Square or rectangular?

John Martin in United Kingdom drew my attention to the shape and number of the yellow quadrangles on the rear side of the 1960 Time Machine. He sent me this picture where Bob Burns’ friends are unloading the rescued time machine, which clearly shows 4 rows of square quadrangles on the back of the generator module. And remember that the parts which were missing from the original 1960 Time Machine was the console and the chair - not the generator module - and the original machine was purchased by Bob Burns.

Now take a look at these pictures:

They shows 6 rows of rectangular yellow quadrangles, and according to Chris Perrotta the photo on the left is a 1970 MGM auction photo and the hand scetch on the right side is drawn at the same aucton and shows also that the upper two rows are cut through.

My and John Martin's question are:
How did 6 rows of yellow rectangles become 4 rows of yellow squares?


Answer #1:

I have spent some time looking at these and I have some more concerns; I am beginning to think these are two different machines. There is no logical explanation for the differences in the squares. This is not the only issue I have noticed however. Please do not be afraid to say I am incorrect in my next observation. I believe the actual base the machine is sitting on is completely different as well. Comparing the profile of the molding/detail of the bases, the 1970 model has much more detail and is much thicker. Do you see this as well or am I just making things up? The other mismatch I seem to notice is in the "S" shaped designs on the lights. The 1970 model has much more compact looking "S" designs than the Burns' model. Am I just noticing a difference due to light, positioning of the photographer, or another anomaly; or are these indeed differences?

Bob Burn's Time Machine Model from 1960 Time Machine Model from the 1970 MGM auction

What is that item on the 1970 MGM model on the front? Is it just a tow bar or is it attached to the machine itself? It is not on the 1960 Burns' model. (Click on the right side image to see the details)

Agi Kolovoz, April 28, 2009


Answer #2:

Yes Agi, Bob's model is incorrect, it was made before Chris had done all his work with the DVD Capture software. You are correct about the rows as there are SIX and not four as models have copied. The sixth row was hard to see because of the disk, but on some sketches I have it to clearly shows six, as far as the pattern on Bobs Time Machine I think they just had a hard time copying it!

Also, the pods had to be re-done as the heat from the lamps inside burned them up.

Frank Thetonia, April 29, 2009


Answer #3

I have included some rough screen shots from the film (Click on the images to enlarge them). The pictures show the only scene where the rear of the machine is visible. (When George returns, outside in the garden) Here with zoom, you can clearly see there are only 4 rows of 3 squares/rectangles.

The only scene in the 1960 film showing the rear side of the Time Machine Zoomed view of the rear side of the Time Machine

I am still inclined to believe, the machine Bob rescued, and restored is the correct one. And the details Mr Perotta has released may refer to blueprints that may well have changed during actual construction.

My hope lies now with Mr Thetonia, who may be willing to share details with all the curious fans.

As I say, I have absolutely no commercial interest in the outcome, but there are obvious differences.

John Martin, May 1, 2009


Answer #4

Sure there's an explanation. It goes like this. When I first saw Lunar's model and examined the movie closely, I came to the same conclusion, there were two machines; but that's only because the Lunar model was based off of Bob Burns' inaccurate restoration.

The pictures below are from two different "time" periods. One picture, showing the "fifth row" of rectangles was taken at the MGM auction in the early 70's way before it fell into dilapidation and later restored by Bob and "friends" - but not authentically so. The post behind the machine is just a stick holding up a sign or something and is not considered to be anything "prop" related - Don Coleman will confirm this.

The differences in the thickness of the base is merely an optical illusion due to the angle of the photograph. The machine has on it now, and has always had on it, the original base; this feature of restoration is well documented and uncontested. The squares on Bob's machine are inaccurate because the restoration team had to replace the whole rear of the generator because it was falling apart - they didn't match the back very well, did they?

The "S's" on the cones - same thing. When I was there - one of the cones was definitely from the original build - but wrapped on the underside fairly badly. I think they had to make a new one for the otherside (not 100% sure on this), the camera and hot-lights side, as it was all cracked and warped, etc, etc. Again - it's a photographic illusion on the "S's" being narrower.

Frank and John, that's the long and short of it. Hope it helps. Agi Kolovoz has a good eye! She only made an assumption about the picture of Burn's 1960 model - it's not! It's not from the 60's. That picture of Burns' TM was taken long after the original auction picture and restoration - it's really labeled quite incorrectly!

Chris Perrotta, May 1, 2009


Answer #5

I knew that Bob Burns' Time Machine was the original one from 1960 - not that the photo was taken in the year 1960 - hence the label. I only used a part of the photo which already was provided by John Martin. And the MGM auction of the same Machine was in 1970 - hence that label to distinguish the images.

Agi Kolovoz, May 4, 2009


Answer #6

A couple more interesting replies eh?. The 1st pic' I sent you was from when Bob Burns & friends had rescued the Time Machine and dates from 1974. (Sorry if I did not make this clear on my original email).

I know there were 2 different models of the Time Machine. The tiny scale model built by Wah Chang, based on drawings supplied by MGM drawn up by William Ferrari. This was less detailed than the full scale Machine. And, the one full size Time Machine built by MGM prop department. Again, based on Ferrari's blue prints.

The Lunar Model, and Masterpiece models, plus Granite City's models are all based on the original 'Full sized' movie prop built by MGM. Not the Wah Chang scale model. (Which was very different).

I still believe Bob rescued the original machine, AND restored it correctly! My thoughts on this go back to the original construction, which probably differed from Ferrari's blueprints when actually constructed.

Blueprint Time Machine sideview, made by William Ferrari Blueprint Time Machine front and rear side, made by William Ferrari Blueprint Time Machine upper side, made by William Ferrari

William Ferrari's blueprints, were only seen when 'Starlog' magazine reproduced them in 1980. And all the subsequent details with the EXTRA row of squares come from Chris Perotta's excellent work based on these blueprint details, after 1980. Not movie stills, or the original full scale MGM prop which can be seen easily (but only in the last few minutes of the film, as my last email showed).

Phew!!!! I hope collectively, we can solve this.
Or we may have to ask Scooby Doo.

John Martin, May 6, 2009


Answer #7

This is the only machine built by MGM and it was subequently rescued by Bob Burns. The way you see the detail on the rear in the film is how they are today. However, when I saw the machine at the MGM auction in 1970 the squares were different. This is what Chris included on his drawing. The panel I saw had a different count and shape to the squares and the top two rows were hollowed out, perhaps for venting. So it's still masked in mystery but that is why the drawing is different.

Don Coleman, May 8, 2009


Answer #8

The machine I bought from Harvey was already built by the time I saw it. I think I paid him a $1000 for it. It's a nice model but I must say I've seen better ones since then. Here's my history with Harvey. I'm the one that set up that interview in Starlog with my friend David Hutchison. As for those blueprints used in the article. They were mine and Tom Scherman begged me to loan them to Harvey. Tom told me that Harvey owed him some money and told me this might help him in getting it back. Tom was a dear friend so I loaned them to Harvey with the promise that he would not publish them anywhere as I was going to do that in an article that I was planning on doing that same year. By the way, I got those blueprints from George Pal. I guess Harvey's ego got the best of him as he told David Hutchison that they were his and to go ahead and use them. When I finally got a hold of Harvey after the article came out he said that David wanted to use them and he (Harvey) was so excited to have the article done on him that he went ahead and said to use them. He also told me that he didn't think I would mind and totally forgot that I had told him not to use them. He seems to have a very short memory. I talked to David about that episode about a few years before he passed away. He was pretty upset about it.

Now let's talk about those original "caps" for the Time Machine. They weren't from the pods as I still have both of those. The one that I "loaned" Harvey was from the end of the control panel. Here again, the reason I loaned it to him was because of dear Tom. He was only supposed to have it for a couple of weeks to take measurements from it. After about a month I had Tom call him to find out when I would get it back as I was starting to worry a bit. Tom told me that Harvey was having "problems" and hadn't had a chance to do it as yet. In hindsight, that should have sounded the alarm bells for me but I'm a real trusting guy so it didn't occur to me. Well, months passed and when I did get to Harvey myself he told me this bad news. It seems that someone broke into his garage and stole many of his tools and, guess what? The cap was also stolen. Now what would a petty thief want with a plastic cap? That's exactly what I asked Harvey, he had no answer for that at all. I'm sorry but if I believed that I would have bought that "bridge" as well. I have a feeling it will show up someday in someone's collection. I was with Don Coleman at one of the autograph shows that had Rod Taylor and Alan Young as guests. I hadn't seen Harvey in years and he walked up to me all smiles and said the he would like to come over and see my place so I said as soon as you return the cap that you borrowed from me years ago you can come over. He didn't see to have an answer for that. I had to fill Don in on what had happened. Ah! Life goes on.

Well, that's my story on Mr. Mayo. I hope this clears up some of the mystery about my involvement. He's a good model maker but not such a good guy in my humble opinion.

Bob Burns, May 8, 2009


Answer #9

Seeing is not always believing. The referenced photo showing Rod Taylor on the machine in the garden, and one of the only shots of the rear of the machine from the movie, is not the only reference photo available. First of all, that shot has a heavy shadow from the dish where one might see the beginning of at least the fifth row. To say there were not at least 5 rows flies in the face of the MGM auction photo (which clearly shows the beginning of the fifth row) and the sketch which was hand drawn by an attendee at the time of the MGM auction (a TM expert of the highest order who wishes to remain anonymous - I had promised him many years ago). Even his measurements indicate that the "squares" were rectangles. It was these very measurements I used to faithfully reproduced the back of the machine's generator and not anything from the MGM drawing - which had not the clarity, detail or measurements. The MGM auction photos, the hand drawn sketch, and eye witnesses (at the time of the auction) become the most reliable source regarding the machine's generator prior to its restoration - not the scene from the film or DVD.

If one were to visit Don's website and look under the section, "Time Machine Restoration," they'd find a picture where the entire back of the generator is simply missing - gone! The other undeniable restoration inaccuracies are the chair and the control console (which also were both missing). To say that the machine Bob Burns rescued and restored is the original is correct. Unfortunately, it just wasn't restored as well as it could have been, that's all.

So even though we only see what appears to be four rows of squares on the film, there were actually six rows of rectangles with two of the rows hollowed out apparently for heat removal and air flow behind the dish. In the end, it's a level of detail many may never appreciate.

Here is the picture showing the machine as Bob received it. Notice the rear of the generator. The part with the rectangles - is missing! How was Bob or anyone to know what detail was to be there except from the grainy shot from the film? It was erroneously concluded and further reproduced as the now infamous four rows of squares.

Hopefully, I cleared the air regarding those "yellow squares." Like John Martin, we would have like for Bob to have restored the machine back to its very original condition - but even Bob will admit it was hastily done in order to use it in one of his Halloween parties.

A few years back, Frank and I had the opportunity to purchase the very original TM chair - we tried, but it was too pricey. Even if we did, Bob wasn't interested in putting it back on the machine! It must be remembered that Bob's beloved friend, and TM chair replicator, Tom Sherman, passed away with cancer. I don't think Bob wishes to tamper with Tom's wonderful work - even though it's inaccurate.

Thanks for the update, Sandra. I hope this puts the matter to bed.

Chris Perrotta, May 9, 2009


Answer #10

Thank you everyone to solve the mystery about the yellow rectangles on the rear side of the Time Machine for John Martin and also for me. Yes I have concluded that they were six rows of yellow rectangles and not four rows of yellow squares. It was not an easy puzzle to solve, but I believe in them who was there by the machine in the MGM auction 1970 and they who handled the machine. How was Bob or anyone to know what detail was to be there? He found the machine in a thrift-store in 1974 and it was then in a very dilapidated state. And the Halloween party was in autumn 1976! And I also think he did not have any video cassette of the film to pause and see, because video players and especially video recorders were very expensive devices in the 1970-ties, and not a common thing in an average family home as it was in the 1980-ties and the 1990-ties as DVD-players are today...

Sandra Petojevic, May 9, 2009


Final Answer

Hi Sandra, Thank you, thank you, thank you!
For all the work, and your dedication. This final update was fantastic!

I have enjoyed every minute, speaking with people who were there, and have seen the Time Machine with their own eyes. Along the way I have learned more details than I thought possible.

I have learned about the sad parts too; From a lost machine, mystery photos, betrayals and broken promises!
I hope you have enjoyed all of this too!

If you go on youtube.com and type in 3 fly (ish) There I am performing a little magic. You might also look at a couple of my family videos too.

My Kindest Regards always... John Martin, May 10, 2009


Sandra Petojevic, Master of Arts, April 26, 2009 (updated May 10, 2009)

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