Estes Saturn V

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Feb 2, 2003
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Other day, a friend of mine from Birmingham gave me an Estes 1/100 scale Saturn V! This is a really nice rocket! It is the master series. I have a bunch of questions about it because I want to build it to last. I was wanting to fiberglass the body tube and transitions with 3/4 oz fiberglass beacuse they seemed flimsey. The only thing I worry about is once I do that is the it will make the bt and the transitions slightly lareger in diameter and when I put the wraps on that the edges wouldn't line and there would be a gap in between where they meet. I could probably fiberglass the inside of the transitions with no problems but I'm worrying about the body tubes. I want to have a 29mm MMT for F20s, F40s, and G64s and 4 more outboard tubes. I want to keep the engine bells on the rocket with the exception of the center one. I would like to have 24mm outboards but I will settle with 18mm. I have heard that someone had modified there engine bells to accomidate the 24mm motors but I dont see how. I will fill the fins with a microballoon/epoxy mixture and will strengthen the fin joints by adding fillets. I will upgrade the chute and leave space to add nose weight to the front to keep the rocket stable. Does anybody now the CP of the Estes Master Series Saturn V? I don't want to enlarge or add clear fins to keep the rocket stable, the fins are already 25% larger than they should to be 1/100 scale and I want to keep it looking as real as possible. I also am looking for a picture(s) of the Apollo 11 paint job from all sides with dimentions since the one that estes shows is an untested version that was never flown. Well, that wraps it up for now. I can't wait to start on this!
Gave you a Saturn V? I wish I had friends like that!

I'm building a Saturn V with a central 24mm MMT, and 4 outboard 18mm MMT's. Basically, you build the nozzles, then using a fine-toothed razor saw, slice the bell section where the diameter matches the motor mount tube. Then file down the inside of the bell where you just cut, so the bell will slide right over the tube. I used the stock cardboard CR's, but I'm tying all the MMT tubes together by gluing 4 cross-grained balsa shear webs between the center MMT and the outbaord MMT's. This makes the whole motor unit one unified structure.

My Saturn's going to have scale-sized fins too, but I'm modeling the Skylab vehicle. According to RockSim I'm going to need about 8 ounces of nose weight (to fly with a central 'E' and 4 outboard 'C's).

Here's a photo showing the MMT assembly:
Nice job on the mmt. I have a feeling that the motor exhaust could cause some heat damage to the bells though. Are they removable for flight?
Originally posted by Stones
Nice job on the mmt. I have a feeling that the motor exhaust could cause some heat damage to the bells though. Are they removable for flight?
No, the nozzles are intended to remain in place for flight. The motors will protrude ~10mm below the bottoms of the nozzles (see engine hooks for reference) for protection against heat damage. Also I'll have at least 8 inches between the motors and blast deflector to protect against back-splash.
I really like the rocket but I want it to last. The tube is just too weak without reinforcment and the shrouds are just paper. If anything I will fiberglass the inside of the shrouds. I will order some centering rings from BMS that have a core 29mm and 4 outboard 18mm tubes. I might just order a LOC 3.9" tube if the dimentions are the same. Are they? I already read the stuff from ninfinger and it was somehat helpful. I want to make this rocket STRONG and I want it to LAST many many flights. What is the BEST adhesive to use for attaching the corrugations and wraps? Thanks everybody and good luck on yours vjp!
I just finished a Sat V with a central 29mm, flying with the engine bells. Be VERY careful about adding extra weight. It's easy to get out of trim and you don't want to add a ridiculous amount of noseweight as I did...the upper section of mine weighed in at 14oz. just to keep the CG right. Total weight is 28oz so it'll probably never fly on anything smaller than an F40 or G35.

The stock centering rings are pretty stout, I'd recommend just adding two more lightweight CR's. Five rings evenly spaced would be plenty strong. Aerotech's fiber rings would be a good choice. I used LOC plywood rings and it was a lot of excess weight.
Hey I didn't know it was a Master Series, I'll be in town tomorrow to pick it up. Just kidding, do a good job on her, make me proud!
Clark! HEY! I didn't know you joined! You gotta tell me these things! How are you? BTW welcome to TRF!! Thanks for the Saturn V! There is no way I wouldn't make you proud! I'm definatly going to take my time on this one.


The reason I'm not using the stock rings is because I want a 29mm 4x 18mm cluster and I am going to order cluster CRs from BMS sometime soon. I'm not worried about weight too much because I can always stick a bigger motor in it but I don't want it unreasonably heavy. I'm guessing maybe in the end it will be about 1.5 lbs. Like I said I want it strong and to last. I'm not going to skimp on construction anywhere.

Anyways, I bout some more epoxy and 3/4 oz fiberglass today. When the body wraps are put on do they meet up EXACTLY or is there a little over hang at the seam? The reason I'm asking is because I want to fiberglass the BT, but if it will make the BT too much larger, I don't want a gap where the seam was suppose to meet on the body wraps. Is LOC tubing the sime diameter as the Estes BT 101 or what about BMS tubing is it the same diameter as the Estes BT101 tubing? If it is, I will just order that since it is stronger than the Estes tubing and not worry about fiberglassing. Well, I guess that is all for now. Thanks guys!
Originally posted by havoc821
When the body wraps are put on do they meet up EXACTLY or is there a little over hang at the seam? The reason I'm asking is because I want to fiberglass the BT, but if it will make the BT too much larger, I don't want a gap where the seam was suppose to meet on the body wraps. Is LOC tubing the sime diameter as the Estes BT 101 or what about BMS tubing is it the same diameter as the Estes BT101 tubing? If it is, I will just order that since it is stronger than the Estes tubing and not worry about fiberglassing. Well, I guess that is all for now. Thanks guys! [/B]

I do not know about the BMS tube, but the LOC tube definitely has a larger outside diameter.

I've seen a few successful "upgrades" on some Estes Saturn V's, but only like 2

Here is one of them I found at the Smokey Mountain Amateur Rocketry Team web site.

The font on thes page was small, hurt my eyes so I'm pasting the article below, but there are some pictures at the above link as well. Good Luck! The guy that wrote this article did a really good job beefing his up. Hope the info helps.

<b>Motor mount:</b> I replaced the kit motor tube with a 29mm tube of the same length. The centering rings were replaced with ones made of 1/8" plywood. To make a motor retainer I put 8-32 T nuts in the bottom and use 8-32 Allen head screws to secure a conduit reducer over the motor. I drilled some holes in the forward centering ring to run a length of picture hanger wire through for a shock cord mount. I made a loop with the wire at both ends and secured the loops by crimping and soldering them.

<b>Structural reinforcements:</b> The vacu-formed fins and shrouds would never survive so I strengthened them by filling them with a mixture of epoxy and micro balloons. I forget what they recommend using to secure the decorative wraps to the outside of the rocket, but I used contact cement like they recommend for their Mercury-Atlas kit. All the centering rings for the body tubes were replaced with ones I cut from .040 inch sheet styrene. The paper transition section shrouds were replaced with one cut from .020 inch sheet styrene. I used 30 min. epoxy to glue everything together except for the contact cement already mentioned and plastic model cement on the shroud seams. I was concerned with how sturdy the airframe was forward of the motor mount so I put a layer of .020 inch sheet styrene inside the tube with contact cement being sure not to glue anything in the first 1 1/2 inch of the airframe so the upper section would still fit inside.

<b>Recovery system:</b> The shock cord was replaced with two pieces of 1 inch wide 3 foot long elastic I bought from Wal-Mart. one end of the first was tied to the shock cord mount and the other end to a quick link. One end of the second cord was attached to the quick link and the other end was tied to a 48" PML chute. I used the metal hook supplied with the kit as the attachment point at the service module area. The shroud line that is feed through centering ring at aft end of the upper section was replaced with a much heavier piece of nylon string. The shroud line/hook assembles that attaches the upper section to the shock cord were replaced with 24 inch wire fishing leaders. The loop ends of the leaders are attached to the quick link between the two shock cord sections, the hook ends are attached to the two loops in the upper section. I also tied a piece of string between the escape tower and the loop on the service module to secure it to the rocket in case it broke off. (has come in handy once already)

<b>Stability:</b> I entered all the rocket measurements in VCP and calculated the center of pressure to be 13 3/4 inches from the aft end of the rocket. I added enough weight to the upper section to put the center of gravity 4 inches forward of the CP. I did not add the weight all the way forward in the upper section but placed it in the very center of the upper section. This required more weight but helped the upper section balance better in the horizontal recovery attitude. The weight was secured inside the "third stage" body tube by gluing a .040 inch styrene bulkhead inside it at the proper balance point, after this dried a mixture of epoxy and BB's was put in on top of it and a second styrene bulkhead glued in on top of that. The total weight of the rocket came out to 4 pounds fully loaded with an H97 motor.
The best way to strengthen the body tube is to do it from the inside.

I wouldn't bother glassing it for a 29mm motor but I would make a total length coupler (effectively doubling the body tube thickness) Use a Totally Tubular BT-101 split down it's length and with a small 1/8" or so slice removed and epoxy it to the inside.

Sorta makes it a "Double Ply" body. You will have to adjust or remake all the centering rings but it will leave the outside the same size.

Do this before you do anything NOW even before you start.

Thanks for the post Clark! Any idea where I can buy styrene sheets?
The corrugated wraps fit JUST RIGHT. Don't do anything that would increase the OD or you'll be disappointed.

Something that I didn't think of for mine until it was too late: once the wraps are on, dress the remaining BT with sheet styrene instead of filling the seams. I think it would give a better scale look (less relief between the BT and wraps). I taped some thin styrene around mine and it looked great - but then tested spray adhevise on it and it left pockmarks. This was pretty thin stuff, though. Thicker sheets would probably look terrific and provide some extra measure of strength.
Can anyone post the ID in millimeters of the BT-101 used on the Saturn V? I need to cut some custom rings for the 3x 24mm cluster I'm planning, and I'm going to be using my circle cutter on my drill press...


I realized that I could do the double wall thing this morning but that was afte the post. I want to not spend a lot on mo0ney and just order everything from one source. I wanted BMS because of custom centering rings but do they have the BT101 couplers (full length)? I didn't want to pay extra shipping by ordering from 2 sources but if I have to I will. Does Totally Tubular happen to do custom centering rings? Or is there anywhere else that does BT101 full length couplers AND custom centering rings. Money is kinda tight right now so I'm trying to save as much as I can. I have some pretty large purchase I will be making really soon:


High Power 2 Stage Rocket (Vulcan) (scrathbuilt)-$350 (includes everyhing to get it into the air including timer, parachute (Rocketman), I284 (2x), Perfectflight mini timer, Hawk Mountain project pack (2x) and misc. hardware.

Everything to build and fly the Saturn V-$15

Automotive paint- $25 (for my SAND 1 rocket, 4inch diameter, 9' tall, 75mm MMT (previously ANDRUS 1), flying on the K550)

So as you can see, I need all the money I can get my hands on.I am not going to start on the Saturn V untill I have everything to build it because I don't want to have to stop halfway because of parts. What did you guys use to apply the body wraps. What is the BEST adhesive for this job and how did you use it (Step by step directions would be useful because I don't want to screw this rocket up). Well, that's all for now. Thanks guys!
Guys, I really need help here. I want this to be the best I can make it and do it right so I was relying on you guys who have already built this rocket so I can know what I need to do or what I can do to makeit better, but I can't do this without your help. Well, I can but I just really want to make this nice and not let Clark down since afterall this is an $80-$100 rocket. I'm not trying to sound pushy but I really could use the help. Thanks!

Well, what would you like to know? It's a good kit that doesn't need a lot of over-engineering, just strengthen the obvious weak areas.

Three suggestions: First, get thee to EMRR (! There's a TON of stuff there about this kit, including links. There are a number of ways to go about it. Second, replace the nose cone and fin/shroud assemblies with cast resin ones from Moldin' Oldies. I found their link via EMRR.
Third (which I mentioned before), don't make it too heavy. Some people have used expanding foam, others extra centering rings. If you're building it for a cluster, the long motor tubes would add plenty of strength along the airframe. You'll want to leave about 5" of depth in the front end for chutes.
Do you have a link to the Moldin Oldies website? Second, what is the BEST adhesive for applying the wraps? Where can I find full length BT101 coupler tubing? Does totally tubular have a website, I couldn't get it to come up other day? I am waiting on a reply from rocketsonly and his buisness to get a price quote for some custom rings. I won't start untill I have all the parts. I am kinda tight on money, so if I don't have to order the cast resin parts, that would be good. Can't I just fiberglass the inside of the transitions? I have already read all the stuff on rocket reviews and printed it out for reference. I already read the stuff from EMRR and the links from EMRR, so I am pretty caught up on things but I keep getting so many diferent products that people have used but I can't get a straight answer on what is the best. Well, that is all of my questions for now. Thanks!
3M #77 spray adhesive works great for wraps. I had a few details & edges that wouldn't stay down so those were finished up with medium CA glue.

If you can, splurge for the cast resin parts, about $25 for a set. If not, fill the vacuform parts with expanding foam and/or balsa supports. For the tower (if you want to fly with it), drill holes in the top of the capsule and the bottom of the escape tower, and run some piano wire through them for extra strength.

Also, you'll want to roll the paper transition wraps to shape before gluing them. The only real problem with mine was the LM didn't want to stay together. I reinforced the seam with a strip of balsa but that gave it a not-completely-round shape.
On my latest Saturn V, I tried one of the new polyurethane glues (i.e. "Gorilla Glue") and it worked great. Apply very thin (with a plastic squeegee) to the BT (use masking tape on the un-glued BT portion, to prevent glue where it doesn't belong and also as an edge alignment guide for the wrap). Then tape the wrap in place tightly around the BT. Peel off the aforementioned tape edge guide. Check every half hour for first couple of hours, Wiping off any excess glue that squeezes out (a little alcohol helps). If you applied thin enough, there shouldn't be much squeeze-out. Allow to cure completely (give it 12 hours).

The nicest thing about the poly glue is that it gives you LOTS of working time to pull & push & move the wrap into place so it's perfect. Align the wraps with one another by eyeballing the tunnels so they're all in line with each other.

Oh and BTW, stretch the wraps REALLY tight and you'll prevent gaps. Use tape across the joint to provide the necesary tension to do this. The styrene has a little "stretch" which will assist in this. Dry fit them first, trimming off the ends until you can stretch them around the BT while forming a perfect butt joint at the ends and no gaps around the sides. Inevitably, you will always wind up with microscopic gaps under the ends, but a scant bit of CA glue will seal these down.

Also, I recommend pre-curling the wraps to assist in placing them. Just roll them up into a coil, secure with some rubber bands, and leave overnight. This helps them conform to the BT better.
Where can I find the 3M#77 spray? $25 for a set?! That is a lot! I will think about it. Well, it would come i handy to move the CG foward because I'm sure that the urethane transitions add weight and that would be good since I'm doing cluster. Thanks!
I just went to moldin oldies and that looks pretty good. I think I just changed my mind. I will definatly order the command capsule. I will form the paper transition and fiberglass the inside of them with 3/4oz fiberglass. I may do two layers while I'm at it to further strengthen it. I'm not sure which glue I will get, Gorilla glue or the #77 spray. How much time is there of work time with the spray? If it is not a lot I will get the Gorilla glue because I want this rocket perfect. Ok, so it is a long shot but hey I can dream can't I? Thanks guys!
There's not much work time with the spray. It grabs quickly.
I might get the gorrila glue instead because I want linger work time incase I goof. Thanks though!
Does anybody know the CP of the Saturn V? I am making some modifications and I want it to be stable so I need the Cp to make sure I have enough weight.
I ordered some tubes from Totally Tubular other day so they should be arrivig soon. In about a week, I will order some custom rings from rocketguts as well as the CM and fin/fairings from Moldin Oldies. This will probably be my last big project of the year other than the launch of the SAND 1 rocket on a K550! I have to save up money for a car. I really want this 1965 Mustang that is for sale in my area but $4500 is out of my/my parents prce range. :( Oh, well................