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  Mercury capsule contractor model (Topping)

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Author Topic:   Mercury capsule contractor model (Topping)
NightHawk117
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Posts: 303
From: Memphis, Tn
Registered: Oct 2006

posted 12-21-2006 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NightHawk117   Click Here to Email NightHawk117     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know the scale of the Topping Mercury space capsule model?

dsenechal
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posted 12-22-2006 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The model is approximately 1/30 scale.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-05-2010 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen what appears to be two versions of this model. One has three red escape tower rocket nozzles. Another has two red and one black nozzle.

Does anyone know the story behind these differences?

Are they both "authentic" versions of different periods or perhaps reflect restoration.

On edit: I have also seen a version with two black and one red (the one in the 2010 Bonham's auction). This one belonged to Wally Schirra.

randyc
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From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 07-06-2010 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interestingly enough I was discussing this very topic yesterday when I was looking at the collection of a long-time Topping/Precise model collector who has also spoken to the former owner of Precise Models who told him that variations of models was not uncommon because sometimes the individuals who were applying decals, attaching parts, etc. got 'distracted' and made mistakes. In most cases (all?) either it wasn't noticed either at Precise or by the customer, or it was decided that the 'variation' was O.K. He showed me several models in his collection, including aircraft models, that had 'incorrect' decals or parts.

So although some 'variations' may indeed be restorations it is very possible that the 'variation' was done at the factory and is therefore 'authentic'.

By the way, the collection that I saw yesterday also has a variation of this Mercury model.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-06-2010 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting. Do you recall the colors of the escape rocket nozzles on that example?

J.L
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From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 07-06-2010 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dfox:
Do you recall the colors of the escape rocket nozzles on that example?
Mine are all orange...

randyc
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From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 07-06-2010 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He has two of these models with a different combination of red and black nozzles. I'll ask the next time I speak with him.

The one in my collection has two black and one red nozzle.

How about fellow collectors who have this model posting the configuration that they have? That way we'll get some idea of what the most common and least common configuration is (using, of course, a limited database).

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 07-06-2010 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The model photgraphed at the top of this thread is mine....with two black nozzles.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-06-2010 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It will be interesting to see how this breaks down. Mine has three red nozzles.

Is anyone aware of any other variations in the Topping Mercury models?

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 07-19-2010 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have continued this interesting discussion off the board with Doc Lem himself. With his permission I am posting his observations and thoughts:
I wanted to look through some of my restoration records before I said anything for certain, but having now done that, it seems to me that the most common, and probably the stock issue of the model from Topping was one red and two black thrusters. The models I've worked on all have that configuration, as does the example in my private collection.

Perhaps you can locate a Topping catalog which will show some shots of the model as they envisioned/sold it?

As to the variations, I have my doubts that anyone out there is restoring these with NOS thrusters. Where would they get the parts? So my best guess as to the different color schemes is that the models were built on demand, with what parts were in stock. These were small model shops, after all. Maybe they needed anohter 250 units but didn't have enough black thrusters to go around, but plenty of the orange ones.

Honestly I wouldn't put a lot of stock in these differences, and I doubt if one model is worth more than another, different variation.

But caveat emptor, I'm Doc. Lem, not Doc. Mercury Topping, and though I have worked on a number of the Mercs., and love the model, my real information base is pretty much concentrated on the lunar lander model and it's variations, build periods, clearcoats, etc. ...I agree that the two black and one orange was a bit of an "artistic" touch to add to the production runs of the Merc. model. Topping and Precise did take a few design liberties with some of their other embellishments on the LM models though.

Of note, the Topping and Precise catalogs I have seen do not show this Mercury model. Only the "paperweight" Mercury appears.

I am curious what the color scheme will be on the replacement escape towers that are going to be produced by Aerospace Museum Models?

Retro Rocket
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From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 07-20-2010 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dfox:
I am curious what the color scheme will be on the replacement escape towers that are going to be produced by Aerospace Museum Models?
Yes, actually we'll be able to offer both. I'd really be interested in being put in contact with Doc Lem, I have enough original parts to assemble 15 LEM models and I'd like to know all the details about getting the model correct.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-24-2010 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have found an other example and potential source for the two black, one red color scheme for the Mercury escape tower rocket nozzles.

The example was found at Space Park which was part of the 1964/1965 World's Fair in New York.

There were a number of Mercury displays including the actual Aurora 7 capsule, a Mercury-Atlas and a number of what I suspect are mock-ups.

The Mercury-Atlas configuration displays three red nozzles which I believe was the standard flown color scheme.

One of the mock-ups displays two black and one red. Interestingly it also displays the escape rocket with alternating black and red stripes.

The mock-up seen behind Aurora 7 shows two silver nozzles and one red.

Of note, George Topping's deal to build model globe's for the World's Fair was from what I have read the business deal that killed Topping Models.

Pictures below:

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-24-2010 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Go4Launch
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From: Bethesda, MD
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 07-27-2010 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great NYWF photos. One more data point, for what it's worth: the Topping Mercury model Cronkite used, at least during CBS Gemini 6 coverage (to point out that the Titan had no escape tower), also had the two black nozzles.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 07-27-2010 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting. I'm developing the impression that the most common variant of the Topping Mercury is the one red, two black nozzle version which from now on I will refer to as the "World's Fair" version.

I'm glad you liked the NYWF pictures. There is a guy on the web who specializes in World's Fair photos. For a modest fee he gathered all his pictures of Space Park and burned them on a disc for me. There are about 80 altogether. I can post more if there is a particular exhibit that you would like to see.

randyc
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From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
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posted 07-27-2010 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Note that the Mercury Spacecraft configuration on the Atlas is the same configuration used for Alan Shepard's flight with the two 'porthole' shaped windows and the thicker hatch. This, of course was different than the configuration used for the four manned Mercury-Atlas missions.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-28-2010 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting. I have read somewhere what the Mercury on the Atlas was. I will have to track that down.

That "capsule" is now inside the museum. The capsule on the Atlas was replaced with a replica during the renovation.

The porthole is portrayed on the Topping "paperweight" Mercury model.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 07-28-2010 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's the story on the capsule that was originally on the Atlas:
Mercury Capsule

Suspended from the ceiling of NYSCI's Central Pavilion, NYSCI's Mercury Capsule lets visitors see a version of the very first U.S. spacecraft built. NYSCI's capsule flew once in May 1960 on a mission to test the escape tower -- a large ladder like structure on the top of the capsule. On the test flight, it was rocketed more than 2,500 feet into the air and floated back down to the ocean with a parachute. The unmanned test proved that an astronaut could survive inside this capsule.

This was used for the Beach Abort test.

The one on the Atlas now is a Friendship 7 replica.

dfox
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From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
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posted 07-28-2010 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the Hall of Science page on A Field Guide to American Spacecraft. They make note of the porthole as well.

Retro Rocket
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From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 12-05-2013 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got a Topping Mercury escape tower replacement part from Shapeways, printed in color, red, and it looks great. I also had a complete tower assembly printed at 1/20th for the bigger capsule/paperweight model.

What I like is the part is not brittle so it should hold up very nice. I had it printed using an objet printer a few years ago, that was in grey, but molding the tower would be problematic so beening able to print one finished will make it possible to offer these. I'll post pics of the complteted assembly. The part will be $200 plus shipping. Contact me directly if you're interested. I'm back online on Dec. 9th so hopefully my response time will be faster.

keymichael1855
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From: Virginia Beach, VA, USA
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posted 12-08-2013 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for keymichael1855   Click Here to Email keymichael1855     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey JP, I would very much like to see pics of the full color version of your tower. I've had several different scales of my tower printed in white, but never one in their full color material. This one was about 1:18 scale, and turned out pretty nice.

Retro Rocket
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Posts: 265
From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 01-18-2014 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I finally got the Escape Tower done for the Topping Mercury Capsule, the 1/30th scale model that has the earth hemisphere base. I have these printed in color then put on a final paint to get a nicer finish.

I also made one for the bigger capsule model which is 1/20th scale. Although the original didn't have one, I thought it'd make a neat thing to add. I was thinking I might do a simple retro pack and base, but that wont be for a while unless someone really wants one now. I still have to finish the paint on that one, but here's a pic.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 01-19-2014 04:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
JP, such is the fragility of the Topping Mercury Escape Tower I would imagine there would be quite a demand for these.

Are you making them available for purchase and if so at what price?

Great work Buddy!

Retro Rocket
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Posts: 265
From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 01-19-2014 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! Yes I think I will. I made sure this part matches the Topping Escape Tower, down to the shape of each crossmember which was unique due to the way it was molded.

The printed red color was too dark so I paint it orange, tho I want to get an exact color match for any I sell. The printed part is surprisingly strong, and not brittle. I'll offer a few at $150 and see how they do. The bigger one is more to print so it will be $200. Again that one is simple like the capsule, not a dead on accurate tower, but then that would miss the point of the model.

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