Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.64 inches
Length: 79.00 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 2
Style: Sport

Brief:
This is a tallllll single stage, 24mm rocket with a 24 inch parachute.

Construction:
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 deviated a bit from the sequence by skipping ahead while waiting for other parts to dry/set. The illustrations were easy to follow. I used the standard 24 inch Estes plastic parachute. Instead of attaching the shock cord to the body tube via the paper mount, I cut two small slits about an inch below the top edge of the body tube, parallel to the top edge, about a half inch apart. This required a bit of work with needle nose pliers and hemostats to work inside the small body tube, but the end result was worth five minutes of wrestling with it. The kit was missing one of the tube couplers, so I made one from the cardboard backing of a blister pack. I curled it into a tube, put some adhesive on it, put it in the tube and let it expand. It worked great. For the entire kit, I used LocTite Gel CA. It has all the strength of CA, but it is a thick consistency and doesn't run at all. The fit of all the parts was good.

Finishing:
I can't stand trying to find a black rocket at some launch sites, so I painted mine international orange (BRIGHT orange) with a chrome nose fading back into the orange. Dubbed it "Burning Chrome" after one of my favorite William Gibson novels.

Finishing Pro's: Straightforward. Con's: Long body tube a bit tricky, would have been much better with just two pieces instead of four. Separation should have been in center instead of at nose cone due to difficulty working with a rocket 78 inches long. Hard to safely move and transport.

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

Flight:
I lucked out and bought one each of (Estes) D12-3, D12-5, D12-7 and an (Aerotech) E15 from another flier at the field. It was nice being able to compare all these engines the first time I went out to fly this model. D12-3 was too short of delay, ejection just after thrust. D12-5 was better, but rocket was still ascending. D12-7 was perfect, rocket just nosed over when ejection blew. E15 was a great kick in the pants for this model, but the long body tube was slightly bent by the thrust. (This also happened to another person with an identical model that day) Bend isn't pronounced, but I will want to try and straighten a bit before I launch it again. Eyeball estimates of altitude was somewhere between 1500 and 2000 feet, though this method is unreliable. Our club uses a kind of paper/cellulose insulation for wadding, it worked great. No problems with motor hook, until I got home, then it fell out! Will have to try and de-mount motor mount to re-glue it.

Recovery:
Recovery Pro's: 4 Launches, 4 Recoveries. Con's: I'd never use a D12-3. Cut the circle out of the center of parachute, or this model will drift way too far. I had zero damage with it removed, and for all the D launches it was a short walk to recover. The E put it so high I had about a 1/2 mile to walk.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:
It's a good kit, but could be great if you make your separation point in the center (easily done with a few parts).

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Mean Machine {Kit} (1295) [1978-1998, 2007-2013, 2018-] By David Austerberry

    This is a classic Estes kit that has been in production for quite some time. It is a single staged rocket with a large length to width ratio and the launches are impressive for a low power kit. 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 ...

  • Estes - Mean Machine {Kit} (1295) [1978-1998, 2007-2013, 2018-] By Jordan Hiller

    (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.) ...

  • Estes - Mean Machine {Kit} (1295) [1978-1998, 2007-2013, 2018-] By Scott Danielson

      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. ...

  • Estes - Mean Machine {Kit} (1295) [1978-1998, 2007-2013, 2018-] By Jim Zamecnik

    ( 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 ...

Flights

Comments:

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P.K. (July 1, 1999)
Another engine that performs very well on the MM is Estes C5-3. Take-off is nice and slow, yet it gets to a comfortable altitude for the recovery system to work well. The best part is that ejection occurs at apogee, and depending on wind conditions the rocket will do one of two things 1)Fall back on itself, then the charge goes 2)Do a 180 degree turn, then the charge pops the nose cone! Great for demo launch. fyi I'd put a 7' shock cord with standard 24" chute.
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T.K. (March 1, 2000)
When I made mine, I installed a baffle using the first tube coupler (first two tubes were therefore glued together) and then had it split on the 3rd joint, with a payload section above. What I ended up with was wobbly flight; the couplers weren't quite strong enough to hold it straight during flight. I didn't have any problems with it overheating at the launch site that I'm aware of (I think the wobble was due to the joints, not warpage), and I painted mine with a black and blue pearl that's just gorgeous on the rocket. You can't tell it's not black until the sun hits it. As a note, be careful launching this in the wind on a standard Estes launch pad. I flew it once, then when trying for a second, it always blew over before I finished the countdown. I'll fly it again when I have a deployment altimeter, and can do nose-cone ejection instead of using the motor; so I can glue all the sections together and eliminate the wobble. I'd love to see this thing on an E!
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D.K. (September 1, 2000)
We built the Mean Machine exactly per instructions about 3 years ago, and have had at least a dozen no damage flights since. Always a crowd-pleaser. We painted it black, so you need to leave it in the car or fly it early in the day. Sun-baked warping will cause it to wobble in flight. We have flown it on an E15-4, which sent it up true and straight over 1,000 ft., so it came down in a tree a half-mile away, even though I put a 2" spill-hole in the parachute. Luckily, the club has an extendible tree retrieval, so we got it back with no damage. All in all, a great rocket.
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B.H. (January 1, 2001)
I built this and flew it in front of a school group and they went wild! They had me fly it again when I was only planning to do it once. I built it the regular way with the whole body tube as one piece. I have flown it 2 times without any damage and it is a great crowd pleaser. The height can be deceiving because of its shear size. I had to run a good 3/4 mile to recover mine with a D12-5. I wouldn't use any thing bigger unless there is no wind.
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K.D. (January 1, 2001)
The Mean Machine suffers from several easy to fix/avoid flaws, all of which are related to the rocket's length. I've seen recommendations (and I'd do them if I ever build another one) for having the body tube separate in the middle for chute deployment. There are three reasons for this: (1) less internal area to pressurize for chute ejection, (2) this makes the Mean Machine easier to transport, and (3) the long, narrow body of the rocket is very susceptible to warping over time, if not stored carefully. Also, the stock paint scheme (all black) causes the rocket to absorb more heat if left in the sun (like at a launch site). This, because of the long body, can also cause warpage. Don't get me wrong- I think it's a great ship. I just feel that there are some options to customize it, and make it better.
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M.H. (January 1, 2001)
When building the new "Mean Machine", if your body couplers are the kind coated with red tissue paper, gently peel the red tissue paper off the coupler before gluing. These newer couplers are too tight, and will cause you to seize (glue-lock) the tubes before the tube is pushed all the way on. You may want to use a bit of extra water in the glue when you connect the couplers.
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D.D. (May 1, 2001)
Great rocket. My first "D" class. Launched D12-5 in a bit of a wind and it arced a little into the wind. Went about 600-700 feet. Then put in an Aerotech E15-7. Very nice, very impressive. Good wind (8-10mph+), went about 1200-1400 feet, with bit of arc. The crowd enjoyed it as I was launching off a the small motor pad (A thru E.)Today, did E15-7, windy. Straight up, beautiful...until...just after apogee... it ejected sending the nose cone and parachute away from tube. Lost site of this as I was watching the tube flutter down ever so slowly, horizontally--and pretty far away---considering no chute/streamer. Looked for the tube for about 40 mins in a farm/field. (Culpeper, VA) No luck. Lovely, lovely machine. Will get another and try and mount Kevlar shock cord to motor mount, etc. Probably put a beeper or Radio DF unit on board. This thing was made for "E!" Good reviews. Great rocket!
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R.R. (May 1, 2001)
I followed the tips on having the rocket separate in the middle because lugging around a 6 ft. rocket can be a pain. Unfortunately the coupling wasn't long enough to keep the two halves from being wobbly. I glued on an additional coupler and now the two halves fit snugly and don't wobble. I also added a snap swivel to one of the halves so that I could carry each piece individually and snap them together when I got to the field. This rocket never fails to impress people!
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I.S. (June 1, 2001)
This is a great rocket! I have flown mine a total of 7 times over two days on D12-5 motors. I painted mine red-white-red. Before I read the review, I decided to have mine separate in the middle. I built a 6" coupler/bulkhead out of a 38mm motor mount tube that I peeled two wraps off of to get it to fit. I also mounted a short length of Kevlar string to this coupler which is on the forward section of the airframe. To the aft section I mounted a bulkhead with a hole for the ejection charge and another short piece of Kevlar string. Both Kevlar string shock cord mounts are bolted to the bulkheads with small machine bolts and epoxied. I use a 9ft length of Kevlar string for a shock cord that connects to both sections with fishing leaders. The chute connects high on the shock cord about a foot or so from the upper airframe section. The other comments are right on, kids love this rocket! I launched it on Space Day (May 3) and the 100 or so there went wild! The review was very accurate and I agree with all the comments.
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R.V. (July 27, 2002)
Rocket is a BT-60, not 55. The 24" 'chute is actually not the best for this rocket, leading to very hard impact on the engine hook. Flown 2-3 times, our Mean Machine swallowed 1/4" of its motor mount. To correct this, I taped (no glue) four small dowels to the back of the rocket, extending slightly past the hook. All in all, this is a great kit for the D's and also for the audience. We actually forgot the recovery wadding once (kit built stock), and had nearly no scorching on the 'chute.
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J.D.D. (March 17, 2003)
I recently purchased this kit for the first time in my ten + years in rocketry. I must say that I think this kit needs to be revamped. By that I mean they should rework the motor mount to handle E , F & G's, Which this kit could handle with a little beefing up. The couplers are way too short should be at least 3" long each.
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J.F. (June 11, 2003)
Ahhhh, the Mean Monkey. Mine pulled a Challenger. Approximately 1.63 seconds in to the launch, the engine mount caved in to the insistent power of the D12 and slid 6 inches up into the body tube. Spectacular flameout - smoldering fins flying in four directions. About 50 feet from the pad, the nose smacked into the ground in the same instant that the ejection fired, sending the flaming carcass bouncing back into the air 2 or 3 feet. The days you wish you had a video camera...
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TEW (October 27, 2003)
I built the Mean Machine in 5th Grade (1983) and it stole the show on its first launch way back then. Perfect launch, perfect recovery! Everyone was impressed, after all the other kids launched their smaller rockets. I launched it a couple of times after that, but it hung near the ceiling in my parent's living room for the better part of 15 years. Last year at Thanksgiving, we decided to start up a family tradition - a launch session where everyone brings a new rocket. The Mean Machine was back in action! More perfect launches, and every launch was caught with ease. I can't say enough about this bad boy. If you don't have one, get one! It's worth every penny. In two weeks, it will again be set off for more perfection! Pics are at: http://www.mdwheelers.com/photos/family2/rockets/rocketsmain.htm
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M.R. (February 23, 2005)
I built this rocket when I was in ninth grade (2001-2002) and this was the second rocket that I had assembled. I followed the instructions and I had finished construction in about one day. Easy to build and a great way to get into large rockets. This has always been a crowd favorite at our school rocket launches.
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M.R. (September 8, 2005)
I have a challenge. Take two of these rockets and assemble them to make one long rocket. Approximately 13 feet tall. Also, to power this bad boy, use three Estes "E" engines. Please make sure they are removable after flight. This challenge is possible, for I had a successful launch approximately three months ago. Recommend using an Aerotech Mantis Launchpad at the minimum and a 5 foot long rod.
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K.L. (June 18, 2007)
I built this rocket in about 1990 or 1991. Living in a small apartment and driving a small car I realized that I would have to split the model in half. I used a razor saw to remove the bottom half of the nose cone shoulder. I then glued the nose cone permanently on the top of the rocket and the bottom half of the shoulder on the bottom of the top half of the rocket. I then glued the fins that came with the rocket on this top half and fabricated bigger fins with the same shape and attached them to the bottom half. I used the 24 in chute that came with the rocket for the bottom half and bought an 18 in chute for the top half. I painted it black (big mistake) but it flew great and recovery of the rocket in two separate pieces was cool and unusual. I was in the local hobby lobby the other day and noticed the updated kit to fly on E engines and the airframe screws together in the middle.
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a.j.i. (February 24, 2008)
I bought and painted this one all white, except for a red nose cone and blue fin section. This rocket really draws attention. People love to watch er go up. The D 12 really has some authority and brings it to a respectable altitude. Mine is the new model so it is flown with the adapter. I will try the E next time. I was really surprised at how striaght this rocket flew. cliche - it really flew like an arrow up to about 500-600 feet. People really like to watch big rockets fly. The middle disconnect is an excellent way to transport this rocket. Very mean and lean.
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D.B. (March 7, 2010)
I love this rocket! The main advantage to its length is that if it crashes or lawn darts, you have plenty of body tube left! Mine has crashed 4 times and is now about 3 feet long. It started out as being called the "Mean Machine" (Well, of course) and after 1 crash was called the "Not-So-Mean Machine". After another it was dubbed "Mini Mean", and now finally it is the "Micro Mean". And it has only broke a fin once! I was just putting this story out there. Without all of the body tube, there is less drag and on an Aerotech E18W, it'll go to 1,800 feet! This is one of my most treasured rockets.
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G.W.R. (March 17, 2010)
I love this rocket. It's an incredibly easy build and impossible to lose--it's just to darn big to lose site of. Take off is impressive as it's slow off the pad due to its weight. My only issue is I bust a fin on nearly every flight. The fins are so small and all of the rockets weight comes down on them if you build it the standard way (e.g., parachute release at the nose cone). The good news is repair is easy and I see this bird lasting a LONG time. I will eventually build another and build it to separate in the middle and come down in two sections on two chutes. Also, be warned, this sucker takes a lot of paint. I used two full size cans of spray paint to get the effect I wanted. Overall though, it's a great kit and one I'll keep in my fleet for a long time.

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