It might look like an aging heap of radioactive titanium to some, but you know with a little elbow grease you can bestow that hulk a new lease on life as the Inner System beauty it started out as. Throw in a couple discreet pop-up slugthrower turrets and some monomolecular control surfaces for atmospheric maneuvering and pretty soon the refit of that ugly scrap candidate will evoke a sense of species pride that speaks volumes to your massed forces during close air support operations.
- Suit up. When cutting or sanding ceramel composites protect your skin and eyes by wearing neoprene gloves and safety goggles. Remember to exercise normal precautions around reactor cores which may have seen recent service so as not to spread unstable nuclides in your workspace.
- Scrape off the space barnacles. Start disassembling the craft by unbolting the outer components, including the fairings, hatches and airlocks, beam projectors, radomes, and other removable parts, taking care to salvage as much of the trim pieces as possible, as these are sometimes the most difficult pieces to replace on many classic spaceships. You can do most of this work primarily yourself or with android assistance. Then remove the larger internal components such as the engine, computer stack, recycling stills, and grav systems and set these aside to be refurbished individually. Next comes a thorough cleaning, inside and out, starting with mild detergent and working up to the strong stuff. Steam-clean the main thruster nozzles. Scrape off and dispose of any nanotech goo before it can get out of hand. Once you are done and everything has dried, you should have a workpiece you could eat off of.
- Power plant. Tear down the engines, cleaning and replace all worn parts. Replace all the reaction chambers and moderators. If there is chipping or hairline cracks around the ceramic thrust nozzles, it is usually best to replace them rather than to attempt to patch.
- Build it back up. Weld or cast patches to repair holes and missing hull sections. Once the body is patched, you can re-hang the other restored outer pieces, checking for good fit. Check for symmetry and faithfulness to the original lines, filling in minor dents with resin if necessary. Drop in the original interior systems after they have been re-plumbed and the rat's nest wiring has been replaced, or replace them altogether with sturdy new parts.
- Detailing inside and out. For an show-class restoration, pay careful attention to matching the thermal tiles on the port and starboard. This gives the re-entry vehicle a luxurious line. Finish up the exterior of the ship by rewiring all of the docking lights and reattaching the hatches and radionics. Some ship designs will require re-chroming the outer trim and rubbing the finish to a high gloss while others call for reapplication of broadband stealth coatings. In the cockpit and quarters, upholster the furnishings with original materials, not forgetting to apply a protective coating of gamma-blocking film. Select paint and other surface treatments inside and out not only for historically accurate color and sheen but also for the proper weight, virus repellency, cybernetic biocompatibility, and camouflage.
Strokes of genius
- Selecting a good project. Beware of ships that are heavily blast-damaged. Some charring and beam pits may be unavoidable, but make sure they are not concealing structural weaknesses. When looking for a military vessel to restore, lean towards those with the least amount of plasma damage to the outer hull. It's not too difficult to figure out how to straighten out a laser or two, but piecing in large portions of the body may be more complicated than you would like.
- Ship in distress. If you have a ship which evokes a famous conflict, you may not want it to look brand new. Think about what kind of worn look you want. Do you want crazing, tentacle marks, or melting? How much distressing of the finish is too much? Do not use too many of these techniques on the same ship otherwise it may look decrepit and sloppy.
Traps for mere fools
- Misguided updates. Historic spaceship designs, such as those from the dawn of spaceflight, are generally best left very close to the original. Pimping these out usually ends up looking incongruous and unconvincing. When trying to bring back the aura of the past, expect the unexpected: You will always find that aspects of the restoration are more challenging and costly than anticipated.
- Guessing. When dealing with a craft of unknown origin of potentially vastly advanced technology, it is often a waste of time to try getting things working without a manual. There have been many times when a not-quite fully operational starship has turned on a would-be tinkerer consigning them to an instant or a lingering doom. Plus, they never seem to run quite properly afterwards.
- Excess greed. Be sober when estimating the feasibility of restoring a vintage planetary transport to sell for profit. Get to know the ship's market well, and fact or in the amount of time and expertise you have to devote to the project. If this is your first renovation project, be prepared to spend a lot of money on tools and cybernetics in addition to parts for the vehicle. Remember that the lasting satisfaction of rescuing an old planetbuster from the scrapheap is in a way its own reward.
Precious and needful
- Bondo. Or plasteel if available.
- Heavy-duty jacks and winches.
- Self-sealing stem bolts.
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- Image credit The bug spaceship by Curious Expeditions
- Image credit Starship Enterprise by Pitel
- Image credit inside the spaceship by kristinamay