Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cruise Update - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I'm at a Starbuck's in Cozumel, Mexico.
The internet connections actually work here!
So I've got a little time to catch up build questions and correspondence.

My show went very well, I can only hope it leads to more work in the next year. The cruise lines have cut WAY back on entertainment.

While on board, I'm working on a carded model of the Satellite Interceptor drawn up by Bob Harrington. Carded models pack flat and are perfect for building when on the road. This model might be featured on the blog.

If you don't see a blog post in the next day or so, it's because the ship internet wasn't working or my internet card ran out of time! I'll be back home on Jaunary 3.


Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 9 Shroud Fitting

This shows the new tape width and position to allow clearance for the stiffening ring inside the shroud.

I ended up adding cardstock strips all the way around the rings for a better fit. One thickness of 110 lb. cardstock gave a better fit.

The Quest instructions show a gap between the wide end of the shroud and the lower centering ring. I felt with that gap there wouldn't be any support for the top edge of the shroud. I slid the shroud up and slightly over the cardstock wraps on the centering ring.
If done like in the Quest instructions, there would be a hollow area under the top of the shroud. It would be nearly impossible to get the shroud edge glued properly to the end of the main tube.

A ring of glue was applied inside the tube and around the cardstock strips.
The entire mount was slid in place.

If you left a gap between the end of the shroud and the lower centering ring, your engine mount tube will be flush with the small end of the shroud. In this build the engine mount tube extends out the bottom of the shroud by about 1/8".

Note the length of the slot for the engine hook.
The supplied shroud has a small notch for the hook. It was too small! When the hook is lifted, it would tear the shroud.
The top of the new, longer notch is 1/2" from the bottom of the shroud.

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 8 Shroud Support Ring

In Step 6, a stiffener ring is glued inside the shroud.
Cut a notch for the engine hook. It'll be too tight a fit otherwise.
Be ready, it'll take a few tries to get it straight.

Use very little glue in the fillet. White glue could shrink it up and leave a ring.
I applied the glue with a toothpick tip. The excess was removed with a Q-tip.

After the white glue fillet dries, a medium CA coat was added using a Q-tip.
This hardens up the cardstock and after drying makes it feel like thin plastic.

Keep the CA coat away from the edges where you'll be using white glue later.
White glue won't stick very well to the edges if the CA glue has sealed up the cardstock.

I noticed a "gotcha" coming up.
The instructions have you use a tape wrap to hold the engine hook in place.
With the tape as the picture shows, you'll never get the shroud over it!

Cut the width of the tape in half and move the tape forward against the lower centering ring.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 7 New Shroud

I needed a new shroud, the supplied shroud won't fit around the new ST-7 motor mount tube.

Go to and then to "tools".
At the shroud tool input the measurements:
Tube 1 = 1.57" (The Quest 40mm tube)
Tube 2 = .759" (The ST-7 engine mount tube)
Length = 2.16" (The height of the Tomahawk boat tail shroud.

The outside shroud lines were extended forward until they crossed.
Using the fin marking lines on the wide end of the original shroud, tick marks were made for the fin lines.
These tick marks were extended to the intersection of the extended outside lines.

A test fit of the shroud showed it was a little wide at the top. I carefully sanded down diameter.

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 6 Air Scoop

Jumping ahead to Step 14:
I scanned the supplied air scoop and printed two on some thicker 110 lb. cardstock.
The fold lines were scored using the backside of a razor blade and a straightedge.
Notice I've taped over the sharp side with a few wraps of masking tape.

I used the edge of my metal straitedge to fold on the scored lines.

This is the finished air scoop ready to be glued on the body tube.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quest Tomahawk Build Part 5 Cleaning Up Parts

After sanding down the raised nose cone mold seams, there was still some seams below the surface.
These got a bead of medium CA and allowed to dry.
The CA will stay in the seams after sanding down with 220 grit then 400 grit sandpaper.

Sorry Quest, but this had to be the worst body tube I've ever seen in a kit.
There was a wide open seam at one end. Halfway down the tube that same seam was now an overlap I tried to sand down.
Enlarge the picture and you can see how the thin outside layer was, nearly sanding through when trying to remove the overlap.

I've built too many kits over the years. You shouldn't have to spend this much time getting all the supplied parts to fit correctly right out of the bag.
So far the centering rings were too large for the blue engine mount tube. Then they had to be built up to fit the main tube.
The nose cone is too loose in the main tube.
The main body tube is of poor quality, seams and overlaps.
The card stock for the tail cone and air scoop is too thin.

Quest Tomahawk Build Part 4 Nose Cone

Skipping ahead to Step 16 you need to cut a hole in the nose cone base to install the clay weight.

Instead of just hacking a hole in the base, draw your cut lines first.
A razor saw can cut quick sometimes, depending on how thick the blow-molded plastic is. Cut slow and follow your pencil lines.

I ended up cutting inside the pencil lines. The drawn hole just looked larger than I thought at first.

After running over the rough edges with a sanding block, I also rounded off the corners to lessen the chance of tearing a thinner plastic area. A sharp cut might tear at ejection.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 3 Engine Mount

The engine block was notched for a better fit over the top bend of the engine hook.

Even with the better fit over the ST-7 tube, the centering rings were hard to get straight.

TIP: Use the back end of your straightedge for a true 90 degree angle. Turn the tube and check the ring against the straightedge.

The instructions say to glue the upper ring flush with the end of the engine mount tube.

I'd rather glue it about 1/16" back so I can use glue fillets on both sides of the ring. Gluing the ring in this new position doesn't effect the fit of any upcoming parts or assembly.

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 2 Engine Mount

Part C is the blue engine mount tube.
It's much longer than the parts illustration shows.

The test fit of the supplied centering rings wasn't good.
The upper ring is on a ST-7 tube.

The lower blue tube from the kit shows the loose fit of the centering ring.
I'm substituting the ST-7 tube. It's thicker and stronger than the blue tube and the rings have a correct fit.
I know the supplied shroud won't fit the ST-7 tube, but I was going to make a new shroud from 110 lb. card stock anyway.

The supplied engine block needed a wrap of card stock to fit the new ST-7 engine mount tube.
A strip was cut and glued on with a glue stick.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quest Tomahawk SLCM Build Part 1 Parts

This is one I picked up on EBay.
I read the build reviews on so I would know what to expect.
The centering rings are thicker than what I've seen on some other Quest kits.
The engine hook is spring steel! It doesn't bend when flexed.
So far, things are looking good.

These are the parts of interest:
The clay weight weighs in at .52 oz.
The blue engine mount tube is too thin for me. I'll probably replace that with something thicker.
The decal sheet is LARGE!
The fins are laser cut from very stiff balsa.
The tail shroud and scoop are printed on thin card stock. I'll scan and print them new on 110 lb. stock.

LAUNCH! Schoolyard December 25, 2011

What do you mean? Doesn't everybody celebrate Christmas morning with a launch? It's been overcast for the past few mornings. Today at 7:00 a.m. it was clear and calm.

In the past, The Quest ESCORT AS-1 had been stable every other flight. I added a little clay nose weight.
The boost was perfect to 250' with an Estes A8-3 but the Quest parachute didn't open at ejection. It landed on the grass just one foot away from the basketball courts. Stable with no damage at recovery.

The Quest STRIKER AGM flew to 350' with an Estes B6-4.
With this engine it would be a great demo bird for small fields.

Full parachute this time, caught before it hit the ground.

My clone of the Centuri NOMAD didn't get an altitude worth writing about with a 13mm A10-3t engine, maybe 250'.
Still, a clean boost, stable and full parachute at ejection.

The winds were calm enough for my prototype Odd'l Rockets CYCLONE.
After a boost with a 1/2A3-2t, the top half monocopter landed after 20 seconds of fast spinning.

Also flown:
The ASP MMX JAYHAWK. Straight, high boost with break-apart recovery.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year's Week Cruise

I'll be doing my show on the Holland America Ryndam from December 26 through January 2.

I have plenty of blog entries prepared as drafts so I should be good to go! Then again, I might be held back by the ship's crappy satellite Internet reception. So bear with me and keep your fingers crossed!

Next up - The Quest Tomahawk SLCM
Get ready, this build will be a bumpy ride!

Quest AS-1 Escort Revisited

I've only flown the Quest Escort AS-1 one time.
I looked back on my July 7th flight on

Here's what I wrote:
Not very stable. The rocket flew off at an angle with some wiggle in the back end.
The recommended Quest A6-4 delay was too long. The rocket was coming in nose down for a second before the parachute blew. An A8-3 would be a better choice.

I'll add some weight to the nose cone. 1/10th an ounce of clay should do it. (Who knows, I'm making a guess.)

A hole was drilled in the base of the one piece molded nose cone.
The clay was "wormed" into place and tamped into the tip with a dowel.

This time around, I'll test it with an A8-3.
You can see the finished Escort model HERE

Mars Snooper Finished!

Decal printing will have to wait. I didn't want to use up a full sheet by only printing 1/3 of it.

This was a harder build than I thought it would be. Aligning the shrouds and getting the vanes on in a different color presented some challenges.
Masking the upper body tube took time but the final results were worth the effort.

One day I'll get the nerve to fly this one. For now it's a shelf queen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mars Snooper Build Part 31 Assembly

All eight nozzle vanes were glued in place on the masked lines.
This was the look I was hoping for, a high contrast that draws attention to all the nozzle detail.
In the Estes catalog pictures, the nozzles and vanes were painted black. From a few feet away you wouldn't notice the vanes at all.

The Centuri Laser X showed the same treatment in their catalogs.
I liked the look and thought it would work well on the Snooper.
I'd built this Laser X when I got back into rocketry a few years back.
The Laser X has 12 vanes around the engine mount tube.

The lead weight goes all the way to the top, screwed into the nose cone with a second screw eye.

I used a tri-fold mount for the 30" shock cord, I was trying to keep the vintage build feel. The original kit had an 18" parachute. Until I get one of the new printed Estes chutes, a 15" mylar chute was installed.

Quote of the Day!

This about sums up why I fly rockets:

"These weren’t clunky plastic toys powered by vinegar and baking soda, or a rubber slingshot;
they were actual rockets that ascended on a pillar of smoke and flame." Stefan Jones

This quote came from an article Mr. Jones wrote for MAKE Magazine, you can read it HERE

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Removing Small Oversprays

It never fails - You can be careful with your masking, but paint can still find a
way to the surface.

You could scrape it with a knife blade, but that would leave a divot in the paint and dull the sheen.

After the paint has thoroughly dried, I use a white eraser to remove the bulk of the black over spray. Use a white eraser, a pink eraser on the back end of a pencil will transfer pink color onto the finish.
Be sure your white eraser is clean! Rub the eraser on your pant leg to remove any gray pencil residue.

After using the eraser, the surface will be dulled and there still may be a few stubborn specs of paint.
Follow up with polishing compound to remove any remaining marks and return the surface to a gloss finish.

Mars Snooper Build Part 30 Upper Mask

This is one of the three sides with the Scotch tape in place.
The black marked side is facing in. The cut "tapered arrow" point is on the inside.
It takes some time to get the strips straight. Sight from the rear to be sure the tape goes in a straight line.

The remaining open area in the center gets a long triangle of masking tape.
To keep any over spray out of the tube, an engine casing on a dowel goes in the rear. A rolled piece of paper slides in the top.

I went to Home Depot with an old Estes catalog in hand to match the blue on the Mars Snooper catalog picture.
After all the masking was removed, here's the result.
The point of the triangle is centered. The angle of the picture makes it look a little off.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Older Build Threads on TRF

Before I started this blog, I posted some of my Dr. Zooch builds on The Rocketry Forum.
Here's the links to the Zooch build threads:

Dr. Zooch Soyuz
Dr. Zooch Atlas Agena B
Dr. Zooch Explorer 1 Jupiter C
Dr. Zooch Titan IIIC SLV-5
Dr. Zooch Mercury Little Joe

I was never against posting on TRF, but inputting pictures in a blog template is much quicker and easier.
And on your own blog, nobody can post:
"You're wrong! That's not the way I'd do it!"

Mars Snooper Build Part 29 Upper Mask

I wanted to duplicate the Mars Snooper paint job from this Estes catalog page.
The upper section mask won't be an easy one.
The tips of the white triangle areas go to a thin point.

To find the centers between the fins, a piece of paper was pressed into the root edges of two facing fins. The root edges were marked and the paper folded between the pencil tick marks.
This guide was set back between the fins and the center line drawn at the top of the body tube.

Three Scotch tape strips were stuck down to the glass on my patio door.
A 1/4" thick black line was drawn down the center with a permanent marker.

With a knife a straightedge the strips were cut down the middle of the marked line.
The top half was cut to an long "arrow point". The strip on the left has one side removed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas Y'all

Reprinted from last year -

Space Modeling Parody of Oh, Christmas Tree

Oh, Rocket-tree Oh, Rocket-tree,
How lovely is thy smoke trail,
Oh, Rocket-tree Oh, Rocket-tree,
Fly Vertically without fail.

With C6-3, we’ll rubberneck,
At peak of flight, a rear eject,

Oh, Rocket-tree Oh, Rocket-tree
It landed close - oh whoo-o-pee.

"But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight."

"Say, little Bobby, Did you get a Wedgie for Christmas?"