Dalek upgrade & maintenance

For some time I’ve been meaning to do maintenance work on the workings of the Dalek plus some of the parts to make it look even more menacing. The COVID-19 lockdown has now given me that chance.

Starting with the internal electrics for the voice modulator, speaker, gun and lighting, I bought terminal connectors from Amazon to make connecting the electrics together easier, but also more secure as previous connections kept coming apart during operation of the Dalek.

This leads me to start searching on eBay for a set of Austin Mini sidelights to replace the existing dome lights, which were originally made from deodorant tops as illustrated below.

Original dome lights

A quick search on eBay, I found this item, which is perfect for the classic 1970s style Dalek.

Austin Mini sidelights

Whilst searching for the dome lights, I also came across Dalek parts too. In particular a 1960s style Dalek eyestalk, which I also purchased. Below is a photo to compare the detail side by side.

Eyestalk – seeing double?

The eyestalk to the left, whilst a good design with an organic-looking iris that glowed still had issues looking on the small side and didn’t have a menacing feel. Whereas the eyestalk to the right is an exact replica of the 1960s to 1980s design. This was taken from a Dalek from This Planet Earth, making this a licensed part. I bought this from the Instagram user, RGB Productions.

Here are some video tests made for the new look Dalek.

Creating the Claw

Project ID: Creating the ‘Dalek Claw’ using blueprints downloaded from Dalek City (website exterminated).
Time Period: 19 August 2011 to 9 April 2012

As part of the upgrade of the gun box, I’ve also decided I would like the Dalek to have the option of either have a plunger or claw as an appendage.

Blueprint of the Dalek claw
The end product of the Dalek claw
Dalek looking more menacing than ever!

Upgrading the Wheels

Project ID: Dalek’s new wheels.
Time Period: July 2011

During the summer work commenced on modernising the Dalek to make it easier to operate and also look better on camera.

To mark the finish of the Dalek’s first modification, a short and explosive film, Dalek’s New Wheels was made.

Trolley base ideal for the wheels and seat
Dalek’s new wheels – in action

Upgrading the Gun Box

Project ID: Upgrade of the gun box using blueprints downloaded from Dalek City (website exterminated).
Time Period: 24 July 2011 to 27 July 2011

When I made the original gun box, there were no blueprints showing how this was made, so measurements for this was guesswork, and therefore inaccurate.

Since the Daleks returned in 2005, the game was on for Dalek fans to make a more detailed set of plans, which included detailed dimensions of the gun box.

At last, my Dalek will have the accurate gun box it deserves to exterminate with pleasure its enemies!

Although the measurements are correct on this plan, the only measurement to be adjusted for the box to fit my Dalek was the width from 469mm to 415mm.

So I could make sure the new gun box would fit, I had to remove the old one, which was quite a task to do!

The Dalek refuses to look at the camera in its current state!

As you can see in the photo above, I also took the original fender off and used a damp proof course that I found more robust and already black, so save on painting.

The template build as seen below of the new gun box was used to work out what parts need cutting and to see if the design would fit nicely into the Dalek.

With the template being a success, the parts were drawn out again on 12mm plywood and cut.

Template gun box and new build side by side.

As you can see, although the new gun box is a better fit, a little wood filler is required underneath.

Already the Dalek looks good to do battle – though attention to detail is required first.

As you can see in the before photo, there was a gap between the bottom of the original gun box and the base of the holes where the box is supposed to rest.

The after photo not only shows the finished gun box, but also the colour scheme has changed from a Genesis to a Destiny Dalek

Building the Dalek

Project ID: Build of complete Dalek using blueprints downloaded from Project Dalek.
Time Period: 28 July 2002 to 18 May 2003

In December 2001 I started to write a screenplay of the story I wrote called Genesis of a Timelord. For the film, a full-size Dalek was required.

Originally I downloaded the Radio Times blueprints, but on June 2002 I joined Project Dalek where I got a more accurate set of blueprints.

Work on building the Dalek commenced on 28 July 2002 and finished 18 May 2003.

The Dalek was complete in time to attend the final Longleat Doctor Who convention, which was held on 3 August 2003.

In July 2002 I bought the dome, skirt hemispheres and voice box from Shawcraft, the builders of the original 1963 design of the Daleks.

These were the first of many items I purchased to construct the Dalek.

After a paint job of the dome lights and eyestalk, you can already see the shape of the Dalek’s head come to life.

At the time of making the Dalek, I was still new to sourcing materials. Sometimes I used everyday household items to make parts such as a washing liquid ball for the eye and as shown below, a deodorant cap for the dome lights.

The construction of the Dalek’s neck began in October 2002. This took 1 day to make.

Skeleton of the Dalek’s neck

With all the paintwork complete, the electrics for the lighting and voice box were installed.

First look of the top section of the Dalek.

The construction of the shoulders was made using bendy MDF, which was the hardest part of making the Dalek where clamps were used to hold the MDF in place whilst I nailed it to the shoulder frame.

The skeleton of the skirt was made using plywood.

The above slides show what was completed by the end of October 2002. I had to use a lot of filler to make the 2 MDF pieces join together. Once applied, this was left for a couple of days to set.

The only issue I had with this build was the gun box. At the time there were no plans for the construction, so I had to improvise.

The plunger arm was made from an old washing line prop with the advantage of a pipe being inside another, this save time to design something that allows the arm to extend.

The inner pipe was long enough to allow a part of it to be cut off and used to make the base of the gun. A couple of wire coat hangers were cut to complete the look of the gun.

With the undercoat dry and gunbox fixed into place, the whole shoulder section is sprayed grey.

By November 2002 the skirt panels were made and put in place. These took 2 weeks to make.

The skirt panels required a little wood filler before sprayed grey. Now, all that’s required are the details that will finish the Dalek.

The skirt hemispheres took a couple of days to spray and allow to dry, and then another week to bolt to the skirt.

The fender was made from a strip of polystyrene, which at the time worked really well. Though the paint didn’t really stick for obvious reasons. However that’s all I had to hand at the time of making the Dalek.

By late February 2003, the detailing on the Dalek was enough for it to look like the original design before the slats were later added for the storyline, “The Chase” starring William Hartnell as the Doctor.

Do you think my car insurance will cover this?

At last April 2003 sees the Dalek complete. Though as you can see, the black paint has already started to come off the fender. The main thing was I had build a ‘Genesis’ Dalek.

The full height of the Dalek is 5 foot and 5 inches.

Just as I thought it was safe to own a Dalek, this happens!