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Johnny’s Grand 1/72 launch vehicle build extravaganza


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Anyone familiar with me, especially here on ARC, knows that I’ve been tinkering around with building a 1/72 Saturn model for the better part of five years. (Yes, five.) There have been many starts and just as many stops, all with long stretches of time in between. During that time I’ve learned a lot of new techniques and have been able to produce some 3D models of the Saturn that I’m quite satisfied with.  The problem is I didn’t have anything physical to show for all the work, and producing it would be extraordinarily expensive, especially at the resolution that would produce the detail I’m looking for.  I do think that it will be an option in the future, especially since SLA Printers are becoming a little more affordable. I guess it would be prudent to start squirreling away some cash for that eventuality … but right now,  Johnny wants a rocket.

 

For the past few months, I’ve been building a couple of 1/72 Saturn Vs from Dragon kits.  I haven’t been quibbling too much on the horrid inaccuracies, I’ve just been building.  Mainly to try to recapture the enjoyment I get from constructing these things, but also to actually have a couple of really cool display pieces for the study.  Mind you, I have been adding a few details here and there, but I’ve been mostly just building it OOB and I do have to admit that it’s been a very enjoyable experience.  One will be the Skylab 1 launch vehicle and the other, I’m thinking, will represent the Apollo 16 launch vehicle. 

 

IMG_1848.jpg

 

It's like Michoud on my desk.

 

So far building the two Saturn Vs simultaneously has been a pretty easy affair. You make two sets of parts, then apply two sets of parts.  I’m closing in on having both S-ICs ready for final assembly.  I’m hoping the S-II will go together in a similar, relaxed fashion … I don’t think it will, but let’s hope.

 

So here’s the crazy bit.  I’ve got three Dragon Saturn kits that I’m using for these builds.  Since I’m almost completely redoing the way the S-IIs are constructed, I’ll be using a couple of the third kit’s skirt sections to rebuild the forward skirt areas.  This is going to leave me with a lot of 5.5” dia. tank sections and other parts.  So rather than let those go to waste, I was thinking that I’d build something that was somewhat ludicrous, but really, really cool – a Nova C-8 as proposed for the Apollo Direct Ascent plan. Most tube diameters coincide with schedule 40 PVC/ABS pipe sizes available at the Home Depot, so 

 

nova_c_8.thumb.png.b7e3c70a3c7318a982fc1dc931fff31f.png

 

This may never actually happen, but it would be epic.

 

So yeah, three rockets – I’m going to give it a go.  I’ll post soon to catchup to where the build is currently, but in the interim … imagine the eventual end-product looking something like this.

 

werners_got_rockets.jpg.c785c4496a36e70eb5a9c1f4ecea32eb.jpg

 

Ceiling tiles.

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Getting started

 

I started with the S-ICs building from the ground up.  Replaced the kit F-1s with parts from Apogee.  The Apogee F-1s are pretty simplistic, but they’re accurately proportioned and reasonably priced.  To mount them I had a custom cut acrylic “plate” made at Ponoko. It will be mounted directly to the kit’s thrust structure plate which was sanded flat.

 

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Apogee F-1s

 

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Ponoko produced plate.

 

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Apogee mounting tab.

 

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Thing.

 

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All the things.

 

Moving up, I decided to not even attempt to correct the horribly rendered fairings. It has sidelined many attempts at this project and these two models will just have to deal with it. I had some of the surface details laser-cut too. Some rudimentary representations of the hold-downs and the aft umbilicals. They’re not absolutely to scale, but I had to make do with what I had.  I do think they look reasonable.

 

IMG_1818.JPG

 

More Ponoko cut parts.

 

Next was the intertank.  The number of “corrugations” was correct, even though they’re the wrong shape.  Added a laser-cut umbilical parts but I still need to add LOX vents.

 

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Little mix of Ponoko and Silhouette cut parts.

 

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Mounted.

 

I’m currently working on the forward skirts.  Again, we’re adding laser-cut umbilical and access door details and vents.  I’m also adding extra stringers between the kit’s, to bring the number up to the correct 216.  This is tedious but I think it will be worth the effort.

 

IMG_1921.jpg

 

This is where the build has slowed down a bit.  Those stringers are nuts.

 

 

 

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Awesome John! Glad you're back at it. As a matter of fact I started tinkering with mine again as well. So I will definitely be following your progress. As soon as I figure out a more practical way to post photos again I'll start my build thread so we can compare notes. Keep up the great work!

 

Bill.

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I couldn’t really do any construction work this week, but I did figure out how I’m tackling the S-II stage. 

Screen+Shot+2018-03-29+at+11.07.48+AM.pn

 

Planning before you start cutting – that’s important. (Still working on the aft skirt details, so this drawing is incomplete.)
 

I will be using the aft skirt and tank parts and will use a section of one of the donor kit’s skirts for the forward skirts.  For the aft skirts I’ll strip the top 16mm of the stringers off, the attach it to the tank and sand as smoothly as I can.  I’ll then cover the area with styrene sheet to represent the raised insulation as well as to cover the seams.  I’ll then remove the top 8mm of the tank and mate it with a 35mm section of the donated skirt.  That should give me a pretty fair representation of the S-II.  You can take a look at the unfinished plan here.

 

I’ll be adding the extra stringers to the aft skirt and will also add the smaller “intercostal” stringers to the forward skirt.  The forward skirt stringer count will be off, but it should look reasonable, and will mate up with the S-II/S-IVB interstage which also has the wrong amount.  

 

Surface details like the umbilicals will be laser cut.  Antennas will be cut on the Silhouette.  I still haven’t decided how to build the LH2 fairings and other aft skirt protuberances … maybe a 3D printed “masters” and then resin cast.

I drew these a few years ago.  They’ll likely be used for the master.

 

Screen+Shot+2015-03-02+at+9.18.03+AM.png

 

Screen+Shot+2015-03-02+at+9.34.09+AM.png

 

I drew these a few years ago … they’ll likely be used for the master.

 

As far as the thrust structures, J-2s and forward tank –  that’s the next egg to crack.

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Great! Really nice cad work! I should be planning more but I always get into the habit of all plan and no work. So at some point I just go for it right or wrong. I can see your build is going to be much more accurate than mine. Keep up the great work!

 

Bill

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Thanks Bill.  Yeah, I know all too well about the "all planning and no execution" methodology.  I've been guilty of that for most every project I've ever attempted.  Honestly that's kinda the motivating factor behind building this very project.  I was getting tired of not having anything to show for all the time spent working on all this stuff.   I need some instant gratification.

 

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself. With all the research and drawing I've done, when I do get the opportunity to 3D print one, I'll be ready.

 

Screen+Shot+2018-03-30+at+10.48.49+AM.pn

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally got around to trimming down the Dragon tank and skirt parts for the S-II stages this weekend.  To trim them I used a Dremel drill press, with a diamond wheel cutter, with the press assembly turned 180°.  I adjusted to the height I wanted to make the cut and then slowly rotated the part while the blade cut.  Aside from a few gouges with the first cut, It worked surprisingly well.

 

I just need to clean up the melted plastic and do a little finish sanding and we should be able to proceed to the next steps.

 

IMG_2004.jpg

A lot of plastic "slag" to clean, but the cut is perfectly square.
 

IMG_2006.JPG

The start of a couple of properly proportioned S-II stages.

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Looking great John. glad to see you making headway on these. I'm still working on the LM garage and small details....trying to decide if I want to add more stringer details like you did or just go with what's there on the forward skirts. Leaning towards detailing them but gotta get the mojo to do it first.

 

Bill 

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I can relate to your plights; I'm guilty of it as well.   Building a little everyday is key.  i recite this over and over like a mantra.  With this in mind, when I go to bed I set the alarm to 4:30am -- which should give me 2 hours till 6:30 when I have to start preparing for work.   I end up waking up at 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, 5:30 c/o the snooze button.   5:30 to 6:00 is mindless browsing time and 6:00 to 6:30 for modeling, actually 15 minutes are usually lost to looking for tools.  I'm proud to say, though, that on rare occasions I manage to spring out of bed even before the 4:30 alarm has rung.  :rolleyes:

 

Fantastic 3D modeling by the way, and very nice progress shots!  I need a similar setup for my dremel.   Looking forward to your updates!

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  • 9 months later...

That 50th anniversary is fast approaching – it’s time to get crack-a-lacking and push to complete these before July 31st.  Doable? Quite. Will it actually happen? One can only hope.

 

Went to the LHS and got a fresh supply of Evergreen 131 strips so I can continue the process of gluing the extra stringers on the forward S-IC skirts. Once these are all in place, I’ll start on the interstages … and then on to the S-II aft skirts.  Oh what fun.

 

IMG_0600.JPG

 

Those stringers are tedious little things but the more I add the faster I'm getting adding them.  You can also see the new LOX vent parts I had cut at Ponoko.  They’re not perfect, but they’re much closer than the first ones I had cobbled together.  Onward.

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I love all the work you're doing here!

 

On 3/21/2018 at 2:07 PM, johnlove_mk_II said:

Mind you, I have been adding a few details here and there, but I’ve been mostly just building it OOB and I do have to admit that it’s been a very enjoyable experience.

I'm struggling to see the OOB part in this thread.. :coolio:

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Hey Johnny ... did you realize that a 50th Anniversary Group Build will, hopefully officially, be starting up at the beginning of February?

 

Go to the General Discussion page on ARC and sign the poll ... there are currently 14 of us  and we need 15 to be officially sanctioned ...

 

See you in the GB ... !

Pete

 

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Hi K2Pete.  I've already signed the poll.  I think I may have been number 9 or 10.  Hope we get to the 15 needed.

 

Aussie-Pete - Those look really nice.  I still may actually try to create my own F-1s with the thermal batting applied.  I have a pattern from the previous Saturn V project that I may yet try to finish and cast.  Seems a shame to not use it.

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1 hour ago, johnlove_mk_II said:

Hi K2Pete.  I've already signed the poll.  I think I may have been number 9 or 10.  Hope we get to the 15 needed.

 

Aussie-Pete - Those look really nice.  I still may actually try to create my own F-1s with the thermal batting applied.  I have a pattern from the previous Saturn V project that I may yet try to finish and cast.  Seems a shame to not use it.

I purchased the resin batted engines. Just didn't like them at all. I rather not hide the beauty of the F1s

What's this group build. Will investigate

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...
On 4/10/2018 at 1:52 AM, johnlove_mk_II said:

Finally got around to trimming down the Dragon tank and skirt parts for the S-II stages this weekend.  To trim them I used a Dremel drill press, with a diamond wheel cutter, with the press assembly turned 180°.  I adjusted to the height I wanted to make the cut and then slowly rotated the part while the blade cut.  Aside from a few gouges with the first cut, It worked surprisingly well.

 

I just need to clean up the melted plastic and do a little finish sanding and we should be able to proceed to the next steps.

 

IMG_2004.jpg

A lot of plastic "slag" to clean, but the cut is perfectly square.
 

IMG_2006.JPG

The start of a couple of properly proportioned S-II stages.

 

Hi John,

 

I've long had an interest in aviation and space exploration but have never studied the airframes of the rockets that put men into space.   I've just bought a Dragon 1/72 Saturn V and will build it in much the same way as you have - not being overly concerned about the obvious issues with this kit.    Pardon my ignorance but I'm not sure why you have cut down the section you have using the Dremel drill press.   Did you do this because Dragon messed up the dimensions of the relevant section or did you do it to aid painting of the roll markings?  (or some other reason.).   Love your work and the work of everyone who posts on this awesome forum.   Hopefully, I'll be posting some of my work before the year is out.

 

Cheers,

 

Wayne

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Yes the vertical tank and intertank dimensions on all three stages if the Dragon kit are all off. There is a comparison/correction list linked somewhere in this subforum. 

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  • 9 months later...

Back at this for a bit, bringing it back over from last year's 50th anniversary group build.

 

Talk of a new Dragon 1/72 Saturn IB kit has sort of spurred me back into action on these things. I'd been meaning to get back to these earlier, but it didn't actually work out as planned. Given recent events, I've more time. Go figure.

 

So bengalensis (Jörgen Stendahl), over at britmodeller.com, totally upended my original plan to just throw these together. His build turned out spectacularly. If you haven't already seen the thread you should check it out. It really inspired me to go ahead and take the time and just fix the darn S-IC aft skirts and fairings.

 

I've proceeded to pull out all the materials from prior starts and have set aside the stuff that will still be useful and started formulating a plan to move forward.  I won't bore you guys with all the details but it will go a little like this. (In no particular order)

  1. Plastruct tube, cut to size, that will replace the Dragon part.
  2. Cut notches for 3D printed tie down parts. Install parts.
  3. Apply a crap load of styrene stringers
  4. Custom cut acrylic plate that will act as aft heat shield and mount for F-1s
  5. Create TPS covered F-1 master.  Cast in resin.
  6. 3D print fin and fairing masters. Cast in resin
  7. Put it all together, then start on the S-IIs

F-1 Master

First thing to do is to sort the F-1 situation. I decided to revisit an idea I first had a few years back in that I wanted to cast my own F-1 motors. I used a Apogee F-1 for the main nozzle then a bunch of other mishmashed and scratch built parts for the turbo pumps and TPS frames. It looks fairly accurate, but I think I could make it better if I built it a second time. I'll just carry on with the older assembly for now and see if it doesn't grow on me.

 

As many of you are aware the TPS covered F-1s are kind of an enigma. There are some great images on the test stand of a blanketed F-1, but it's an earlier iteration.  After the Apollo 4 flight the fuel ducts were modified from straight to curved. As to why they did this I haven't found a definitive answer. At any rate, images of the post Apollo 4 TPS  wrapped motors are relatively rare and most are from film footage from pad cameras. I've combed through the inter-webs as best I could and have actually collected a pretty complete idea of what these things actually looked like. If you're interested here are all the images I have found so far – you've probably seen them all before.

 

img_1947.jpg

The old F-1, from eons ago.

 

img_1977.jpg

Still have some fine tuning to do, but it's starting to look like a TPS cover F-1.

 

Getting started with the old master, I corrected a few things with the underlying framework and then started sculpting the basic shapes with some Apoxie Sculpt. This stuff is a lot like milliput but I find it a little easier to work with. It's pretty sticky, so it adheres well to clean styrene and can be smoothed with wetted tools. It drys rock solid in 24 hours and is easily sandable. I only did small areas allowing them cure fully before moving on to the next. A little tedious, and it's taking forever, but it's working well.

 

Once I get this sculpted like I'd like I'm going to add a layer of adhesive aluminum tape to emboss the fastener detail on the blankets.  I'll then mold and cast ten copies in resin for the two S-ICs. Having never really cast anything this complex before it will certainly be a learning experience. There's sure to be a lot of trial and error ... but when has that ever not been the case.

 

Speaking of learning experiences wrought with many trials and untold errors. I just order an Anycubic Photon, and I think it's long over due.  Can't wait to start printing everything in sight ... and stinking up the entire house.

 

51zk6wpsibl._sl1000_.jpg

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