Estes Shuttle build

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
The Shuttle is another build that got started and then languished, but I've recently returned to it, along with the Screaming Eagle.

The orbiter body is mostly unremarkable other than, if I had to do it again, I'd do some more darts in the paperboard skin of the orbiter. It has a minor wrinkle or two that probably aren't that noticeable, but OCD me sure does. The nose cone was shaped with a band saw and a belt sander to make fairly short work of it. I did the final sanding by hand and it could be a touch more symmetrical, but it's pretty close.

The wings were completely built on the bench so that they are flat. I glued them up on wax paper atop the flat work surface, and they still needed a touch of glazing putty to smooth them out enough, especially in the joint areas. The wood for the wings is very thin and easy to break. so lots of care while handling and sanding them.
I like to hit the balsa parts with a coat of wood sealer where paint is going to go, and it seems to give good results. However, it does tend to raise the grain, which means re-sanding the parts with very fine sandpaper after the the sealer has dried. The tabs where they insert into the orbiter or booster body, I leave as bare wood for gluing purposes.

Somehow I managed to lose the plastic hook that goes on the underside of the nosecone, but I figured out a good alternative. After fitting the orbiter into the aft hooks to see where the forward hook needed to fall, I added two small sections of 1/8" dowel. On top of them is a third section of dowel that extends backwards enough to engage the forward cradle.

image0.jpeg image2.jpeg image4.jpeg
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
Once you get past all the fiddly little bits that go into making the orbiter, the rest of the shuttle kit goes together fairly easily. The paperboard brackets needed a touch of sandpaper on the inside so the booster tubes would slide in. The trick is to get them glued in place square to the tubes. What I settled on was to make the pencil marks where they go on the top and bottom side of the tubes. and place the tiniest dab of glue on the "top" side of the boosters, slide the bracket into place and hold it with small bits of blue tape. After those "tack welds" are set, flip it over and repeat, with the boosters also being held square to each other. Rinse and repeat for the middle and top brackets, all the while keeping the tubes flush at the ends and square to each other.

After that, glue the whole setup to the external tank, again keeping the bottoms flush. Should I have painted the external tank and boosters separately? Maybe, but I think I figured out an acceptable solution. Somehow I managed to lose the parachute and the shock cord, so I installed a kevlar line. I put it through the slot in the engine mount per the instructions, but looped it around a short piece of toothpick and embedded it into a dab of glue.
IMG_4612.jpg
P1110341.JPG P1110342.JPG

Putting the wings on the orbiter turned out to be really straight forward. I had already test-fit everything to make sure the wing tabs would go into the body slots easily. I put glue on the ends of the tabs, and used a toothpick to put more into the slots in the orbiter ribs and slid the wings into place. After both sides were dry, add small fillets to the wing roots.
P1110344.JPG
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
The nozzle bells had my scratching my head, as they were smaller than the 4 "booster" body tubes. Then I looked at the instructions and saw that they get paperboard rings on them that will have them fit the booster tubes. Mystery solved (and insert punchline about reading instructions).
I will paint the booster pack separately, so I masked off thin strips where it will glue to the main fuel tank.
The nozzles are masked off for a coat of black inside the bells, everything else will get an initial coat of white. P1110347.JPG
P1110349.JPG
P1110348.JPG
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
I got all eager about attaching the SRBs and the orbiter attach structure, so I didn't paint first and attach later. Thus, I had to do a lot of masking for the paint job. First was a coat of white on all of it, then the masking so that I could paint the external tank. The orange is a Rustoleum satin orange-ish color that IMHO is pretty close to the spray foam. After applying the orange, a bit more masking to paint the fins black.
For the orbiter, again a coat of white all over. How to paint the leading edge of the wings? I simply trimmed the tape for a small amount of overhang and let the tape protrude straight out from the upper surface. The black paint went up and under and did a nice job of looking like the black leading edge tiles.

Yeah, I'll need to do a bit of hand touch-up in a couple of places.
P1110384.JPG
P1110386.JPG
P1110387.JPG
P1110390.JPG
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
And the orbiter. for the vertical fins, I'll mask them and use a permanent marker for the black leading edges.
IMG_4826(1).jpg
IMG_4828(1).jpg
P1110395.JPG
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
Finishing up finally.....
If I had one overall message to deliver on this one, it would be to mask off the attach areas for the orbiter cradles so that the external tank and the rest are all painted separately. Even with all the masking, I managed to have some overspray that is annoying. For the orange, I'm going to chalk it up to the "overspray" of the external foam...
Nosecones and nozzles are glued into place. All that is left is to install the parachute (no idea where it went to) and do a final balance of the orbiter.
P1110400.JPG P1110401.JPG P1110402.JPG
 

PhlAsh

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
157
Other than the nozzles and the nose-hook, there aren't a whole lot of custom pieces. As long as you're willing to hand-cut balsa and cardstock, it should be pretty straight-forward to clone
 

Pappy

old man, lovin' life
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
297
Reaction score
381
Location
Tampa Bay
they pop up on ebay periodically, end up going at around 75-85, if i remember correctly. i'll get one eventually. i'll check out jimZ and see what the clone would involve.
 

mh9162013

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 25, 2022
Messages
672
Reaction score
424
Location
Western, KY
Get a scratch and dent one straight from Estes for under $22:


Or maybe what's being sold at that sale is a different version?
 

Pappy

old man, lovin' life
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
297
Reaction score
381
Location
Tampa Bay
Get a scratch and dent...

thanks for the heads up! i lucked out. just happened to visit the site on a lark late last night, saw the sale popup, and jumped on the shuttle deal. kind of weird that the day after i posted that i want one of these kits, i got one. they're kind of hard to find, right? after i made the purchase, i couldn't get back to the page, kept linking to the new help page, which ironically was no help at all. couldn't get back to the sale page until you posted that link. now, it says 'sold out' on the shuttle.
 
Last edited:

mh9162013

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 25, 2022
Messages
672
Reaction score
424
Location
Western, KY
i lucked out. just happened to visit the site on a lark late last night, saw the sale popup, and jumped on the shuttle deal. after i made the purchase, i couldn't get back to the page, kept linking to the new help page, which ironically was no help at all. couldn't get back to the sale page until you posted that link. now, it says 'sold out' on the shuttle.
Did you manage to pick one up?
 

Pappy

old man, lovin' life
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
297
Reaction score
381
Location
Tampa Bay
looking at my records, i purchased at 2am est, but didn't get the email from Estes about the sale until 6am. glad i work nights or i'd have missed both the opportunity to get this awesome kit and to earn a non-living wage...
 

novahobbies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2022
Messages
136
Reaction score
89
Location
Florida
Woke up this morning, saw the email, and had it ordered and confirmed by 930am est. Fingers crossed I get it; looks like a LOT of folks saw that andd jumped.
Oh yeah! With swag! 😁
 

DMehalko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
475
Reaction score
502
Location
Colorado
I have a couple of these kits, and picked up a 3rd scratch in dent, came perfect! Need to build one lol
 

novahobbies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2022
Messages
136
Reaction score
89
Location
Florida
Got mine from the sale yesterday. Only issue was the bag was open just enough to work my pinky finger in, no wider than that. Everything looks A-ok!
Mine will be a 2023 build, after the Leviathan, Saturn V, SLS, and Saturn 1 (this year) and then the Minotaur and Mars Lander next year.
 

aerojacket

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
61
Other than the nozzles and the nose-hook, there aren't a whole lot of custom pieces. As long as you're willing to hand-cut balsa and cardstock, it should be pretty straight-forward to clone
And the nose hook turned out to be easy to replace with 3 dowels glued together, plus not having to hog out the nose cone. Pictures near the beginning of the thread should show how I did it.
 

novahobbies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2022
Messages
136
Reaction score
89
Location
Florida
Aerojacket, this is a really nice build thread. Definitely going to be using your tips when I start in on mine! Funny thing is, the Orange paint you used for your fuel tank is the same color I already have in my garage for a Ferengi ship from ST:TNG. So, one less thing to get! ;-)
 

Bartlebear

Active Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Sep 25, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
37
Funny thing is, the Orange paint you used for your fuel tank is the same color I already have in my garage for a Ferengi ship from ST:TNG.
This is an awesome Geek Humblebrag.

Well played, sir (from a fellow ST:TNG geek who had to look up what Ferengi Cruisers look like).

”I’ve said that being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about the way that you love it.“ - Will Wheaton.
 

novahobbies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2022
Messages
136
Reaction score
89
Location
Florida
This is an awesome Geek Humblebrag.

Well played, sir (from a fellow ST:TNG geek who had to look up what Ferengi Cruisers look like).

”I’ve said that being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about the way that you love it.“ - Will Wheaton.
My apologies if that sounded like a humblebrag, it wasn't intended as such. And the irony is that I STILL don't have that model done, after years of it sitting in my closet, mostly because my buddy has been working on a much more accurate 3d file for printing that's been "almost done" for about 2 years now. 🤣 It's all good though, because there's no such thing as a model builder who doesn't have a backup model....or five, or TEN....to work on while we're waiting, right?
Now, if I REALLY want to humble-brag, I'll do it properly. Check out my Flikr.
As you can see, I'm a complete Trek nerd. And proud. Lots of SW stuff in there, too, but mostly Trek. Model Rocketry is something I'd set aside as a kid, and only recently got back into, but at the moment Rocketry is my primary focus.
Now back to this thread! Who is starting their Shuttle sale builds now? Are we getting new build threads??
 

Bartlebear

Active Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Sep 25, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
37
Amazing builds on your Flickr. My favourite are the bases you made. They just add that finishing touch of class.

Nothing wrong with a good humblebrag, as my buddy Elon likes to say to me.

Back to the thread!

I own this but am working up the courage to start.

Part of how I do this is finding build threads like yours for inspiration and education.

So thank you!

“Someone who I would describe as a "geek" or "nerd" is a person who loves something to its greatest extent, and then looks for other people who love it the same way, so they can celebrate loving it together.” - Also Will Wheaton!
 

novahobbies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2022
Messages
136
Reaction score
89
Location
Florida
Amazing builds on your Flickr. My favourite are the bases you made. They just add that finishing touch of class.

Nothing wrong with a good humblebrag, as my buddy Elon likes to say to me.

Back to the thread!

I own this but am working up the courage to start.

Part of how I do this is finding build threads like yours for inspiration and education.

So thank you!

“Someone who I would describe as a "geek" or "nerd" is a person who loves something to its greatest extent, and then looks for other people who love it the same way, so they can celebrate loving it together.” - Also Will Wheaton!
Oh this ain't MY thread, this is Aerojacket's and his outstanding build. Which I will be using to the fullest when I crack my shuttle open!
 
Top