images here are of the NARAM shuttle during assembly. They were made
by laying the parts on top of a flatbed scanner. The scanner had a
problem that produced some yellow-green specks. Wish I had the
digital camera back then.
of NARAM Shuttle
NARAM-41 in 1999
Some of the images
seen here are composites, scans of the same part or parts taken at
Assembly jig for building bay
door/hatch. The bulkheads for the doors were extra-tall to
allow for removal later. Balsa longerons included for the
top and the sides.
Assembly jig with bays doors
added. Doors were 1/16" light balsa soaked in water and
curved to the right shape then allowed to dry before gluing.
When glued, each door skin half was first glued along the
top longeron, then down along the sides. The extra height of
the bulkheads allowed access to also apply CA to glue the
door skins to the three middle bulkheads. After gluing
complete, lower part of the jig assembly was cut away,
easily done due to the horizontal grain of the balsa
bulkheads. After removing the jig, the rest of the bulkheads
were trimmed. The fore and aft ends of the doors later were
trimmed and sanded to match up with the fuselage, further
along in the fuselage assembly process.
Mid-fuselage assembly, future
nose section at left. Lower fuselage bottom made of 3/16"
light balsa. Extra 3/16" layer added to allow for future
trimming and sanding of contour. 3/16" square balsa
longerons placed 3/32" below where the bay door edges will
be once 1/16" side sheeting is added. Assembly 18 grams at
Mid-fuselage assembly with
side sheeting added. Bay door hatch trimmed to fit and laid
in place temporarily.
Aft Compartment floor
assembly. Made up of 3/32" horizontal grain balsa layer
(outer) and 3/32" vertical grain balsa layer (inside). 1/8"
gap between them for elevon torque rod assembly to be
partially submerged to produce the necessary hinge line
location. 1/16" brass rod torque rod assembly. Used for
elevator only, steering done by rudder, not mixed
Vertical tail/rudder after
being built, subassemblies detached. Tail made by
vac-forming Monogram parts (solid filled), using .02"
plastic sheet. Balsa spar runs full height. A second stub
spar of a wider chord is shown at right, which carried most
of the plug-in assembly stresses. Movable rudder has a
special Alumilite cast sleeving inside that engages the
splined shaft of a piece of Gold-N-Rod pushrod (shown). The
movable rudder is not hinged in any way, it simply is
attached to the top end of the splined Gold-N-Rod shaft
which uses a piece of 3/16" Evergreen plastic tubing as
bearing tube (Bearing tube visible protruding at far left of
tail root plug-in assembly). The cast Alumilite tube seen
below the Gold-N-Rod is another piece of cast sleeving as
the rudder uses, that one to be mounted inside the orbiter's
aft compartment to transmit the rudder torque rod motion to
the plug-in rudder's shaft.
Mid-fuselage R/C gear and
Servo at lower left is HS-60, for
elevator control (elevator needs more power and accuracy
than the other two channels). Uppermost servo on right is
HS-50 for orbiter separation. Servo below that is HS-50 for
Latch and servo/pushrods were
installed early in the assembly process to avoid too much
handling of the orbiter later on (before the nose and wings
Close-up of Latch assembly.
Latch is based on a 1/16" brass torque rod which rotates
about 90 degrees when released. The working end of the
torque rod is a piece bent 90 degrees that sticks out about
1/8". It engages a notched piece of 1/8" aluminum rod that
is attached to 1/32" cable from the ET, when the torque
lever is pulled up 90 degrees. When prepped for flight, a
sliding "trombone" type 1/32" wire assembly locks the torque
lever in place. When the servo moves the trombone wire
assembly to the right, it no longer holds back the torque
lever arm, allowing the arm to pivot forward and to release
the orbiter from the ET. Note the semi-triangular opening in
the custom cut plywood arm of the servo, which allows
manually prepping the trombone/latch without having to have
the radio gear on.
A modified version of the above image, to clarify
somewhat more how the latch parts work and what they look
Hitec/RCD HS-60 servo (left)
and HS-50 servo (right).
HS-60 used for elevator, due to the
high loads on boost and greater need for precision in pitch
HS-50 used for rudder and for sep
OMS pod fabrication. Basic
pods made by vac-forming .015" plastic over slightly
modified Monogram parts (1/8" balsa end pieces glued to the
Monogram OMS pods for forming). 1/16" light balsa glued to
inside edges of vac-formed OMS pods for rigidity and surface
for gluing to orbiter. Aft thruster assemblies hollow-cast
from 1-piece RTV mold. A high-volume mix of micro-balloons
was used with the Alumilite. The mixture poured into the RTV
mold and mold tilted around to cover all the surfaces, then
most poured out (I understand this is called
slurry-casting). Mold rotated during curing to keep from
pooling too much at any one spot. Then as curing started,
mold laid base-down. The inner skin was quite thin, the
apparent thickness seen in this scan (lower left) is where
the Alumilite slumped down and spread out a bit during final
Complete OMS pod after
painting. OMS engine nozzle cast with micro-balloons and
Alumilite, based on Monogram part. This shape is inaccurate,
will be accurate for the FAI model. Approximate mass of each
completed OMS pod was 10 grams.
Nose job. This is not the NARAM model but the first
time to give an orbiter a nose transplant. 1982 oversized
wing orbiter went out of control during last glide flight
that used mixed elevons (1985). Temporary nose was added to
fly the model to see if rudder control could be used
instead. After that proved to work well, the nose was
properly replaced with another built-up balsa nose. But the
balsa noses have always been so tedious to get just right,
especially the cockpit (I have never gotten one that looked
just exactly right, some better than others).
Therefore the great desire to build a scale model using a
formed nose from the Monogram kit rather than to build out
Orbiter nose vac-formed from
.03" plastic. 3/16" balsa cut to exact profile was used for
structural strength and to double as internal joiner, no
joiner strips were used. Before assembly, a special spring
loaded assembly was glued into the 3/16" balsa, to accept
the forward strut from the ET. The spring helps to push the
orbiter nose up and way from the ET, to help with the
Mid-fuselage front just before
vac-formed nose was attached. Note marks along the lower
corners, showing where the balsa will be carved and sanded
to shape to match the vac-formed nose contour. Note similar
marks along the upper bay door corners to match the
flat-spots that extend back from the cockpit area. Note
extra balsa was added to the bay door skins on the inside to
allow for sanding down those spots without sanding through
all of the balsa.
A lot of this process was tested
out 15 years before with the 1984 boilerplate which also
used a vac-formed nose (at that time, for convenience). Then
of course, 15 years is a long time to try to remember
details of how a model was built, and the process in 1984
didn't seem practical at the time to use for an actual scale
Orbiter nose glued in place to
mid-fuselage (bay doors temporarily laid in place, not
glued). Squadron white putty applied along joint between
vac-formed nose and balsa mid-fuselage. Lower corners of
balsa mid fuselage not carved or sanded yet.
Rib Patterns. These are from Luther Hux' 1982 plan
for a 1/72 orbiter. However, I made my 1982 and 1984
boilerplate orbiters without the reflex to the airfoil. And
didn't have the old modified rib patterns from the 1984
There was only one way to be
sure to get the rib patterns for the 1999 model to match the
1984 orbiter so the 1999 one would have the same glide
stability characteristics. There was noit way the 1999 scale
orbiter was going to be test-glided for any reason, the
contest flights would be the only glide flights.
The 1984 orbiter's right wing was
removed and cut up into sections at the desired rib
locations. The scans were used for tracing over in MacDraw
to generate accurate ribs for the 1999
Assembly process of main
wings. Lower 1./16" balsa skin has pattern drawn onto it,
then ribs glued to it. Leading edge added, then ribs. Upper
skin added, and tip block. Then leading edge and tip
carved/sanded to shape. Wing Glove/Chines built from 1/16"
balsa skins. Elevons and body flap built up from 1/16" balsa
skins. Elevons hinged by Klett hinges.
Orbiter with wings attached.
Main wings were attached first to mid-fuselage. Then the
glove/chines, carefully trimmed and sanded to match up with
the beginning of the glove/chine on the vac-formed nose and
airfoil of the chopped off front of the main wing. After
that, a rectangular section was cut out of the transition
section and a solid piece of light balsa glued in to be
carved and sanded to shape.
Also visible is the belly latch
hole, 1/8" I.D. aluminum tubing. As well, in the aft
section, one of the short pieces of rectangular brass tubing
used as one of the hardpoint interfaces with the 1/16" pins
that are on the ET aft struts. The acceleration loads are
transmitted thru those hard points.
Aft Compartment SSME Heat
Shield mold. An RTV mold was made of one of the heat shields
of the Monogram kit, and three Alumilite copies cast. They
were glued to a piece of plywood, to vac-form the heat
shield. To get the forming to work, 1/32" holes were drilled
along the edges. .015" plastic was used for the formings and
they worked well.
Vac-formed Aft compartment
heat shield piece before trimming. Also cast Alumilite SSME
engines. The SSME engines were hollow-cast from one-piece
molds. Alumilite with some microballoons (but not a lot) was
poured into the mold, rotated around to cover the mold, and
some excess poured out as mold was continuously rotated by
hand until the Alumilite was set up beyond flowing anymore
(similar method as used for casting the rear OMS pods and
SRB nose/Frustums). Resulting SSME engines averaged about 3
Aft Skirt Fin Test Assembly -
Aft Skirts vac-formed from .04" plastic. Base ring from .04"
plastic. The one shown in this photo was used as a test of
the attachment of the .06" Lexan/polycarbonate fins. Fins
have a tab that extends inside a slot cut into the skirt.
Liquid plastic cement used to help tack-glue the fin into
place. To anchor the fin, Alumilite and micro-balloon mix is
applied to the fin tab, inside of the skirt. A series of
holes in the tab also help to anchor the fin tab to the
SRB Aft Attach Ring - Cast
part with two half-struts which interface with similar
half-struts attached to the ET.
To reinforce the struts to prevent
breaking, a piece of bent .025" music wire (lower left) was
placed into the mold at each of the two half-strut
locations. The dark wires are slightly visible in the cast
Two "whiskers" on the half strut at
lower right are from vent holes in the mold. Part was not
cleaned up at the time this scan was
SRB Nozzles - .03" plastic
formed over a slightly modified Monogram nozzle
SRB Timer - Recovery system
deployment timer based on a Tomy toy type of wind-up timer.
A 1/16" brass rod slides inside of a 1/8" Evergreen plastic
tube, seen at upper right of the timer side view. The rod is
pushed by the ET when the SRB is attached to the ET, and in
turn the left side of the rod presses into the cast
Alumilite disc (left) to prevent the time from rotating.
When the SRB seps, the rod is free to slide to the right,
allowing the disc to rotate and timer to run. When the disc
rotates about 210 degrees, it no longer holds down a latch
(not shown), so that latch pivots up to allow a rubber
band-driven dowel (not shown) to push the nose off. For more
details see the shuttle model web page.
Bottom of photo : Special wind-up
tool made of square brass tubing. This engages the output
shaft of the timer, which is ground to a 1/16" square
SRB Nose - Cast nose based on
slightly modified Monogram part (shoulder added). Uses
open-faced one-piece RTV mold. Hollow-cast using a mix of
microballoons and Alumilite, in similar manner as to how the
SSME nozzles are done. Average mass of 4-5
SRB Nose Done - Finished nose
after painting and decaling. The only paint used was white
paint. Everything else is solid color
SRB nose color pattern from
mike Mackowski's booklet. The black "L" and "T" patterns
were drawn up in MacDraw and printed out. The printouts were
rubber-cemented to black decal sheet and cut out by hand
using the patterns as a guide. After curing, the paper was
removed (this is why rubber cement was used).
Also see the DECALS
Aft Skirt Details - Molds used
for casting copies of the Monogram kit's aft skirt hold-down
flanges and separation rockets. Two-piece mold (top left and
top middle) was used for casting the Separation
An original kit Aft Skirt was used
for the proper curvature of the cast flanges, after filling
a flange mold with Alumilite the aft skirt was pressed into
As shown at bottom, several flanges
were cast and allowed to cure a long time to stiffen before
removal fromt he Aft Skirt.
The flanges were later glued to a
vac-formed aft skirt.
Not Shown - Fiberglass SRB
tubes made by Jay Marsh. These saved significant mass over
paper tubes, as did the ET tube.
Intertank Bulkhead - Heart of
the ET (Flight Computer is the brains). Built of two layers
of 1/64 ply and light 1/8" balsa. Large hole at top for the
engine mount tube. Since engine has to be loaded into the
top of the ET, not the bottom, the whole engine tube
assembly has to slide into place. 6-32 threads to each side
secure the engine mount tube in place (flange glued to upper
end of tube). Large hole at bottom for wiring access and
other "manhole" access inside ET, and of course a little bit
of mass savings.
HS-60 servo in center for SRB sep
activation. Spring-loaded pushrods to latches allow latches
to be manually moved to allow for SRB attachment, and for
servo to "overdrive" the pushrods.
SRB sep latches - Paste-up of
several scans of latches. Near-vertical 1/32" brass rod
attached to the upper latch engages a notch in 3/32" rod
from the SRB (not shown).
Latches are cast in 2 parts using
one-piece RTV mold (bottom). 1/8" hole is cast in part by
use of a 1/8" rod (mold release waxed) inserted before
casting. Holes for hinge pin also cast into parts by use of
1/32" brass rods. After Alumilite has gelled reasonably
firm, but not totally hardened, the 1/8" rod and 1/32" pins
are rotated enough to "unfreeze" them, then left in place
for a few more minutes before removing the rod and pins
completely and removing the parts.
For more info on how the latches
work, see the Shuttle model web page. These latches are a
modified improved design from the ones shown in the drawing
on the web page.
Intertank Wrap - Half-pattern
(180 degrees) was laser-cut from thin cardboard by Tom
Campbell. Laminating film applied to one side of the thin
cardboard then an RTV mold was made. Wrap is flexible Epoxy
(Hobbypoxy Smooth 'N Easy), with a base layer of 1.4 oz
fiberglass cloth. Red dye was used to help see and pick out
any bubbles. Bubbles/voids were a major problem, about 7 of
these were cast to get two good ones to use. Note this is a
"simple" pattern, for the FAI model a more accurate pattern
will be used.
Intertank Wrapped -
Translucent fiberglass body (by Jay Marsh) and translucent
intertank wrap allow seeing inside the intertank. The wide
vertical piece is a 1/2" piece of 4.6" NCR tubing glued in
place to provide a secure bottom stop for the removable
intertank disc (not shown, see shuttle model web page). To
the right of that, the narrow vertical line, is the
Horizontal light gray line is
Squadron Putty applied over the joint of the two intertank
wrap halves. It was still drying when this was taken, later
Aft Dome - Aft dome formed
from .03" plastic sheet, over mold made by Jack Hagerty. In
this scan, the formed dome was only rough-trimmed and placed
back onto mold after removal.
After trimming, and after the Aft
bulkhead was built, the position of the hole for the engine
nozzle was determined (the extended nozzle of an F25 sticks
thru the hole). The hole is cut to match a tube coupler for
BT-20. The coupler is saturated with thin CA to give it some
heat/flame protection. The tube is used to ensure that no
hot gases get trapped along the opening of the hole, it
extends up about 3/8" inside the Aft Dome. It has worked
well, no exhaust damage to the dome on either the NARAM or
Aft Bulkhead and Dome - Aft
bulkhead made of two pieces of 1/16" light balsa glued at 90
degrees, plus some reinforcement along the SRB attach strut
mount tubes. The attach strut mounts are 1/8" ID tubing. The
machined SRB attach half-struts (Bob Biedron) were attached
later after the aft dome was glued to the ET and the joint
filled and sanded.
Yellow plastic ring at top has 4
angled guide ramps to help slip the engine mount tube into
ET/Orbiter Struts. Cast parts based
on Monogram kit parts as masters for RTV molds. The Aft
struts are fully assembled, from three cast parts. The 90
degree bend for the Lox line is shown, with Orbiter Sep
sensor wiring (yellow) running from it. Barely visible
inside of the Lox line is the very small lever switch that
was the orbiter sep sensor.
Orbiter attach hardpoints are 1/16"
brass pins. If you look close you can see them near each end
of the horizontal beam. The beam was drilled to accept these
pins which were then CA'ed in place. Acceleration loads are
transmitted to the orbiter by these pins (and the entire aft
Near bottom, the forward attach
strut. It is reinforced by a piece of 1/32" music wire in
each leg, bent as needed. The music wire extending out of
the bottom allows for the strut assembly to be attach to the
ET merely by drilling two 1/32" holes to the correct spot on
the ET, no gluing. It is free to pivot and can even be
easily replaced. The top part of the strut assembly extends
inside of the orbiter nose about 5/8", a spring assembly
inside of the orbiter nose pushes down on this to help with
separation when the sep latch is
Assembled ET aft area -
Lighter colored parts such as the struts and Lox line were
painted separately before gluing.
Light orange parts of conduit
struts are white decal material that was airbrushed with the
same color. This orange-painted decal was used in other
places as well.
SRB Aft attach half-round struts
visible to the left and right.
Assembled ET nose - Vacuformed
Nose shell (.080" plastic) , NCR 4.6" tube for coupler.
BT-80 module inside for recovery system and Jay Marsh's
Conduit strip in place, along with
beanie cap, fairing, and so forth.
Lighter orange ramp was made by
gluing two pieces of plastic to a sharp angle then using
that as a mold to cast a long wedge cross section part.
After hardening the long piece was trimmed and sanded to
achieve the proper angled shape for the front and read of
the ramp. Then the part was cut into two pieces, one for the
nose and one for the ET intertank.
Not visible are two 1/32" holes in
the ET nose side, where .025" "remove before flight" pins
are inserted to disarm the ejection charges and keep the
flight computer power off. The holes are between two of the
conduit lines. This area is pointed out better on the
shuttle model web page photos of the NARAM-41
Assembled ET Intertank area -
Conduit lines and Lox Line in place. Also the lower half of
the Foam ramp extending from the ET nose. Antenna plates
were painted in advance then glued into place after the ET
Lighter orange bands along the top
and bottom of the intertank area are white decal material,
A view of the three ET scans
in one shot.
Micro lever switches. The one
at far left was used for the Orbiter sep sensor, the one
mounted inside the 90 degree bend Lox Line piece.
The second one was used for three
remove before flight switches, thrust detect switch, and
liftoff sensor switch. To the right of it is shown one of
the special assemblies that was built to house the switch
for the remove before flight pin switch method. Two of those
were used in the ET Nose (Computer ON, Ejection ARM), and
one in the orbiter for R/C power ON (on being when the pin
Some assorted scans from
Dennis R Jenkins' booklet - Rockwell International Space
Shuttle (Aerofax Datagraph #5, 1989, OOP)