Friday, August 31, 2012

Midget Clone Build Part 4 Lug Standoff

The Estes kit had a LL-2B lug that was  2 3/8" long. Probably too long for a model this size.
That length of lug will stick out like a sore thumb. A little like a 1/8" lug on a BT-5 model.

The lug supplied in the Semroc Repro kit is slightly shorter at 2 1/4" long, with no dowel standoff.

The picture shows the brown end of the laser cut lug and the LONG dowel standoff.

Sometimes when I build a kit I'll make compromises to improve the overall visual balance of the model.
I'm going to use the dowel standoff. That's what was on my first Midget I got as a free kit in 1969.

That 2 3/8" long lug seems long.
I decided to cut it down to the length of the root edge forward of the shroud.

I'll be jumping around the instructions on this build.

The dowel was cut slightly long and the (now) shorter lug glued on.

After it had dried, the dowel was sanded flush with the ends of the launch lug.

Midget Clone Build Part 3 Lug Standoff?

The original Midget kit and this clone kit included a dowel for a lug standoff.

Normally, a lug standoff is required if the upper section of the model has a larger diameter payload tube. The standoff raises the lug so the launch rod will clear the wider payload section.

But why is it needed on the Estes Midget? The lug is already on the upper, larger body tube sustainer.

We've got to back for a little history.
In the late 1960s, Estes introduces the C Rail, the first launch rail for low power rockets.
It was certainly stiffer than a 1/8" diameter launch rod and prevented rod whip.

To adapt to either the C Rail or standard 1/8" launch rod:

A few models from that time had a standard lug glued onto a dowel standoff.
The Midget and the Constellation are the ones I remember having the standoff.

The Semroc Repro kit has a standard 1/8" lug without the dowel standoff.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Midget Clone Build Part 2 Parts Huh?

I don't know why fin templates were included.
Compared to the laser cut Semroc fins they weren't even the right size!

I trust Semroc knowing the larger laser cut fins are correct.

On the same card stock sheet with the fin templates was a printed shroud.

The height of the shroud should be the height of the lower root edge half of the sustainer fin.
You can see how short it is.

The paper stock of the supplied shroud is too thin and not usable.
I'll go to
and make a new one using the transition tool.

Ares 1 Nose Section Fix Part 5 Screw Eye

When the screw eye was removed it pulled out balsa and made a hole too large for the screw threads. I had to plug the hole with something stronger.

Three toothpicks were glued into the hole.
After the glued dried they were cut off flush with the base of the nose cone.  

The center of the three grouped toothpicks was closed with glue. The hole was re-opened with an awl.

Notice the screw eye goes on the side of the nose cone base. In the center is the nose weight. The dried putty holds it in place.

Here's the before and after - ready again for flight.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midget Clone Build Part 1 Parts

The original Estes Midget kit was one of the first rockets I ever built.
In 1969 I thought $1.25 was a great price for a two stage rocket!

Before I start on this one -
This build is not the recently released Retro Repro Midget kit from Semroc and not the original Estes kit.
This is a clone kit picked up on EBAY.
I thought the price was good, under $10.00.
The new Semroc kit is only $10.00!

I should have waited for the Semroc repro! There was too many things that needed fixing to get it close.
Here are the parts received:
When I received this clone kit, I thought - How ridiculous! This model can't be flown with current 13mm "T" engines. It was a clone made for the old "S" (for short, 1 3/4" long) engine model.
It sat in the build pile until I saw how Semroc adapted 18mm engine casing adapters. A simple solution.
I cut two 1 3/4" long 18mm casings for 13mm engine adapters. To see this explained, check out the Midget instructions posted on the Semroc website.

The strange thing is, these fins were laser cut by Semroc! I could assume most all the other parts were also from Semroc.

The clone kit didn't include a parachute or a proper shroud. I wrote a note to the producer of the kit and a new Estes 12" parachute was sent.

The 20/50 shroud transition was printed on 20 lb. copy paper. I felt it was unusable. A 110 lb. cardstock print of the shroud was sent with the parachute.

To the right is the LONG dowel for a lug standoff, the laser cut launch lug and 
the two, 1 3/4" 18mm casings.
The short BT-20 tube is the engine mount tube for the upper stage, probably the shortest engine mount tube I've seen in a kit.

Above it all is the 20 lb. copy paper shroud. More on that later.
To the far right are the very short 1/8" long engine blocks. One goes above the upper stage engine as normal.
The other goes below the booster engine in the first stage.

Great, Cheap Shaping Tool

I've used these on the blog before.
These are four surfaced nail files from the Sally Beauty Store.
Beauty Secrets 4-Way File #169210 $1.19 each.

There is two surfaces on each side, four surfaces in total go from 100 to 400 grit.
These are washable. If it loads up, clean off with a soft brass brush or toothbrush and it's like new again. Under the grit is a layer of padding.
I probably wear out two of these per year.

Great for shaping small pieces or even air foiling fins.
These won't replace your sanding block but are very handy to have around.

The next time your wife goes into the beauty supply store, tag along and pick up a few.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Estes V2 Finished

Even with a few snags along the way, I'm happy with the way this one turned out.

Lessons learned:
It would have been easier to cut (score) the air vane lines into the fin corners. That or simply using thin decal lines.
Rough up the smooth plastic nose and tail cone so the paint sticks better.

I'm still deciding whether or not to hit it with a dull coat. The black paint on the fins is really glossy.

Ares 1 Nose Section Fix Part 4 Shroud Fitting

This rebuild of the Ares nose section will be made up of shrouds from a later version of the design. The only scan I found was from a different version.
These shrouds are more complicated.

Before gluing any of the shrouds, re-round them using a dowel.
Get them as round as you can, it makes joining the edges easier.

The first shroud was glued onto the top of the BPC conical shroud. Check the center by looking down from the top.
Make any adjustments to be sure it is round as the glue is setting up.

Joining this small cap piece can take a few extra minutes.
Slide it down over the dowel with out glue and check the fit.
Raise it up and apply a small bead of glue right inside the edge.

Slide it back down into position lining up the shroud seams.

Roll over the wet edge with a clean dowel molding it to the top of the lower shroud. Keep rolling over the edge to "feather in" the sides.
My earlier kit version didn't have the four toothpick nozzles. Another small shroud was made for an LAS skirt.

The fit was a little loose so a glue bead was applied on the dowel position and allowed to dry. This made a "shelf" for the LAS skirt to rest on.

Another small bead of glue was applied and the skirt slid into place.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Estes V2 Build Part 32 Final Stripe Positioning

Remember how the 3/8" wide strip wouldn't fit around the nose cone taper without buckling? The bottom of the strip was smooth but the top half was starting to lift.

I decided to cut two thinner strips 3/16" wide and set one on top of the other.
With the stripes being narrower they both fit the circumference better.
From a foot away nobody will notice.

There is one very thin nose cone line shown on the Stine drawings. I thought I'd try the Contact trim paper (vinyl) again.

I drew a pencil line (as best I could) 2 7/8" from the tip of the nose cone.
A trim line was cut just under 1/16" wide.

It's hard to lay this line down straight.
Because it is so thin you can easily move it up of down with a fingernail.

Ares 1 Nose Section Fix Part 3 Shroud Fitting

I didn't refer to the instructions so the shrouds weren't glued on in the recommended order..

The service module wrap was dry fitted around the straight, flat side of the nose cone. After marking it took a bit of trimming to get the right fit.

The service module wrap was pre-formed in the palm of my hand by rolling over it with a dowel.
It then got a thin coat of white glue on the back.

After it was in position and the seam lined up, a clean dowel was rolled over the seam.
The fit was good and after pressing and molding with the dowel the seam was almost invisible.

All the small conical shrouds had their ends sanded flat.
This does two things.
1. It gets rid of any bumps making the gluing edges flat and even.
2. It also shapes the shroud edges for a better gluing surface on the edges.
If the edges are slightly thinned on the outside, like a "wedge", it's okay.
That'll make it easier to mold to the top of the adjoining shroud when the edge it wet with glue and pliable.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remembering Neil Armstrong

This picture from National Geographic probably represents most homes on July 20, 1969 - kids on the floor, crowded around a black and white TV trying to figure out the fuzzy images.

From PBS:
Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, died Saturday, according to a family statement. He was 82 and lived in Cincinnati.
Armstrong had undergone a heart bypass surgery earlier this month to relieve blocked coronary arteries. The recovery seemed to be going well, according to the New York Times, and his death "came as a surprise to many close to him, including his fellow Apollo astronauts."

Ares 1 Nose Section Fix Part 2

This unthinned, thicker CWF is harder after drying and needed 220 grit to sand it down.
This 220 grit is probably closer to a 300 grit, a little finer than the standard 220.

The block was used to keep the sides straight.

To square the edges of the shoulder lip, the scrap BT-50 was rough sanded with 220.
This roughens the tube edge enough that it can actually sand down the balsa and filler.
Set the nose section in the roughened tube and turn the edge against the sanded tube edge. Repeat if needed.

To be sure the filler stayed on the shoulder, some CA was applied using a Q-tip.

This dried shiny CA was smoothed over with 400 grit.

Here's the re-built shoulder ready for primer then white paint.

The cardstock wraps will be applied after the white paint dries.

Estes V2 Build Part 30 Stripe Cutting

Whoops! I missed posting Part 30, yesterday I posted 31. So they are out of order.
No biggie - here's #30:

Please note:
My detail dimensions (width of stripes and postions) are estimations.
The Estes V2 is a semi scale model. If this were an entry in a NAR Scale contest I would take the time to do the math and make it correct.
In the end it'll capture the look of a White Sands V2.

I'm using my favorite black trim material again - Contact Paper Blackboard Covering. I bought a roll at Michael's Crafts.

The high and low horizontal stripes are about 3/8" wide.
The diagonal stripes will be 7/32" wide.

The hardest part of cutting strips is to have them cut to the same width from end to end. The smallest shift of your straightedge can mess up a horizontal stripe when it meets up after going around the tube.

I cut three separate "master" pieces of the correct width. These are placed against the top of the stripe at the left, middle and right of the strip to be cut.

This gives me something to line my straightedge on.
Those three master pieces are used for all the eight diagonal stripes needed.

First, lay down the 3/8" horizontal stripe at the tail cone and body tube seam.
Don't burnish this tape stripe down!
It will have to be lifted later and is used for a positioning reference right now.

With a pencil, mark the fin and centers between the fins.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ares 1 Nose Section Fix Part 1

After I "Stuck the Stick" I had a choice of building a new kit or fixing the damaged nose section. For some new blog entries, I decided to fix it.

After cleaning off the card stock wraps, here's how the nose section looked after it was pulled from the ground.

The nose tip dowel was loose and easily pulled off.

Usually, all card stock wraps are scanned before a kit is started just in case I screw up and have to print another copy.

Back when I built this one, I didn't scan the prints! I'll have to print from the scanned wraps of the Ares 1X kit. There was so many changes in the Ares series nobody will notice the difference!

The card stock was pulled up. I was surprised how easily it released from the balsa.
I'd forgot, but shims were added so the upper capsule wrap fit the nose tip better.

At the base of the nose section the BT-50 shaved off the balsa shoulder when the nose was shoved into the tube. This will have to be built up again.

I used CWF, straight from the tub without thinning.
If you don't thin the CWF, it's much harder and better for this application.

I'm using a razor blade for a trowel and forcing the filler into the joint area.
The nose section is in a scrap piece of BT-50.

While the CWF was still wet, the nose section was turned and pulled out slightly from the BT-50.
This forced some filler into the base of the shoulder and made a sharper, cleaner edge.

Estes V2 Build Part 31 Stripe Positioning

After all eight diagonal stripes were in place the 3/8" horizontal stripes were lifted up.
The small positioning piece was removed. The diagonal overlaps were cut at the halfway point so the 3/8" horizontal stripe will cover the ends when it was stuck down again.

The same was done at the nose cone end.

The diagonal stripes were cut where the went over the nose cone joint.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Estes V2 Build Part 30 Stripe Positioning

Look back at the Stine drawings and you can see how the diagonal stripes intersect each other. One lays on top of the other to the thickness of one stripe.

I used a piece of 7/32" wide Contact paper for a thickness reference.
On the nose cone another piece of 3/8" stripe was wrapped around the circumference at 1 7/8" above the shoulder lip.

Tape the nose cone to the body tube so it won't rotate while placing the diagonal stripes.

Four more reference pieces were set down to line up the diagonal stripes.

Notice how the 3/8" thick stripe is buckling when going around the taper of the nose cone. It only buckles on the upper half of the stripe.
Remember this for later!

Don't burnish down these horizontal (around the body) stripes. They will be lifted later to trim the diagonals.

This picture shows the first diagonal layed down using the reference pieces as a guide.

Look from the rear to be sure it is straight. You can see the curve on this piece of trim tape.

After lifting and re-positioning a few times the line is pretty straight.

Estes V2 Build Part 29 Mask Results

Here's a few shots of the finished masks.

All in all, results were pretty good.
The corners of these two black blocks didn't match as will as I would have liked.

I might use a decal stripe to raise the upper edge of the lower block so the corners touch.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Estes V2 Build Part 28 Cleaning Up The Mask

You can be careful and there will still be some paint seeping under the mask.

This small black tick was pressed back onto the black area of the fin.
While the paint is still pliable, press it back using the side of your hobby knife blade. Roll the tick back using the mask line as a guide.