The long airframe is built by coupling four standard BT-60 body tubes. The kit comes with four die-cut balsa fins and two cardboard centering rings. Recovery is done with a 3/16" shock cord nearly 3 feet in length. A parabolic plastic nose cone is also provided.
This kit comes nicely packaged with cardboard reinforcement in the bag to protect the five BT-60 body tubes. All the parts listed in the instructions were there and undamaged. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, typical of most Estes kits. This kit can be easily built with no special tools but I had recently bought the tube marking tool kit from Estes, so I didn't need to use the included body tube wrapper. The "hold down strap" (just a strip of paper) template was useful in gluing down the engine hook but not really needed. The kit was extremely easy to build--it could almost be a level 1 kit. With a bit of sanding, all the parts fit together well. In hindsight I should have used custom tube couplers instead of the ones provided as the stock ones are much too short. I guess that Estes wanted to put a priority on keeping weight down over durability. The centering rings also look a little flimsy.
The plastic tools I bought helped with gluing the fins on perfectly but of course homemade marking guides and fin gluing jigs work just as well. This rocket is already very heavy, so no priming coats or sealing was put on the body tubes, just a thin coat of black paint. Painting it black was a very bad idea. Paint it another color instead. Once I flew it in 90 degree weather and it got too hot to handle. It warped a bit, too. Once finished, it looked pretty lean and, well, mean.
The instructions warned against priming the rocket but advised putting sanding sealer on the fins, sanding after the sealer had dried, and then putting on one thin coat of spray paint. I took Estes' advice because this rocket is very heavy for its D motor. Modifying it with a 29 mm motor mount would be great and I know people have done so with good results.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
The recommended motor was a D12-5. It's the only one to consider using as ejection is consistently just after apogee but a D12-3 would be much too short of a delay. You can't put too much wadding in this rocket. I loaded it with 8 squares of wadding. The engine mount and motor hook worked just fine.
My first flight was on a day with calm winds and it went perfectly straight up. I was a little worried when the rocket nosed down and started falling. Then the chute deployed and it came down slowly, only about a hundred feet away. My second flight would sorely test the short recovery range. The launch site was near a baseball field with a game in progress! It lifted off beautifully, arched over at apogee, and landed not 15 feet from the home run fence. Whew! Both times the rocket came home unscathed.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
This is really a good rocket. If you're looking for a good addition to your low power fleet, this should be a top choice. Lift offs look good, construction is easy, and it looks pretty good. The main improvement I would make is using longer tube couplers. The rocket would be more durable and the extra weight might help better coordinate apogee with ejection.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Brief: This is a tallllll single stage, 24mm rocket with a 24 inch parachute. There are four (4) body tubes, a standard 24mm motor mount, four (4) balsa fins and a plastic nose-cone. I deviated from the standard paper shock cord mount. I bought this kit and let it sit in a closet for about 4 years. Went to my first HPR launch and got the bug again. The instructions were simple, but I ...
(by Jordan Hiller) The most attractive thing about the Estes Mean Machine is its size. While it's only a BT-55 body tube, the rocket is about 6 ½ feet long! Building is quite simple, since this is just a very long 3FNC model. The instructions are straightforward, and the only tools you really need are the ones you need for every other rocket (sandpaper, hobby knife, glue, etc.) ...
Construction: Rating: 4 out of 5 points This is a great 1st D engine kit. It's over 6 feet tall. The overall construction was a snap. This kit was pretty simple to build. Just take your time when gluing the coupler and body tubes together. THEY HAVE TO BE ALIGNED PERFECTLY! The couplers were EXTREMELY hard to fit in the body tubes, and because of this my tubes are kind of bent. ...
( Contributed - by Jim Zamecnik) Brief: Modified for use with the PerfectFlite microAlt 4600 dual deployment altimeter. Added a 6" long altimeter bay and a 12" long forward main chute bay to the lower half of the Mean Machine. (new section made from recycled tubes and couplers from a SuperNova Payloader) Modifications: The lower half is a stock Mean Machine (a bit shorter due ...