Coleman, a movie and TV propmaker since 1986, built an incredible full-scale
Views of Don
Coleman's finished full-sized machine
appear on this page above in his living-room and below with him
sitting in it.
"I had never
seen anything like it before or since"
DON COLEMAN: I was only eight years
old when I saw The Time Machine first run in the theater. I
was hooked when George opened the Tantalus and revealed the miniature
Time Machine. I had never seen anything like it before or since.
The machine was so unique and magical, it must
be capable of doing something extraordinary, like travel into the
fourth dimension. When I got home I immediately found two crystal
bottle stoppers we had lying about the house and these became my control
levers. I also set about
building a model of the machine. As I had been building 1/25th scale
model cars at this time, 1/25th seemed the way to go.
My model wasnt too accurate, as it turned out, but I had made
one. Some years later, after having seen the film a few more times
on television and taking slides off of the screen so I could blow
them up on the wall, I made a second model, also in 1/25th scale.
This one was better. (Please remember that in the old days
before computers, DVD, laser discs and video tape, the only
way to view a movie was to see it in the theater or on television
when -- and if -- it was ever aired. For
several years, ABC would run The Time Machine on Thanksgiving...
so at least once a year, I got to see it.)
In 1970, M.G.M. held an auction. Among the movie memories being sold
was the Time Machine. I lived only about three blocks from the studio
and I was at the studio nearly every day, sketching details and making
notes. My dad allowed me to take his Argus C3 35mm camera to take
some pictures. For those not familiar with the C3, it had no
automatic functions, no light meter and the ability to get
double exposures! I was able to get some adequate photos to work from.
It was a long wait to see the results as processing in those days
usually took two weeks, not one hour. I began to build my third model,
this time in 1/6th scale. I have yet to finish this one.
The Time Machine: The
DON COLEMAN: In 1992,
I finally connected with Bob Burns
(the current owner of the original machine) through my interest in
Commando Cody. Bob had an original jacket and helmet, and I
had built for myself a copy of Codys costume a year earlier.
So I made a chest control and rocket-pack to complete his costume.
At this time Clyde Lucas contacted Bob in regard to putting together
The Time Machine: The Journey Back. Clyde wanted to duplicate
the sundial from the film for a scene between George and Filby, so
Bob suggested I make it. I had found a copy of the pedestal as used
in the film but before beginning construction on the sundial itself,
the scene was scrapped in favor of recreating the lab set with the
I had already started to build parts for a full-size
machine. The console and control lever I had made were used in the
flashback sequence showing the construction of the machine. I was
on set during the filming of the flashback and sequel segments, which
took one day each. Clyde was able to get David Duncan to write the
sequel sequence. The first time that Rod and Alan ran through their
lines the entire film crew was awestruck. Their performance was so
moving it took several minutes for everyone to compose themselves.
It was truly a dream come true to be there for the reunion of George
and Filby, not to mention seeing the machine in appropriate surroundings.
A Full Size Time Machine
DON COLEMAN: A friend of mine, Steve
Stockbarger, had been contacted by a long lost buddy to construct
a full size Time Machine. After a series of events, I ended up tackling
the entire project. The machine took nearly 600 hours between myself
and my wife to build during a nine month period between April 1998
and January 1999. The rear pods and the lamp base above the engine
housing were provided by a friend of mine, the dish was spun in aluminum
by a company in Canada and the rails were bent by the metal shop at
the studio I was working at. All of the other parts I built from scratch
including the chair. My wife helped greatly by doing a lot of the
sanding of parts and not complaining about having a Time Machine in
the living-room for several months. The machine was ultimately delivered
to Travels Through Time in Old Sacramento in February
1999 where it was on public display.
Today Don Coleman and his wife Mary lives in Burbank in the
proximity of Los Angeles, California. The Travels
Through Time-museum closed in April 2003 and the full-scale
replica of the Time Machine has been sold to an individual and is
travelling happily in his dining-room. He's made a few minor changes
to it and will be adding a very unique part to it in the future. Don
Coleman will probably be visiting it again in the next couple of months
and he and I will do an update on it.
The devil's in the details, but the Devil himself is clearly
no match for the talent and determination of master model-maker
Don Coleman and his beloved wife Mary.
Big thanks to Don Coleman for the photos and information
on this page. Be sure to visit Don's
Time Machine Pages! Visit also his Colemanzone
site where almost anything can happen ...
Don Coleman have been displaying at Monsterpalooza, April
13-14, 2013, at the Burbank Marriott. Click on the images to enlarge them!
The last photo in the row, with the morlock at Don's home - is made by Bob Daggett
An interview with Don Coleman about the 1960 Time Machine by Carl Piermarini - see the full documentary here!
Master of Arts, May 16, 2005 (updated May 26, 2006, June 1, 2013, Nov 14, 2016 and May 2, 2019)
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