 in.)

With the guest roster announced for 23rd annual Gallifrey One convention in February included the ENTIRE main cast and producer behind the TV Movie... we decided now was the time to try and get the console ready for public display.

The Console in in the TVM

Special Side Extra panels

Bottom view when complete- and showing obvious need of a cleaning.

While in good shape, the console was going to need some tender loving care to bring it back to spec and really wow the fans who might see it up close. Our Mission, Should We Choose to Accept It: Restore the TARDIS Console to it's former 1996 glory!!!! Cue the flute and bongos, because we took up the challenge.

Paul and Brian figuring out what makes it tick

Panel exploration

Paul being the owner was 100% behind it all, and he brought his extensive 12+ year background as a prop-maker and Special FX artist to the table. Brian also brought a lot of great ideas to really crank this project to "Eleven." He had a lot of experience making replica Dr. Who props (Seven's umbrella and the classic Sonic etc.) as well as outfitting replica showcase 'Celebrity' cars such as James Bond's BMW from Tomorrow Never Dies and Herbie the Love Bug.

Removing panels

Brian checks the electronics and lights

Brian helped a lot on sourcing and re-creating parts as well as re-wiring the console's lights and adding some nifty sound effects. I myself helped mostly to lend a hand (it's proven to be a laborious task!) and act as a 3rd pair of eyes when needed.

Lights Still Work

Bottom View of Base

As the Chameleon Circuit Repair Team Trio, we had our work cut out for us though. Aside from a good dusting & cleaning, the console would need the following:

- Double check all the lights for functionality (as well as noting exactly which switch activates what)
- Add lights to the Time Rotor
- Brace the legs and figure out a smoother way to transport the console
- Replace any missing switches and knobs (of which there were quite a few).
- Build and replace the hand crank which was sadly now missing.
- Restore functionality to the three clocks

Clocks to be restored in working order.

- Find a way to hide extra wiring/power strips/relays that would be required.
- Replace any broken or larger bulbs with safer/brighter LED lights (as the console can get fairly hot when lights are left on for extended periods).

Fragile Claw Feet on legs

Doctorin' the TARDIS

Reflector lights

Interior view of the lights

Some additional features we wanted to add:

- Wire up a custom sound board & speaker which would activate music & Sound Effects by switch.
- Wire lights to a relay s panels would dim & flash in alternating fashion as seen in the TVM
- Rig a motor on the middle main clock so it could spin forwards or backwards as seen in TVM
- Wire up all of these functions so they can all be activated by remote control
- Possibly look into adding some mechanical motion into the brake, lever or time rotor

Journey to the center of the console

The first step to accomplishing all of this was to take the console apart to get at the electronics. We knew this had to be designed back in '96 to be serviced if it had gone to series. We assumed the top lifted off in whole or in sections. We removed the central column and removed a lot of the cords and power strips which were tucked in the lower central base. We went around taking out screws and removing parts of panels only to find what needed to be removed were several strategic screw underneath the console.

First view through one of the inset panels


Picture of the Console from "Doctor Who Regeneration" showing how the wires are accessible from the bottom.

Now had we simply reviewed the Regeneration book more carefully we would have found the answer very quickly!!! It turns out once unscrewed the bottom of the console can be removed in three sections. Once this is accomplished the electronics are easy to get to and many of them fold downward on hinged wooden panels for quick access.

Bottom of Console once removed (1 section of 3 total)

View underneath with panels removed

A fold down board with electronics (up and then down)

Once this was done we gave it a dusting and cleaning as this probably hadn't been opened in 15 years and needed it badly.

Vacuuming away the years of dust w/ board down

An interesting thing we spotted was that several of the controls had been wired up to a tough string or piano wire! Things like the giant lever, the main radial dial, the hand brake were all still wired up in this fashion so someone laying underneath could move them 'as if by magic' and make the console appear to be working itself! It's funny when you think of the 5 million spent on the TVM how low tech some of these solutions still are.

Collected string which pulls levers

After taking things apart and looking it over we found only ONE SINGLE bulb was burnt out and needed replacing. Nice for a 15+ year old prop!

More bulbs/reflectors to be checked

Underneath the circular twist 4-quadrant lighted dials

The topside of the same dial is missing central knob

Brian took measurements of the base of the crank to extrapolate a design and build for the new one he would source/make.

Original Hand Crank in the TVM

Missing Hand Crank base

He and Paul also took samples of the remaining knobs, thumbscrews, black 'guitar' switches and white 'guitar' switches to look around for existing matches. Failing that the plan was to make a mold of the existing switches and make copies of them.

The seven bottom switches weren't hooked up to anything so they will be used for light/ & SFX.
The left five switches are missing and will be replaced.

Yellow 'puck' knobs- one of which will need to be replaced from a copy of one of the others.

Yellow puck switches shown complete in the movie

For transport issues we quickly hit on the idea of building a wood hexagon base to mount the console on. The base would be in the style of the wood floor from the TV movie but it would have castors underneath so it could be easily rolled around and not risk damaging the three 'claw' legs underneath. Brian had some extra bamboo wood from an entire house re-flooring project he'd been working on so that plan fell into place nicely.

While cleaning we discovered a green oval gel that needed reattaching

The oval top light needs green gel re-attached. Right knob needs replacing. The right upper two thumbscrews on the inner radio panel were missing and replaced with thumbscrews found inside the console attached to interior components. The blue light was designated as the "Sonic" light - to turn on by Sonic/remote control activation.

To hide the extra power strips and wires we hit on the idea of finding a match to the Doctor's rather large vintage style medical bag he kept his tools in. We could position this near the console on the base and it would house the extra electronics. Over top of this a lid would be placed with replicas of various tools, gizmos and the Sonic so it would look like an 'ordinary' Doctor's tool bag serving an aesthetic function as well.

Doctor's bag on the recreation list.

The center column of the Console runs straight to the round as a giant open 'tube'. It made it easy for us to look at setting extra wires or power strips inside.

Once we were set for our plan we had a little fun connecting up the sound board Brian had made. I'd helped to locate some of the TARDIS sound effects needed and it was pretty cool to hea rit in action. The Theme tune, some McGann quotes, TARDIS in flight, materializing etc. were all there and sounded great.

Bottom Claw legs that needed bracing/protecting when the Console was moved

Eat your heart out Jon Pertwee - the time rotor removed

Double Checking the working lights

We then stored the console away and Paul began planning out how to build the wooden base. We had our search tasks and agreed to meet up again in few weeks to continue the work!

The most important thing everyone should know is that YES this console WILL BE ON DISPLAY at the 23rd Gallifrey One Convention for it's first public appearance! More details about the con are here: www.gallifreyone.com

We've just confirmed final details so that fans can come see this fully restored, one-of-a-kind, screen used iconic prop in person at the Marriott LAX in Los Angeles all three days of Gally (Feb. 17th-19th, 2012). Stop by the Cosplay Hall anytime during convention hours to check it out close-up. Special times will be arranged to get your photo professionally taken working the Doctor's TARDIS Console! Hope to see you all there!

The Console Today - Pre-Restoration

The Console Restoration Part II continues next week with Hexagon TARDIS flooring and custom Doctor's Bags!




( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Peter Stolmeier
Jan. 19th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
love it!
THANK YOU for posting so many detailed pictures, I am loving an inside look at my favorite console!
Feb. 1st, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
Great blog entry, it's quite revealing seeing all the nooks and crannies crammed into that console, a thoroughly busy build... and well worth the money that was spent on it.
William Cox
Mar. 7th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
Good work
I loved the 1996 TVM and I was always afraid that the gorgeous Tardis console from that movie was lost to the ages. I'm glad to see that not only did it survive, but it is in good hands. Thank you for restoring and preserving this television treasure.
Janna A. Ellis Kepley
Mar. 13th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
Photos broken! (zooomr no longer exists!)
Hi! Found this entry from DoctorWhoNews.net (1). Through the wonders of the Internet I can see my favorite Tardis console again, through you! But the pictures! They are broken! Help me Obi Mitsch Kenobi! You're my only hope!

Hey, I have some Mitsch ancestry... 'Don't suppose you have a great grand-aunt Clara from Minnesota!

Edited at 2013-03-13 10:37 pm (UTC)
Mar. 14th, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: Photos broken! (zooomr no longer exists!)
Sorry about that. zooomr went kaput and with it all of my hosted photos. I'm finishing my last Galy entry now and I'll start the slow process of reloading and hosting al the pics frm flickr soon it's just... daunting with all the photo heavy stuff like the restoration, build diaries and con reports. But I'll post again here when they're back up. And yes very likely - I don't recall a Clara but my family is from Minnesota.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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