Final Exam with time pressure
1. Basic model rocket building techniques - If you have only the basics, practice on other models before trying this kit. It was originally a 'level-5" and still has some sneaky difficults spots. (see below)
2. Research -this was important to me, in that I wanted our models to look like the pictures, and when John and Bill had video we could slow and stop, the details became very easy to pick out. BUT there where way too many options to do for the 'stand-off' scale we where trying for. We settled for using the SM wrap provided in the forum, and silverizing the big panels, this got us the look of the pictures.
3. Building around a reference line - I usually am quite good at this, my 3D visualization is quite good, but too many things happening at too many workstations, and we had trouble in several of the steps. READ the INSTRUCTIONS is good advice, often ignored.
4. Building up hollow fins - Not really hard to assemble, but difficult to do well eight times OR rather eighty-eight times. I am an experience balsa-stick-builder for model airplanes, so these 'stressed-skin with rib structures' where not too difficult, but I sorted through them to get sets of eight that matched well. But we were quite pleased when the 'worst fin set' went onto the first round we completed and they looked great. Patience is recommended, and filling the gaps without adding stresses and twists, double check before applying CA.
5. Resin casting - this is something I think I would definatly do for the next 50 or so fins I might have to construct, did not think of it until the 8th set was completed. This is a skill I am not good enough at yet to use in my standard building process.
6. Forming and gluing paper shrouds - the biggest problems on the 1B kit where the shrouds, the tank fairing needed more support and glue surface to make it look good. We switched to some added balsa blocks about the third round. And then we were able to cut the shroud anytime it got too out of alignment with the tubes. Fill&Finish hid most of the rest of the difficult spots.
7. Fabricating parts with launch lug and cardstock - This was an early Estes attempt to not make molds for the details. Cheap but ugly. Carve or cast in the future.
8. Fabricating balsa parts - Again, balsa stick building since I was seven. This can get pretty detailed, but if filled and finished well, always gets good results. We just had to choose NOT to do more than was in the kit.
9. Applying tube wraps - I did not do any of the large body wraps, but I did all of our SM detai wraps, and I used a trick pulled from Suzy's homemade greeting card hobby. The newest of the 'permanent double sided tapes are very easy to use, repositional up to three of four times, and still hold great. And they are thinner than a coat of white glue. I used this tape, and small drops of CA to hold the SM wraps we created.
10. Filling - This is always the trick, on flat surfaces, even glue smears stand out, joints must be filled and shaped before paint, but attention to detail at this stage pays great dividends later.
11. Deciding when to attach details and when to paint - When I have to do it again, All the details that can be done after the paint, will be done after the paint. Masking is easier if the little things don't get in the way. The fins, I liked to mask with the body in order to get lines that continue through the transisitions .
12. Attaching details - I try to NOT use CA for this task, it tends to bite me by discolorizations at the worst spots. (murphy's fault) But using Aileens, or contact cement usually get a joint that is strong enough to fly with, but will let go if banged hard enough. Sometimes this saves the part, or the surface it came off from.
13. Masking - I have always had good luck with blue tape and brush-on liquid mask sealer. But I could not get the liquid to release from these tubes Then James turned us on to the the Tamiya brand model masking tape, and I like it a lot. I would build the whole structure complete, up to white primer, then mask. If I ever have to do this again.
14. Painting - see above, the complications of details can be avoided, the complication of color pattern can be more easily managed with good masking techniques. Rattlecan Rustoleum was a pain, took 12 hours minimum to dry to touch, and 24 to respray. I sure do miss the old Krylon, may just have to learn to live with the new versions respray restrictions.
15. Attaching parts after painting - The kit instructions are to glue everything first, but modern adhesives allow some deviation. Deviate, whenever possible.
16. Applying decals - The secret here would be to reproduce the long United-States decals on white paper, or maybe even peel-and-stick. That would make the hardest part of the decal set a lot easier.
17. Drawing straight lines on a curved surface - Namely the outline of the doors of the LEM shroud. Stu built a shroud template that fit over the LEM shroud and allowed him to place the circumferential lines. I modified it to give me a straight vertical line reference in order to place th door lines. We should have used it to place the door hinges and latches as well, but they were already in place per the instructions.
18. Assembling plastic parts - plastic is a different medium, but PMC skills are a good way to have more fun building rockets, on the S1B none of the plastic gets close to the hot parts, (if these were to fly so they are pretty easy.
19. Fabricating plastic parts - Replacing lost parts or for added details.
20. Detailing - Extra details were optional but added by many builders.
21. Time Management - NEVER AGAIN with a crowd only on weekends. Assign tasks and let the experts take the work with them. Having ten Saturn Sisters all needing work and care, took way too much from Suzy and I for the last six weeks. Maybe I'll have to call in this marker from John sometime!