Estes Saturn 1B build

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Trident
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#1 Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:04 pm

I've had this and two more of the kits for many years, and they just never got dragged out of storage. It's a shame to let them sit boxed up, so I decided I'd start one. I also have the Semroc and the Apogee versions in 1/70 scale. But it only seemed fitting to start with the Estes model.
[Note: I started this right after Christmas, and posted it to the old Sagitta Cantina. Fortunately I saved all my posts so I could share them elsewhere. If weather cooperates, I should be painting before too long ...]

The first picture is a shot of all the parts layed out on my workbench.

Image

Next, the eight fins, comprised of 16 halves, are removed from the sheet, and sanded on a flat piece of sandpaper to smooth the joining surfaces. The instructions call for reducing the thickness to 1/3 the original thickness. They looked pretty thin to me, so I just gave them a good sanding, and to my eye, they looked uniform. These fin halves are small and hard ot hold, so I used a small piece of masking tape, roughly formed to make a small handle, which allowed me to hold the fin flat while sanding.

Image

Next, small pieces of styrene were cut to form braces, which were glued with plastic cement (tube type) into the root edge and trailing edge of the right fin half. After the glue had set up, a bead of cement was applied to the left fin half perimeter, and the fin halves were joined, manipulated into a good fit, and set aide to dry. Shown are two fin halves, and a glued together fin. Fins will be trimmed to shape after they have set awhile and fully cured.

Image

Next step -- work on the tail shroud and aft body / fin unit.
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#2 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:06 pm

Part 2:

I glued the styrene wrap to the aft body tube using Elmer's Spray Adhesive. First I wrapped it around to make sure it fit well, requiring no trimming. There was a very slight gap but should not be too noticeable. Like other spray adhesives, the Elmer's suggests applying it to one surface and mate with the other surface within 15 seconds for a permanent bond. The small cutout is for a piece of cardstack, to which the lower launch lug is glued (better gluing surface than styrene for the launch lug). Once the wrap was bonded, I glued the plastic tube shroud into the top of the aft body tube with plastic cement.

Image

With the aft assembly was drying, I started removing the extra plastic trim off each fin. I used a combination of trimming with an X-acto knife, and sanding. This is a tedious process, and the thin styrene fins are pretty fragile. I did 4 of the 8, and decided to quit for the night. It should be noted that a very small amount of the plastic cement should be used when gluing the fin halves together. Some fins had excess glue used, and there are slight irregularities in spots where the plastic sagged, since it is so thin. In retrospect, I think I should have used a small brush or Q-tip to spread it out.

Here s a picture of an untrimmed fin, next to a trimmed fin, ready for attachment to the aft body assembly.

Image

Next step, attaching the fins.
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#3 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:07 pm

Part 3:

Completion of the aft body / fin unit (aft assembly) is pretty time consuming. I really like the look of 8 fins, but gluing together 16 fin halves, each with two internal braces that require trimming, gluing them together, and then neatly cleaning off the excess styrene along the edges, is more than a day's work. Or it's more than I want to do in one day! I cleaned up four of them, and decided to attach them to the aft assembly. The last four I'll do tomorrow.

The fins on this kit are slightly upsized for stability, since the actual Saturn 1B fins were really quite small, in relation to the size of the rocket. This kit requires that the fins are installed with a slight cant to them, to introduce some spin during flight, to improve stability. Estes supplies a template to mark a canted line onto the aft assembly. This template pops out of the middle of a centering ring, which is glued onto a fin alignment guide, allowing the aft assembly to be accurately placed onto the guide. The fins are tacked into place with plastic cement, and then the aft assembly is placed onto the guide. The outer tip of each fin must be aligned with the fin markings on the alignment guide, so that each fin is pointing straight out from the aft assembly. The fins are then given fillets of plastic cement, to firmly anchor them in place. Here is a picture of the aft assembly with the first fin attached.

Image

I'll post an update once all fins are in place.
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#4 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:09 pm

Part 4:

I'd like to keep making daily progress so this thread does not get dragged out too much. But with the snow starting up again, it seems like any painting could be far, far from now! Regarding the old Estes Saturn 1B with built up fins, I actually would like to try that in the future, although I'd have to laser cut the parts -- not sure I have the patience to try to cut them by hand. I had access to a laser cutter a few years ago, at a shop of a friend's, and may have to see about cutting some parts.

Here is the aft body / fin unit with all 8 fins glued on. If you look closely at a couple fins, you can see distortions on a couple flat surfaces, as well as the little tip that is up at the top over the shroud, from using too much plastic cement to join the fin halves. I will probably shoot a light coat of primer and see if I am strongly compelled to do a little filling with spot putty. That, or it gets painted, and because it is not pristine, I should have no reservations about flying it! Although I have decided I must start flying all my models in my collection that I've held back on. I flew my Orbital Transport in November at the CRASH launch in Denver (where Daddyisabar flies), and my first flight of the year, maybe next weekend, will be my old Trident. I do plan to fly this Saturn 1B at a CRASH launch also.

Image

Next step: Start on the second stage body. Should be smooth sailing now that I'm past the construction of the fins.
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#5 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:17 pm

Part 5:

I am out of spray adhesive and I have more wraps to apply. I've used 3M in the past, although I had a small amount of Elmer's brand that I used on the aft body wrap. The 3M was $15.99, the Elmer's was $7.99. I didn't notice any difference in application or effectiveness, so I got the Elmer's (and used their 40% off website coupon on my iPhone).

Note that there is a significant gap in the two wraps for the upper stage. The instructions suggest you use a strip of styrene cut from a tear-off strip from one of the wraps (used to make the small braces for the fin assemblies). My strip was irregular, so I bought some Evergreen 1/8" wide strip styrene, and cut two pieces, sized to fit the gaps in the two wraps. I applied plastic cement to the gaps, and applied the styrene strips. I'll let this dry completely before adding some detail pieces (tunnel covers) to the upper stage.

Image

Image
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#6 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:18 pm

Part 6:

The last two pieces to add to the upper stage body tube are two umbilical covers. These are cut, then profiled, from a small piece of wood included in the kit. Both ends of the long cover, and one end of the small cover, overlap the styrene wraps, so the back sides need to be notched to fit over the wraps. I decided to fill the wood pieces with sanding sealer prior to gluing them onto the tube, so that they would be ready for painting once attached. The instructions call for using wood glue to attach them. I used a small amount of plastic cement where the covers overlap the styrene, and wood glue where they contacted the body tube.

The first picture shows the completed upper stage body. I wanted to see how everything fit, so I slid the fuel tank tubes into the aft body and then slid on the upper stage body. The fit is really excellent, maybe almost too good, since the fuel tubes need to be painted (4 black, 4 white), and then glued to the core tube, prior to sliding the aft body assembly into place.

Next up on this build is assembly of the upper portion of the rocket, which includes the LEM/SM body with transition shroud.

Image

Image

Update: Upper stage is on upside-down! Good thing this was jsut a dry-fit of the stack.
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#7 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sun, 17 Apr 16, 23:19 pm

Part 7:

I've now completed all but one major subassembly of the Saturn 1B. (The fuel tubes get painted and then glued onto the core tube.) The picture shows everything dry-fitted, I just had to see what the entire rocket would look like. All subassemblies will be painted "sometime" -- it has been bitter cold here, so I may not get to any painting for weeks, maybe a month or more. This model would be extremely difficult to complete if painting were done after assembly, with all the black and white detail on most of the subassemblies.

I did not take any pictures of assembly of the LEM/SM body assembly. I was consumed with fiddling with the cardstock shroud. It must be cut out, rolled, butted-ends glued (a nd reinforced with a small cardstock strip inside the shroud), and then when dry, fitted to the body tube with centering rings and coupler. Frankly, I was worn out after this, fretting during the entire assembly, to make sure everything fit correctly. The shroud would be an excellent candidate for a molded styrene part if the Saturn 1B is ever updated! :) I guess I should be glad I did not have to use a cardstock part to form the aft shroud surrounding the fuel tanks.

I built the nozzle assembly next. There is not a lot of detail on the nozzles, but for a static display piece, it is fine. The nozzlesd are cut from a sheet of styrene, and hand sanded to get a smooth edge. Nozzles are then glued to a cardstack ring with holes punched for each of the 8 nozzles. A solid ring backs up the punched ring for easy assembly. Finally, the rings are glued to a short section of tube, which supports the assembly withing the aft end of the rocket. This assembly is removed for flight.

The Apollo capsule and LES assembly was pretty challenging. My fingers don't quite have the dexterity they did in my youth (heck, even 15-20 years ago) so I took it slowly, and let glued-on parts dry at several steps along the way, before adding another part. The tiny nozzles, tower legs, and circular ring within the leg assembly were tough to add. I used Model Masters liquid plastic cement with a needle-like tube, so I could dispense very small amounts of glue, in a very controllable fashion. A pair of surgical-grade tweenzers with long, slender tips helped to get theses small parts aligned during the gluing process.

Image

Next step -- awaiting nice weather to do some painting. :D
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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#8 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by bernomatic » Mon, 18 Apr 16, 02:04 am

I just checked the weather in Fort Collins and it looked a bit chilly (4°C), so I'm guessing you still haven't gotten the paint on yet.

Yesterday and today in Cleveland we were around 16°C, and sunny skies with mild winds. So of course I did yardwork instead of flying. I did get a second coat on my Andromeda though.
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Trident
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#9 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Mon, 18 Apr 16, 05:31 am

bernomatic wrote:I just checked the weather in Fort Collins and it looked a bit chilly (4°C), so I'm guessing you still haven't gotten the paint on yet.

Yesterday and today in Cleveland we were around 16°C, and sunny skies with mild winds. So of course I did yardwork instead of flying. I did get a second coat on my Andromeda though.
I'm guessing any painting may be later this week, based on forecast. On Friday, I weeded and mowed. Saturday it got cold and was raining. My wife drove to Colorado Springs (~120 miles south of us), and was driving thru 6" of snow. We got heavy, wet snow last night, but it was melting as fast as it was falling today. Most of the snow in the yard is melted, and roads are clear tonight.

I am ready for Spring! Although the way it's going, I should say I'm ready for Summer!
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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Trident
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#10 Re: Estes Saturn 1B build

Post by Trident » Sat, 30 Apr 16, 15:08 pm

Still no paint. It is the last day of April, cold and damp, and the weather cannot decide if it's snowing or raining. It is technically snow, since by the end of the day yesterday the lawn looked white deep down, with the tall grass sticking out. I have not mowed in about 10 days, it has been so crappy.

My wife is doing flowers for a wedding, which is in Boulder up a canyon. It's going to be cold and damp, great conditions for an outdoor wedding.

We have lived in our home since 1983, with the yard going in in 1984. This is the first year that we have not started up the sprinkler system in April. And it looks like we may wait a week or so at least.

Guess I'll go work on another rocket build ...
Lee

Bulds: Estes Saturn V, Super Sky Hook, Farside-X
Awaiting Paint/Detailing: Estes Saturn 1B
Completed!: Der Saturn Max, Bandit XL

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