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Thank you K2Pete for organizing this group build! Glad we were able to get approval for this. Here's a project I started a few months ago in preparation for the Apollo 11 anniversary.




I started building the Estes 1:100 scale Saturn V in August after learning that there will be an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for most rockets launched on July 16, 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 (find out more about the World Record attempt here https://www.huntsville.org/event/apollo-11-50th-anniversary-guinness-book-of-world-records-rocket-launch/36072/ ). So I found this old kit on eBay and decided I'd better get started on it right away, seeing as how it takes me so long to finish a build. I know a lot of work goes into building one of these, and I'm hoping I still have the balls to risk firing this thing into the sky when the time comes!




Here's a look at most of the kit parts. It's a lot of paper and cardboard! It's been 20 years since I last built a flying model rocket, and never one this large or complex!




As usual, I've made up my own decal sheet of markings for this kit. It's a bit more accurate, and a lot more complete than the sheet that comes with the kit.


Without further ado, let's get started!

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DAYS 1-3
9.5 hours
Starting build cost: $144.99


I began by marking up the inner tube that holds the engine. The various lines tell you where to glue things, like mounting discs, retainer tubes and the engine hook. In the bottom pic, you see the completed assembly, ready to be glued inside the body tube that will represent the first and second stages of the Saturn V.






Here's another shot of some of the numerous tubes and parts I'm working with here in the early part of the build. The tubes for the first, second and third stages of the Saturn V have been marked for lining up the various wraps and details to be applied later on. Careful consideration has to be given at this point so that everything lines up correctly when it's all put together.




After gluing the engine mount tube inside the first stage, it was time to start assembling the second and third stages. I'm making an effort to build this rocket from the top down without skipping around too much. In the above photo on the left is the tube assembly that will make up the SLA and Apollo Service Module. On the right is what will become the S-IVB or third stage. You can see where I've marked the lines for the styrene stringer wraps that will go around the tube. The wire you see on the end attaches to the parachutes, to be installed at the end of the build.


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DAYS 4-11
16.5 hours
26 hours total
Build cost to date: $167.48




Here are the upper stages stacked together and having the paper shrouds applied to form the SLA and S-IVB transition. I made copies of the kit shrouds and printed them on my own cardstock just in case I messed up. I'm glad I did this, because the first SLA shroud I made didn't line up just right. The BPC/LES you see is not the kit part, but a better 3D printed piece I found on Shapeways. It will be much sturdier and and more suitable for flight than the fragile parts that come with the Estes kit.




While waiting for the Elmers glue to dry on those shrouds, I decided to go ahead and assemble the F-1 engine nozzle halves and paint them. As generic as these are, I chose not to add any missing details or bat them with foil at this point. I can do all that later after the rocket flies and returns successfully. These are only for display anyway and are not attached when launching the Estes rocket.




Once again, I've used my Silhouette cutter to create some detail parts to add to the seemingly bare Estes Saturn V. In the top pic is the S-IC style flame shield I made that the F-1 engine nozzles will attach to (again, for display only). On the bottom are the various umbilicals, antennas and radiator panels that go on the outside of the rocket and spacecraft. I've even made a wrap for the IU.




In the above pics are the F-1 engines, painted and complete (for now), and attached to the S-IC flame shield and mounting tube. The exterior of the F-1s were sprayed with Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover aluminum and the interiors brushed with Testors Burnt Metal metalizer.




I printed a paper wrap to go around the Apollo Service Module as a guide for adding the details I made. Not only does it show me where to place the radiator panels, but also where to drill the holes for the RCS thrusters. Here you see the radiator panels already glued in place.




Filling and sanding seams are a different challenge when working with paper shrouds such as the seam you see here on the SLA. You mask around the seam and fill with putty like you normally would, but after sanding, the paper has a fuzzy, rough finish. So you have to go over it with a brush or cotton swab dipped in glue, and use your finger to wipe away any excess. This makes the fuzzy paper smooth again. Here you can also see where I've began adding the IU wrap and detail bits to the S-IVB.




One idea I've been toying with is launching this rocket with an altimeter inside. Here I've built a payload bay that fits inside the SLA to accomodate the altimeter. After further study, I learned that in order for this to work, I'd have to drill breathing holes for the altimeter into the SLA. So I'm going to hold off on this idea for now. But here you see me doing a dry fit to see how the payload bay would fit inside the SLA. Also visible here is the BPC/LES after being sprayed with Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Gloss White.


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DAYS 12-15
5.5 hours
31.5 hours total
Build cost to date: $203.21




A good bit of time was spent gluing on the wraps to the S-IVB, and adding all of the detail bits I made to the S-IVB and IU. I went ahead and used the kit balsa wood parts for the systems tunnels, but in hindsight I think making my own with styrene sheet would have been a better solution. I also filled in the seams of the S-IVB body tube, carefully masking around both sides of each seam with tape before applying putty.




The assembly of the upper stages are now complete and ready for painting.




Here's a test fit to show my progress. Pretty happy with how it's going so far.


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DAYS 16-21
9 hours
40.5 hours total
Build cost to date: $230.65




After carefully cleaning and wiping down the upper stages, I sprayed them with a few coats of Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Gloss White. It's enamel based, so it takes longer to dry and cure than a lacquer, but the finish is smoother and more reliable here in the humid South.




After giving the white paint a week or so to cure, I masked the Service Module and gave it a coat or two of Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Aluminum.




Here's how she looks after applying the various decals to the Service Module and BPC/LES.




I'm still not finished detailing this portion of the rocket. I have a couple more decal wraps I'd like to add, and I still need to attach the RCS thrusters to the SM. I'll get to that in the next update.


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So far ... so good Hotdog! Will the Rocket 'motors' attach to the exterior of the 1st stage?

And you just have to promise to take a video of it launching ... success or fail, that'll be great to see!


One other thing, to save you what may be a bit of a hassle, rather than post multiple postings separately, I've found that we can post 10-15 images in one posting ...


Good to see ya here!


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4 minutes ago, K2Pete said:

So far ... so good Hotdog! Will the Rocket 'motors' attach to the exterior of the 1st stage?

And you just have to promise to take a video of it launching ... success or fail, that'll be great to see!


One other thing, to save you what may be a bit of a hassle, rather than post multiple postings separately, I've found that we can post 10-15 images in one posting ...


Good to see ya here!





The Estes Saturn V uses a single 29mm engine that goes up inside the aft end of the first stage. The F-1 's are part of a removable display piece that doesn't fly. I'll be using an Estes E-12-4 motor. Here's a video:



I'll have a few videos of the launch. I'm planning to attach a small camera to the side of the rocket for an aerial view of the flight, as well as a stationary camera under the launch platform, and I'll probably shoot what I can with my cell phone.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

DAYS 22-24
10.5 hours
51 hours total
Build cost to date: $230.65


It apologize for the long hiatus on this build. The cold, rainy weather of January-March factored into delaying the painting of the roll patterns, and when I did manage to spray some paint on it, a chemical reaction did a number to take the wind out of my sails for a bit. It took some time to get motivated again after that. More on that in a minute.




So here I have the S-IVB all masked up and ready for the spraying of the roll pattern. It took me over 3 and a half hours to get it all masked up. As always, I seal it with some clear coat first.




After spraying with Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Flat Black and removing the mask, here is the finished result. Turned out great, yes?




Well, not quite. Here is one little spot on the IU where the paint had some kind of chemical reaction. This should not happen, as I am using only the Rustoleum 2x Painter's Touch for both the white and black areas. I later came to the conclusion that the Rustoleum Clear Gloss that I used to seal the mask had to be the culprit. I plan to use Clear Flat from now on with these masks. To fix this, I just sanded the affected area smooth again, and repainted with Flat Black.




Next I added some detail to the Service Module by adding a homemade decal wrap. The application was made more tedious by having to cut the decal out in sections to make it fit around the radiator panels, but it turned out very nice.




Now it was time to give the SLA it's own decal wrap. I had issues with getting such a large decal to lay flat without bubbling, so I printed it on glossy paper and applied it with a spray adhesive instead and got a much better finish. Although this looks better than the bare kit paper SLA, I'm still not 100% happy with it. I think after I fly this thing, I will replace it with the injection-molded SLA from the new Estes Saturn V kit.




Finally, I painted and attached the RCS quads to the Service Module, and applied the remaining decals to the upper stages.




With just over two months until launch day, I am only halfway finished with the build. I'd better get moving if I'm going to get this done in time!




Edited by Hotdog
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I used to work as a freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator, and I work better to a deadline, and regarding your lack of motivation, the upcoming launch deadline should act as motivation for you Hotdog!


And this was worth the wait! I don't enjoy masking, so it's nice to hear someone else takes a good amount of time too! But ... it ... turned ... out ... GREAT!    :thumbsup:


And that lovely bubbling of the Rustoleum paint is curious.

I've read here on ARC, in the Tips and Tricks forum, that instead of spraying a Clear sealing coat first, spray a colour of your base layer. So here, the White of the S-IVB. It seals the masking so the Black coat doesn't bleed. 

And the decal wrap for the Service Module is Terrific! '


This is looking GREAT Hotdog!


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  • 1 month later...

DAYS 25-34
19 hours
70 hours total
Build cost to date: $230.65


Written on June 2, 2019:

At T-minus 43 days until launch, I'm starting to feel the heat on finishing my Estes Saturn V. I'm just now getting started on the enormous body tube represent the first and second stages of the rocket.




I started by masking around the seams of the tube with Tamiya tape so I could fill in the tube seams. I used Squadron white putty straight out of the tube to fill the seams. once dry, I peeled off the tape and sanded them with foam sanding blocks until smooth. It took four and a half hours to do all of this start to finish.




Since the S-II portion of the Estes Saturn V is a bit bare, I decided to add the helium purge channels. I would use .015 x 0.30 styrene strip for this. I used the David Weeks drawings to make the template seen here for gluing on the strips. I also added a 25mm band just below the forward skirt using 100# cardstock.




Before I could start applying the strips, I had to first apply the vacuform wraps that represent the stringers to the aft of the S-II, the interstage, and the S-IC forward section. It was a tedious and time consuming task getting the wraps in place to a level of satisfaction, and filling and sanding all of the gaps between the various fairings and feed lines. The photo above should illustrate the hours of fun I was having!




Here's a shot of the S-II with the strips representing the helium purge channels in place. It took longer than expected to apply these, and by now, I'm really under the gun to get this thing ready to fly.

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DAYS 34-36
4.5 hours
74.5 hours total
Build cost to date: $299.64


Written June 16, 2019:

I've reached crunch time on the Estes Saturn V. If I'm going to have her ready for the July 16th Guinness world record launch, all body work has to be finished this week so that I can lay down the first coats of paint next weekend. Any slips in this schedule and I'll likely miss the date.




Before I lay down the final stringer wrap that goes around the bottom of the first stage, I first cut slots for the 3D printed F-1 engine fairings I bought off of Shapeways. These will save a lot of time and headaches, and look nicer than the vacuformed fairings that come with the kit.




With the aft stringer wrap in place, I super glued the fairings onto the body. I'd love to remove the air scoops from the wrap, but there's just not time.


And then, disaster struck.




Can you tell me what's wrong with the above photo?


Yes, anyone with any familiarity at all with the anatomy of the Saturn V will almost surely spot that I have glued the S-IC intertank in the wrong spot! In my mad rush to get this thing done in a time crunch, I somehow managed to glue the intertank wrap FORWARD of the guideline I had made and not to the AFT! At this point, the glue had been dried for over a week, and I had spent hours cutting, gluing and filling in the dowel rod feed lines that intersect it. What a bonehead mistake!!!




In a desperate attempt to correct this unforgivable error, I took my Exacto and putty knives and humbly scraped away the intertank wrap from the cardboard body tube. What was revealed was a mix of dried-up Elmer's white glue and super glue that could not be removed. Even the grittiest sandpaper and toughest sanding block would not remove the glue from the surface. Out of options and time, I am now forced to declare this build "dead". 💀


Even if I could somehow get the glue off, repairing the surface area would take the rest of the week at minimum, putting me behind schedule and likely missing the launch date.


So 36 days, 75 hours of build time, and $300 invested, all to meet this disappointing end. I'm in shock! 🤧🤧🤧

Edited by Hotdog
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Mate, you have done a great job. Don't worry, we have all been there. Knowing these craft so well and making a silly mistake happens. Your work up till now has been outstanding. I'm sure this project will continue, once you gather yourself. Just think Apollo 12's 50th could be a new goal😁

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woh - could you cutoff a thin layer of skin containing the hardened glue then wrap the whole S1C with a new "skin" of thin sheet - then redo the intertank? Worth a try HD - this is an amazing build! Keep trying man!


Best - we've all been there - 


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Wow so far it was looking just great too!! Man I would try to repair this. If you think of all the time and work went into it, the rest of it which is just awesome, so another Sat 5 kit to redo the S-IC intertank would not be impossible. Look at the time here, I would bye a newer kit and retro fit it. Really... buddy this rocket still is so cool!

Edited by Saturn5Tony
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The White Glue I use, which may be the same formula as Elmer's, dissolves in water and the CA glue, you can buy CA de-bonder to remove the residue.


Geez, Hotdog, ya can't give up ... you'll be regretting missing the group launch for-ever-r-r ... you've  still got 30 days. Look at it this way ... you're building this for yourself, right? Even if an ullage motor is on upside down and the Saturn V isn't painted ... get it all together and launch it. Then, dress it up to make it all pretty afterwards. Nobody's gonna hold it against you.


So far this model looks pretty good ... and I know you'll want to meet the launch deadline. That will be so-o-o koo-o-o-ol!


And if we don't get to see a video of it ... well ... almost nobody will hold it against you!  :whistle:


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