1/144 Saturn I Block II SA-5 Build Update 1

Time for a progress report on the SA-5 build.  I started on the aft structure of the first stage.  I needed to drill a hole for a brass rod that would attach the model to the display base.  I marked an X on the top of the part and put the heat shield on the bottom of the base.  I then went to my drill press and drilled a hole through the top down through the heat shield on the bottom.  I then inserted a length of brass tube through the top and down into the hole in the heat shield.  I only pushed it through until it was flush with the outside of the heat shield.  Then I applied epoxy to the portion of the tube sticking out of the top.  When that had cured I removed the heat shield and then applied epoxy to the tube from the bottom side.  Then I put the heat shield back on.  Once that had cured I had a rod that was positively attached to the aft structure and would not move while I added weight.  With the head shield removed, I put some BB’s in and then poured in epoxy to secure them.  With that I was ready to start adding details to the aft section.

I then glued the halves of the tank section together and then removed the molded in antennas.  Next I added some details to the heat shield.  I scribed lines into the heat shield to match the pattern of SA-5.  I filled four holes for the inboard engines that will not be used.  The inboards did not have the turbo pump exhausts around the engine bells like the outboards did. I also added four small bits of styrene rod to represent the water quench disconnects.  I then added the flame shields for the outboards by bending some insulated copper wire bent to the correct shape.

I then went back to the aft structure.  I filled the ribbing that was molded in.  It is in the wrong place and does not cover enough of the base.  I sanded that smooth and applied a light coat of primer to make sure I had them filled properly.  I created a pattern to allow me to get the stringers spaced properly.  There are fourteen stringers between each fin, with a blank area surrounding each fin.  With the pattern secured to the part, I started gluing the .020 x .020 styrene strips in line with my pattern.  I had to cut out a bit around where the inboard turbo pump exhaust goes.  After adding all the stringers, I sanded a slight taper into the leading edge of them.  With that complete I created 8 access doors from .005 styrene sheet and sanded rounded corners into each one.  I then made two umbilical doors out of the same .005 sheet styrene.  I then marked all round the aft structure for the placement the doors.  I glued them on with my Tenax cement.

That’s it for now.  Much more work on the first stage to go.

Thanks for looking.

1/144 Saturn I Block II SA-5 Build

Well I don’t usually overlap builds, but I knew I was going to have to wait a bit before I could get back to the Millennium Falcon.  I started my next project which is another kit from Martin’s Models from the UK.  This one is a conversion set that modifies an Airfix 1/144 Saturn IB into a Saturn I Block II SA-5.  It was the first Saturn I flight to have a live S-IV second stage.  I love that rocket.  It has those great classic lines.

Again the resin parts are quite rough and some are out of round, but it will be a great starting point and should build into a nice model.

I started by removing the pour plugs from the parts and doing any necessary trimming to the resin parts.  Next I started removing the fins from the thrust structure of the kit part.  This time I would not be removing the fairings from the base part since SA-5 had these.  When I used the Airfix kit to make the SA-205 Apollo 7 Saturn IB a few years ago, I had to remove them.  For SA-5 I did have to remove part of the top of the parts that made up the first stage fuel tanks since SA-5 had only a very small flat section.  In the picture you can see how much had to be removed.  The part on the right has the extra plastic cut off while the part on the left has not been modified yet.  You can also see how much the plastic had yellowed over the years.  I bought this kit when Airfix re-released it in the 1990’s.

You’ll notice that I had to fill a couple of divots that I made when I was removing the fins.  I got a bit zealous with the Dremel and created an oopsi moment.

Next, I moved on to some of the resin parts.  The tapered interstage needed to be sanded a bit on both ends to get a flat and square surface.  Unfortunately the interstage is not quite round.  I’ll have to do more work here to get a more rounded part.  The nosecone was not pointed enough for the version that was on SA-5.  I started tapering it a bit more.  I’m almost there.  I’m not sure how much more I can sand it though.  I keep hitting air bubbles that prevent a sharper point.  I’ll continue to try and refine it.

Sorry for the out of focus on the interstage pic above.

Thanks for looking.  More to come.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Final Update

I’ve been working on this model for a while since the last update.  After the primer went on, many flaws showed up that I couldn’t see on the bare resin.  Fixing these required many iterations of putty, sand, primer, and inspect.  Sometimes I thought I was getting close only to find some new pinholes show up due to sanding the surface of the resin.  Martin really needs to invest in some vacuum casting tools.  Anyway I finally got through that stage and was able to start painting.  I started out by painting the engine nozzles and turbo pump exhausts with Tamyia bright silver paint.  Then I painted the inside of the nozzles and the holes I drilled in the turbo pump exhausts with clear smoke.  I then gave the model a coat of gloss white.

After letting the gloss white cure for a couple of days I started masking for the black areas on the first stage boat tail.  The rest of the rocket is white.  The boat tail was a challenge to mask due to all the compound curves.  I finally got it masked satisfactorily, including the heat shield area on the base.

Next I sprayed gloss black on the base of the rocket.  I let the paint dry for a few hours before removing the masking tape.  The black areas turned out fine.  The black tanks will have some custom decals applied rather than trying to mask them off.  The area between the tanks is still a bit rough, but it is MUCH better than it was out of the box.

To create the custom decals I started out with a scan of the decals that came in the kit and then photos of the actual vehicle.  I resized and modified them to be more accurate.  I added stripes that go halfway around the dummy third stage just below the nosecone and at the third stage/transition junction centered on Position I.  I also added some inverted “T” shapes that appear on the dummy second stage at the interstage junction.  The checkerboard roll pattern that appears around the top of the first stage was not correct at all in the kit decal.  I measured the circumference of the area and then using photos counted the number of checkers and drew a new decal.  Also there is a slightly larger block that appears at 8 places around the roll pattern and I added those as well.  I double printed the white areas of the vehicle number and position number decals to help avoid the black from showing through.

I knew I was in for a challenge in applying the fuel tank decals.  There are a number of raised areas that are hard to account for when making the decal.  I had to cut the decals in places and use some black paint to touch up a few spots.  Micro Set and Micro Sol were used quite a bit in getting the decals to settle over the added details.  I also had to double layer the decals that were put on over the black.  Even double printing the white while printing the decals was not enough to keep the black from showing through.  Applying the second decal over the first eliminated the black showing through.  In the end the model looks pretty good.

With the decals in place, I let the model dry completely overnight and then sprayed a gloss coat over them to protect them and prepare them for an overall clear flat coat.  After the clear coats dried overnight I then added the engine nozzles and turbo pump exhausts with some CA.  Finally, the model is done.  It looks nice sitting on its stand.

The stand should be temporary since I plan on adding SA-5 and SA-10 to the collection to show the Saturn I progression.  However those will have to wait a bit.  I need to take a break from the resin before tackling those kits.  Thanks for following along.  I hope to start the next build shortly, probably a sci-fi subject.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 3

More progress has been made on the SA-1 model.  The final detail bits have been added.  After going through more photos of the SA-1 vehicle, I noticed that the fuel tank on quadrant 1 does not have the same valve detail as on the other tanks.  Instead of a recessed valve there is a raised detail where the on pad fuel fill and drain line attaches.  I made this part with a stack of styrene strips with each strip getting smaller as they go up.  This helped in shaping the part since it has tapers on both ends.  The top appears to have a round shape so I sanded that in.  The part then got attached over the original tank valve recess.

Next I moved on to the air scoops on the outboard engine fairings.  I’ve been thinking of how I would model these parts since I began the build.  I finally came up with an acceptable solution.  I pulled out the Walthers piping sprue that I used earlier to create the turbo pump exhausts.  I looked carefully at the ends of the runners that lead to some of the parts on the sprue.  Some of the ends had a rounded profile and were close to the right diameter.  I used a sharp #11 blade and cut off the hemispherical ends of the runners and then cut those in half.  This left me with some 1/4 sphere shapes that were close the size needed.  I then glued them in place on the fairings and used the #11 blade to shape them to more closely match the correct profile.  They may still be slightly oversized but they look close, so I’m going to leave them at that.

Next I noticed that there were vent openings at the top of some of the fuel and LOX tanks.  Not all of them just some of them.  I found some drawings online that showed the plumbing of those vents.  The drawing along with some photos allowed me to determine which tanks had the vent holes.  I used a small drill bit in my pin vice and made the vents.

I then primed the upper dummy stages and the first stage.  I’m sure it won’t be the last time I prime these parts.  It seem that every time I think I’m done, I find some more pin holes that need to be filled.  I also attached the engines and turbo pump exhausts to a paint stir stick and primed them as well.

The next thing will be to glue the upper stages to the first stage.  Some more sanding and filling will be required at the join.  But that is for next time.  Thanks for looking.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 2

I’ve had other things going on, so it has taken me longer than I planned to get back to the build.  But I now have made some progress.  First I trimmed the outboard engine fairings.  They have an angled edge rather than straight.  The angle needs to somewhat match the subtle angle on the boat tail.  The next thing to do was to complete the turbo pump exhausts. I cut out some brackets from 0.010 styrene sheet and attached them to the pipes.

I then drilled some small holes in the first stage boattail to accept the exhaust pipes.  I’ll attach them later in the build.  I also drilled holes at the base of the fuel and LOX tanks to match photos of SA-1.

Finally, for this post are a couple of pictures of the continuing filling and sanding of the model to cover some of the blemishes in the castings.  You can also see that I’ve added some tunnel covers to the fuel tanks and a vent pipe on the fuel tank of Position 4.

That’s it for now.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 1

I finally made some new progress on the SA-1 model.  I glued the top section of the first stage in place.  I then also glued the second and third stages plus the nose cone together.  The first stage needs more clean up and filling.  I started where the tanks meet the boat tail.  I thought about using my Dremel to get rid of some of the junk in between the tanks on the first stage, but it is such a confined area that I’m afraid that I’ll mess up the tanks on either side.  I think I’ll be adding filler between the tanks to cover up the lumps an bumps there. The dummy upper stage assembly also requires some filling and sanding.

While waiting for some filler to dry I started scribing the panel lines into the base of the boat tail.  I also drilled some holes to insert locator pins for the engine bells to be added later.  Next I drilled a hole in the base of each engine bell.  I also glued some 3/64 inch styrene rod into each of the locator holes in the boat tail.

The outboard engine fairings that come in the kit are too small and do not fit well on the boat tail.  I instead used some 0.010 inch sheet styrene to make some replacements.  I glued them on with Plasti-Zap CA glue.  Since each curve on the boat tail is a bit different on this kit I numbered the edges of each fairing so I could get them in the right place.  Plus I continue to add filler to the tanks on the first stage.

I also started making the inboard engine turbopump exhaust ports.  I’m not that great at bending styrene rod, so when I can, I adapt other parts.  I had some piping left from a Walthers Piping kit that I used on a steampunk rocket a while back.  I pulled out the runners to see if there were some parts there that I could use as a turbopump exhaust.  Sure enough I found some.  I only had four pieces that I could use, so I had to make sure not to mess them up.  After cutting them from the runner I carefully trimmed off the ends that I didn’t need.  I then drilled out the ends that will be seen so they look more like pipes instead of rods.

That’s it for now.  I have to make some brackets for the turbopump exhausts before they can be attached.  I also have some more detail items that need to go on the first stage tanks, but first I have to finish the filling and sanding.

More to come.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build

I’m starting a new build.  This will be the first for the year.  Last year I completed three models.  That is a record for me.  I’ll see if I can do better this year.

First on the table this year is an all resin kit of the Saturn I Block I (SA-1) from Martin’s Models.  I purchased this kit directly from Martin in the UK at least 4 years ago.  Some people say that the castings are pretty good.  I’m not quite in that camp.  Maybe over the years his casting process has gotten better.  The castings in my kit are not quite up there with New-Ware or RealSpace Models.  There are some casting flaws and some parts are a bit out of round, but it should still build up to a nice model.  I’ll just have to do more cleaning than usual and do a little scratch building.

First thing I did was to gather everything together to see what I had to work with.  A number of the parts will require some clean up and filling.  On some of the parts it is hard to tell where the the pour plug ends and the part itself begins.  I also don’t think I’ll be using the included display base.  I’ll display it like I’ve been doing with my 1/144 manned launchers.  The included decals are not bad, but I might be doing some custom ones before it’s all over.

I cleaned up the parts and removed the pour plugs as best I could tell.  Many of the parts will require more work to look good.

I sanded the bases of the major sections and then started stacking them to see how far off from square I was.  It is really difficult to sand them exactly square, so I rotated the parts until I got what looked like a straight rocket from the bottom to the top.  I also made some alignment marks so that as I stack them later for gluing I can be sure that the alignment remains in the original orientation.

Next, I made some marks on the first stage boat tail.  This will allow me to drill a hole in the center for the rod that will hold the model in place on the base.  I also made a diagram to assist me when I scribe the lines on the base heat shield.

Then I glued the first stage tanks to the boat tail.  I had to use a couple of shims to get a vertical stage.  I attached them with CA.  Then I started the process of filling the areas where the tanks meet the boat tail.  This is still a work in progress.  You can also see from the pictures that there is some clean up to be done between the tanks as well.  I also filled  a major divot on the boilerplate second stage.

That’s all for now.