Jun 23, 2024, 10:39 am


New, New TardisBuilders!

Mobile TARDIS build - BC style

Started by DTrasler Writing, Sep 01, 2023, 10:33 pm

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DTrasler Writing

I did a brief introduction in the brief introductions spot, but I'd like to establish my bona fides. I've been building various props and recreations pretty much since we moved to Canada in 2009 and I got a garage to play in. I rarely have a budget or the right tools, but with some effort and an inability to recognise a lost cause, I have produced somewhere around 14 helmets (mostly from Star Wars) and several full costumes.

In 2018 my eldest kid asked me if we could make a life-sized Dalek to take to the local convention (Fan Expo Vancouver). We could, and for the last five years we've been slowly upgrading him (we called him Derek, because 90% of dalek builders do....) For a while, I considered building a TARDIS shed in the garden for Derek to live in, but there's a size compatibility issue (if you haven't worked out the "bigger on the inside" thing, anyway.) Then I got to thinking about how much fun my kid has driving a dalek that - to be honest - I don't really fit inside. Why can't I drive something fun?

And so I decided to make a Tardis on wheels.

But just to make it more complicated, it had to come apart for ease of storage and transport. I have a Mazda 5, and while it can transport a disassembled Dalek, it wouldn't manage a Tardis.

One last thing you need to know before we go any further: I always, ALWAYS want to do my very best and produce something great. But, I am clumsy, and impatient, and will often use the wrong tool because it's handy, rather than go and find the right one. This often leads to better skilled or more principled builders shuddering in horror at what I do, and for that, I apologise.

Right. That's me. Sometime in the next couple of days I'll be able to re-size my pictures to start the build diary and explain why I've done things the way I have.


Welcome to TARDISbuilders.

You sound like my kind of builder.
That inevitable journey from "get it perfect" to "get it done".....
I'm sure you are going to produce something very nice.
Looking forward to seeing it come together!!


DTrasler Writing

Thanks for the kind words Russell!
This is an experimental first post to see if I've got the picture reduction right:

Ok, maybe.

This picture was actually stage 3. I made the base frame first, then added the casters on each corner, then added the second raised frame, probably made of 2x1 or something. Oh, the measurements and stuff - I plumped for "About 3ft wide" because then the whole thing is "about 6ft tall" if I'm keeping the right proportions. The hoverboard is still just a bit smaller than the base, which means it can easily move it around.

This is my plan. It's the best version, re-drawn from hastier scribbles in the margin of my journal and on scraps of paper at work. Some of the ideas here have been discarded as I go, and some have stayed.


Well done!
You have passed the first test- being able to correctly post images...You are now one of us... ;)


DTrasler Writing

Yes, it's all falling into place now!

I'll put up a couple more pictures of progress, but I'm currently stalled while we tackle a huge building project for the house, complicated by my wife spraining her ankle on Day One of the build.

Once I had the base in place, I got the extra lumber I needed for the corner posts. I used 2x2x8 ft, and cut them down to just over 6ft. (There's an obscure reason for this - I already had two posts like this, the same height as each other, and wanted the new ones to match. No, it doesn't make sense. Sorry.)


 Then I added some 4x1 planks to the sides of the 2x2s, and put sheets of insulation foam (the 1/4 inch stuff) between them to make the back and sides.


The setup is a little wobbly, and the sheets don't add any support. The pieces across the top (what I'm thinking of as the crown) don't help as much as you'd think either. That's also designed to be removable, so it's a mirror of the base frame, but without the wheels. The main strengthening support will come from the front section, which will be made of wood so at least one door can open. This is insanely ambitious for me, since hinges are my Kryptonite. Still, that's a problem for Future Me, and good luck to him.

To hold the sheets in place, I'm hanging them from screws in the wood work and putting battens across the back that slot into these over-engineered brackets. Yes, made of wood because I don't have the budget to find metal ones, or the time to figure out what I really need.


In the next episode : I try to figure out how to calculate the size of the panels on the sheets, try to imitate wood with paper, and come up with a cool way to make the windows, then ruin it because I'm impatient (see 1st post for warnings of my impatience!)

DTrasler Writing


I spent far too long staring at my diagram of the panels on the Tardis. I'd drawn the edges of the area of the insulation sheet that are in view when it's in place, then did some rough math to get the right number of panels all the same size. I remembered to leave space for the light box.

Originally I had thought I would buy more sheets, and cut the planks that frame the panels from those sheets, but again, I don't have the budget for that. I don't really have the budget for the things I DID buy. Instead I looked around my workshop and found my drywall mudding tape. It's about 2" wide, and I glued it to the sheet to act as the frames. It's not as thick as I'd like, but I've only done one side so far, so maybe I'll come up with something better later.

One great thing about the sheets of foam is that they are easy to cut, so I had the brilliant idea of cutting out the window frames entirely, and painting the frame part white. Then I would paint the individual panes the right kind of colours (I didn't want to use any semi-clear plastic on the sides or back) and slot them back into the frame, but set back a little. The frame itself would be set back a little in the sheet. Look, here's the frame, clearly showing where I didn't let the white paint dry before pushing the panes back in, getting them smeared with paint...


But it looks ok when put back in the newly painted sheet:


I'm thinking about setting back each individual panel too, but that'l take a steady cutting hand and more patience than I have right now.

That's as far as I got with the sides - that one panel, still incomplete. Next episode, I'll show you how I built the raised roof, something I am stupidly proud of, even though the light cage is...well, it's embarrassing is what it is, even with my history of bodge jobs.


Looks good to me.
Wouldn't mind a full pic of your Dalek, too if you don't mind... ;)



If you want more depth, you could do trompe l'oeil painting ("to fool the eye")--basically, add a highlight on one side of the trim and a shadow on the other side. 

Granted, this is more convincing on a static object with a fixed light source.  If your TARDIS is turning (or if the sun moves, as it is wont to do, with a fixed TARDIS) the highlights and shadows will be in the wrong spots. 
"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.

DTrasler Writing

Thanks Volpone and Russell!

Here's a shot of Derek meeting (but not exterminating) John Barrowman:
Derek meets Barrowman.jpg

The trompe l'oeil is an interesting idea to add depth. Even just using a darker blue around the edges of the panels would probably go a long way to suggesting depth that isn't there....

Hmm, something to think about!


A picture really is worth 1,000 words.  The TARDIS above nicely demonstrates the effect you'd be going for.  See how, on the side that is facing the camera, the top and left side of all the trim is a lighter shade than the main color and then the bottom and the right side is a darker shade?  You can see it on the side with the doors too, but the effect isn't as pronounced. 
"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.

DTrasler Writing

I certainly see shading in my future!

Final episode for the time being:

I wanted a raised roof on my Tardis for a number of reasons, but the principal one was that I wanted somewhere to put my head. I'm six foot two on a good day, and I wasn't certain the flat roof would be tall enough once I was standing on the hoverboard inside.

Making the roof involved math, which I usually try to avoid, so no one was more surprised than I when it actually worked out. More or less.




The light is a ludicrous "Mood Candle" LED thingy I found in the dollar store for $4.50. It's remote-controlled, and can change colours and all kinds of things. I'm just going to leave it on blue, obviously. I'm also hoping to re-work the cage a little to make it more robust.



DTrasler Writing

Thanks Davidnagel! First time anyone has ever used the world "Tidy" in any connection with my workshop....

DTrasler Writing

I have some work pending for my second job that I absolutely should not put off, but yesterday I got in from my regular job and decided that I would rather play Tardis than be a responsible adult.

This is the kind of thinking that has gotten me to a 4-day a week position at the age of 51.

Anyway, I took all the bits of the Tardis except the insulation sheets outside, and set them up.


I did this because I wanted to measure up and cut the sheet of real ply I got for the front. My plan is to make at least one functional door, while also using the sheet of ply to permanently connect the front two posts.


As you can see, I got it measured, cut and temporarily installed to prove the concept. Then I had to go in an cook food for people. Well, I say people, I mean family.

There are so many next steps, I really don't know just now what I'm going to do. Actually, I do, I'm going to put roofing shingles on the new shed, then build a couple of dividing walls and re-hang the gate. Then I'm off on vacation from the 15th until October.

At some point in all that, I'll figure out a critical path that should result in the front being cut to allow for the door, and decide whether I'm going to try and fake the panels with offcuts of ply, or do something simpler.

DTrasler Writing

I got all my roofing done, despite the heat, so this morning while the wife was chatting with her parents over video link, I sneaked down to the workshop and fitted the restraints for the hoverboard.


I've learned a bit from fitting one to the dalek. You have to leave enough room for big clodhopping feet to operate the thing, but you have to have it hemmed in enough to avoid it banging back and forth. The setup above would be ideal, except that the bars would prevent me actually working the board. I had to do this:


Every cut done by hand, every joint done with precision. Well, with a 3 inch screw. I'll have to pad the contact area with flooring foam because it does make a lot of clack clack clack noise right now.

Still, one more job ticked off the list. Which reminds me, where DID I put that list?