Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 4 of 4 by TSJ

TSJ Returns to a Hobby After Forty Years:  Model Making

I previously wrote about my experience making AMT/Round2’s model 1296, USS Enterprise, on my blog here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

And in today’s post, we have arrived at the final construction of NCC-1701.  I had painted the final coat on the large hull pieces, although they still were not connected.  Why not?  USS Enterprise does not exactly lie flat on a table.  It’s a cylindrical (more or less) hull, and the nacelles on the top are notoriously fragile and prone to sagging.  I didn’t want to stress them more than necessary.  Some people put their models on their stands to decal, but this model has an enormous number of them, and I had to do some on its underside, so the stand wouldn’t work there.  Also, I didn’t want to loosen the structure where the steel rod fits into the model.

Because of this, I decided to paint the entire ship, decal the large hull pieces, then assemble them.  In the previous instalment, I showed the nacelles, the secondary hull, and the primary hull.  I had struggled with the decals, but found some solutions through research and advice from FB, and things were looking good.

But now it was time to put it all together.

I had taped off the connecting pieces much earlier, because I was worried that if they were primed, painted, or clear coated, it might prevent the glue from sticking.  I’d read about that happening to others.  You can see the taped-off sections here (with white tape), before I primed or painted:

I used tube glue for this stage … the only type of glue I had in those early days of model making when I had very few resources.  Now it was time for it, because it had to secure large and relatively heavy pieces of the ship together.  I removed the tape, wiped the sections down, held my breath, and applied the glue.  Then I let it sit and I waited.

And I waited.

And waited.

And the result was stellar.  The glorious NCC-1701 had come together intact, and she really is the most beautiful ship in Science Fiction.  There was still that copper deflector dish to attach, though.  I didn’t want it to sag while the glue was curing, so I stood Enterprise vertically in my painting box while I let the glue dry.  Here it is:

The final pics are a bit further down, but …

… there was one last stage to complete, and I was extremely nervous about it.  I also hoped it would flatten and hide some of those decal edges.  It was the final clear coat.  It would cover the entire model, including the decals, both protecting and obscuring their edges.  I’d already done this before applying the decals, in order to cover minor bumps and divots in the hull (especially due to all the dust that was now embedded under the priming coat), to give the decals a flatter surface on which to bond.  I now had to repeat the process, however I’d learned that the clear coat actually generates heat and can destroy the decals.

Destroy the decals!

And ruin all that hard work?

Yes, it can happen.  Here’s an image I captured online showing what this looks like:

As you can imagine, this is infuriating.  After all the effort, the sweat, and the tears, it was the last thing I wanted.  After some more research (there was a lot of that during this four-week build) I learned that you do the final clear coat in this way:

Pass 1: An extremely light spray from at least a thirty centimetre distance, using Tamiya TS-13 clear coat.  Then wait two hours.

Pass 2: Repeat the above.

Pass 3: Repeat the above.

Pass 4: Now it’s ready for a good “wet” clear coat.  The decals should be protected from any damage by the three layers that are now on them.

This final clear coat can take an entire day or two to complete.  But once it’s done, and the model is on its stand, the results speak for themselves.  But one last step!  The clear dome on the bridge and the sensor array at the very bottom of the saucer.  I didn’t want the clear coat to cover these, so here they are:

And the final ship, on its stand and ready for display:

It was such an enjoyable journey for me.  I had so much fun revisiting this former hobby that I’ve purchased more models to create and I’m already on my next build.  The big things I learned from mistakes were to keep the model clean when priming, painting, or clear coating (wipe off the dust and debris from sanding), and how to do the decals properly without them peeling up at the edges or showing bubbles underneath.  I’m sure as I continue at this hobby I will run into different issues, and suffer major setbacks and failures, but it’s all a part of the fun.  Already I’ve run into an odd issue with a new build:  a warped piece of plastic that is a major part of the structure.

I hope you enjoyed this series, “Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 by TSJ.”  My next build will be on the blog, Life After Gateway, soon.

Follow my blog or bookmark this page to continue with me on this journey.

— Timothy S. Johnston,  12 March 2024


A BLANKET OF STEEL is out now!




A Blanket of Steel from Timothy S. Johnston and Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Ltd.

“Read the book and prepare to be blown away by one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. Timothy S. Johnston is simply amazing.” — FIVE Stars from Readers’ Favorite

“Innovative technology, Mac taking risks no one else would dare and thinking his way through to brilliant solutions … But the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before. This is it. The countdown to the final battle … Johnston does an excellent job of keeping the tension taut as he plays with the reader’s perceptions of characters we thought we knew and trusted …” — SFcrowsnest

“Expect to be left breathless. Trust me here. Please. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.” — Michael Libling, author of The Serial Killer’s Son Takes A Wife and Hollywood North: A Novel in Six Reels

Book Cover, Jacket Copy, and the Gripping Book Trailer:


A mysterious assassin has murdered Cliff Sim, Chief Security Officer of the underwater colony, Trieste. Cliff was a mountain of a man, highly trained, and impossible to defeat in combat. And yet …

Someone brutally beat him and left his broken body in a secret Chinese facility at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

And included a calling card for Truman McClusky, Mayor of Trieste.

Taunting him.

Mac has led the underwater colonies in their fight against the world’s superpowers. Climate change has devastated the surface; nations suffer famine, drought, rebellion, rising waters, and apocalyptic coastal flooding. But now, as Mac leads the underwater colonies to freedom and independence, he’s faced with the gravest threat of his life: a Russian assassin, hellbent on killing Mac and everyone he cares for. Now Mac must uncover the identity of the killer, face him in combat, and at the same time lead people in battle against the largest underwater force ever assembled. It’s Mac’s final test, and to win the war, he must use every tool at his disposal, including the most surprising and devastating underwater weapons ever invented.

If Mac fails, all hope is lost for the future of human colonization on the ocean floors.

But the assassin could be anyone …

Watch your back, Mac.

A Blanket of Steel is the most gripping thriller yet in The Rise of Oceania.


The other books in The Rise of Oceania series by Timothy S Johnston:

The War Beneath 9781771484718
The Savage Deeps 9781771485067
Fatal Depth 9781554555574
An Island of Light 9781554555819
The Shadow of War 9781554556007


TSJ’s Awards

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THE WAR BENEATH:  FIRST PLACE 2018 GLOBAL THRILLER Action / Adventure Category Winner, 2019 Silver Falchion Award Finalist, 2018 CLUE Award Semi-Finalist, 2019 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist, & 2019 CYGNUS Award Shortlister

THE SAVAGE DEEPS:  FIRST PLACE 2020 CYGNUS Award Winner, 2019 GLOBAL THRILLER Awards Finalist, 2022 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist; 2019 CLUE Award Shortlister

FATAL DEPTH: FIRST PLACE 2021 GLOBAL THRILLER Award Winner, 2022 Silver Falchion Award Finalist (Best Action Adventure), 2021 CYGNUS Award Semi-Finalist


“If you’re looking for a techno-thriller combining Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy and John Le Carré, The War Beneath will satisfy … a ripping good yarn, a genuine page-turner.” — Amazing Stories
“One very riveting, intelligent read!” — Readers’ Favorite
“If you like novels like The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising,
you will certainly enjoy The War Beneath.” — A Thrill A Week
“If you’re here for thrills, the book will deliver.” — The Cambridge Geek
“… an engaging world that is highly believable …” — The Future Fire
“This is a tense, gripping science fiction/thriller of which Tom Clancy might well be proud . . . When I say it is gripping, that is the simple truth.” — Ardath Mayhar
“… a thrill ride from beginning to end …” — SFcrowsnest
“… if you like Clancy and le Carré with a hint of Forsyth thrown in,
you’ll love The War Beneath.” — Colonel Jonathan P. Brazee (RET),
2017 Nebula Award & 2018 Dragon Award Finalist
“Fast-paced, good old-fashioned Cold War espionage … a great escape!” — The Minerva Reader

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