Alway Saturn vs. Estes Saturn?

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I was wondering how the new Peter Alway Saturn compares to the Estes Saturn?

Thanks in advance,
I'm in the process of building the Alway/Saturn Press Saturn V (and will be building the Dr. Zooch Sat V shortly) so maybe I can run down a brief comparison:

Saturn Press:

Price: $50, as opposed to $80 or thereabouts if you can get ahold of the Estes model, which has been OOP now for a couple years, and is starting to get a little scarce.

Smaller size, about 22 inches tall.

Engines: A8-3, B6-4 and C6-5 for standard flying. Model is not super-lightweight, but should still fly adequately on the B's and C's. Stability enhanced by lead nose weight.

Good detailing, scale nozzles remain on the model for flight, making the flying model actually LOOK more like the real-life Saturn.

Small details, fairings, etc etc. good accuracy. A lot depends on how much effort you want to put into minor detailing such as the escape tower, CM protective cover, etc etc. Escape tower and SM RCS nozzles are neatly done.

Does not have molded corrugated wraps, etc. like the Estes model. Does have imprinted wraps for interstage sections and a silver wrap for the SM.

Peter Alway reports that construction for the Saturn Press model is not terribly time-consuming - three or four sessions of a couple hours should do it. (Of course, what takes Peter Alway a pretty short time may take us ordinary mortals a little bit longer!! :D :rolleyes: :D )

You do need to allow extra time in the middle of construction to allow paint coats to fully cure, but actual constuction is not expected to take an extremely long time.


Price-availability issue as noted. Still reasonably available if you do a little searching, and Estes is known to re-issue it every couple of years, although of course there are no guarantees on that.

About 39 inches tall.

Engines: Base version D12-3, and quite underpowered at that. I believe it also flies on E's, although I am not sure (my version was a 1969 edition), certainly can be adapted reasonably eaily to fly on E's. I would guess on an E9-4, it would lift off very slowly, then gain more altitude. Stability is somewhat marginal, requires clay nose weight.

With more significant modifications, can fly on Aerotech E/F's.

Corrugated plastic wraps contain good detail on the interstage sections, S-II retro-ullage rockets, etc. Escape tower has good detail, but is notoriously fragile and subject to snapping off on landing.

It took me about 2 weeks of fairly intensive building efforts to finally put this kit together 10 years ago. I don't remember exactly how many hours, but I'd say a half-dozen sessions of a couple hours or so.

The Centuri/Estes Saturn V is pretty much my pride and joy, and I am sure the Saturn Press version will be fun to build, and I'll probably be a little more willing to actually fly it. Same for the Dr. Zooch version.

Sandman suggested on another thread to adapt one of the kits to the Skylab version, which would be an interesting variation, so I think I will do just that. ;)

The fourth alternative would be the Apogee Components version - bigger, more detailed and considerably more expensive than any of the other three, and reportedly also much more labor-intensive to build.

A few other "comparative" notes.

Estes Saturn V is Limited or OOP Price as stated

Alway Saturn V...unlimited want more he'll make more.

Apogee Saturn V is very pricy $225.00! Scary to fly on an Econojet motor.

Thanks for all the good information. I have one more question for you. What is the maximum altitude for each kit?

Thanks in advance,
Also... are the parts in the Alway Sat V paper, balsa, plastic?
I'd LOVE to see some pictures of the kit or a partially completed model.
I thought the Zooch model was neat and I like Sandman's kits but I'd never be able to get through those 'little' bitty wraps. I'm almost certain I'd screw it up. Kits like the Redstone on the other hand or balsa parts I wouldn't hesitate to try.
[Nothing against Sandman or Dr. Zooch - I just know my limits.]
I've looked at everything I can find on the Estes Sat V (the last version) and I think I could build it (with time) - But like you said Andy - flying it may be another thing totally.
And the Apogee Sat V - forget it. I know it is a great kit but WAY out of my league. I'd never have the guts to fly it either.
On the other hand if the Alway kit is reasonably easy to build and looks good (which I'm sure it does - How can it not?). I'd like to try it.
I saw his thread (Peter Alway's) but I'd still like to see some kit pictures and/or building in progress pictues. How about it anyone?
Originally posted by JStarStar
Corrugated plastic wraps contain good detail on the interstage sections, S-II retro-ullage rockets, etc. Escape tower has good detail, but is notoriously fragile and subject to snapping off on landing.
Have you seen the Molding Oldies parts?
This is a neat idea. $20 for the fins is a little pricey but would probably be worth it...
The Alway kit is paper and plastic.

No wraps on the Alway kit either...I don't think so...maybe I should look!

The Alway kit is very easy...almost a "snap together" kit.

The body tube has a lot of laser cutouts for the detail parts (also laser cut) to fit into.

The Alway kit was designed to fly like a Big Bertha...maybe 400 to 600' on a "C" motor.

The nice thing about the wraps on my kit is that they eliminate all the painting except for some touch up work on the edges and the escape motor.
Yes, actually I did see the Moldin' Oldies parts, I bought a set of Interceptor parts for a clone version which is festering on my "to-do list," and at the same time I did order up a set of the Saturn V parts.

So, when I do get around to putting together my next Estes Saturn V (probably in wintertime) - for my "flying" version, I will definitely use the Moldin' Oldies parts. The fin fairings and escape tower should be much more durable than the stock parts.

Maximum altitude: these are absolute guesses, really:

The Saturn Press Saturn V, I would guess, probably does 600 feet on a C6-5, about 300 on a B, and maybe 200 on an A. Peter Alway might have a more accurate idea, but I would guess that would be in the ball park.

The Estes Saturn V would probably get about 200 feet on a D12-3, certainly no more. This is a very heavy, very low-density model - high drag. It is not a high flyer.

As I recall, when I launched mine, it did get a little bit of altitude, but was probably no more than 75-100 feet off the ground at ejection. I've never flown mine on an "E", but I'd think you might get 300-400 feet.

Edit: Dr. Zooch claims 879 feet max altitude for the Saturn V on his Rebar Rocketry ad page, presumably from RockSim on a C6-5. Using the rule of thumb for smaller engines, that would put you about 400 with a B, 200 with an A. Since the Saturn Press Sat V is slightly (20%) larger, I'd guess my estimates are pretty close.
Sandman is, as usual, correct. No wraps on the Saturn Press Sat V.

I actually decided to get going on building it - previously, my progress on the kit consisted of opening the bag and reading the instructions.


(Under that definition, I am currently "working on" about 15 rockets. :p )

I'm snapping some pics as I go and I'll post a fairly complete report when I'm done. It'll be a day or two (I do have some other stuff to do!).

I can confirm Sandman's opinion that the construction is very straightforward and very well explained by Peter's instructions. In the introduction, he says that anyone who has built "a few rocket kits" should be able to finish the Sat V without major difficulty, and that's certainly on target.

One thing that is very important, especially to anyone whose experience with die-cut fins is mainly limited to "die-crushed" fins in many popular kits - take care when removing the laser-cut plywood parts (fins, fin fairings, RCS nozzles, etc.)

The plywood parts are quite intricately cut and come out of the plywood sheet pretty easily, however, on some parts (particularly the four fins), there are small details which at first glance look mainly like splinter fragments which on other kits you would assume was just sloppy die-cutting, and probably be tempted to just bust off, cut off or sand off.

Don't do it - those details are supposed to be there. The laser-cut parts fit together very precisely, and you don't want to snap these small details off. So be careful when removing these parts from the plywood.

The S-II interstage adapter, the LM shroud adapter, and the four wooden engine nozzles, all need to be sealed before finishing, and that's one step that can be done all at once.

OK, at this point, I have the motor mount all done, the fin fairing A-frames put together, and the conical wooden parts all sealed and drying, so I'm gonna let it sit till morning. So far, so good.


(While I was in the process of doing all this, I threw together a Fat Boy kit I had sitting in the cabinet, with some minor mods to make it into a Fat Boy D-E Version) :D :D )

Ahh yeah, finally cemented the rudder fins on my Hobby Labs SR-71, too. As soon as I decal it up, I guess it's ready to go. :D
Based on my experience with the Dr. Zooch Saturn I Blk 2 and Saturn IB, you can expect no plastic, some paper wraps, and lots of detailed work involving tweezers. Definitely not a 3 or 4 session kit.

JStarStar...would love to have you compare the Alway and Zooch Saturn V's once you have both.
Think I'll do that, Illini...

Today's progress on the Saturn Press Sat V:

Cut out and hand-curled the cardstock F-1 engine nozzle skirts, and the fin fairing shrouds .. glued the nozzle skirts into their conical shape, then glued them on the wooden nozzle turnings.

The instructions note the nozzle turnings may require some sanding to properly seat in the nozzle skirts. This is quick work with a Dremel.

Glued the engine assemblies together, and glued them into the motor mount unit. Care must be taken to get the engine bell assemblies seated correctly into the motor mount.

Left the glue to dry for a few hours while I went out to run some errands, then came back and did preliminary painting. Sprayed the fin fairing assemblies gloss white as per P. Alway's instructions, and the engine bells/motor mount metallic silver. That's enough for one night, gonna let the paint dry and cure for a full day before I do any more on those assemblies.

Tomrrow, start cutting out and fitting the trim pieces (interstage tunnels, ullage rockets, etc.) and main-body painting.

So far it's lookin' pretty good.

Mr. Blue-Suit Santa should arrive with my Zooch Sat V tomorrow,- no mail today 'cuz of Columbus Day - so I suppose I'll launch right into building that too. Hopefully I can have both of 'em done within a week or so.
I found a Saturn press kit on ebay now for under $40.00!
Looks cool! My son says it look cool. I am thinking about it! I do have an ESTES Saturn V though. Would be nice-thinking.....
I haven't had time to come here in some time due to personal junk. Anyway, there's nothing about the descriptions of my Saturn V kit that I would disagree about.

However, I did get an email from Bill Saindon that the first run of kits is depleted, and it will be 2-3 weeks before there are more. The next run will probably use pennies instead of lead for the nose weight, and it may have re-designed nozzles.

I will concede that the Estes kit will produce a more impressive model, but I think that mine is more flyable. I don't have altitude measurements or estimates, but I think the big Bertha comparison is still apt.

On another front, three sets of prototype parts for the cute little Zenit scale kit just arrived. Time to get cracking on the instructions.

Peter Alway

Hopefully you will bring sample of the Zenit to the meeting for all to see.
OK, progress report on the Saturn Press Saturn.

I got sidetracked with some work stuff and some other minor diversions, so I had to take a few days off from the build. I did get back to it last night, and got some more work done.

I also got my Dr. Zooch Sat V and read the instructions to that one, to compare the two kits, and in the grand tradition of kitbashing, plan-bashing, idea-stealing and all that, I am proceeding with my build of the Saturn Press Sat V using a few modifications stolen from the Zooch kit to result, I hope, in a better-looking model in the end.

The "Zoochified Saturn Press Edition" if you will. :D

There are also a few things in the Zooch kit which could be improved upon /stolen from the Saturn Press kit, so the Zooch kit will be the "Saturn Press Style Zooch Edition." Fair enough, if i steal from one, I should steal from the other. ;) :D

For the Saturn Press edition, these mods will include:

The use of cardstock wraps, properly scaled to size, to simulate the corrugated interstage sections. The "stock version" does not include those ... and it does look fine, but just seems to me to lack something without the corrugations.

I won't reveal where I got these patterns, to avoid an army of vengeful ant-warriors attacking my underground lair ( :eek: :eek: ) but they are somewhat readily available. You just have to do some careful scaling calculations, and tweak it a percentage or two to get them to fit just right.

I considered trying to hand-paint or inscribe the corrugations, and quickly said 'forget it' -- my artistic talents aren't nearly of that caliber. I can only imagine what a mess I'd make of something like that. So if my Saturn V is going to have corrugations, it's going to have to be wraps of some sort.

Another "Zooch" feature I'm using is to use glued string wound arond the exterior of the F-1 engine bells, to simulate the coolant lines molded into the exterior shell of the engines. Instead of the "Funky Glue Putty" recommended by Zooch, I am using air-drying clay I got at the craft store to mold the heat-exchange tubes on the F-1 bells ... I'd describe the results as "fair" ... maybe. When done, i will coat the exterior of the bells with a thin coat of glue, then spray-paint silver.

I would definitely add at this point, if you intend to do any such detail work on the engine bells on this or any other Saturn vehicle, do it BEFORE you glue the bells into the engine mount. I didn't, and as a result it is gonna look a little clunky. It is very very tough to get things shaped just right when you're working in such tiny quarters. Ahh well, live and learn, that's what you get for thinking on the fly. :rolleyes:

Now, I haven't started on the Zooch kit, but one thing I can see I will steal from the Saturn Press kit is the construction of the fin fairing units.

Zooch uses a technique where you glue the cardstock fin fairing shrouds to a BT-20 body tube, then cut the fairing units out of the tube, to give you a reinforced curved shape. You cut a slot out of the shroud to allow the fins to pass through. The problem comes with fin attachment - the fins are then glued directly to that about 1"-long triangular body tube cutout.

This IMO is going to result in a very fragile and easily breakable fin joint. The fin joint is going to have only one glue surface, to the cardboard fin fairing unit rather than the main tube - my guess is those fins, and probably the fairing unit itself, will snap off very easily.

My solution is going to be to cut the fins a little longer than the kit pattern - to make them with a fin tab about 1/4 inch long, to allow fin gluing to the body tube of the rocket itself. (I considered going whole hog and going for actual TTW fin construction, but decided that would be overkill. Enough is enough. :rolleyes: )

With the tabs, and the corresponding slot cut in the fairing, the fins will then pass through the fin fairing and have a double-sided glue joint at the pass-through point on the fairing.

This will reinforce both the fin itself, and the fairing as well.. both will be secured by two additional glue joints than the original plans. It should make the fin/fairing assembly much more resistant to snapping off on the slightest rough landing.

(It will probably also add maybe an ounce to the weight of the rocket, so I'll have to doublecheck the CG, but nothing a little nose weight won't fix.)

So anyway, that's where we stand now. Back to the grind... maybe I can get the Saturn Press model done in the next few days. We'll see... ;)
Originally posted by JStarStar
The "Zoochified Saturn Press Edition" if you will. :D

For the Saturn Press edition, these mods will include:

I do not have the Zooch kit, but I am also considering super-detailing the F1 engine bells of my Saturn Saturn. If they are going to be there, they might as well look their best...

And I am still hoping someone will sell some printed wraps so that I do not have to make my own.

Here are a few more enhancements I plan to make:

Replace the X part of the escape tower supports with parts cut from some thin clear plastic stock.

Sand the RCS nozzles round on the service module.

Add those unsymmetrical bumps to the liquid hydrogen lines on the second stage.

Add retrorocket housings to the second to third stage transition.

Add cardstock details to LM adapter.

Add the wiring conduit to the CM/SM.

Use a tiny drill to carve jettison nozzles into the escape tower motor.

Finally, since I want to model the Apollo 11 flight, those evil ullage motors will just have to come back on the interstage :p

When I am done, I'll probably be afraid to fly it, defeating Peter's original purpose :)

Originally posted by Peter Alway
and it may have re-designed nozzles.

Inquiring minds want to know, how might they be redesigned? Just a way to cut the cost of the kit?

Here's a look at the "Slightly Zoochified" nozzles of my Saturn Press Sat V now nearing completion... glued-on shroud lines to form the engine bell coolant lines, and air-hardening clay for the coolant exchange tubes, then all given a good covering of Testors silver enamel... they came out kinda clunky because I didn't add them on until the nozzle assembly was already glued together.

But it's good enough for the "casual spectator."

I'll probably have to load a little more weight in the nose, adding that stuff to the engine bells probably added a half-ounce or so. We'll see fairly soon.

OK, so I'm a little late, but I just found this thread!

I have the Estes Saturn and the Moldin Oldies fin/tower set. I added some nose weight (not sure how much exactly, but I can measure it and post it here) and was able to fly it with absolutely no issues on an AT F39-T reload. I am going to be popping out the motor mount and putting in a 29mm in the near future. I saw one go up on a G-40 and man did it look good!

Anyway, just had to add my $.02.

Sorry I got waylaid for a week or so here, but I should be finishing up the Alway Saturn in the next couple days. I'll post pics when I do. The build is going OK, I have just had a few other things going on for a few days. :rolleyes:
"Zoochified"... I love it! I'd like to know how my kit flies as compared to Peter's. I don't own a copy of his, in fact I did not even know it existed prior to NARAM 2004. (Yes I was that detached from the model rocketry world prior to introducing the kits). What I saw of it was amazing, however. He has made it super detailed and laser cut everything it seems. Micro detail! It is like his books, just super well done with great time and expense invested. My rocket kits are like paperbacks compared to his hardcover. Laser cut tubes?... never heard of it... I cut mine with an Xacto knife along a pencil mark... costs you less. Super detail and scale... HA!'ll be goin' too fast for anyone to notice. Still, I'd like to know how the two fly side by side.
<i>I don't own a copy of his, in fact I did not even know it existed prior to NARAM 2004. (Yes I was that detached from the model rocketry world prior to introducing the kits). </i>

Don't feel too out of it. The kid *didn't exist* before NARAM 2004!
Yours is a highly cool kit. I never considered that folks would take methods from each of us to make their kits better. That's what rocketeering is all about.