bannerbanner
Blogs >> Featured Blog Posts >>

Model Rocket Building Blog

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 1, Parts
From what little I know about mid-power the parts seem to be very good quality. The gray tubing (I should call it an airframe, this is mid power and all) is Quantum Tubing. A polymer tube, it looks like gray plastic. The fins are G-10 fiberglass are .062" or about 1/16" thick. To the far right are ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Background
I don't usually do mid power models. Epoxy has never been my best friend. Here's the base kit background from PML - Based on the rockets of 1950`s SciFi movies, here`s the Little Lunar Express! With it`s fin "wings" and tail, landing pods, and retro styling, this is one great-looking bird. First ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 2, More Parts
With the bag open, here's the parts for the piston eject system On the left is the 54" parachute. Decals are peel and stick. The client had some vinyl decals made up by Stickershock in the Futurama d├ęcor. The instructions are in a booklet form with well done line drawings. The motor mount tube ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 3, Engine Mount
Compared to a LPR rocket, in MPR the engine mount uses beefed up parts. Plywood centering rings and a heavy engine tube. The centering rings are epoxied onto the motor tube with the shock cord strap slots lined up. The black shock cord strap is epoxied flat against the engine tube. I pencil traced ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 4, Engine Mount
The bottom hole of the tail cone is smaller than the diameter of the engine mount tube. It had to be slightly widened to get a good friction fit of the tube. If you are using engine retention you should plan ahead for how far the engine tube extends out the back of the tail cone. There is a ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 6, Fin Gluing
The fins are pre-cut from G-10 fiberglass. They are thin, about 1/16" thick. The edges are a little rough. I cleaned them up with some 220 grit sandpaper. 30 minute epoxy was applied to the root edges and TTW tabs. When these are slipped into the thin slots some of it will be left of the ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 5, Tail Cone Gluing
Here's the tail cone and interior tube are turned over. 30 minute epoxy was applied to the inside of the small end of the tail cone. The engine mount tube was slid up and into the epoxy. The centering ring is dry fitted for now and to make sure the interior tube is centered. The short 3.9" gray ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 7, Fin Slot Fill
The two smaller, opposing fin slots were cut just a bit long. This will need some sort of fill. Epoxy would drip and run into the slot and might take three or four runny applications to fill it. I ended up pushing toothpicks into the slot. Stacked side by side it'll be strong fill. The width of ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 8, Getting Epoxy Fillet Ready
My experience with epoxy fillets is pretty small. Here's a technique for masking the fillets I learned from the Rocketry Forum. For me, fillet width or thickness should reflect the size of the rocket. Big rockets get bigger width fillets, small rockets get smaller. To mask a consistent width ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 9, Epoxy Fillets
Always wear gloves when mixing and using epoxy!!! If you aren't allergic to epoxy you could become allergic over time. I don't use it that often but I still wear gloves. Using Epoxy is like doing fillets with running honey. You can be as careful as you want but it gets everywhere! Like I ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 10, Epoxy Fillet Smoothing
I've been using 30 minute epoxy. I like the extra working time before it starts to set up. The masking tape "dams" are removed when the glue starts to set up and doesn't run anymore. Don't wait too long to remove the tape or it will be glued to the model! Wear disposable gloves when using epoxy. ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 11, Launch Lugs
There are two 1/4" diameter brass launch lugs on the model. They are set on the bottom, side by side. Both lug ends are pre-cut at a 45 degree angle. Straight pencil lines were made using my aluminum angle on the short central body tube piece. I may have mentioned earlier, on lug was about ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 12, Landing Pads Fin Details
Landing "Pods" are attached to each of the four fins. These really give the rocket a 1950's era sci-fi look. The pods are very well cast from resin. They are smooth and show no flaws at all. They are two part, the upper and lower flat gluing surfaces were sanded flat with 220 grit on a block. ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 13, Rings and Pistons
The top of the ejection piston has a routed slot for the strap passage. This was one of only pieces in the kit that needed some cleaning up. A small rat tail diamond file rounded out the slot ends. Here's the finished piston slid into the short, main 4" diameter tube. The interior ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 15, Fillets and Primer
Here's how the epoxy fillets looked after forming and sanding. Two coats of Primer/Filler was shot and sanded between coats. Primer coats really show what needs to be cleaned up before color coats are added. I mentioned before how well the fillets flowed around the two large launch ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 14, Nose Cone Tip Blend
I mentioned before how clean the kit parts are. The resin nose cone tip required very little work to eliminate the joint. A little medium CA glue was ran around the seam then got some fine sanding until smooth. There was a slight molding line down one side at the top. More CA took care of ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 16, Paint!
I went to three different stores to find the Futurama colors. In the past I didn't have great luck with Valdspar but they had the closest light green color. Valdspar seems to take forever to dry! Rusto 2X had the best dark green. The model is sprayed a light green overall. Here's how it ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 17, Masking The Dark Green - TIP
All four fins are to be painted dark green. Here's the first root edge tape. Masking this leading edge is more difficult with the curvature of the tail done joint. The epoxy fillets leave a rounded leading edge joint. One the left is the first three pieces of marked Scotch tape set down. ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 19, Canopy Vinyl
Stickershock had done some custom Futurama vinyl for the build. Red Trim Monkote strips were applied down the body and onto the nose cone. I centered the canopy position between the two red stripes by marking a piece of paper. The paper was folded in the middle giving me the center mark. ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 18, Mask and Reveal
Regular masking tape was used to completely fill the tail cone area mask. Before shooting the darker green the fillet area masks were burnished down using a Q-tip. A plastic grocery bag was used to cover up the upper body. Here's the fin fillet color separation after all the tape was ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 20, More Vinyl Trim
The Planet Express logo went on both sides of the smaller rudder fin. I'm holding one of the landing pods in place to judge the visual centering of the rudder vinyl. A red strip was added to all four landing pods to tie them into the red trim on the main body. I have talked to two ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 21, Landing Pod Gluing
Epoxy was pushed into the landing pod fin slot with a toothpick. The pod was pressed into the fin edge. Notice the epoxy oozing out from the slot. Epoxy runs so you definitely want to watch for drips. The excess epoxy was spread out with a Q-tip. Again, watch for drips until it starts to set ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Part 22, Tying It Together
The parachute shroud lines were much thicker than what I am used to! Small loops are tied at the centers of each line. These are passed through the nylon strap. An overhand knot is made over the shroud lines locking them 1/3 the way down from the nose cone. The end of the nylon strap is ...
[Read More]

PML Lunar Express Build, Finished
This was different! The piston ejection system was a change and I could certainly use the experience doing epoxy fillets. It was interesting making the vinyl graphics work on a four finned model. The original Futurama rocket had three fins. I was most impressed by the quality of the ...
[Read More]