Msties Domain
Tom Servo

In the realm of MST3K bot building, Tom Servo is generally the bot people say to build first, his parts are relatively cheap and easy to find, no fancy work is required, and you end up with a conversation piece that can easily sit on a table. Tom, being my favorite of the bots (though I love them all), was my first choice as my first robot to build.

Stuff You Need
Servo, Paint By Number

  1. Two Executive Snack Dispensers
  1. Two Everready Floating Flashlight Lanterns
  2. Barrel Of Monkey's Barrel
  3. C'More Bunz Doll
  4. Cast Resin Engine Block
  5. Two Cast Resin Jerry Mahoney Doll Hands
  1. Six Vacuformed Tyco Turbo Trains
  2. Boo Bowl Sized Bowl
  3. Four feet of Black Pipe Insulation
Assorted Sundries
  1. 4' (roughly) of " PVC Pipe
  2. Threaded PVC "T" Connector
  3. PVC Couplers & Adapters
  4. 3"" Lazy Susan Bearing
  5. Epoxy or JB Weld
  6. Three Cans of Testors Ruby Metal Flake Paint


As I was collecting parts, I did the shoulders separately since they could be built at anytime and attached later. Since I don't have access to a Vacuformer, I got a hold of 2 of the real flashlights. One came from a friend, and the other I bought on ebay.

Servo's Shoulders And Upper Arms I started by cutting off the tabs that connected the flashlight to the hood. Use a coping saw on this, a hacksaw is too big and you will mess up. (I did.) Get some ultra 1/2" thick plywood and cut it to fit inside the flashlight shrouds. It isn't rocket science, just basic guess work. Use a 90 second epoxy and secure the wood pieces inside of the shrouds.

Now onto C'More.

Take C'More and use the bladder to make him drop his pants a couple hundred times cause it's cool. Gettin Jiggy With It! (After you cut him up it won't work any more.) Take off his stupid looking clothes and shoes. You now have a naked doll with springs for arms. Rip off the head 'cause its fun. (You were right Brian it really is fun!) Cut off the shoulders at about a 45 degree angle with about an inch more than you want or need. (It's always better to be able to cut more off, rather than to try to add back on later.) Be careful and take apart the whole bladder mechanism, set it aside for later. Take off C'More's hands, you will be using much cooler ones on your Servo.

Take off the springs and remove the excess glue from the springs and the shoulders. Epoxy the C'More shoulders to the shroud plywood, it isn't hard at all, just make sure the arms stick out enough so that you can get the springs back on and that with the added weight of the hands the springs will not rub on the shoulders causing the paint to flake off. Now, get out your flat white spraypaint and paint the shrouds. Do it in about a million light coats, I didn't, it dripped, and I had to sand it all off and do it again.

Reattach the springs. You can't put the hands on yet because Servo's shoulders aren't on his body so you can't put back on the bladders. You can, however, drill a hole in the shroud inside of the arms from the back, the bladder line will run through here.

The Butt

Servo's Butt can also be constructed separately from Servo himself. Get your Boo Bowlish Type Bowl. Mine was clear, and I have seen many people with odd colored bowls. Take the flat White paint you used on the shoulders, and paint the bowl. Once again, apply the paint in several thousand light coats to prevent runs.

(FYI, this is when I painted my hands. If you paint them now, you don't have to worry about them later.)

Turbo Trains Being Painted. After the bowl is painted, or while it's drying, take the Turbo Trains and paint them semi gloss Black, or semi flat Black, depending if you're depressed or not. A couple thousand light coats once again will work wonders. When the bowl is dried, get the Pipe Insulation and stick it on the bowl. Cut it to about an inch more than the right length so it fits all the way around. (Trust me on the extra inch here.) Hopefully you were able to find some with double sided tape on the inside, if not, get some double sided tape and stick it on the inside. DO NOT, under any circumstance, try and use hot glue to mount the pipe insulation. It will not only melt the insulation and your bowl, it also won't work at all.

After the insulation is on, take your now dry Turbo Trains, and space them evenly around the bowl. I just did basic guess work, and if I had a tape measure that was flimsy and could bend, I would have rather used it. I screwed them in place with some dry wall screws. Probably not the best choice, but it's what I had, and it worked well. I placed the screws on that little lump thing mid way through the train so that they would be somewhat disguised.

After this, using a dremel, cut off the tips and some of the excess on the screws inside the bowl. Your hands will thank you later. Then use some hot glue on and around the screws; this will keep them from coming out, and to further protect your hands.

You should now have a close to perfect Servo Butt. You do? Good. If you don't, then you need help, cause these instructions were pretty simple.

Head and Torso

Servo's head can be a bit complex, but if you do it right, you will have no problem. The barrel, on the other hand, is easy, its just placement of the engine block.

Owie! You have probably already pried off the black plastic base of the gumball machine, if not, do it now, a simple flat head screwdriver will work fine. Take your snack dispenser, and cut off the globe at the base with a hacksaw or coping saw. After the globe is fully off, set it aside in a safe place where it will not slowly roll off your workbench only to fall onto the cement floor in your garage.

Pull out the upper lip of Servo. Mine was stuck in there quite well, which I later discovered, was because while the globe was cut off, it had a hidden lip that helped keep it inside. If that is the case, try and pull part of it off. If you can't manage that (I couldn't) Take a coping saw, and make some very careful slits into the remains of the globe. This was all I needed to get my upper lip out. Take it out, and pull out the lower lip as well.

With the lower lip out, you need to cut off the hoop that you use to pull out the gumballs. Cut it even with the exposed portion of the mouth, so that only the hoop is gone, but the little doohickeys that stick out. The doohickeys are necessary to keep the lip in the mouth. Don't forget to remove the spring beforehand and set it in a safe place else you will end up with a useless stretched spring. Grab your extra cap, regular cap, gumball machine base, barrel, engine block, and both the upper and lower lip and prime them silver.

(I used a barrel of monkeys barrel, and if you did, it probably has labels on it, tear them off best you can before you paint the barrel. The one on the center should come off fairly easy and leave no residue, the one on the top however, did not come fully off for me. If you have trouble removing the labels some rubbing alcohol should take off any sticker residue.)

When the priming is dry, take out your can of 1629, Testor's Ruby Red Metal Flake and marvel at how much you paid for it compared to it's size for a moment, and then lightly coat all the parts. WAIT! Don't forget to remove the lower lips from this pile. It is already painted. Give the upper and lower lips one more silver coat for posterity, then set the lower lip aside. Mask off the portion of the upper lip / beak that will remain silver and paint the rest along with the other parts. I gave the Lazy Susan Bearing 1 coat of the ruby metal as well to help it blend, but that isn't necessary.

Wet Paint! Do Not Touch! All of the parts that need to be red should get about 3 coats, however, some people use less, some use more. Remember, if you keep painting on the Ruby Metal, everything keeps getting darker, until eventually, our ruby metal Servo becomes maroon.

After 3 coats, flip everything over and paint everything but the gumball machine itself on its underside.

The gumball machine is done, so while everything else is drying, we will work on the innards of Servo's head. Drill a small hole towards the back of the roof for a screw eye. Dry fit the eye and grab some hotglue, and if it all fits, glue the eye in place from the top outside of the gumball machine. It gets covered later, so don't worry about looks.

Drill another small hole in the back of the lower lip. Fit the lower lip and run a really long piece of high tension string through the lip, tie a couple knots, and run it through the screw eye. Pull it a million times while saying, "That's great, now you've got my jaw." That's how Servo's mouth works! Take out the lower jaw, and now we work on the PVC.

But first, one quick step. When the engine block is dry, take it and mask off everything but the exhaust stacks and the surrounding area. Don't forget the little sliver of red between the stacks. Spray the stacks silver. 2 good coats should do it, and now, while it's drying, can we work on the PVC.

PVC T This is one of the strangest parts of Tom, the PVC "T" connector. This piece needs to fit snugly inside servo's head and must be even with the base, so it can be connected to his back bone type rod You'll likely have to cut the pipe a million times, until it looks like the image to your left, and will also fit fully inside of Servo's head. As you can see, this a cheap drawing, but is the desired end product. Don't worry, the PVC will not break as you cut into it.

Hot Glue and Servo, A match made in heaven. Put the lower jaw back in Servo's head and run the string through the screw eye, and push the PVC T into Servo's head. The string needs to run through cut opening and the threaded hole of the PVC T. Pull the jaw string a few times to see if it runs freely. If it doesn't, remove the T and sand, cut, and file until it does.

If the string does not run without rubbing against the T, you will eventually wear the string down until it snaps. You can see from the picture that I elected to run several strings through Servo's head. I did this after the fact, as I kept snapping strings despite my best efforts to prevent undesired friction. Running several strings evens the tension across all of them, and also means that if one string breaks, you will not have to take apart Servo to get him working again.

As Murphy's law holds true for robots, I had the unfortunate pleasure of doing a field repair on Servo while at Gateway Con 2000 as I had, at that time, only run a single string. Make the T as level as possible inside of his head so the head will spin freely when attached to Servo's body and hotglue it into place. Just gunk glue in there until it covers both edges fully, but make sure to keep it away from any parts that need to move.

Putting it all Together

When the upper lip dries, push it back into Servo's head. Mine required considerable to force to reinsert it, and glue was not necessary. Glue shouldn't be, considering you will be epoxying an inverted gumball machine cap onto the top if it. Speaking of which, invert one of the gumball machine lids, and glue it to the top of the base of his head.

Take your now dry barrel and drill 2 one inch holes in it; one centered on the top and one centered on the bottom. This is where the Barrel of Monkey's really helps. On the inside of the barrel, there are already guide lines to the center, so drill it from the inside out. Decide which side of the barrel will be the bottom, so that when you drill the bottom holes, you can place that half of the barrel over the boo bowl centered, and drill the boo bowl hole at the same time.

Drill 2 more smaller holes in the barrel exactly opposite each other towards the top. This will be be where the shoulders sit, and the hole is to run the bladder lines.

Drill an additional hole through the bottom of the barrel and boo bowl about 2 inches from the main PVC line for the main bladder line. 2 inches away only to keep your bladder line from tangling with the PVC rod. (I had to redrill mine after it kept snagging on my hands.)

Refit the bladder assembly together by cutting additional lengths off the extra long line and use the longer lengths in the shoulders, as the original 4" pieces will not be enough. Fit the lines through his shoulders so they come out both sides. Gunk some epoxy onto the back of the shoulders, and glue them onto the barrel. Make sure the shoulder bladder lines are already fitted, this will make sure the shoulders line up and the bladder assembly does not crimp. Refit the accordion C'More bladders to the tubing, and Elmer's glue them on, this will make sure that no air can escape.

Now take Servo's arm springs, and refit them to his arms. Just push them back onto the lip that held them on before, no glue necessary. Take his hands, and push the spring's onto them. I have 3 loops of the spring that run around the hand along its base. I don't have mine glued on at all, as they fit fine on the lip that the hands have, but you can glue them if you wish.

Take your engine block, center it in between the shoulders, and epoxy it to the front of Servo. Use the horizontal lines on the barrel as guides. I glued mine about a centimeter below the top of the first one, as to center it vertically.

Cut a length of PVC about 16" long if you want Servo to fit flush with a table, you can always make extensions with a connector and more PVC later. 16" will be too long, but we need some excess to work with.

Epoxy your barrel to your hoverskirt and epoxy the lazy susan bearing to the top of the barrel. Make sure the boo bowl and barrel bladder boles line up. Also, make sure to do it in a way that when the barrel halves are screwed together, the trains and shoulders will line up correctly.


Run the PVC through the base of the barrel and refit the 2 halves of the barrel together so that the PVC is sticking out of the top.

Collage of the necessary PVC connectors that are needed to complete the next step. Fit the 'PVC NippIe' into the 'Threaded to PVC coupler' and then mark the length of PVC pipe where it sticks out of the top of the barrel (You must cut off at least this much.) This next step is a little bit tricky, because you have to cut the PVC (at some point below the mark) but still leave enough room so that the PVC NippIe can thread with the PVC and make sure the barrel still stays flush with the gumball machine. How much PVC you have to cut off depends upon how far into the gumball machine you fitted the PVC "T." Cut off short lengths of the PVC and refit everything back together until you have achieved the desired effect.

When all is said and done, the PVC "T" threads into the PVC NippIe, which threads into the 'Threaded to PVC Coupler,' which is fitted onto the top of the PVC pipe. I epoxied everything together except one end of the PVC NippIe, so that when I needed to take apart Servo for repairs, I could easily do so.

Now you need to take the one of the reducer connectors and fit it inside of the barrel so it is flush with the base of the barrel. I used a 3/4", marked where it needed to go, and screwed it in place (through the reducer and the PVC.) This is done so that Servo will stay in place if he is held upside down.

Bottom of the boo bowl after completion Take your other PVC Reducer, and slide it over the PVC sticking out of the base, and line it flush with the hoverskirt top.

Use a marker and mark where the top of the reducer is when pushed against the top of the bowl, then remove the reducer and the PVC pipe. Realign them and drill a hole all the way through.

Put Servo fully back together, and make sure to thread the control string all the way through the PVC piping. Also run the main bladder line through the base of Servo at this time. Thread a screw through the drilled hole in the reducer and the PVC. A short phillips head screwdriver, or an angle driver makes this many times easier. As the screw has a point sticking out the other side, I put a small flat lego brick over the point and wrapped the reducer several times in electrical tape.

Find his globe, and push it onto the inverted lid. If you glue it on, you can never replace the globe if it breaks, or change his head out to a "sick servo head" or a black dome to make him a theater Tom. Plus, it stays on there pretty well even without glue. If you were to use glue, use tacky glue or Elmer's; epoxy or super glue will cloud the dome. Now just put Servo's additional cap onto the top of his head.

There, done, whaddya think?

Assorted Servo Pics!
Tom Servo
One of 517, The Amazing Tom Servo.
Theater Tom
This is a picture of Tom with a black painted theater dome. I've used this dome in several short MST productions, and it works great!
Burned Bombed Dome!
This is a picture of a melted / burned / bombed / destroyed Servo dome. He was messing around with his interociter again.
Tom Servo in LOS garb
Don't tell Mike! Servo's wearing a shirt bearing a depiction of "Robot" from the Lost In Space Movie!
It's your move, go'head on.
Tom Servo in Joe Don Baker attire. It's your move, go'head on.
Funky Tom!
What wonder wigs do! This is Tom in his favorite sufer dude attire.
Tom and Gypsy
Tom and Gypsy spending some quality time together.
Tatooed butt
Yes folks, that's right, Tom Servo has a tattoo. It's not just any tattoo, it's Kevin Murphy's autograph. Kevin was loving enough to sign him at Gateway Con in July of 2000. Pics of the convention can be found here
Signed Dome
As if a signed Servo hoverskirt wasn't enough, Joel Hodgson and the Cinematic Titanic Team were gracious enough to sign a spare Servo head I keep for Servo emergencies after a live CT show in St. Louis. Pictures of that show can be found here.

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