Saturn V Modification (Estes #2001)

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Launching since 1975
Jan 18, 2009
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The subject is my Estes Saturn V, built in 1995 and with 21 flights to its credit, each with a D12-3. All flights have been successful except for the last one. Prior to the last flight I installed a BT-50 baffle into the stuffer tube and the result was disastrous. Upon ejection, the stuffer tube unwound along the spirals and dislodged the bottom two 50-101 rings. No chute deployment. Fortunately, the rocket was catchable and the minor external damage was repaired. However, I was left with a gutted Saturn V in need of a new motor mount.


Smoothing the inside of the BT-101 took some work with 100 grit sandpaper. I had to work toward a smooth fit for the baffle. I went with internal components from Cygnus, a BT-101 baffle and an 11" long 29mm motor mount with 3 plywood centering rings.



Next came assembling the motor mount. I used 5 min. epoxy throughout. The thrust ring was placed 80mm from the aft end of the tube. This will allow use of the anticipated Quest E & F motors, which are 28mm diameter and 100mm & 115mm length. The aft ring was placed in the same position as the original mount, about 3 1/4 inches from the bottom of the BT-101.

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Next came assembly of the BT-101 baffle. I modified it by drilling 2 holes, 5/64 diameter, to accommodate kevlar anchors for the shock cords. All kevlar knots were fortified with CA. The baffle was placed about 3 inches from the top to allow room for the shoulder of the upper section, and the 3 chutes. 5 min. epoxy used throughout.

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The finished product, with chutes and shock cords, weighs in at 13.4 oz. Hopefully, this renovation will breathe new life into an old kit. I'm open to suggestions as to choice of motor, BP or High Power. What kind of performance can I expect and do you think I need to add nose weight?

In the case of 24mm diameter motors, the AeroTech E15-4W, E20-4W & E30-4T would be good choices.

As for the Quest E12 & F12 BP motors, I can tell you that the F12 motor is HEAVY (About 100 grams unfired). It is a long-burn, low-thrust motor. You will need nose weight for the Quest motors and I'm not sure these motors could safely/successfully fly your Saturn V.
OK so you had a good success record of 20 flights. You then made a change that had poor results. Not trying to be a smartass here but I am just curious what your reason for the mod was. The old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" came to mind and I was just curious. BTW your Saturn V looks great!

Good question, Glenn, but the old motor mount and centering rings were damaged beyond repair. So I had the choice of going with another 24mm mount or upgrading to allow for more powerful motors. On a D12-3 this model achieves only about 100 ft. in altitude. With a 29mm mount I have the option of going Econojet or using the soon to be released (I hope) Quest E12 and F12 (provided the max. lift wt.) is adequate. When it flies again I'll report on it here.
Hello, im new to the rocket forum. I have an old Saturn V i built way back in 1988-1989. It flew for the first time on the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. It has prob flown about 10 times and has sat idle for the last 15 years. Im looking to upgrade it this fall. Im wondering about a simple power upgrade, im not really interested in going a thousand feet or anything, even 500 i would be happy with. I live in canada and at this point (mind you ive only began to research) it seems easier to import some crack than some of the aerotech engines. I guess my main questions are 1. Will it fly much better on a estes "e" engine? 2. Is there anyone who sells parts ( resin cast replacement escape tower) 3. Anyone selling decals? Any info would be great! LW
1. Will it fly much better on a estes "e" engine?

That would be a BIG no. Estes E9's don't have any more lifting power than a C11 if as much. You need to either stick with D12's, use Aerotech 24mm composite motors, or upgrade to a 29mm motor mount to use future Quest big black powder motors (28mm) or Aerotech 24mm/29mm composite motors

2. Is there anyone who sells parts ( resin cast replacement escape tower)

resin capsules Available at Sirius Rocketry.

3. Anyone selling decals?

For this, I would suggest that you private message or E-mail Gordy (sandman). He owns Excelsior Rocketry . He doesn't have them listed on his site, but I find it hard to believe he doesn't have them hidden somewhere. :D
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I agree, an E9 has 25% less ave. thrust than a D12. In the Estes Saturn V the result will be a flight that noses over far from vertical and fights for every inch of altitude. Not the result you're looking for.

There's another option you should consider. Modify your Saturn V for clustering. You have several options available with Cygnus mounts designed for the BT-101:

I'd suggest you mark the center of gravity beforehand, and add nose weight afterwards to keep it where it was.
Better yet, he can make a removable mount. Then, he can use just about anything he wants at any time.
Thanks for all the info. I think my biggest challenge will be finding motors here in Canada. I havent flown rockets in a long time. Used to fly the old estes shuttle once in a while. I just converted it to RC with micro gear. Had to lighten it a lot, hope it works out. I think using a cluster of estes engines would be a good idea for the saturn v. Ive never been into clusters i guess there must be a sure fire way to get them too all light off at the same time. I remember those old electric matches liked to simmer for a bit before they would light the engine. I dont want to loose this model so want something surefire. LW
I know its 10 years later, but I'm really curious if you finally launched your HP Saturn V!