INTRODUCTION: I have a couple of original Burke 116 chairs inbound, and will be tracking how I go about building these here as part of a simultaneous prop building operation. One of the chairs is to be an authentic Burke 116 (the type with arm rests) with black cushion/headrest, and the other is to be a Burke 116 with the reddish-orange & gold checkered cushion/headrest. In their original state, these particular Burke chairs are an off-white fiberglass material bucket bolted to white propeller type feet with a memory return mechanism. I am looking to make a high quality prop build.
Since I am cold-starting the entire operation, I began to research who has already done Burke 116s, how my contribution would value-add but correspond and compliment previous work as well as explore some possibilities of how these chair props could be built. Any “improvement” would only be in how it inspires others using a disciplined form of creativity. I tend to think of the “New Coke” fiasco when touching anything TOS prop design – you can do anything you like to a point, but dude, do NOT alter the original formula ingredients… I think I identify those ingredients and meet these types of concerns here in this project design.
Burke 116 chairs are still commonly available these days. That may not hold true for the future. There were only a few initial problems in this Burke 116 prop project design phase that I encountered:
Color - When shooting color 35mm film under high intensity lighting (in order to eliminate shadows), the chair buckets usually appeared almost an off-white in color, but are actually a medium blue under normal lighting conditions (using the 5,000 lumens “living room” baseline as the guide). In the science of light and color, this is the Burke 116 equivalent of the “color space” question in any other given application. The anticipated lumens for actual chair use will normally present a dilemma to the Burke 116 chair builder on how to balance color without violating the spirit of TOS design. However, there are some options worthy of consideration here. This particular prop project will attempt to overcome the color variability dilemma with a multiple layered paint scheme of a bleachy white epoxy primer and a translucent medium blue epoxy paint on the top layer that will cause the final color of the finish to have some depth to it and to an acceptable degree. How will it turn out? Well, you never know until you try it and you can always sand it again and paint it if it just doesn’t work out. What is desired is to get folks to think about color in new ways in order to deal with some of the lighting differential problems concerning color in the prop re-creation design phase, and try different things. Unless someone already thought of this, it will be something unique about this Burke 116 project.
Functionality - The propeller base of Burke 116 chairs give a solid feel to the chair when you are sitting down in them, but in order to move this type of chair you have to pick it up in the air and lift it across the room. How can you get this chair to roll on the floor without altering the appearance in any way? This project will attempt to build self-adjusting, spring-loaded wheels that with a light touch, you can move a TOS Burke 116 around in a room across a flat floor or carpeted surface without having to pick the whole chair up in the air to do so. This is an area where creative discipline will have a play in the project and will be a difficult feat to accomplish without altering shapes and appearances. I think you will like the solution I’ve come up with and going to try.
Variety - This is coped with in this particular project by having 2 each Burke 116 chairs using two different color schemes that don’t go outside TOS parameters, noting that the checkered reddish-orange & gold patterned cushion material in this version of the Burke 116 chair is overall less frequently shown in TOS episodes.
TOS Variations - There are some. After surveying many TOS Burke chair images, there are some with a brushed grey aluminum propeller bases, some look to be darker such as a flat black color (but it may be the lighting), and in the earlier episodes some have the off-white looking propeller bases that match the chair’s bucket color). I am not sure of the rhyme or reason how that came to be, but the brushed grey aluminum (or alloy metal) base appearance looks best to me. If I could find out more about Burke 116 propeller base color variations in TOS, it would prove helpful at this point, especially before building, to get more information about these details. At a minimum, it is safe to say that there are definitely 2, and possibly 3 Burke 116 propeller base, so the question I ask is whether the propeller bases that appear to be a flat black: Are these particular Burke 116 chairs really the brushed alloy metal color or is it just because of poor lighting conditions appearing that some appear to be a darker shade or black?
I can’t use the Paashe air brush to paint these chairs because the best adhering paint for fiberglass material is epoxy-based paint – which could work, but not as well as it could be. The controllable variable here is the epoxy paint’s varying chemistry among the many brands available, and am working hard at finding the best possible epoxy paint for the fiberglass material these particular prop chairs are made of. So then, in addition to the expendable wet and dry 40-220 grit sandpaper needed for surfacing before and during paint layers (more details to follow), here are some of the more general tools and supplies that I will be working with to prepare these chairs to receive their cushions/headrests as the envisioned end-state:
Sharpe Manufacturing 288880 Finex FX3000 HVLP Spray Gun with 1.4mm Nozzle It just arrived today and is less than half the price for the same thing on Amazon. The 1.4mm nozzle is the best size considering the surface area of two Burke 116 chairs, the throughput and load factor on the compressor, and the potential for hand/arm fatigue that plagues painting projects when everything about the setup is taken to gether.
Kissemoj Heavy Duty 3.5 HP x 10 Gallon Air Compressor 125PSI Adjustable Pressure Matches the spray gun perfectly 7.2 CFM @ 40 psi and will make a professional paint application to the chairs.
North 760008A Silicone Full Facepiece Respirator Epoxy paint will quickly put you in the hospital if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes and is not worth the risk without a full-face respirator.
North 75SCP100 Combination Gas and Vapor Cartridge
DuPont TY122S Disposable Elastic Wrist, Bootie & Hood White Tyvek Coverall Suit 1414
Here is a picture of the paint sprayer that arrived today, and the rest of the prop build equipment is still inbound at this time. I will post pictures of the Burke 116 chairs here when they arrive in the next few days that will survey their actual condition.