TARDIS in the yard: Moline man channels Dr. Who


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Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2010, 12:00 am
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By Seth Kabala, seth@sethkabala.com
Standard issue backyards usually come with lawns, grills and maybe some patio furniture, but for one Moline man, a backyard comes with a chance for time and space travel.

Or at least the thought of it.

Scott DeBruyckere, 43, brought an iconic television image to life by building a TARDIS (time and relative dimensions in space) from the 1963 BBC show "Dr. Who" in his back yard. His love of the original and modern 2005 versions of the show inspired the project.

"I've been a fan of the show Dr. Who since I was a teenager," he said. While a lot of kids his age were into Star Wars and Star Trek, he chose universe-travelling-via-time-machine and Dr. Who.

In the show, Dr. Who could use the TARDIS to travel to any time or place, but to the outside world, the blue structure was known by another name: a British Metropolitan Police Box.

"Back in the 1950s, 1940s, in London before they had police cars and two-way radios, this would be like the sub-station for the police." He said. "They would have this on the different street corners…. You could actually phone and get them to dispatch a police officer for help." In addition, officers could use the police box to store supplies or temporarily lock-up prisoners.

Though Dr. Who's time machine occasionally took other forms, blending into the environment to match its surroundings, it mostly stayed a police box, because "the ability for this particular time-machine to change its form was broken," Mr. DeBruyckere said. "So it's always a police box. It got stuck as a police box. That's just kind of been the iconic thing of the show," he said.

Though he'd never attempted a woodworking project of this magnitude before, Mr. DeBruyckere found everything he needed to know online. "There was a website called tardisbuilders.com," he said. "That website has people who have built these boxes across the world." He used it as a resource to learn how to do the sign boxes, corner posts and other features of the box.

The plans he found came with a set of rough dimensions but little else. "I just kind of went from there," he said. "I just used the information I had from other people (who had built) these things and what they'd done that was successful and kind of combined that with my plans."

"I had to self-teach myself fine woodworking," he said. "I'm here to say I have all the respect in the world, after going through this, for people who work with wood and can do perfect cuts." Aligning all the different parts to be plumb and square was a challenge, he said.

When his lack of previous woodworking experience created problems, Mr. DeBruyckere tapped his network of friends from across the U.S. and England for help. "There was a point where I would be on the web talking to people and saying, 'Hey, I got to this point. How did you resolve this issue?' And I got three different ideas on how I could tackle the problem."

Mr. DeBruyckere worked an average of one or two days a month for two years from start to finish. "It was pretty much a weekend-type build," he said, adding that detail work, such as hand-crafting the window panes, took the most time.

He built most of it in his garage, and finished a lot of the detail work in his kitchen.

The hours were long and the cost was high, so given the chance would he do this again? "Yes," he said. "It was a fun project."

He likened his decision to Star Wars fans building replica Millennium Falcons, Back to the Future fans DeLoreans and muscle car enthusiasts 57 Chevys from stock parts. "Why would people do that? Well, that's what they want to do," he said.

Mr. DeBruyckere has been happy to show off his finished product to others, but made it clear he built the police box because he wanted to both challenge himself and honor the show. "I put my creation in my backyard where I can enjoy it," he said. "If I was doing it so the neighbors would come by and say something, I'd have it sitting out in front of the house where everyone in the world could see it. It's hidden back behind my garden because it's mine."




















 



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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




(More History)