Estes Saturn V into Skylab

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mark schnell

Well-Known Member
Feb 13, 2004
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Does anyone make a conversion kit for turning the Estes Saturn V into the Skylab configuration? If not has anyone here done that by scratch and how did you do it?

Mark Schnell
Check out RealSpaceModels

there I found a 1/144 Skylab shroud, but did not find a 1/100 for Estes. but it's pretty easy to build this shroud.

I found a bunch of other neat stuff there too - drool drool.
I am looking into doing this right now myself.

I have a Saturn V kit from which I scavenged the escape tower and 3rd stage wrap for another kit (which lawn-darted), so I figured a Skylab version would be a good way to go.

My plan is to use a longer piece of BT-80 (as opposed to the short piece provided in the kit), with two cardstock transitions leading to the nose cone. A piece of BT-5 centered in the BT-80 will support the nose cone and transitions. There's a small amount of surface detail (panels) on the skylab shroud section which should be easy to add.

Also, I'm going to go with a 5-motor cluster (1 central 24mm, 4 18mm outboards).
Sounds like a great plan, exspecially the cluster. Will your top shroud wrap around a rounded nosecose to produce the rounded shape at the top of the Skylab? Also, is the Saturn V for the skylab basically identical to the apollo missions below the Bt-80 skylab section? Please include photos of your build if you can.

Mark Schnell
You just have to extend the BT-80 tube and make the odd nose cone.

The bottom is identical to the Apollo rounds.

Sandman, I am still pretty new to TRF but I understand that you make nosecones. Would/could you make one for this application? Do you have a website about the stuff you make?

Mark Schnell

I'd be very happy to make you a nose cone for this project...I LOVE scale stuff!

PM me and we'll discuss particulars.

I've been thinking about a Skylab glider, the X shape of the top solar panels would be the main wing and both side solar panels would be used as well. Deploying everything might be tough.

Mark -

Basically what you described is how I'm doing it. I got a lot of experience with shrouds when I built my Vostok (12 of them altogether!) which is why I'm going that route. I doubt they'll look as good as what Sandman can do though.:D

The Saturn V from the transition on down is identical to the other Saturn V launch vehicles, except the last Saturn V's (Apollo 15, 16, 17 and the Skylab S-V) had no ullage rockets on the 1st/2nd interstage (the Estes kit has 8 ullage rockets on the interstage, the manned S-V's only ever had 4 at first, then none after Apollo 14).

I only mention the ullage rockets because some folks are nitpickers about scale detail like this - but it's next to impossible to remove them from the vacuformed wraps without making a mess of things. If you're entering it in a scale competition it could make a difference though.

Also, the Estes Saturn V has oversized fins which don't look very scale-like, but with enough extra nose weight you should be able to get away with smaller, scale-sized fins. But then you'll need more power, but you're better off with more power anyway, as the recommended D12-3 is barely adequate.

I'll shoot some photos when I start, right now I'm trying to decide between this, my Apogee Saturn 1B, or my bigger Vostok for my next project. Decisions, decisions...
Shrox -

Cool idea! Maybe you could set up the main solar array to rotate, and use helicopter recovery!
This is what I've come up with for the nose cone.

It's easy in 1/100th scale!

Originally posted by shrox
I've been thinking about a Skylab glider, the X shape of the top solar panels would be the main wing and both side solar panels would be used as well. Deploying everything might be tough.

If it doesn't deploy, then it will be an accurate scale model. :p

What is the width of the upper taper on the Skylab launch shroud? Then I can make some PDF. transitions templates and post them for y'all.

Originally posted by shrox

What is the width of the upper taper on the Skylab launch shroud? Then I can make some PDF. transitions templates and post them for y'all.


These are what I worked out for VCP, for a two-step transition going from BT-5 (the central support) to a BT-80:

Shroud 1: D1=0.55, D2=1.87, L=1.6
Shroud 2: D1=1.87, D2=2.6, L=1.42

...the nose cap will either be a truncated balsa BT-5 nosecone or a gob of epoxy clay.
I guess I left that dimension out.

Best I can figure is 183" or 1.83" in 1/100th scale.

I have ordered the nosecone from Sandman. I'll post some photos when I get it. I got an invite to join HUVARS, a rocketry club the meets just a few miles from my house. I've been missing out on all that good stuff for the nearly three years I've lived here!javascript:smilie(':(') This TRF is pretty cool!

What would the length of the replacement BT-80 need to be for the Skylab config?

I don't remember how long the original tube was (mines already built).

It is to scale 942.5" from the top of the transition ooooor....9.425" long

Or add 5.1205" to the existing tube (Peter Alway seems pretty precice on that measurment).

Make it 5 and 1/8" longer....close enough!


P.S. BTW you can meet Peter at the next meeting.
Mark, if you (or anyone else) want a bunch of NASA photos of the Skylab Saturn V prep & launch, I've uploaded a ZIP of my collection of images here: V

....I'll leave this up for a day or two.

Sandman, just out of curiosity (you can email me if you'd rather not state publicly) how much are you charging for the NC?
I just ordered the nosecone from Sandman and I was telling him that I had to start surfing for a cheap Estes Saturn V kit, then it hit me. Duh!! I already built one that I am pretty happy with. I'll simply build the top portion of the Saturn V in the skylab config. and interchange them for launches. That solution saves me money and space, a solution my wife will love.javascript:smilie(';)')

I won't have any trouble with getting the third stage foundational shroud (I think that's what it's called). But I will have a problem with the raised portion. Does anyone know if someone makes that kind of stuff for sale, or how I could duplicate it myself?

Mark Schnell

VJP, thanks for the zip!!
Not quite sure I know what you mean by the raised stuff. You can use Evergreen corrugated styrene for the corrugated part on the bottom of the third stage, and you can make the solar array covers from strip styrene.
Drew Tomko
Vince, that collection of pictures is incredible! I've never seen the seam in the shroud or the corrugations on the upper part of the third stage before. Wish I had had those when I made my 1/144 one with the RealSpace models conversion. Here's a bad old picture of it and the Airfix 1B.
Drew, I should have clarified myself. I was alluding to aftermarket corrugated shrouds. I've seen that sometimes people here make stuff for one another.

I thought about the evergreen sheets but how do you make their corrugated sheets into shrouds that end up with the lines being vertical on the rocket? They would end up being all skewed if you just traced and cut out a shroud wouldn't they?

Mark Schnell

Easy fix for the shroud corrugation.

Call Christine at Estes 800-525-7562 X 216

Tell her exactly what you need:

The upper stage reduction wrapper part number 32857

If yer really nice to her she'll just send it to you.

Ditto what Sandman said! That adapter shroud would be just about impossible to make yourself. Christine is very nice and helpful.
If you can't get the shrouds from Estes for some reason, here's another idea - emboss the corrugations into cardstock using a bluntly pointed instrument (like a nail, a meter test probe, etc.).

First, lay out the lines on the wrap with pencil (or if you have CAD software, just print the shroud with the lines on it already). Lay the shroud on a surface with some "give", like corkboard, a foam mouse pad, or a cutting board. Then using a plastic straight edge (a metal one will scratch up your embossing tool), score the shroud to impress the corrugation lines into the cardstock. The lines are raised on the back side of the cardstock, this becomes the surface detail.

This would also be a good way to detail the less prominent corrugations on the skylab shroud itself (not as prominent as the LV's corrugation, but still there if you look at the photos).
I decided to take the 'lazy' approach and ordered a nose cone from Sandman. Now I just hafta get this Phoenix and a 1/2A helicopter off my workbench...:D Looking forward to seeing your handiwork Sandman!
Sandman, you said:

"Call Christine at Estes 800-525-7562 X 216

Tell her exactly what you need:"

I called this number twice to make sure I didn't screw up in my dialing and it went to Alliance Capital or something like that.

Mark Schnell

P.S. I got the Estes number of their website number and got through to Christine's extension but she wasn't in. I'd appreciate that toll free number for calling her back. Thanks.