Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space X Falcon Build Part 4 Before the Body Sticker

I ran into a snag when removing the backing of the body wrap.
The larger sticker edges are pre-cut with a margin around the cut edges.

I lifted away the backing and the sticker tore! The pre-cut edges weren't cut deep enough to allow it to come off the backing paper.

I went ahead and applied the wrap as shown in the next post, but the 1/2" tear didn't go away.
I'm building this model for a customer and I wanted it to be right. I emailed the manufacturer and was mailed a new wrap.

Lesson learned: Double check the precut edges to be sure they are cut all the way through the upper printed layer.

While the supplied body tube has a pencil line already drawn down the body tube, I decided to lay the wrap as Gus on TRF explained. "Wrap from the middle out, not from the side."
Before applying the wrap, study up on Gus' posts on TRF - HERE

If you've done a few of these wraps before you know they rarely line up when the edges meet on the other side of the tube. Gus' method starts the wrap from the middle, then wrap one side around and then the other side.

By starting in the middle you have a better chance at getting it all to line up. It's also easier to smooth out the wrap as you go - no air bubbles.

Space X Falcon Build Part 3 Nose Cone Sticker

The wraps are very sticky. You'll only have one chance to get it right.

Knowing that, I decided to make the nose cone wrap a little less tacky.
I set the sticky side down on my pant leg and lifted it leaving some fibers on the adhesive backing.

Look close and you can see the fibers left behind on the underside of the nose cone wrap.

This diminishes the stickiness of the wrap and will allow it to be re-positioned.

The instructions are a little vague about how high up the nose cone side to place the wrap. When centered evenly around the nose cone, it's above the molded ridge.
To get it in the right position it took four re-positionings.
Without lessening the tackiness of the wrap (and four tries later) it never would have been straight.

The instructions say: "If needed, carefully reposition."
Yeah - good luck with that.

You can't always do this with a thinner wrap.
These wraps are thick enough and opaque. A thinner (more transparent) wrap might show the jean fibers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Space X Falcon Build Part 2 Engine Mount

I relaced the small sticker made to hold the engine hook in place. I thought it was too small. It's shown above the longer strip I used.
The longer strap was cut from some of the border area on the large sticker sheet.

The upper centering fing is glued between the two laser cut guidelines around the motor mount tube.
You can just see the laser cut location line below the smaller sticker.

This is a dry fit of the engine mount showing the motor mount tube even with the end of the plastic fin can.

The mount is inserted from the top and through the lower plate molded inside the fin can.

Epoxy is used to glue the top centering ring to the inside of the fin can.
After the epoxy was transferred with the end of a dowel, the excess was picked up using Q-tips.

New Estes Kit Instructions Online

I don't visit the Estes website very often, unless I'm looking up a kit specifications.
There are plenty of new kit instructions posted - at least new since I was last there.
Even some yet-to-be released kits have their instructions available for viewing:

Instructions for all four of the Pro Series II models are on the Estes website.
Just go to the model page and look on the side of the page for "Instructions".

The Pro Series kits don't come with decals. But, the PDF instructions do mention that the decals are available from the Estes website.
Well, maybe - not yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alaska Cruise Diversions

Normally I'd do a little carded rocket building on a cruise. Printed card stock packs flat!
I did find some out of the ordinary things in Alaska.

This Shamu walk around costume was in a jewelry store in Ketchikan.
(I guess I can't get away from Sea World.)

This was probably a generic killer whale costume but is very close to the Shamu walk around character at the Sea World park

In my spare time I did some pencil drawing, something I haven't done for years. I was surprised I still had a flair for it.

The skies were clear in Skagway. Some of the mountains really do look like this.

Space X Falcon Build Part 1 Parts

Here's all the kit parts.
The molded nose cone and fin unit are very clean.
The large wrap is well printed on gloss stock.
The model is built around an 18" long BT-60 tube.

The parachutes feature the Falcon 9 logo.

The picture on the right shows the back end of the fin unit.
The centering ring and single baffle plate are laser cut out of Letramax board.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Space X Falcon Pre-Build Uh-Oh!

I received an email asking if I'd build the new Space X Falcon kit for a client.
We both agreed on a price and the kit was sent to my home. I looked forward to the build.

I started the build without problems until I got to the self-adhesive body tube skins.
The first wrap (out of three tries total) tore when it was lifted from the backing sheet. Obviously, the die cut wasn't completely cut through the upper stick-on layer. I applied it to the body tube hoping the tear would close enough not to be noticeable. The tear was obvious and the edges were lifted.
I sent an email to the manufacturer and a new skin was sent out. I used one of my 18" long BT-60 tubes for a replacement.

I used the "wrap from the middle to the edges" method explained by Gus on TRF. This is a sensible way of applying a self adhesive wrap. You have a better chance of the print lines lining up at the edge joint.
I was very careful not to burnish the wrap until everything looked correct.
TIP: Never try to lift a corner on a self adhesive wrap! The Space X kit wrap is very thin and will tear. The second wrap tore - again, this time while applying it to the model.
Another email went out to the manufacturer. My build client was emailed on the "progress" and patiently waited.

This third wrap took longer to arrive than expected.
The manufacturer emailed back that they had received few returns regarding problems with the self adhesive wrap. The next round of kits would include a pre-printed tube - no self adhesive wrap.
I was told a body tube with a wrap already applied would be sent out.
The email said the installed wrap wasn't perfect but is "serviceable" and should be acceptable to the buyer.
I was to leave on a cruise job for two weeks, meaning another build delay for the client. This build should have been completed weeks ago.

I refunded the kit price and shipping charges to the client.

The pictures at the right is the wrapped tube that came in the mail.
The upper picture shows the alignment of the printed lines on the wrap.

Picture 2 shows a crease in the wrap.
It looks more like a body tube buckle from a hard landing.

While some items in the kit are outstanding, the wraps are unacceptable.
If the manufacturer can't install the wrap correctly, how could a young first-time builder get good results?
I couldn't send this out as an example of a professional build.

The manufacturer was cordial and made a good effort to send out replacement wraps. But, three strikes and you are out. 

A build blog will follow tomorrow, up to the point where I gave up at the wrap.
Very, very disappointing.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Finished!

This is a great design, scaled down very well by Bob Harrington.

I know the nose cone isn't the correct profile, I'll leave that for another day and another order to Semroc. Bob includes a conical card stock nose cone on his print, but I haven't had very good luck forming the sharp tip.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

No Posts on Sunday!

I probably won't get any blogs posts in tomorrow, I'll be traveling from Victoria, B.C. to Orlando.
Posts (and building) will start up again on Monday.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 11 Fix

Any leftover red was rubbed off with the white eraser.

A very light skin of white glue was rolled over the exposed rough paper and rolled flat with a clean dowel.
It's not perfect, but looks better than it did before.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 10 Fix

The forward red stripe was a little wider than the main body stripe.

I should really go back, and print another at the correct width. But, I wanted to get this model done for the group launch on Saturday.
This is one way to "get by" until I can fix it correctly.

The body has been turned over and a straightedge set on the wide end of the upper stripe.
The stripe was lightly scored through the first outside layer of the card stock with a new razor blade.

Another line was scored outside the red stripe.
With the tip of a blade, the red stripe was lifted and pulled off the tube overlay.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 9 Assembly

There are a lot of fins on this rocket.
For reference, use the instructions from the Estes website HERE.

When you are finished gluing, use a white eraser to clean up any smudges and dirt.
You'll want to clean it well before hitting it with a clear coat.
Carded models need a clearcoat to protect them when they land in wet grass.

Finally, add a launch lug under one of the wings.
This is a regular LL-2A lug covered with copy paper.
A glue stick was used to adhere the paper to the lug. One side was sanded off for a glue line.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 8 Fin Fitting

The root edges of the wing fins didn't really match the body tube.
I ended up sanding a slight curve in the root edge until a better fit was obtained.

After sanding the root edge, the fit is better.

Sometimes after drying, a three ply laminated fin might have a slight warp.
Before gluing, sight down the root edges and gently bend the fin to a straight line.

The fin on the left has been straightened.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 7 Wing Tip Dowels

The wing tip dowels were cut from toothpicks.
The ends were rounded and all three were sealed with two coats of varnish, sanding between coats.

I wanted to paint them white before gluing to the wing tips.
They were stuck to masking tape (sticky side up) on a strip of cardboard with the exposed ends over the edge.

This is the flip side of the cardboard.
This way I could spray all sides of the dowels and have a raw wood edge for gluing to the wings.

After drying you can see the bare wood for a glue line.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 6 Body Tube Wraps

Before you start gluing a carded model, wash your hands and keep them clean!
Carded models, especially white carded models will pick up any oil and dirt from your hands.

Bob Harrington's carded models are true carded plans. The flat print rolls into a body tube about the size of a BT-5.
For a little more strength, I decided to roll the printed half of the body around a regular BT-5 tube. This is a long body for a 1/2" diameter final tube size. I've had trouble rolling a long tube before and to make it easier, I cut the "tube" length in half.

I sprayed the back of the wrap with spray adhesive and started wrapping the tube down a pencil line.

Covering a tube this small, the wrap started to lift. I ended up sneaking some white glue under the lifted edge using a razor blade. The glued edged were rolled back down with the white barrel of a Sharpie pen.

Even at this small scale, the top of the wrap was continued with another piece of printed card stock.
I don't know what I did wrong here, but the upper red stripe was wider than the printed stripe on the lower body piece. I couldn't get it to print correctly so I'll try to make adjustments later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 5 Rounding Fin Edges

To prevent delamination, run a bead of white glue over the edges.
This strengthens the outside edges and helps round out the square sides even more.

This is one of the edges after smoothing out the bead of glue.
You can see how the bead will dry and leave a rounded side.
You don't want a bead of glue on the root edges of the fins. Keep the root edges square.

After the glue bead dries, lightly sand and smooth the glue edge.
Repeat with another bead of glue if necessary.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 4 Fin Lamination

All the fin laminations have been glued up and are ready for cutting.
Notice how the skins were glued to the flat, squared outside edges of the interior cardboard.

The fins were cut out using the outside gray lines. If both outside edges were lined up properly, the printed images should be centered on both sides of the fins.

The fin sides are lightly sanded to square them up.

To get a little roundness to the outside edges, roll over them with something smooth, hard and round. I used the front end of a retracted ball point pen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 3 Fin Lamination

Lightly roll over the glued skin to smooth it out and remove excess glue.
Be ready, the skin can slip around and out of alignment with the interior cardboard edge.

Lay waxed paper over the fin and cardboard.
Set overnight in a heavy book for drying.

After the first side has dried, here's the other side ready to be glued in place.
Before applying any glue, double check to be sure the position of the mirror image is correct.

Line up the two edges (the two edges you cut on the edge lines) and glue the other side in place.
Set in a book and allow to dry.

This shows the long upper strake fin with both side skins glued on both sides of the cardboard.

The root edges and forward tip of the fin sides are lined up.

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 2 Fin Lamination

In my carded downscales, I draw both sides of the fins joined at the leading edge like a butterfly wing. The leading edge is creased, folded and glued over the card stock center.
In this "kit", Mr. Harrington has the fin sides as two separate pieces.
Enlarge the picture to see how the sides were cut.
In this case, the trailing edges and root edges were cut on the faint gray lines. The other sides were cut outside the lines and will be cut down after gluing the lamination.

In the picture to the right, the fin side hasn't been glued down yet.
(It'll be glued and slid into the corner of the card stock.)

The cardboard has been cut to a 90 degree angle, the same as the root and trailing edges of the fin overlay.

The back of one side of the printed fin gets a light, smooth coat of white glue. The fin is lightly pressed into position on the cardboard.
To be sure the back edges were even, both edges (cardboard and card stock print) were pressed down on a table top.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Carded Satellite Interceptor Build Part 1 Parts

I haven't made a carded rocket in a while. I started this one while I was entertaining on a cruise ship.
This is Bob Harrington's carded downscale of the Estes Satellite Interceptor.

You can find the printable PDFs on Wayne Hill's Rocketry Blog:

You can print these on 65 lb. or 110 lb. cardstock.
I prefer the 110 lb. cardstock

In addition to the two printed pages, you need some cereal box cardboard for the center layer of the laminated fins.

For better glue adhesion, lightly sand to rough up the printed side of the cardboard.
The cereal box "flats" were initially cut out with scissors.
I go back with a straightedge and square up the sides.

We'll concentrate on the laminated fins first.

Yesterday's blog posts?

Yesterday I couldn't get a Internet connection. We were at sea and too many guests were checking their emails.
Today I'm in Seward, Alaska. The Zaandam does a U-turn later today on it's way back to Victoria, B.C.
My show went well, despite the band speeding up tempos on every other song!

The next model on the blog is a card stock Satellite Interceptor by Bob Harrington.
If you've never built a carded model, you should give it a try.
Why not? Bob has done all the hard work for you - you are only out two pieces of printed card stock!
No filling, no painting, no decals. Just a great flying 13mm model.

Estes Phoenix Bird Finished

Lessons learned:
This new, harder "balsa" may better withstand a hard landing but is difficult to fill and smooth.
Self adhesive wraps will never go on perfect, you can get them close though. Just be sure your underlying surfaces are clean before applying.
Two fins are left black, two fins get stickers on both sides.

TIP: Next time I would center the two main body wrap "birds" (picture at upper right) over the two fins without the stickers.