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Modified Estes Mean Machine

By Steve Lindeman

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

Saw this rocket at Hobby Lobby on clearence last week and couldn't resist t' urge t' buy it. Avast, me proud beauty! I have a similer rocket that I call Big Red that I built usin' two Prowler kits but has been a challange at times transportin' becauce o' its length so when I saw this new version o' t' classic I grabbed it. In fact I grabbed both them along with a Big Bertha. All for $47.37. Retail would have been $78.97. This is twice this winter that I've got a good deal from them. Last summer I picked up a Super Neon on clearence for $10.19 and a Big Daddy for $17.99. Almost $20.00 off. God bless Hobby Lobby.Money mouth

For t' most part this is goin' t' be a stock build with three exceptions. Ahoy! T' top coupler will be made into a baffle with 1/8" plywood ends with holes custom drilled by me. Avast, me proud beauty! I'm also goin' t' install a screw eye in t' top o' t' baffle and attach a 20'' lentgh o' kevlar cord t' it followed by elastic cord in place o' t' stock paper mount and rubber band that Estes supplys. T' final modification will be paperin' t' fins. I learned this trick just a fews years ago and wished I had found or thought o' this sooner. All o' me builds now get this treatment. I love t' flawless finish and extra strength it adds t' balsa fins. Ya scallywag!  


Assembeled MM per instructions and set aside t' dry. Next started work on plywood inserts for baffle in top coupler. I know I'm jumpin' ahead slightly but thats how we roll sometimes. Traced t' inside o' a coupler twice onto a piece o' 1/8" plywood then cut and sanded both pieces t' a snug fit in t' coupler. Next drilled 3/16" holes in both pieces. Seven holes in a close cluster in t' middle for t' bottom one and eight in a circle near t' outside edge for t' top one.  After gluein' both baffle plates in place  I'm done for today. Begad! On a  personal note this is nay goin' t' be a quick build as I have several projects that I want t' work on at t' same time and sometimes one takes president over t' other.


Today I will be paperin' t' fins.  Was also hopin' t' spray some primer by tomarrow but we are under a winter storm warnin' as o' last night so no can do. It has been in t' mid 40's for t' last week which is nay normal for Michigan and I was startin' t' get launch fever. Ya scallywag! Today was a reality check. Frown


Compleated steps 4-9 which was markin' t' tube for fin mounts and launch lugs, me bucko, final sandin' o' fins, attachin' fins and installin' bottom coupler. Skipped step 8 for t' moment, and steps 10 & 11 due t' modification o' top coupler/baffle with screweye. Tied Keelhaul®©™ t' screweye and installed baffle.  Proceeded t' step 12 and ran reinforcement beads around everythin' and thats all for today. Avast!  


Went back over all fins and launch lugs with white glue. Nay goin' t' do step 8 (the plastic jointer) till after rocket is painted so will be movin' on t' another project till weather permits. 


Sprayed first coat o' primer on fins today but after openin' basement windows t' get some cross ventilation it got t' cold t' do any more work.


Sanded fins with 220 paper and applied second coat o' primer. Snowin' today so can't open windows long t' air out basement. Sure wish warmer weather would hurry up and get here.


63 degrees out today so was able t' take rocket outside for final prime job and sanding. Went over joints with HobbyLite first then sanded entire rocket with 400 grit paper. Blimey! Reprimered and then sanded again with 600 grit. Begad! Now ready for main color. Avast, me proud beauty! Weather is goin' t' cool off again over t' weekend but warm back up next week so can't do anymore today as winds are pickin' up t' gusts o' 35 mph.


Managed t' get t' silver undercoat on t' roocket today. Arrr! Have decided t' make yet another purple rocket as I still have 3 cans o' metalflake that I bought on close out last year. Never was real big on black anyway and on this rocket I'm sure warppin' would be an issue if left in t' sun t' long. My Big Red Prowler suffers t' same fate so I know that t' purple won't be any better I just prefer t' color.


Rainin' today so nay doin' much. Got t' 2" blue painters tape out along with some wax paper and laid out t' flame pattern for t' top end o' t' rocket (see photo). Ya scallywag! Blimey! I first wrapped a piece o' paper around t' rocket t' get t' size then removed paper and drew t' pattern on it. Arrr! Blimey! Next I cut it out with an X-acto knife. Arrr! Blimey! Then stuck t' blue tape t' t' waxpaper, laid t' patteren over it and again used X-acto knife t' cut it out. Finally I peeled t' waxpaper off tape pattern and applied tape t' rocket.



Hit 60 today but with 15 MPH winds. Ya scallywag! Was able t' apply second and final coat o' silver t' nose cone in spite o' winds but will wait till tomarrows predicted 75 degree weather t' do main body. Avast, me proud beauty! Back tracked t' step 8 and went ahead and plastic glued t' plastic jointers in. Arrr! I was goin' t' leave them unpainted around t' collars because I be worried o' possible chippin' due t' bein' put t' gather and take apart so many times but decided t' take a chance and go ahead and paint them. So they got masked off and hit with silver.


Finally got t' OK from wife t' paint rocket. Begad! Applied first coat and set aside t' dry. Wife decided she wanted t' go t' t' dollar store while it dried so off we go. Came home and shot rocket with second coat. Ahoy! Let it dry a short time then hit with final blendin' coat. Avast! Let air dry for awhile then removed tape and set rocket in garage t' finish air drying. Well, blow me down! Hopefully will finish with decals and clear coat tomarrow.


Applied decals today. Aye aye! Blimey! Fin decals went on with no trouble but then disaster struck. Avast! Blimey! T' Mean Machine decal ripped in t' several pieces.Yell Managed t' salvage most o' it and and get it on t' rocket but will have t' try and do some touch up work before I clear coat everything.


Got out me smallest paint brush along with a can o' yellow spray paint and newspaper and touched up bad spots in decal. Blimey! Next I sprayed entire rocket with Dupli-Color High Preformance Clear EFFEX paint that is available in t' automotive department o' Meijers department store for $11.88 a can. Auto Zone also carries it for $12.98. Ahoy! After paint air dried out side for a while attached t' parachute t' rocket and got it ready for glamoure shots. Rocket is ready for maiden flight. Pictures t' follow.


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Maiden Flight (2013-05-10 14:56:14)

Yesterday I finally got a day with almost no wind and was able t' get her maiden fligh in. This was t' fifth flight o' t' day and t' only one t' use t' Mantis pad. Avast, me proud beauty! I caught a lull in t' wind an launched. Avast, me proud beauty! Flight was straight up and impressive looking. Parachute deployment happened just as rocket turned parelle t' ground. Avast! Nice slow drift back down somewhere around 300' from pad. Begad! Apon inspection at recovery point noticed slight black marks on chute where it looks as if t' hot ejection charge gases hit it. Arrr! Considerin' that this rocket has a baffle and where t' baffle is located I was surprised. Note to self: Add a little dog barf next time just t' be safe.

Mean Machine in 5...4...3...

Mean Machine in 5...4...3...

Mean Machine Under Chute 

Mean Machine under chute

Mean Machine Recovery

Mean Machine Recovery


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Glamour Shot

Mean Machine.1

Mean Machine.3

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