Steampunk TARDIS build update

The Steampunk Alliance of Nothern Virginia with the TARDIS
The Steampunk Alliance of Nothern Virginia with the TARDIS

FOR SALE- One fully fictional TARDIS and misc accouterments. Make an offer Reserve not met


Tardis signs


Steampunk is a fantasy lifestyle adopting 19th century or victorian era items, fashion style and values and converting them into today or future items and ideas. It is as if the gasoline car engine was never conceived and we still depended on steam power. Some say there was a motor car built but it produced such a toxic black stench no one would drive it.

So the Doctor left his TARDIS with Victoria Steam and he needed some work done on it. So.

I was Under the tarp last night painting in the rain to get some blue on her, she is much happier in this color. Since Tuesday at start of build I have had to only buy a gallon of paint and one of the four wheels. Everything else is recycled materials.DSC07571DSC07560a

Here is a explanation of how I built my TARDIS so that others can follow the work. Some answers I was asked were…..

Q. What inspired you to take on this project?

A. I was inspired to take on this project while walking out of the Hampton Virginia History Museum after looking at the space for the upcoming Steampunk Visions of future past exhibition at the end of May. Looking at the huge amount of space they had and thinking of what I would like to build to fill it as a transportation device hit me like a smack in the face all the sudden, it was like, “Do you want to build a TARDIS”!

Q.What precautions did you make to ensure the right materials were obtained?

A. I did not have a plan, I made a drawing of the piece and tried to follow it. Halfway through when I ran out of wood from the repurposed armoire used to build the front I was thinking of finishing the back with thick cardboard. I am so glad that was trash night and I was able to find a large TV stand down the street. I felt for my son when I asked him to help me push it home on a furniture dollie. I remember being embarrassed when my mother would pick up furniture off the curb. The necessity and coincidence of finding the stuff to build this overcomes my embarrassment but I still cringe and try to hide when a car passes.

Q. What kind of wood did you use(Balsa/cedar/teak/oak/ash/particleboard) since that might matter for durability sake and waterproofing?

A. I used most of my cedar deck out back for the trim work. the dressers and TV stand were made out of particle board and I painted several coats of flat exterior blue paint on them. Because it stands several feet above my garage I need it to be weatherproof and tared the roof. I was going to do a shaker roof thinking it would be more Victorian and it made the TARDIS look too different , almost like an outhouse. I feel like the tar painted blue is a better look.

Q. What color blue did you use(cerulean/cobalt/pigmentblue/pantoneblue/crayolablue) and how did you match it from the series? If you changed the color for any reason, what reason did you use and how did that affect the process? Are you using acrylic paint? Oils? watercolors? blends?

A. There are several colors of the TARDIS depending on what Dr or years you are talking about. I wanted mine to be weathered and not new looking, I chose the older looking faded color. The BBC approved TARDIS blue is Pantone 2955C. It had too much purple in it for me so I am using Valspar, Indigo Cloth 4009-7 in a latex flat. I would like to have used a semi-gloss or even satin but went with a flat latex because of the old weathered look and the ability to not show paint steaks with the different woods.

Q.What method did you use to bind pieces(Wood Screws, drywall screws, dovetail, wood glue, finger joint, miter joint) and why did you choose that method?

A. I used L-brackets, decking screws, 5 penny nails,1/4 and 5/8 inch bolts for the frame. Instead of building the foundation I took an old warehouse pallet and used that, Then the framing corners are ripped 2×4 from a roofing job.

Q. In the printing, what fonts did you choose and why? What size fonts did you use? Is it on paper, vinyl, acrylic, laminates?

A.  “Spoilers!”

Q.Why are you putting in wheels on the TARDIS? are you putting in a back door for times when it is the entrance to something larger?

A. The wheels are to move it to the Museum, It was this or rent a pallet jack and I was worried it would fall over if I did that. It has no back door because of the lighted console , but if the opportunity presents itself the console is removable and so is the back wall. Great idea making it into a doorway. I can just imagine walking into a convention through the TARDIS!

Q.What method of “locking/opening” the box are you using? key? doorknob? Why/not? Are you putting in a phone? Why/not? What model?

A.Because it is from the steampunk Victorian era I am putting an old padlock on it, an old door knob and an old wall phone like in the earlier episodes.


Q.When you tilted it in the pictures, how/why did you do it? Did you need help? Did the wood/paint choice affect that?

A.I had to tilt it over to get the roof on it. I could have done it with a ladder, but it was easier and less climbing up and down to do it this way. I added the wheels while it was tilted . To tilt it down was no problem to do by myself. There was not much weight without the roof and the wheels. But when it needed to go back down, the roof weight and the wheels moving even though we had them in the locked position made it more difficult. I could have used 2 other guys to do it.

Q.What kind of tarp is necessary for that?

A.I have a 20X50 foot tarp to wrap it up in and that is what I was under for some of the painting when it started to rain.
Q.How big did you make your TARDIS? why not bigger? Why not smaller? Why not taller?
does it lock from the inside? Why/not?

A.I made it 4 feet by 3 feet because that was the wood that I had at the time. The height keeps getting taller it started at 7 feet.The wheels added at least ½ a foot then the roof was a foot maybe two. Still the one foot lamp has to go on top of it. All measured now it stands 9½ feet without the light or smoke stack on the top. The lock will only be for show on the outside, I am thinking of manufacturing an antique one oversized out of painted wood.

Q. Is there electrical work needed? Is there prep work already started for that? Why/not? Who helped with this? Any kids involved?

A.I am waiting for some lights but it is powered and there will be one if not 3 computers inside it to control the break sounds, outside video screens and monitor the controls. All 4 kids are helping with the painting and planning. One daughter, Rebekah, knows about every doctor, companion, and even what key was for which TARDIS. She keeps me in line with the accuracy of the build. Sarah is the writer and is coordinating the back story line of how and why Victoria Steam now has the Doctor’s time machine. My son Ethan is arranging the steampunk Piggyback steam powered generator on the far wall.

Q.I see it says recycled materials were used, so are they recycled from your house or did you have to go to a junkyard? Did we reuse a house-door? What recycling was done?

A. On trash day I scour the neighborhood for items to use. The last one a lady had some fence boards out and she came out when I was loading them up. I thanked her for the wood and noticed the wing had fallen off her butterfly on the front of the house. I asked about it and she said her son was going to fix it when he visited from Arizona. I told her I could do it as appreciation for all the fence wood so I went home and picked up a cordless drill and some screws. After fixing her butterfly she told me she was trying to get rid of some wood in the garage. She gave me the interior chandelier glass piece for the console and an antique leaf table as well. It pays to be nice! Many of the items used were housing materials, like the tar and decking wood, I made the doors and all the trim pieces. An old antique sewing machine with a rear leg broken is the base for the interior console. I had made the control console wooden but wanted to be able to put lights in it so used some refrigerator shelving for the base of all the electrical wiring to be able to give it depth when the lights go in . I can also add the motor for the up and down movement of the Time Vortex on the wire racks easier.

Q.What tools do I need to have to build something like this? What ingredients/materials should I scout for?

A.I use several different drills. One for driving the screws, corded ones for making pilot holes and another for larger holes. This works for me because I am going so fast sometimes I don’t want to switch the bits out and corded drills have no battery lifespan and that helps. As far as saws, I use a table saw, different hand saws, circular saw, saw zaw, jig saw, miter saw, and a scroll saw. You need allot of different sized screws and nails and a grinder if the nails poke through to cut off the ends.

Q.What would you have done differently right from the start?

A. I would have drawn up drawings and even made a small model of it to start. Them plan out the wood instead of just winging it like I did .

Q.What frame did you use for the instructional sign on the left door?

A. There is no frame for the doors. because of limited space I just hung them on the structure frame. The left and right doors are unique. The left (as you are looking at it) is supposed to be not a door but the frame to the other door. Because I want to be able to show off the console they can both be turned outward. the Left can not go inward because of this. The right door on the show opens inward so I made mine be able to do the same thing for photo ops of standing inside with the door partially open.


Q.How did you mount the “Police Box” words at the top of the front?

A. And now to cover those “Spoilers” from earlier. In some of the pictures the sign is just printed paper , I am working on making a more permanent one . I just ordered one off Amazon but I do not think it will work. A Friend has a large vinyl sign printer and I have allot of plexiglass so I will work it out soon. The font at this point is Algerian Regular because of its antique qualities.

Q.If I am looking at it right, I think I see speakers as a future addition, so what precautions are drawn for that? what wiring needs to be added or has already been?

A.The speakers are for a separate project going to the same museum. the main wiring is already added.  There is still some additional lighting that I have on order.

Q. According to the short story, I gathered windows were intended, are they already measured and accounted for or are they being ignored in this version of the box? If so, why/not?

A.The windows have been added. We have a longer story due to be posted about the condition of the current windows are on this version of the TARDIS and that has not been published yet.

I know this seems highly in-depth, but you readers in your thirst for knowledge want to know all these answers to make your own TARDIS. I enjoy being part of the community to make all our blue boxes better. I will keep you guys informed, as you guys are looking forward to learning how all this goes together.



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