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Semroc Mars Lander Build (16.04.2006 - ??.??.???)

I finally got my Semroc Mars Lander in the mail last week. Back in the mid eighties I had gotten 2 Estes Mars Landers from a distributor who sold Estes and Centuri products in Germany at that time. I was asked to build them for him and I enjoyed it very much. The Mars Lander is a great looking model rocket. To this day I could never figure out why I didn't have a kit of my own. Maybe it was due to the high price.

In the picture below is an original mint Estes Mars Lander Box with Semroc parts enclosed just for nostalgia reasons :-)

Nonetheless, lets get back to the present.

Upon opening the kit you notice how well the components of the Semroc Mars Lander are made. The quality of the parts are first class and I'm looking forward to building this kit.

I have decided to build the Mars Lander exactly as it was designed with maybe one exception and that being how to mount the rubber shock bands so that they can be replaced or I might use springs.

This thread is my step by step construction. I have kits that I started 20 years ago and are yet to be finished. I hope this build will be shorter.

So lets begin ...

Step 3 and 4

As described in the instructions I sanded the balsa sheet on both sides and then removed all the fins from the sheet, afterwards carefully sanding each of the fin edges.

Step 5

Finished the gear housing. Next step is to seal the inside and give it a white coat of paint.

You gotta love the smell of burnt balsa wood. It's making me all woozy :-D

Step 6

Ready to be glued together.

I have made up my mind and will replace the shock bands with springs, the same way Sandman built his ML :-)

Now to find some nice springs for the project.

Step 18

4 identical clones :-) Next thing to do is to give them a nice sealing and painting. The landing pads will come on later (missing in the picture).

Steps 20 - 23

Here the engine mount parts layed out:

and here the engine mount completed. Note position of the cap ring ;-)

Steps 24 - 26 and step 28

Gluing on the gear housing spacers was easier than I had thought. The finish turned out perfectly.

Assembling the decent stage bulkhead was one of the simpler steps (left in the picture) :-)

Steps 36 - 45

Left to right are Ascent Module, Descent Stage Bulkhead, Command Module and Engine Nozzle.

Well, I have come into my first glitch while assembling the kit.

While testing the fitment of the Ascent Module and Command Module it wouldn't fit correctly.

Because I am very sure that all the parts where perfectly put together I went and measured the parts, in particular the forward bulkhead. It turns out that the hole is not perfectly centered and about 0.5 mm off. I removed some material from the opposite side to make the correction.

After making the modification I retested the fitment and it now matches perfectly.

There seems to be a small manufacturing error in the forward bulkhead. EDIT: Semroc has since rectified the problem.

The first modification I will be doing is replacing the rubber bands with springs.

I'll be using these:

Stay tuned ...

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Tuesday 28th May 2024 - 07:00:38 CET