Perth, We Have Had A Problem Here!

Not quite what Mike wrote in his email: ‘Just saw on the internet you repaired a Franklin Mint Lunar Lander.  I have one with same damage.  Can you fix this for me?  I reside in the U.S.’

Sure enough, the photo’s revealed another Lunar Lander that had suffered a rough landing.

Close study of the images revealed it could be repaired.

‘I got your email.  I feel your quote for the labor is very reasonable, considering the amount of delicate work you have to do. The pictures on the internet show your talent is worth the wait.  Looking forward to working with you . Thanks,  Mike.’
The ascent stage was relatively straight forward as the broken bits were all there.  To reinforce the repaired joint I carefully drilled a 0.020″ Ø hole through both sides and inserted a 0.020″ Ø brass peg.  The two parts were then glued together using a cyanoacrolate medium glue.
The arrows indicate the joints.  After touching in the colour the joint was invisible.

The descent stage was, as usual, the more tricky to repair.

In this case the damage was only to the upper brackets.  By carefully taking all the bits and studying the broken joints it was possible to identify where they had come off the base.  Then it was a case of identifying which top joint matched which arms.  This was achieved by offering up the joint to each arm and by gently ‘fiddling’ them together it was possible to feel the break ‘click’ into place.  Hours of endless fun, but hey ho, TV is not that hot these days!

Using cyanoacrolate medium glue again the end joints were stuck together.  As these joints took the weight of the Lander I decided to reinforce them using a technique taken from sailing ships of ‘gammoning’.  In this instance I used copper wire of 0.009″ Ø.  Once tidied and painted it was barely noticeable.


The critical part was to get the angles of the top brackets correct versus the legs otherwise they would not retract correctly.  This was done by supporting the descent stage under the base with sufficient clearance to allow the pads to be supported at the correct height for the legs to be fully deployed.

It is slightly complicated by the ‘V’ bracket to the top joint not being glued into place, it is merely pressed in to locating holes.  This allows the leg structure to have some flexibility during deployment.  Once achieved, the top brackets could be correctly placed over the pin joint and then reattached using cyanoacrolate medium glue to the broken stumps in the descent stage.  Hold your breath and without disturbing the air, move away to let the glue harden!

How to attach the original rivet to the broken top bracket joint?  As the weight of the landing gear was taken on the remaining upper part, the missing lower part of the joint only prevented the leg from dropping out.

In fact, all that had to be achieved was to secure the rivet, but still allow the joint to move.  In a Eureka moment I decided to wrap the rivet with four turns of the 0.009″ Ø copper wire.  Hey Presto, it worked!

Here it is standing on its own four feet just to prove the repair does take the weight.

The final finishing touch was to construct a clear acrylic stand that sits within the exhaust cone and just lifts the foot pads off the ground.  The weight is now not on the legs.  With everything painted the repairs are all but invisible.