Monday, June 13, 2011

Estes Saturn V Build FINISHED!

Oy! Its finished!
Definitely one of the longest builds and build blogs I've ever done.

Lessons learned along the way:
  • Take extra time sanding the fin fairings to the body contour, otherwise they won't fit high enough on the lower wrap.
  • Use a better grade of masking tape for masking the tricky corrugations.
  • That Centuri Saturn V you always wanted as a kid was harder than you'd thought it'd be at middle age.
  • When painting something this big, start with NEW cans of spray paint.
  • You'll get a LOT more hits on your rocket blog when you tackle a build like this.
  • Slow down, take your time. Repeat.
  • Take a year off before masking another Saturn V.


    1. "Take a year off before masking another Saturn V."

      I built one in 1979. That was enough for me.

    2. Thanks guys!
      I said I wouldn't build and mask another Saturn V for a while. Famous last words:
      I'm in the process of building two (count 'em two) Apogee Saturn Vs for a client right now!

      1. those apogee saturn are nice rockets

    3. I'd finished mine a few weeks before the final post on this build and launched it a month or so later - DISASTER!

      I'd moved the engine block and used a larger hook to accommodate an E engine. It didn't move it through that day's wind very well and the whole thing went such that the ejection was too low.

      The only salvageable parts of the upper section were the Capsule (I left the tower off), 2 of the RCS nozzles, the 'antenna' and the "Main Body Coupler".

      I drafted an email to Estes and asked what it would take to buy replacement parts. I also hit SEMROC, found and ordered their BT-58 and BT-80. A day or so after receiving the SEMROC package, I got an email from Estes saying that replacement wraps for the BT-80, wood, BT-80, BT-58 and 'Third Stage Coupler' were on their way! Totally unexpected!

      I used AutoCAD to model the big Transition and sent it off to Shapeways to have them print it. I took wax impressions of the RCS nozzles then cast 2 new ones out of epoxy.

      After getting the whole thing together and second-guessing myself several times, I added some lead to the Capsule, sealed it up, plugged the new weight into RockSim, and simmed success.

      Yesterday was the moment of truth. Using an AeroTech E28-7 (reloadable), we sent it up to around 600' and recovered beautifully. Even though the upper section landed on concrete, there was no scuff damage or anything!

    4. Thanatos,
      Wow! What a story.
      I'm glad Estes has turned around for the better in the customer service department.
      Someday I'll launch mine, but I'll use a Aerotech E. The D12 just doesn't give me enough altitude to be comfortable. Did you use an Estes E9 in yours?
      600' on a E28 is impressive for such a big heavy model. Good work!

    5. Love it! I built my first one of these at 14, I am turning 44 next week and just ordered another one. I can't wait! I don't plan on flying it but have always wanted one for display in my office. Thanks for the great advice!!!