Chris Perrotta


Chris Perrotta has provided me with so many fascinating bits of information that it seemed about time to gather them together, here on one page. As Chris wrote me in an email, "This interest really has a life of its own!"


If you've seen "The Journey Back," you know the twisted history of the full-sized prop following the film -- how it was sold at the MGM auction, how it toured the country in a sideshow; how dilapidated it became; and Bob Burns' purchase of the machine at a thrift shop and subsequent restoration.


A couple of key pieces were missing from the machine when Bob Burns heroically rescued and restored it, and there have been some differences of opinion since that time regarding what the machine looked like as originally created for the film... versus what the machine looks like today. To most people, the differences would be considered minor and hardly worth nothing. But as I said earlier, the majority of pages on this site are not about "most people." They're about the truly dedicated fans.


I respect all of the experts... all of the people who care so passionately about this "interest with a life of its own." And I am absolutely amazed by the depth of knowledge, dedication, and attention to detail displayed by Chris Perrotta.





Chris P Plans 1.jpg (125691 bytes) ChrisPchair.jpg (88822 bytes) mayowithplan1.jpg (30567 bytes)

Above: thumbnails [click to enlarge] left to right --

Chris Perrotta's Time Machine Blueprint

Chris's Time Machine chair Blueprint.

Chris's Blueprint serves as backdrop for a Harvey Mayo model


Chris Perrotta: These are not an artist's rendition of the famed movie prop... but rather an engineer's dead-accurate drawings created from original archives and other sources. In fact, the drawings are made up from over 18 MB of AutoCAD files. Every detail is there; every rivet and line accounted for. You may even find details you didn't know were there; even the elusive mystery chair has been highly documented! The chair shows modifications that were made for the movie prop. Interested? Write to Chris.


His email is: crisperr(mumla)
(N.B.: Replace "(mumla)" with an "@", this is to prevent spam mail)

He has also a website,, where he is selling practical straps for all kind of guitars, called "lock-it Guitar straps USA". I highly recommend them, alas I do not play guitar...

Sandra Petojevic, May 10, 2009




Chris Perrotta: The chair has all the intrigue of a Chinese jigsaw puzzle. I have photos, very close up, that reveal that the bottom of the chair -- the part with the seat pad -- originally lifted out, so that a barber could clean the hair out. Another detail revealed by the photos is the chair's back, which was hinged very simply to the sides. The backrest, for the movie modification, had to be pinned or screwed into place to prevent it from falling backwards... because the prop guys removed the natural link-up hinge that went to the armrests and then to the "Swan heads." Once this connection was removed, the back would have just flopped backwards.


I'm sure most folks know by now that the original chair's foot rest became Rod Taylor's head rest!


It will soon be a link here to a lot of materials about the chair. Check it out soon!
Sandra Petojevic, May 10, 2009




Chris Perrotta: The underside of the Time Machine base is hollow and still unpainted! The entire lamp-stand, except for a two inch section and the 5-1/2" diameter ball is made almost entirely out of wood! The pegs around the dish are made from 1/2" diameter  by  1/2" long sawn dowel. These are nailed from the back thru individual painted Plexiglas sections.




LEFT: As seen on the Granite City Machine (with dish removed)... four rows of three squares, the 'standard' for all current models.


Chris Perrotta:  I'd like to go into a rather obscure discovery and share it with you and others via your site. That is: the six, yes, six rows of rectangular shapes that were originally on the back of the generator.


Not four rows of three, as seen on the restoration of the full-size prop, and as subsequently copied by those who have based their own models on this Machine... but six rows of three, as seen in the film! These relatively benign little plant-ons, even though rarely seen, do have a function. Well... six of them do, anyway. 


Do you know what I think they were for?


When I was laying the whole project out in CAD, working with some drawings made at the time of the auction, and verified by actual photographs, it became apparent that the top two rows -- that nobody can ever seem to see --  lay exactly in the path of the turning pegs on the dish. Those top two rows, as the notes indicated, were hollow, or cut-out, to expose the inside of the generator.


No reason was given. But... the pegs on the turning dish swept pass them exactly, in close proximity. My guess is that their function was to remove heat. That's my deduction anyway, because it seems to me that this goes beyond mere coincidence.


All the models I've ever seen, large or small, Scottish [Granite City] or otherwise, get this small, but original, detail wrong. 


Yes, you need to be obsessive to appreciate a tidbit like this, I'll admit. And my speculation about 'heat removal' as the function of these parts might be right or wrong. But this doesn't change the fact that there were six rows by three columns of rectangles (not squares). There's a publicity still that shows the machine outside on the grass in the bushes where you can see the back of the machine. If you look at the rear of the machine under  a magnifying glass, you can see the beginning of the fifth row. And then there's the photo and sketch below.


Gen_backc.jpg (72301 bytes)Notedra2.jpg (42164 bytes)LEFT: 1970 MGM auction photo. Just peeking out, below the dish, is a smidgen of one of the blocks from the fabled 'missing fifth row.'



RIGHT: A Sketch made at the 1970 MGM Auction shows six rows, with the top two rows distinctly different, having been cut-through.

Chris Perrotta:  I'll admit, the photos and the note are not of the highest quality, but they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were more than four rows of decorative plant-ons on the rear of the generator. The photo clearly shows the beginning of the fifth row. The hand sketch, which was also made during the time of the 1970 MGM auction, plainly shows that there were six rows. Also shown is that the top two rows were distinctly different, having been cut through. The measurements are present, and they indicate that the plant-ons were rectangular and not square. Further, the rectangular shapes have been beveled around the edges. My plans have restored this seemingly insignificant detail back to the original 1960 configuration. My goal is simply to eliminate the "generation loss" effect that keeps occurring when an inaccurate feature is copied down from one generation of model to another. There are other minor corrections that have been formalized in the plans that correct for a few other well-intentioned but inaccurate restorations.

Here is a link to a page I newly made about the yellow quadrangles on the rear of the Time Machine. Check it out here!

And for you all Time Machine lovers, click here to see a lot of pictures of the Wah Chang miniature model, and - of course - large detailed images of the Time Machine itself! See and enjoy the skill of a master computer drawer: Chris Perrotta!
Sandra Petojevic, May 10, 2009


Don Brockway, April 20, 2000 (updated May 16, 2005 and May 10, 2009 by Sandra Petojevic, Master of Arts)


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