Don Coleman



Don Coleman's full size replica of the Time Machine

Don Coleman, a movie and TV propmaker since 1986, built an incredible full-scale replica.

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.

Don Coleman in his full size replica of the Time Machine



"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 wasn’t 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 Journey Back

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 Cody’s 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 Time Machine.

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.


Building 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.

SANDRA PETOJEVIC: 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.


Don Coleman and his model of the Time Machine Mary Coleman and the Tantalus box

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 ...

The Time Machine Morlock closeup Morlock Morlock

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!

Sandra Petojevic, Master of Arts, May 16, 2005 (updated May 26, 2006, June 1, 2013, Nov 14, 2016 and May 2, 2019)
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