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BWP

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I always liked the Mars Lander during my rocket building days a kid in the mid-70s, but I felt it was beyond my capabilities back then. I bought the Estes Mars Lander kit in the early 1990s. It'll stay in it's original shrink wrap.
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They were clearing out a bunch of old rockets, and I got 2. Also pictured is the Semroc Mars Lander and Estes Outlander with Sirius Rocketry Mars Lander 2 decals.
 

Bruiser

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Very cool! I really like the one on the right. Great craftsmanship!

-Bob
 

BWP

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I used springs instead of rubber bands on the legs. I also papered the legs.

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Top view of the springs. I stretched them too much and got them too soft, but it'll work. Lesson learned.

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Bottom view of springs. Excuse the sloppy glue work, but moving those dowels around couldn't be helped. Its covered up, but I try to keep my work neater than that.
 

Gary Byrum

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Same here BW. I always thought the ML was way over my head as a youngster. I built the SEMROC version years ago which I had issues with regarding the embossed wraps being scant. But I was on a different mission. I knew how the ML performed on 18mm motors so I opted to bring the motor mount up to 24mm. The only problem with that was customizing the CR's to fit. The paper they used to make the rings did not cooperate very well and made the whole modification a PIA. Couple years later LW gave me one of his old collectors versions of the Mini ML which was as old as the day the were created back in the late 80's. Both were fun builds. I opted to free the Mini from it's bag and build it.

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Gary Byrum

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I used springs also. Rubber bands seemed kind of time limited to me. The springs can also be easier to adjust than replacing rubber bands would be. I have the proverbial gimpy leg that most ppl get that still needs to be fixed. Still looking for that elusive "round tuit".

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BWP

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I had a problem with the engine shroud centering ring. It was a bit small for the engine tube, and while sanding and test fitting, it came apart.
As for engines, I have an 18mm RMS casing and some D13-4 reloads. I also will try one of the new Quest C or D composites in both the ML and Outlander. My plan is to fly 2-3 times each, then put on a shelf. GB, what's your thoughts on my engine selection?
I like your antenna color better than mine. I went with the paint scheme on the box.
 

BWP

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I damaged a shroud while trying to force a better fit. I fixed the damage by taking a 1/4 by 2 inch strip of photography copier paper and covering up the damage along the top by gluing with CA gel. I then used the roll pattern decal I had in an Estes decal set to further mask it. The roll pattern also masked the slight misfit around the shroud that I was trying to fix in the first place. I'm pretty happy with how this fix turned out. It's not "purist" correct, but it looks correct on the model and compliments the roll pattern on the bottom.
My shrouds are not painted. Nor are the embossings that are glued onto the body. I had read the embossings disappear under paint, so I didn't go there.
 

Gary Byrum

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TY. I thought the antenna needed to be more pronounced. I mostly fly mine on D12's. I think I might have braved a low end E motor while back. I'd have to unpack my gear to see what my flight log says though. I have no 18mm experience with the ML. This was my first one.....and I modified it.......
Since the ML is a fairly draggy rocket, see what a C motor will do to it. No harm using a C with all that drag. Then up your game a bit. My option would be the AT composite D motors. I don't do reloads. I suppose your search for reloads would start where a D12 leaves off and go up the chart.
 

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I'm slowly working on a 1.6X ML and it is proving to be a challenge, but I'm also time challenged and I have a couple of other builds I'm trying to work on. My challenge right now is trying to find a better way to do the panel detail on the shrouds.
 

jrkennedy2

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ML was a hobby-ender for me in the 70s. Just couldn't get it to fit together well at all.

I am impressed by EVERYONE who takes this one on. The images here show some good-stuff! Maybe one day I'll re-try...
 

Gary Byrum

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I'm slowly working on a 1.6X ML and it is proving to be a challenge, but I'm also time challenged and I have a couple of other builds I'm trying to work on. My challenge right now is trying to find a better way to do the panel detail on the shrouds.
If you're referring to the embossing, I have seen a few attempts to bring out the details in what is clearly a very poor batch of shrouds and wraps. The end results were less than acceptable. I sucked it up and painted it regardless. SEMROC and I had a few conversations about this very thing and they couldn't find a solution to the lightly embossed pieces. I almost went to their shop to see if I could solve it for them. They sold the business before I could get there. I have no suggestions for doing those except to just paint over it all like normal.
 

BWP

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The shroud is supposed to slide over the lower unit and be flush against the leg housing. There was no way mine was going to do that. That resulted in the bottom ring of the rocket not being flush either. I used a silver paint pen to dress up the exposed part of the body tube.

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georgegassaway

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Really nice stuff.

When I was into the hobby for a year or less, I got a Mars Lander kit. It was beyond me, so I ended up cannibalizing it for parts. I hope to finally build one this year. Likely will use a 3D printed version, and definitely D12 power (and some weight up front since I have seen several ML flights go unstable even with a C6).
 

bjphoenix

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Good luck with your 1.6X ML. That's a Tango Papa kit, right?
That's it, and I've had the kit for a long time. I decided I should get on it and finally build it.


If you're referring to the embossing, I have seen a few attempts to bring out the details in what is clearly a very poor batch of shrouds and wraps.
The 1.6x kit uses cardstock for the shrouds, and a thick type of paint intended for fabric to draw on the pan outlines. I tried this a little bit and got pretty bad results so I've been trying to find something I can use to glue on to create the lines. I may try the paint again.
 

Gary Byrum

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That's it, and I've had the kit for a long time. I decided I should get on it and finally build it.
The 1.6x kit uses cardstock for the shrouds, and a thick type of paint intended for fabric to draw on the pan outlines. I tried this a little bit and got pretty bad results so I've been trying to find something I can use to glue on to create the lines. I may try the paint again.
My bad. I was clearly did not have P Tango ML on the brain. Not having seen a PT lander before, I would be curious how detailed the embosses are.
If distinct,,,,, ((DISCLAIMER: I have never done this, but I might have had I thought of it sooner) ,,,,,, using something very fine like fingerprint dust or even one of those charcoal dusting bags to get in the korners, nooks & krannies, would provide an outline for said panel parts. Clean the surface and leave trace behind. Hit it with some Future bath "ever so lightly". We wouldn't want it to run. Multiple times on that Future.
 

bjphoenix

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The TangoPapa kits use a thick fabric paint to create the panel detail- the goal is to create raised lines on the shroud to outline the panels. I've seen the other kits with embossed panel detail. I think a person could use the same technique of thick paint to create similar detail for any of the kits. I had the idea to create similar detail using narrow pinstripe tape on the shrouds instead of using the paint but most pinstripe tape would not sit up very far above the surface and wouldn't be visible enough. However a person could use a very thin black pinstripe tape on the white shrouds and create a different look to the panel detail.
 

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Here are my landers. I’ve flown the Mars Lander twice on the 18/20 RMS with D13 reload. Really screams off the pad. I modified the Outlander for 24mm but have never flown it. It has also been modified with add-on styrene bits. Decals by Tango Papa. I plan to fly it this year. At my age nothing is a shelf queen, they’ll all fly. :)

Gary is right about gimpy leg syndrome. Mine had a hard landing, but I’d built it with removable bottom shroud, repaired a leg, and tightened things up while in there.
 

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BWP

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Trident, nice job. My hat's off to anyone who does the 24mm mod and removeable shroud.

I've just built the ML and already have a weak leg. Go figure.

Your gray looks good on the Outlander. I moved my large tanks to the middle of the model vice the bottom per the instructions. I painted my pieces separately, then assembled. Moving the large tanks to the middle masked some unpainted areas. Plus I thought the roll pattern decals on the bottom were a better fit on the smaller tanks.
 

Trident

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Trident, nice job. My hat's off to anyone who does the 24mm mod and removeable shroud.

I've just built the ML and already have a weak leg. Go figure.

Your gray looks good on the Outlander. I moved my large tanks to the middle of the model vice the bottom per the instructions. I painted my pieces separately, then assembled. Moving the large tanks to the middle masked some unpainted areas. Plus I thought the roll pattern decals on the bottom were a better fit on the smaller tanks.
The change of tube placement is subtle. I didn’t notice! I have a couple more Outlander kits, so I may do one like that. I’ll try to edit down a video of my Mars Lander so it can be uploaded. Impressive on a D13 reload.
 

Gary Byrum

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Trident, nice job. My hat's off to anyone who does the 24mm mod and removeable shroud.

I've just built the ML and already have a weak leg. Go figure.
I never understood why having the aft shrouds made removable wasn't standard anyway. Especially if you use the rubber bands. You can't service those so well if it's all glued up. I read quite a lot about ppl that built and flew one to know how I wanted to build mine. And it has the removable shrouds.


10.JPG 8.JPG
 

mach7

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Carl, God rest his soul, posted a lot about the Mars Lander when he was releasing his kit back over a decade ago.

This is all from memory so take it as such.

The dies for the wraps Estes used were lost/worn out way back in the early '80s.

Carl had to make his, and I seem to remember they were not easy.

The ML is very marginally stable, but it is stable. Most stability issues come from the kit being
"overbuilt" and over painted. Any modifications need to be considered from that standpoint.
It's VERY sensitive to weight and CG. We are talking grams making a difference.
The bottom line don't paper the legs, make sure your glueing is neat clean and minimal, think about any
modifications, and paint sparingly.

It's also very sensitive to wind. I have launched mine in a 10mph wind with good results, but it was
arcing a bit under boost.

If I remember correctly, adding a 24mm motor is not an easy solution but it can help. Adding mass to
offset the heavier motor/mount can be an issue.

It's a VERY draggy rocket.

I was most of the way done with my clone when Semroc came out with their kit, so I used
Semroc wraps. The wraps were very nice and glossy. No paint was needed, as such the embossing
looks good. Start adding primer and paint, then they will disappear. The paint/primer will also negatively
impact the stability.

It fly's really good on a C6-3! Maybe 200-250 ft. Remember, this is not a high flyer.

 

Bruiser

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Your Mars Landers are very cool. So which kit exactly is each one?

I also see you have a Hot Wheels Gas Monkey Corvette. Very cool also!

-Bob

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mach7

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On the left is my clone, the middle is my Goonie lander, on the right is the Estes Outlander.O
The Clone has probably 40 flights on it. The Goonie has 3 or 4. The Outlander the same, 3 or 4.
 

BWP

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Good, informative post, Mach7. Thanks.
Good pic, too. Never seen a Goonie ML before. Looks good.
 

BWP

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I also like the way you use an engine partially inserted to keep the pressure off the legs. I've now done that now, too.
 

mach7

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Thanks, The Mars Lander is my favorite rocket of all time.

The goonie was done over a decade ago when goonifying was big on the boards.
The legs on the goonie are fixed unlike a real ML.
 

BWP

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I finally had a chance to fly both my Semroc Mars Lander and Estes Outlander.
The Outlander had an excellent flight on a Quest D16-4. Estimate 300-350 ft, chute just after apogee, plenty of time under the chute.
Unfortunately, the Semroc Mars Lander had a CATO about 50-75 ft off the pad. Fortunately the chute deployed and the ML stuck the landing. The soot on the outside is cosmetic and can be cleaned, but I am worried about the inside of the body tube. It's now got some spots that are peeling.
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I reloaded with a Quest C12-4 and had about as perfect a flight as could be had, less not landing straight up (had 5-8mph winds).
Estimate 350ish ft, no spin, ejection charge right at apogee with rocket oriented straight up. I looked like the ML was as 0 airspeed when the ejection charge went.
 

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