BRIARCLIFF MANOR - Rob Niosi has worked for 11 years building his time machine, but maybe once he's done, he'll get that time back.
The Briarcliff Manor man was first inspired to build his take on a continuum-traveling craft more than 50 years ago, when he saw the 1960 movie "The Time Machine." It told the story of a man from Victorian England who built a time machine to visit the future. The Oscar-winning film starring Rod Taylor captivated a young Niosi.
He was 8 years old at the time, and he saw the movie with his father and brothers. "It was just a very memorable time, and it was my introduction into the concept of time travel," Niosi recalls.
Now, Niosi is meticulously recreating a full-scale replica of the time machine from the film in his Briarcliff Manor home. It started out as a three-month project in 1999 when Niosi, a former stop-motion animator who worked on "Pee-wee's Playhouse," built a miniature scale of the movie prop as a Christmas gift.
After doing research on the Internet, he decided to take it to another level and build an actual replica. Today, the finished project is not too far off.
"I'm getting pretty close now," he says. "After 11 years, I would say I'm about 94.3 percent there."
The replica is loaded with custom features, even though he has the original plan of the film version from the MGM archives. The seat is an antique barber chair from 1899. It has secret compartments, and it plays the theme song from the film, titled "Time Traveler." Tucked away in one secret compartment is a personal memento: a watch given to him by his father.
Does Niosi really believe it's possible to visit other times? "So many things that were science fiction have become science fact," he says. "So who knows? We'll see."
Niosi says that once the time machine is completed, he'll start work on a more ambitious project: a Victorian-style spaceship.