Jul 27, 2021, 11:10 am


New, New TardisBuilders!

Earl's Court(ish) box model

Started by scotland yard, Apr 02, 2020, 08:11 pm

Previous topic - Next topic

scotland yard

Apr 02, 2020, 08:11 pm Last Edit: Apr 08, 2020, 12:23 pm by scotland yard
Hello everybody.
Since plenty of us have had plenty of free time in our hands, I have come to the conclusion that if the coronavirus doesn't kill me, boredom could. So, using my newfound free time, I decided to make a model based at the box at Earl's Court, because it has a special place in my heart as the first TARDIS/Police Box I have ever seen "in the flesh".

There are no proper plans for the box here in TB (shame on us)(EDIT: there are now, just scroll down to the comments for this post), only some measurements, but they are incomplete, so I had a stab at eyeballing the measurements. It turned out OK, but I made some changes, such as the position of the lock and changing the handle, adding the NST PTO sign, and having the Brachaki top signs instead of the ones on the real thing. I also skipped the frame that surrounds them in the real life. The absence of bevelled edges, quarter quadrants and corner posts caps come about to the materials available, which is basically MDF with a thickness of 2.9 mm, which is going to be laser-cut.

Earls Court 2.png

I designed the St John's Ambulance sign that the box used to have. This, I think, turned out rather well. I'll share the design... if I find where I saved my work.  :o

Anywho, I'm doubting about what to do with the windows. I could go for the 4 -panes arrangement on the real box, or the classic 6-panes arrangement of the Trench boxes and the TARDIS. Here's a picture of how that would look.

Earls Court 1.png

I'm torn. The stickler for accuracy inside me says to go with the 4-pane arrangement, but the "who cares?" side of me says to go with the 6-pane look. This box right now is a mix of decisions taken for accuracy's sake's and other because they look good, so either way it looks good to me, but it's hard to decide. What do you think?

Well anyway, see you around.

Oh my giddy aunt!!


Apr 02, 2020, 09:26 pm #1 Last Edit: Apr 02, 2020, 09:29 pm by lorisarvendu
I'm sure I'd posted this on here before, but maybe not. I had plans to make a model of this gorgeous monstrosity years ago. I drew these up myself using measurements I and my brother later took. Easier for him, he lives in Kent. I live in Derbyshire!

I began work on the model years ago (in fact I may even have a build diary here) but only ever finished two windows.
Anyway, here's what I came up with.  It's not a to-scale drawing, the box is drawn kind of generically in order to get the measurements down. I just never got round to actually drawing it to those measurements.

Sadly I'm still working from home, but if we get furloughed I might just attempt to finish it!


EDIT: Yes I did start a build diary and then stalled after a week!  Well, if there's anything you can use from those plans please do.

scotland yard

I've never seen those plans before! I'll definitely compare them with my plans and see what can I alter.

I hope you finish your model. Judging from what other things you have done, you could do a far greater job than I can right now, but I'll try and catch up with you.
Oh my giddy aunt!!

scotland yard

Apr 07, 2020, 09:48 am #3 Last Edit: Apr 08, 2020, 12:23 pm by scotland yard
I've often wondered why so many builds don't post updates for months, or why there are so many builds unfinished here at TB. During these past few days, I have found a newfound... respect? Understanding? Yes, understanding for these situations. It's been five days since I started, but everything I have been able to do is to make some changes to my design and to cut some pieces... not even enough to make a side. I've come to realize, that no matter what you do, what you plan, or what you do to avoid things affecting your affairs, life has truly amazing ways to get in the way.

For reasons I shall not bother to explain, I haven't had time to cut anything until today... only to find that the laser's filter (which takes away the smoke from the laser and the wood) has gone bust. It sounds bad, but it's not that bad. Laser filters aren't meant to last forever, and need replacing every year or so. And the filter warns you when it is about to stop working, so no damage whatsoever. But the problem is that they are big and a pain in the rear end to change... at least mine anyway. So the laser will be out of commission for a few days until I change the filter and do some other maintenance. So no Police box model for a while. At least I found blue paint that looks close to the current paint job on the box.

Just to give you an idea of the size of that monstrous filter...


Only the top bit is the laser. The bottom bit, which you'll notice is even bigger than the laser itself, is the housing for the filter, which is ever so slightly taller than your regular dining table. The filter is not as big as the housing obviously, it needs to fit in there, but is certainly not small. And the access hatch is in the back, so I have to move the laser and everything around it to work comfortably on it. Horray. At least it has wheels.

Anyway, hope you guys are OK and all good, and I'll see you when I replace the filter.


Oh my giddy aunt!!

kert gantry

Apr 07, 2020, 10:28 am #4 Last Edit: Apr 07, 2020, 10:30 am by kert gantry
Utterly wrong to think in such terms but one tiny positive crumb for me in this horrible situation is the increase in people doing home-based model-making.

And as a serial non-finisher of projects, I look forward to seeing yours advance soon!



I don't know if I'd say "utterly wrong."  "Stay positive."  "Every cloud has a silver lining."  There are lots of sayings about making the best of a bad situation.  "Keep calm and carry on."  There's no point in flogging yourself and being miserable.  But I do take your meaning:   "Hooray! People are dying so I finally have time to work on my TARDIS" would be a bit crass. 

But coming back on point, yeah, a TARDIS seems like a lot simpler and less expensive project than it is.  So if you just "wing it" it would be easy to fail.  And it takes long enough that Life could intervene and screw up your plans.  Moving to a new house, getting a promotion that takes more time, starting a family, getting sick or injured.  All could jeopardize a build. 
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.

scotland yard

I'm not building a full size box, only a model. I know life gets in they way, but it was crazy how it sucked my time. Guess I haven't spent enough time to actually realize things don't go as planned always... after all, I'm still only a student. And I was looking forward the break in Easter to make a lot of stuff I wanted to do, because I'll be moving to a new home during the summer (if coronavirus allows it), and god knows when I'll have the laser set up again.

But I wasn't "winging it". I just like to start working when everything is set to begin, which wasn't the case this week. But thanks Volpone, advice taken.
Oh my giddy aunt!!


My apologies for being unclear.  I knew you were building a model, but I don't know what hiccups can interfere with a model (apart from one's laser needing a new filter, so I was just using the obstacles I know.  I also didn't mean to imply that you were winging it (although now that I read it, it sure seems that way), I was just using that as an example of something that could lead to failure of other builders on the site.  But yeah...  The things you think are going to take time wind up being surprisingly simple.  Then something you take for granted winds up being nearly impossible. 

Next time maybe I should just say "I know what you mean!"   
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.

scotland yard

Apr 09, 2020, 02:11 pm #8 Last Edit: Apr 09, 2020, 02:14 pm by scotland yard
So, yesterday and this morning I've been replacing the laser's filter, and I've finally had the chance to cut the pieces and assemble the box.


It isn't the most faithful model, but I think it is still recognizable as a model based at the box at Earl's Court, minus the bevelled edges and the corner posts.

You'll notice I've added three-quarter quadrants to the corner posts in the edges that don't face the walls. It isn't accurate in this regard to the real box, because it should have the quadrants in all edges, but the problem is that they are too thick. If I were to add them in all the corner post edges, the central part would have looked too thin. And besides, they aren't really quadrants. In the spirit of creativity, I chopped some barbecue sticks to the right length to fit the box.

But the quadrants have a much more important function. Before I get into this, I'm going to say I calculated every piece with a slim fit in mind. Not huge gaps, everything as close as possible... and it seems I designed the roof's with too much of a slim fit, so when I placed the last panel, the sides bulged out a bit. It isn't too noticeable, except for the fact that the central stiles in the front and back are off-centered (but why, why did it had to be the front?!), and that there were some ugly gaps in the corner posts (which aren't really corner posts, they are just glued on to every side in separate pieces). To fix this, I added the "quadrants" and ta-daa! One problem fixed. The off-centered central stiles are there to stay though. I'll live with it for the moment, because I don't have that much wood left, and I don't want to use it in remaking a model that for the best part looks acceptable.


Here's a picture that shows the roof, which you can't really see it in the other pictures.


And here's a picture with the signage in place. I took some creative liberties with the top signs.

So, to do, I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the windows, and the lamp, and then I'm going to paint the model.

Well, anyway, I'm glad I managed to finally advance.

I'll see you soon,

Oh my giddy aunt!!

kert gantry

Looking good.

I used to have a pic or two of the full size Earls Court box under construction. These are uncannily reminiscent of them!


You're keeping us waiting on the windows decision aren't you!

My heart says go with 4, because that's the most defining feature of the ECB (he says, trying to start an acronym going).  But then you've kind of tweaked it to look more like a Met box, so my brain says maybe 6 panes would look better.  I bet in the end you simply dummy them both up, then sit back and see which one looks nicer. As we all do!

scotland yard

Apr 13, 2020, 10:59 pm #11 Last Edit: Apr 14, 2020, 01:28 am by scotland yard
I've decided to go with the four panel arrangement. I thought that if I change it more, then it won't be recognizable as the Earl's Court box, but just as a Police Box (regular people probably think this is the only difference between the ECB and the original boxes). Still putting a lamp instead of the camera though.

But, to be honest, this project wasn't the main priority these past few days. Hopefully I'll be able to show some progress tomorrow.
Oh my giddy aunt!!

scotland yard

Apr 15, 2020, 10:33 pm #12 Last Edit: Apr 15, 2020, 10:34 pm by scotland yard
I started this build on day 10 a.L (after Christ Lockdown), and the world couldn't get to me... until it remembered I had a phone and mail to stalk me down and throw me whatever it could do to distract me from this. Now, more than ever, I'm feeling identified with the fourth Doctor when he said to Harry  "Well, you know, I'm a very busy man! (puts on serious face) I can't waste any more time". But between this and that, I've managed to paint the box blue and put some window inserts.

Now, I know what you're thinking, but I haven't finished the windows! Right now they're just a piece of paper with a  thin layer of plastic sheet on top. They won't be as professionally made as some of the other models here, but they'll get better... I hope. The windows of the Earl's Court box, besides following an atypical pane arrangement, the glass has a different frame. Instead of having nice, thick frames like the original boxes, it has a very thin strip of metal between the panes. I have nothing right now that can exactly resemble that, but I'm going to add some frames, which they won't be very accurate thick-wise, but will hopefully give the box a much nicer presentation.

Thank you all, I'll update as soon as life allows it.

By the way, Kert Gantry, do you have any idea where I might find those pictures of the box under construction that you mentioned? I'd love to see them.

Oh my giddy aunt!!

kert gantry

It's always great to see slightly leftfield builds on the Forum and this is looking fantastic. Glad you're sticking with the distinctive four paned windows and I much prefer the font you've put in the sign boxes to the real thing.   

Quote from: scotland yard on Apr 15, 2020, 10:33 pm

By the way, Kert Gantry, do you have any idea where I might find those pictures of the box under construction that you mentioned? I'd love to see them.

If memory serves, the photos originated from a feature in a Police produced newspaper, probably the Police Gazette, which I used to see back when I worked at the Home Office. The article showed the box being built at the LT depot, largely complete but unpainted (which is why your pics above looked so similar), dating from around the time of the box's installation in 1996. Alas, any pics I still have will be on the old PC over at my rented studio, which is a bit tricky to visit right now for obvious reasons. As soon as I can get over there I'll have a hunt around.         

scotland yard

Apr 19, 2020, 11:00 pm #14 Last Edit: Apr 19, 2020, 11:05 pm by scotland yard
Hello! Life has left me alone today! Which means I've been able to finish this model at last... for the time being.

First things first, but not necessarily in that order, I made a lamp and it turned out... OK. The real Earl's Court box doesn't have a lamp, it has a big, sort of cool, sort of ugly camera, but I wasn't going to replicate it right now. Maybe later.


The lamp was pretty straightforward, just some laser-cut circles in different sizes painted and glued together. I would have loved to have something clear, or a mini 3D printed fresnel there, but it doesn't look too bad. I originally intended to cut a bit from a clear circular pen with a dremel, but I didn't handle it very well and the plastic started to melt and form ugly blobs. After a few minutes I decided this will have to wait some time before I get the hang of the dremel. The rods are just toothpicks cut to fit in there. Not the finest of materials, but it does the trick.

But what I was most concerned was with the windows. My evil plan was to use tongue depressors, because 1)I have nothing which was specifically made for model-building, and 2)They are thin so they wouldn't stick out as much.

My plan was to cut them with the laser and have a 1 mm thickness... but it didn't work. The laser just burned the pieces and they would be charred and too short because the laser ate away the ends. The laser also may or may not have set on fire the tongue depressor.

My back-up plan was to use the 2.9 mm MDF sheets I have available to cut it to have a 1mm thickness. This would get me the thin frame I want but it would make it level with the outer face of the stiles. I didn't want that, so I changed the position: it would get me a very thick frame but it wouldn't stick out much.


I wasn't very pleased with how the windows looks, but I don't know, it just clicked right now while looking at the photos and I found them OK. I'll replace them when I get the chance though. In the second picture you can sort of see how the window frames barely stick out. That was very important to me, because my first TARDIS model (which was terrible) had window frames flushed with the outer face of the stiles, and I never liked the look of that. My other issue is that the grey window pane isn't so obvious anymore. I'll fix that, but next time I'll look into having translucent and clear plastic for the windows instead of laminated paper.

Here are some shots showing the full box:


And just for fun, a comparison with my model and the real thing with my (now previous) profile pic


That last model photo was digitally altered to match better the shade of blue the box really has.

I shouldn't have done that comparison. It brings out many, many inaccuracies. That's why I'm calling it finished until further notice. I like it, but I will try to improve it. When? I don't know, not anytime soon. Definitely not under lockdown, because I don't have the materials, and I'm going to have a very busy summer moving away, and dealing with all the things coronavirus has screwed up for me. After that, it's back to school and then... I'm going to have a very busy year. But it's been great fun doing this. Definitely do it again.

Cheers to you all.

Oh my giddy aunt!!