# Building a Estes Mega Der Max

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#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Hey so if i get something wrong or you have a suggestion in general post it in the comments please and i will get back to you within 48 hours or so after all I'm a busy 7th grade student.

So to be honest i have a lot of experience with the Mega Der Max the only thing is... the fins on this is ridiculous you spend 4/5 of your building time just on the fins and last time i have my exacto knife slice into my hand but then again i wasn't that educated back then on safety (last year) so to start off i would like to ask if anyone would like to do the fins for me (correctly) the only thing is kinda can't pay shipping so theres that but hey i spend a lot of time trying to put models together this one just doesn't really fit my experience right now at least :sad:. I will wait until it gets here soon but please pm if you would like to help me build the fins on this puppy i will put a picture of how complicated they are to assemble, maybe donate epoxy (it helps due to I'm building 4-5 pro series 2 models maybe every month)
or anything in general pm me please. i will post when i get the kit and then when someone does the fins so please be patient.

update: As far for the fins i think my local rocket club is going to do them but not sure, there very busy as well so probably might not work but good news i have been practicing with some left over balsa wood i found in my scraps and practically did it spot on its just i cut it .5 to 1cm to long for assurance. i am glad to say i will be doing the fins myself and once i get the kit this tuesday/wendsay i will post a video and picure of the unboxing also is it ok if i don't use epoxy?

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#### Rex R

##### LV2
well the fins etc. are all laser cut so there should be little to cut. I have found that using nice new blades reduces accidents because one isn't trying to force the blade to cut.
Rex

#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
well the fins etc. are all laser cut so there should be little to cut. I have found that using nice new blades reduces accidents because one isn't trying to force the blade to cut.
Rex
Thanks for the Advice very appreciated also what do you recommend if no one offers the help with the fins any companies that might?

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
Welcome to the forum!

As much as I would love to build your fins, I doubt that sending them to me would work for you. You see, I am working in China.

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#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Welcome to the forum!

As much as I would love to build your fins, I doubt that sending them to me would work for you. You see, I am working in China.
well depends will you come back to america if so when also just wanted to say thanks its nice to have a bunch of experienced rocketeers talk to me

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
Trust me, you don't want to wait for me to return to the United States... it will be a while before I can afford it.

#### TangoJuliet

##### Well-Known Member
First things first young man...

1) It's probably NOT a good idea to post your phone number in a forum post. It's much better to have people PM you if they are interested in helping you, then you can share your number/address with them in a Private Message.

2) I admire your desire and your efforts to this point (building 4-5 PSII models a month) but if, as you say, your skills are not up to doing these fins right now, perhaps you should put this one aside for a while until your skills reach the level required. There's no shame in that. We all have to build our skill sets until we can accomplish a desired task without too much difficulty... It's part of the learning process.

3) I've built one of these, and it's really not that hard to do, but you can screw it up and make it more difficult for yourself. I can't tell in your photo, but if you've already glued your skins to the internal frame, you might have already made it more difficult, because it looks as though your sheet(s) shifted as they dried; specifically the fin on the lower right. You might need to add some scrap balsa sheet to the edge where the core in exposed. After that, just get a sanding block and sand all your edges square (the soft balsa skins will sand away before the hard internal plywood core), and match-sand all three fins to each other. Once they're all matched, then you can go back and round the leading edges if you like.

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#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Wow thanks for the advice you don't understand how much this helps. First let me just say those fins were kinda a prove your point image as i stated i said i would put what the fins will roughly look like, they weren't a picture of my fins. i will be posting a step by step on how i build this video and pictures. but since your a very experienced rocketeer I have a couple questions i would like to ask if you don't mind. also I'm sorry for putting my phone number i will instead put my email would that be better?

1.) Do you know any companies that would be able to do this (sounds kinda dumb but yea)

2.) For the fins I'm thinking of buying a whole sheet of balsa so i don't have to glue them together. can i use the same thickness as the balsa but put use a plywood sheet? do you know were i can get some balsa?

3.) Do you know anyone who would be willing to help me out?

#### TangoJuliet

##### Well-Known Member
You're welcome. :wink:

No, as with your phone #, you don't really want to put your email out there for the world to see either. Edit your first post asking for help and tell anyone that might want/be able to help to contact you through PM. They get to your PM by clicking on your Avatar image.

1) No.

2) The reason they provide multiple sheets of balsa in the kit that you need to edge glue is because you really can't buy sheets of balsa that wide to begin with, and if you could they'd probably be horribly warped. Edge gluing balsa isn't hard to do. With a straight edge (metal ruler), trim (not much) one long side so that it's very straight on each sheet. Then butt two straight edges together tightly and run blue painters tape along that seem. Turn the now joined sheets over, open the seem slightly to create a gap and run a bead of carpenters glue (I like Titebond II) in the gap. Then lay them flat again, wipe away the excess glue that will squeeze out, and then lay something heavy (a stack of magazines or text books) on it until dry. It's also best to lay all of this on some wax paper on your bench/table and also a sheet of wax paper between the glue and your weights.

3) Advice, like what I'm providing you, is about the best you can hope for I think. Unless there is someone who lives near you who would be willing to meet you and help you.

Good luck to you.

#### Rex R

##### LV2
posting your phone number makes it easier to find you...speaking of which you might want to try contacting these folks; https://mmmsclub.org/
I can't give specific advice for the mega, because I haven't built one. the photo makes it look as though the balsa 'skins' are fairly thin (which makes them easier to cut). some tools I can suggest is an X-acto razor saw, a metal rule/straight edge, drafting pencil, fine point ball point pen(for marking balsa), and a piece of angle Aluminum (for marking body tubes).
Rex

#### smugglervt

##### Vermont BAR
TRF Supporter
If you do a search on the forum for Mega Der Red Max you will find some build threads including mine. The fins are not that difficult to do. Like tango said, you may want to get some more building skills under your belt before tackling the MDRM.

#### ThirstyBarbarian

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I think you should grow your skills by building some other kits, and then build the Max when you are ready to do it yourself. I think it's pretty unlikely you are going to find someone on the forum to build the fins for you, especially if that person also has to pay the shipping to do it! Also, I doubt there are any companies that do that kind of work.

It's really not very difficult to build the fins. If you do need help, maybe you should ask an adult in your family or at your school to help you. Is there an adult helping you to fly these rockets? Maybe that person can help with the building.

Also, I agree with the others who have said you should remove your phone number from your post. Scroll up to your post, click "Edit Post" at the bottom, and then delete the phone number. You should be practicing better internet security. Don't give away your phone number, email address, home address, real name, or other personal information to strangers on the internet. That's a really bad idea, and you should go fix the post now. Talk to your parents or another adult about what kinds of info are safe or not safe to share on the internet.

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
I made a call to our young member, and talked him through editing out the phone number.

I also suggested contacting his local NAR/Tripoli clubs for help on the fins.

#### Rex R

##### LV2
thank you K'tesh. an educated guess puts him in the Northeast part of the country so the folks I directed him to ought to be able to assist in flying these birds.
Rex

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
update: As far for the fins i think my local rocket club is going to do them but not sure, there very busy as well so probably might not work but good news i have been practicing with some left over balsa wood i found in my scraps and practically did it spot on its just i cut it .5 to 1cm to long for assurance. i am glad to say i will be doing the fins myself and once i get the kit this tuesday/wendsay i will post a video and picure of the unboxing also is it ok if i don't use epoxy?
Good to hear you're building up your confidence in building. Build it w/o epoxy? Sure for everything except for the motor retainer. For that you NEED epoxy, and I think most here would recommend JB Weld Steel epoxy.

Which you can find online for just a tad over 4. Epoxy shouldn't be scary, just treated with caution (rubber gloves). Many of us will use BSI's 30 minute epoxy for building smaller MPR/HPR kits. I'd also suggest that you glue in the motor mount's forward and middle centering ring, but leave off the rear centering ring. With that ring off, you can do internal fillets for additional strength. For that though you do need epoxy. After the fillets are finished, you can seal up the fin can with the rear centering ring. Water based glues can have a problem with shrinking when it dries, leading to a shrinkage of the body tube above the glued joint. That is something that people call a "wasp waist". CA, or Super glues, are strong, but is tricky to use with good results (typically leading to more problems than they are worth when it comes to building with it). CA is also brittle, and can lead to unexpected failures. For fin alignment, I'd recommend downloading the fin alignment guide template (printed at full scale (and not fit to page)) from payloadbay's tool page. The guide can be made from foam core (found at your local dollar store for... you guessed it...1). For gluing the fins, you should learn the double glue method (it's easy, and very strong, but you do have to wait for a few seconds, which can be frustrating for someone your age (I know I was when I was 13 and getting started in rocketry)). In the video below, it's demonstrated at the 3:20 mark.

I have a tutorial on papering fins. You might want to give it a read too.

Oh, and for Heaven's sake, don't glue that Thrust Ring into the rocket... It will limit you to smaller motors, which you may someday regret.

View attachment Estes Mega Der Red Max Fin Alignment Guide.pdf

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#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
holy thanks for the advice also do you know any mods that would make my rocket better? or how to make this a full blown top of the line mega der max. Also making a youtube channel name were i do a detailed video of me building my rockets and name suggestions?

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
holy thanks for the advice also do you know any mods that would make my rocket better? or how to make this a full blown top of the line mega der max. Also making a youtube channel name were i do a detailed video of me building my rockets and name suggestions?
There are those who would swear to change out the "Estes Tea Bag" shock cord mount for kevlar. If you do go for kevlar, I'd recommend my "U-Loop" method for easy inspection and replacement.

After the Motor Mount (MM) is glued in, and the fins are filleted, you could seal the cardboard (from the inside of the tube) with Minwax Wood Hardener to resist humidity and moisture problems (and strengthen it).

You might want to forego Launch Lugs (LL) and install Rail Buttons instead (or install both). To install Rail Buttons, I use a scrap of wood to thicken the rear Centering Ring (CR) where the rear button's bolt will be drilled in to prevent the plywood from blowing out if I don't hit it perfectly. For the forward button, I could glue a scrap of balsa to a small piece of ply, then shape that to the inside of the body tube (balsa is easy to sand to match the inside curve) , and drill the bolt into that. Making sure the bolt doesn't extend into the cavity of the body tube (to prevent snagging the recovery gear), then I use some epoxy putty to smooth the shape of the wood platform I've created to prevent snagging the recovery gear.

I like Rustoleum's filler primer for filling those pesky spirals, there are other methods of doing it, and I'm sure someone will chime in on their method of choice.

Different paints, even from the same manufacturer, have different curing times. Carefully read your primer and paints instructions... then take them with a grain of salt. If it says it'll be ready for a second coat in 2 days, you might want to still give it more time. There is a test we call the "sniff test". You smell the primed rocket. Smell chemicals? Wait to paint. Many an excellent rocket has been delayed due to rushing the paint only to have the paint peel because the builder didn't wait for the primer to fully cure. The pigments of paint are held in a suspension that includes Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are those chemicals you are smelling for. If too much of them haven't evaporated off, the next layer of paint will "orange peel". Should that happen to you, wipe up as much of it as you can (it comes up easy when wet), then you need to let what you didn't get fully cure, sand it smooth, and start over.

With as large as the decals are on this kit are, personally, I think vinyl decals may be a better option (or you can try the waterslide, and know that you can buy more from Estes (should they still be available). Stickershock23.com makes vinyl decals for this kit, and has several variations of the decals to choose from as well as stock (Mark is also an excellent vendor to work with).

Youtube channel name? How about "Future Martian", "Future Astronaut", "Unlimited Potential" or something along those lines?

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#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Just finished my second fin and let me just say its gonna be the best stock Estes Mega Der Max you have ever seen but for all of you i have acouple question can i use wood filler to fill in the spirals on my body tube then sand then primer then sand until perfect finish also what primer and wood filler should i use. Just want to give a big thanks To Rex But more importantly k'tesh for boosting my confidence with my fins. Some of the best fins i have made in my life.

#### Nytrunner

##### Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
Good job on working out the fins. Post pics when you can.

Here's a filling guide.
https://rocketn00b.blogspot.com/2015/03/filling-tube-spirals-revisited.html

You can find Elmers Carpenters wood filler at Walmart. DON'T GET THE STAINABLE TYPE! You have been warned......

I won't mislead you, my paintjobs aren't perfect, but they look great on the pad. If you're already in Walmart for the wood-filler, stop by the spraypaint section and try out Rustoleum 2X primer (and paints. for the paints, make sure you let them dry for at least 48 hours before masking for another color).

Others will chime in with more suggestions, but I just like 2X cuz I can get it nearby in a wide selection of colors and I'm used to working with it now.

#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Thanks so Much!!!! Nytrunner

#### Rex R

##### LV2
1st events of almost anything can be 'scary' . methinks it is worth mentioning that when sanding the first few coats of primer, when the underlying surface starts to show through, Stop sanding. you'll find that your seemingly smooth tube/ fin/ whatever has all sorts of hills and valleys, your objective is to add paint to the low spots and remove it from the high spots...with paper tubes if you sand too far you will get the dreaded fuzzies as the cut fibers absorb paint and expand. if this happens let the primer dry completely then sand lightly w/ 320 grit, this might take one or to coats of paint to remove them.
Rex

#### dhbarr

##### Amateur Professional
If you have access to a brown primer and a grey primer, it is extremely helpful to alternate coats so you can easily see the highs & lows. I'll never do it another way again.

#### EeebeeE

##### Well-Known Member
- Bond the fins together with 30-min. or longer epoxy. Carpenter's glue will cause warpage because of the water in it. Epoxy has no water.
- Don' worry about exact cuts with the knife. Instead leave a little excess, then sand the fin edges into shape. Balsa sands very easily so this will not take much time at all.
- Spirals - Use Bondo Glazing single-part putty. Goes on easy. sands very well.
- Don't stick anything into the motor tube that restricts the motor length. I have flown my MDRM on I's...No problem. The Estes 29mm plastic aft end motor retainer works very well and is inexpensive.
- Go to JoAnn Fabric and buy another section of elastic the same strength as your elastic shock cord. Hold it in place with an eyebolt at your forward CR. Nylon and Kevlar are overkill for these. If you double the length of the elastic you will be fine.
- 30-minute epoxy makes excellent fillets.
- Finally, when you wear it out, keep the nose cone and hot rod the rest. Below is my MDRM which will be called "Der Mad Max." It has a 54mm motor hole in it, bluetube airframe, 3/8" birch ply fins, and is built to fly on K's.

#### 12_yearoldrocketscientist

##### Member
Thanks for the advice i just have to say unfortunately i used wood glue already on the fins but good news there perfect i mean PERFECT I am going to do fillets but is it possible to do it with wood glue

#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
James, I'm an English teacher... Remember "Their", "There", "They're"... Instructors (especially in college) will hammer you for that. Grammar Nazi signing off.

#### Incongruent

##### Well-Known Member
James, I'm an English teacher... Remember "Their", "There", "They're"... Instructors (especially in college) will hammer you for that. Grammar Nazi signing off.
Great! Can you grammer check all my papers and essays?

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#### K'Tesh

##### OpenRocket Chuck Norris
TRF Supporter
Great! Can you grammer check all my papers and essays?

No, I'm not willing to do that... but you might check your spelling... "grammar" :wink:.

#### Incongruent

##### Well-Known Member
No, I'm not willing to do that... but you might check your spelling... "grammar" :wink:.
Right.

#### Nytrunner

##### Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
Thanks for the advice i just have to say unfortunately i used wood glue already on the fins but good news there perfect i mean PERFECT I am going to do fillets but is it possible to do it with wood glue
You *can* do fillets with Titebond II or III, but they shrink a lot and will take multiple coats.
Better option in the Titebond family is to use any of the following depending on what's the easiest you can get your hands on: Quick & Thick, No-run No-drip, Molding & Trim (discontinued[?]).
I get the Q&T at Lowes.