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Old 12-05-2020, 02:29 PM
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Royatl Royatl is offline
SPEV/Orion wrangler
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 2,551

Originally Posted by shockwaveriderz
Roy can you ID the various buildings per your tour?,-105.0170591,382m/data=!3m1!1e3

You can obviously see the MABEL's in a line with the white Styrofoam square on top.

Did you take any pics?

(This information is obviously not all from the tour, but from my study of this and other Google, TerraServer, and HistoricalAerials photos over the years. Unfortunately Google regularly discards older aerial images and has nothing before the brush fire in 1999, Microsoft Terraserver no longer exists (they had 1970s and 1983 images), and Historical Aerials has nothing between 1956 and 1999 (the 1999 imagery is same as google's), but the 1954 and 56 photos show the little building that became the first office building, and shows the homestead on H street that the Estes' would move into a few years later.)

No pics were allowed except out in front of the main building. Well, not entirely true, we took pictures in the lobby and conference room. Don't remember anyone taking anything once we got to R&D -- well, one guy apparently did, though I haven't seen those photos.

There are some Estes publications that label some of the buildings (look for one 1969 model rocket news, an Estes Launch Pad (employee newsletter), and a flyer for the open house they had in 68 or 69 when they opened the new offices. Sport Rocketry had a three-part series where the second part was all about Mabel.

But yes, the seven buildings with the upstairs are the engine machines. the machine we saw was in the third building from the bottom. That particular machine is able to make twice as many motors as the others, and according to Bill it was making A8-3s that day. We stood about where the five vehicles are, which gave us a direct view of that machine only. Every once in awhile we'd hear a motor being tested and some smoke being emitted from one of the two tiny buildings in the cluster of buildings.

The building south of the cluster, but within the fencing, should be the Engine manufacturing office building, which has a lunchroom, locker room, and showers for the employees (who have to wear special protective clothing), and of course, an office for whoever manages engine manufacturing.

There was not a whole lot of info given in the morning tour. Bill gave some vague production numbers that Mark Johnson quickly calculated into the total number of motors that could be produced per year. Years ago I figured somewhere around 10 million plus or minus a few million. But that's all seven machines working three shifts, like they used to do in 1970, but if by 2018 they had made 500 million, that would be about right.

The functions of the cluster buildings has changed some during the years. Printing of casings is now done across the street in what was then called the Kit Packing and Wood Shop, and it is done before loading. Vern's earliest Mabel printed the motors as it made them. later printing was apparently done after loading (I would think that's a riskier proposition), One of the other buildings was where post production (i.e. drilling the B14 core, or chopping the excess casing for shorty motors--probably a reason the printing was done later). The building in line with the machines in the middle is the compressor building. I think the controls for each machine are in the small boxes to the NW corner of each building. The larger building to the east is located where Mabel 1 was originally. The line of four buildings on the west side of H street are (don't know which was which) print shop, old wood shop, old machine shop, old R&D/archives (before Barry emptied them). The patch of trees is where Vern and family used to live (the lush green lawn shown in those postcards with Betty and her friends was there)

the buildings to the west of the machines are all about powder prep, though I suspect the larger building to the northwest is where finished motors go to dry out, though it may just be a spare warehouse. The four shipping containers south of the machines, I used to think were powder caches, as I thought they had berms around them, but they're outside the fence and from photos it's just flat ground between them. Now I have no idea what they're for.

The building to the NW of the main office building used to be the main warehouse but is now the current Machine Shop.

On the other side of H Street you see two large warehouses sandwiching a smaller building built in 1970, called Kit Packing and Wood Shop (or K&W. At least, back then. don't remember what Bill called it). In that building you'll find all the other manufacturing that's done in the US. This includes casing printing, igniter/starters, recovery wadding. It is also where motors are packaged, and when needed, certain kits that are not fully manufactured in China (for instance the Saturn kits) are assembled and packaged.

The north warehouse is where motors that are ready for packaging stay. Empty casings are here to be printed before going over to Engine Manufacturing. Material to be sent to China for assembly are there as well.

The south warehouse is where completed product sits ready to be shipped out. In the southwest corner is a cage called the web shop, run by Zoe, who takes orders from the website and fulfills them. When the site says, "Sold Out," it just means she has to requisition more from the warehouse. She transfers new stock into her cage, then resets her quantity in WooCommerce (or Magento in the years before the new website)

I've never asked anyone who might know, but it appears they graded an RC plane runway north of the warehouses for back when Tunick brought Cox on board.

The old "Cape Estes" where the tours would end up to launch a Big Bertha was southwest of the lower warehouse and across from the rocket/picnic area/overgrown hedge. I sure hope they've trimmed back that hedge.

If you zoom out and look north to 11th street, there's a bunch of trees where the original Main office building was, and by 1970 was where Earl Estes and family lived.
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