Notes: March 24, 2005. Upper tank dome painted and installed. Inside the forward skirt: a couple of electronics boxes and the fuel vent lines. On the outside: stringers, stringers, stringers.... Almost 300 little pieces of styrene on the forward skirt. There is only one way out: stop counting and start gluing!
You can maybe see it in the pictures: the upper
frame of the stage is not completely circular. That is because the styrene that
bonds the large sheets of the stage together is too wide. This causes the joints
running along the stage to be too stiff - they do not bend easily. The trick
would be to make the bonding pieces as narrow as possible... too late. Some of
the kinks and bends are neutralised by forcing them into shape by supergluing
them to the the frame.
January 2009 - Five years after I started on this
stage, I'm back to working on it. First up were the LH2 feedline fairings.
As with many of the details on this stage, these are complex shapes with
comlex curves and bulges. The basic structure of the fairings is a styrene tube cut
in half lenghtwise and with the "bulges" molded on with putty. Molding, sanding, filling,
sanding, filling, sanding... The upper ends of the fairings were shaped from balsa and the
lower, open ends where made from pieces of styrene heated and pulled down over
the tip of a pen to give it the
tapered shape. The LH2 lines on the outside of the stage are barely visible once
the farings are in place, but I built the ends of the lines to be placed inside
The stage was first
painted with ordinary gloss white spray paint from the
hardware store and then the decals were applied. I took care to work
the decals tightly around the raised lines on the stage with setting and softening solutions.
After they dried, the whole thing received a coat of clear flat
- "model building grade" clear flat, not the stuff from the hardware store that yellows.
The black roll pattern was brush painted.
Now the stage was ready for detailing. And with
the farings attached, it started to look like a rocket stage. I have done some
preliminary work on the LH2 and LOX vent fairings, but again: these are a bit
more complex to build than most other details, and I'm not quite satisfied with
them yet - so they will have to wait some more.
Next up is figuring out how
much of the wiring on the thrust structure is needed to make it
look realistic. The goal is to make this end of the stage look "dense" enough.
I decided to connect the various boxes to the ringframes on the thrust structure/lower end of
the stage. The wiring is made from ordinary fishing line and held in
place with tiny eyelets. I decided to paint the wires in shades of white -
this matches with the reference photos, and the different kinds of white make the model look realistic - I think... Some of
the wires cannot be installed before the engines are in place.
- Next up
are the engines... I think it will be possible to install the
heat shield before the engines. I might be able to build them to
"plug in to" the fuel lines already in place, and then insert them
through the gaps in the shield.
I had build most of the
parts for the engines a long time ago, but constructing
the engines is still a difficult process. The LOX and LH2 lines must be at
the correct distance from each other to match the fuel lines already in place
on the stage. And there is no clear, positive way of fitting them to the engines
- they just stick out from the small rings on the cumbustion chamber. So this part
of building the engines takes almost endless testfitting. I made a small jigg for
each engine to be able to check the fit and relative distances - "LOX" and
"LH2" are mixed up on the jigg! I glued the fuel lines in place with
"slow" plastic glue, and once they fit, I secured the parts with "fast"
- Then engines are
almost completed, they have been made to match the fule lines
on the stage. So now the heat shield can be installed.
At first, it is installed with 8
vertical supports and tweaked into the correct position.
Then the central engine is plugged in,
connected with wires to the control box and the remaining supports are inserted.
Next pictures: more engines are
2009. The last two engines have now been
And finally, the last fairings. The construction
of the LOX vent fairing is shown in detail. It's a bit more complex than the