Estes Mars Lander Build

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by SecondRow, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. Jun 7, 2019 #1

    SecondRow

    SecondRow

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    This past winter, a club member donated a number of cool kits that he had picked up at NARAM last year. He set up a yankee swap/white elephant exchange/whatever you want to call it at our monthly meeting to determine who got what. I ended up with this Damon era Estes Mars Lander model K-43: CD5186A0-C8EF-482B-8144-C6607FDDFDA5.jpeg 39167BDC-B170-46B1-AD8F-CE3C25C7AB75.jpeg CA1F4EBA-D9D5-4309-A9DD-BE0199F5A333.jpeg 9E5FCC82-5836-4B8A-8390-BD7D219A5DED.jpeg
    I looked it up and it seems this kit was made sometime between 1969 and 1974. The kit has seen some wear, but looks pretty good for being 45-50 years old! It looks like there’s been some moisture damage to the box and, as you’ll see below, some of the parts. Here are those parts:
    F9F2ACD7-C0CF-4EBD-8D20-E813A86399BF.jpeg
    As you can see, a previous owner started cutting some of the landing gear struts out, but that looks to be as far as he got. The parts are in relatively good shape. The pattern sheet is yellowed but still legible. The fin stock looks like it might have some moisture stains, but the 1/8” sheets are not warped. My biggest concern are the wraps and decals. Some of the wraps are crinkled. One of them has a folded corner, as well. We’ll see how they look when I form the shrouds. If they’re bad enough, I’ll order a set from Erockets. 59A3DF6E-54A7-4A9A-953A-E746ED8B7C69.jpeg F84BD761-DBCD-489D-B929-1F43BAD860BC.jpeg
    The decals might need replacing, especially the US flags and “Martin Marietta” decals. DAF46CBC-3B46-4757-A6DA-39B8E29EC42C.jpeg 76D199AE-A45A-46CF-8F6D-EEC930B8CE94.jpeg
    In the kit was a replacement set of the “Martin Marietta” decals, but they are much larger than the original version. I don’t know the story behind that. A15071B1-41D1-4087-8C70-AD8BD7ADA537.jpeg

    So I’m going to build this kit, but I’ll be taking my time with it. Updates will be infrequent, between other projects and work (I’ve got a LEGO lunar lander to build with a 7 and a 4 yr old, plus repairs of all my NASA stuff in time for next month!)

    The first challenge will be cutting the fins from the stock, since I don’t have a lot of experience with that, save for some Fliskits models I’ve built. Additionally, the two struts already cut out are a little short of the pattern. I’m going to try, but if I muck it up, I reserve the right to get the laser cut stock from Erockets. We’ll see.

    Either way, this looks like it will be a really fun kit to build.
     
    aerostadt, racerx and Steve Shannon like this.
  2. Jun 7, 2019 #2

    neil_w

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    Cool, very vintage!
     
  3. Jun 7, 2019 #3

    mach7

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    Great score!

    Put the decals in a ziplock bag and tape them in a sunny window for 2-3 days. The sun will bleach the yellowing out.
    You might also think about coating the decals with liquid decal film after. you will have to cut the decals out carefully after, but I might save them.
     
  4. Jun 9, 2019 #4

    Steve Shannon

    Steve Shannon

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    Cool, I had one exactly like that, which I gave away unbuilt when I went to high school.
     
  5. Jun 9, 2019 #5

    kuririn

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  6. Jun 10, 2019 #6

    Fritzk

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    I'll get this done in no-ti..Oh! Look! A Squirrel! TRF Supporter

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    Another possible save for the decals is to hit them with a Fixative spray: #82858 Fixative Spray from Micro Mark, ordinarily used to seal the ink on print-yourself-decals. While I've never tried it personally, I've known a few friends in the Model Ship community that have had some success at stabilizing older, delicate decals by spraying, and allowing to dry before attempting to use the decals.
     
  7. Jun 10, 2019 #7

    SecondRow

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    Mach7, I’ve taped the decals in a baggie to the window. Will let you know how that turns out.

    Is the fixative spray in Fritzk’s post the same as the liquid decal film that mach7 suggested?
     
  8. Jun 10, 2019 #8

    Fritzk

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    The Micro-mark fixative, and Microscale decal film, are slightly different formulations for the same purpose. However, I think where microscale (microscale Stock# MI-12) is purposed specifically advertised for saving old decals, it may be a better bet to go with Mach7's suggestion.
     
  9. Jun 11, 2019 #9

    SecondRow

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    7D1223A6-43A2-42BF-80F2-1705D0C228E5.jpeg You have to cut four landing gear struts (the big pattern) and eight of the smaller housing pattern from two balsa sheets. Two of the landing gear struts were cut out by a previous owner, but weren’t done very well. They were cut to size with no room for sanding, and the cuts are sloppy. The edges are visibly crooked. I don’t want to use them, and I don’t think I can fix them without making them too small. So I am cutting new ones.

    I’ve cut and shaped one landing gear strut and four housing parts out of the first balsa sheet. I’ve laid out the patterns for the rest of the sheet in the picture attached. I’m using the previously cut landing gear struts to cut the smaller pattern out of. This way, I don’t have to get everything on the last balsa sheet. There’ll be plenty of room to cut the pieces wide and sand to shape.
     
  10. Jul 9, 2019 #10

    SecondRow

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    Back at it. I’ve finally cut and shaped all the balsa parts from the sheet. 8 of the smaller gear housing pieces and 4 of the larger landing gear struts. Also pictured is the patterns for each type of piece. I haven’t yet cut out the notch in the 4 landing struts. Whew!
    42990FA3-83DE-4105-85FF-9620F8386F71.jpeg

    Next up is to remove the 4 gear housing covers from the cardstock sheet and glue two gear housing parts to each cover. Here are the covers:
    FBC86918-45A0-4B99-ACB7-671AEE515A9D.jpeg
    One set glued together: 8AB0D0FA-A41A-40D0-BC5E-29EEAE812D4D.jpeg

    All four: 83306270-4958-41CE-84F6-1DB3D7F1D91D.jpeg

    The water damage the kit took affected the cardstock a bit. The covers were a little warped, so the pieces weren’t square after they were tacked on. But I used some small clamps while the glue cured to straighten them out. They’re good to go.
     
  11. Jul 16, 2019 #11

    SecondRow

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    Okay, time to build some landing gear. Lots of dowels to cut and shape. E7612841-AB8C-44AC-8C8B-106BDF686E30.jpeg

    The dowels are glued around the larger balsa struts and some cardstock supports are attached to make the cool looking landing legs. 974F5D91-62FA-49CC-8FB1-9706C4C54F33.jpeg 477C5D81-C268-4A28-B210-8F6229B2EBF0.jpeg C6F6103C-AB65-44A2-B682-E036E20F027F.jpeg B893B7C4-73B1-4555-8D2E-454A1399ACE6.jpeg

    One change I made is that I substituted the rubber bands that came with the kit for metal springs. Most of the rubber bands had deteriorated and fell apart with the slightest pressure. I read in some threads where others had used springs instead, so I picked up some at Ace.
     
  12. Jul 16, 2019 #12

    SecondRow

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    The landing pads were next. I’m amazed at the number of parts this kit has. The landing pads alone have four parts each plus two gussets to attach them to the legs I think each landing leg, when fully completed has about 20 separate parts that have to be cut, shaped and/or glued together. Anyway, these three parts make up the main body of the pad: D8725FA1-410B-4D18-A0A3-4825FED45A09.jpeg

    Then, a wrap is glued around the middle of the pad. 62B302AC-A989-4CA6-9C79-6F987D03710F.jpeg

    Hmm, that’ll need some filler: D4C007A2-6D11-4DD2-A33D-7683EB1D4206.jpeg

    The pads are glued in, gussets added and an extra pad on the bottom for protection (along with some glue smeared on the bottom of each pad). I now have four landing legs. 8DD3DD87-BD53-469F-98B8-360ACFBA3FD0.jpeg
     
  13. Jul 16, 2019 #13

    aerostadt

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    I built one of these kits around the 1973 time frame. It flew great on the 18 mm Estes C-motors of that time period.
     
  14. Jul 16, 2019 #14

    SecondRow

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    Final step for tonight is to create the flexible hinge for the legs, which together with the springs should keep the legs from snapping upon landing. This includes cutting the hinge support dowels and connecting the support dowels to the leg by way of some flexible tubing and a plastic ball bearing between the balsa pieces.
    B4A2871D-9B42-4705-9515-41F6B436B1A4.jpeg

    The legs are filled and painted at this point. They’re supposed to be painted international orange, with the landing pads and control cylinders silver. Not sure if I’ll be able to find the orange shade, but we’ll see!
     
  15. Jul 16, 2019 #15

    SecondRow

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    Are the older C motors much different than today’s version?
     
  16. Jul 16, 2019 #16

    mbeels

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    Looking good, those spring loaded and hinged legs are a really neat idea!
     
  17. Jul 17, 2019 #17

    aerostadt

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    I think the current C-motors are similar to the old ones.
     

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