Thursday, February 28, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 15 Gluing the Upper Strakes

Here's Step 15 - Sorry, it was out of order!

The upper tube marking guide didn't quite meet up around the BT-50 tube.
I ended up making my own with eight divisions for eight strakes.

Mark the extended lines just inside the length of the strake root edge.
Sand the gluing lines to rough up the body tube for better adhesion.

You don't have to sand much, just remove the primer and rough the tube a bit.

Glue on four of the strakes at the 90 degree spacing. (Strake 1, 3, 5 and 7.)
Then go back and glue 2, 4 6 and 8 between the first four. You'll find it easier to get the spacing right visually by centering the second four between the strakes already glued down.

Notice the paper marking guide was left on the tube as the strakes were glued down. This helps get all eight to the same height on the tube.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Show Business Is Not Pretty!

Normally I wouldn't comment about anything outside of Model Rocketry on the blog but this was pretty ridiculous!

Yesterday (Tuesday, February 26) I was to meet the Holland America Ryndam in Curacao.
My flight from Miami arrived at 4:00 p.m. I went through Immigration and got my luggage - two large instrument cases and my two suitcases of clothes and "stuff". I was tired and hot.
I got the first taxi to the ship, about 20 minutes away.
It was 5:00 when I got to the ship.

First stop, the front desk to check in.
A guest saw my cases with my name on the side. He said: "We're looking forward to the show tonight!"
My response: "Well, I'm probably on later this week." He then said: "No, according to the schedule, you are on tonight!"
Slight panic mode -

The event manager met me and said the band is in the showroom waiting to start rehearsal! The first show was in less than 1 1/2 hours at 6:30 !!!

I dropped my music scores with the band and went back downstairs to get the rest of my luggage. I wanted to hang up my tuxedo for an hour to let some wrinkles out.

The event manager stopped me again to let me know there was a life boat drill in the bridge. What? Not now! I've got rehearsal and a full show in a little more than an hour!

The life boat "drill" took an extra ten minutes as an officer showed me how to put on a life vest. (Like I haven't been through it 100 times before!)

I ran downstairs to the showroom an did a quick rehearsal with the band. Luckily a few of  them knew my act.

Upstairs for the quickest shower of my life and into the tux.
No time for dinner. Back downstairs at 6:25 for a quick tuning of the banjo.
The show started at 6:30.

Sorry, show business is far from glamorous.
Sometimes they don't pay me for doing a show - they pay me for showing up!

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 16 Nose Cone and Adapter

After the strakes are glued on the upper tube, the instructions have you glue the adapter and nose cone in place!
Don't glue the adapter and nose cone in yet - wait until after painting them black.
You'll save yourself some masking and the color separation lines will be sharper if all three pieces are painted separately then glued together.

The upper tube with the strakes in place was painted gloss white.

The nose cone and adapter were taped to some scrap pieces of BT-50 and BT-55 tubing.

Pull the adapter and nose cone out slightly so a little bit of the shoulders  are exposed and get painted black.

Here's the three pieces dry fitted after the paint had dried.

No masking and sharp color separations defined by the ends of the white body tube.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 14 Main Fin Gluing

A dry fit of the fins show the body tube sticks out a bit longer than the end of the root edge.
I really wanted the trailing edges even with the end of the engine mount tube.

Rather than try to cut a sliver off the tube, the engine hook was pulled back and the tube sanded with 220 grit on a block.

Earlier I had reinforced the inside lip of the tube with some medium CA glue.
This made a stiffer ended tube that would stand up to the 220 grit sanding without tearing or fuzzing up.
smoothing with 400 grit followed.

It's hard to get an even fillet on the root edge at the centering ring step.

I used another Q-tip to remove the excess glue.
Use the Q-tip once and throw it away.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2,000 Posts!

Whoo - Hoo!
Yesterday the blog reached 2,000 posts!
The numbers are steadily growing, some days it'll reach 650 readers worldwide.
Thanks for following, I'll do my best to keep it going.

My apologies to anybody having trouble making recent comments on a post.
I was hit hard last week with spammers and the Google blog people shut down any commenting for a bit. Should be back up as normal by now.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 13 Main Fin Fitting

Because of the "stepped" root edge, there are three sides that'll have to be fitted to the body.
Fit the fins one by one and mark the tube and root edge as you go.

Most of the fin edges should fit pretty well. A little sanding with the block will get them tight against the body.

The raised glue fillet on the rear ring and engine mount tube prevented the fin corner from sitting in the joint.

Slightly round the corner to go around the rounded fillet.

It takes very little sanding on the corner for a better fit.
Sand a tiny bit off and check the fit.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 12 Engine Mount Gluing

The centering rings were a little small so I had to build up the inside diameter of the BT-55 tube.
A piece of copy paper was cut and glued into the tube for a tighter fit of the engine mount.

The BT-55 tube was short enough to add an upper centering ring fillet after the mount was in place.
The mount was slid in from the rear (no glue yet inside the tube) up to this point shown.
A line of glue was run around the inside lip of the body tube.

The rear ring of the mount was pressed into the glue ring.

I used the flat side of my sanding block to insure the ring was even with the end of the body tube.
This ring must be even with the tube end. The cleaner this joint, the better the fit of the fins.

A Q-tip was taped to a dowel. It is shown here outside the tube to show where the upper ring is located inside the tube.
A drop of glue was set on the Q-tip and an inside fillet made at the upper ring and body tube joint.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 11 Sanding the Dowel Joint

I wanted a small rounded piece of sandpaper to smooth off the CWF in the dowel seam.
400 grit (or any grit sandpaper) won't roll into a tight cylinder without crimping.

TIP: Set the sandpaper over a small dowel and pinch your fingers around the right side. Roll the sandpaper over dowel by pushing your thumb forward and back. This will round the sandpaper without creasing it.

Remove the dowel and you have a tight cushioned circle of sandpaper to sand the CWF joint smooth.
This works well as the tight curve has some give with no creases to scar the filled joint.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 10 Gluing Fin Dowels

The fin dowels are glued onto the outside edge of the fins.
The rear of the dowels extends 1/4" over the trailing edge.

Sight down the dowel from the outside edge (inset picture) to check straightness.

Brush some CWF into the open seam.
Wipe off the excess with a fingertip but leave enough over the seam to sand smooth.

The dowel ends will need some filler where it contacts the leading and trailing edges of the fin.
Apply a small amount of CWF with a toothpick.

I picked up the excess by rolling the middle stick of a Q-tip over the joint.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 9 Fin Dowels

The 1/8" diameter dowel was sanded smooth with 400 grit then sealed  with some old varnish.
I don't bother getting out a brush, just dip a paper towel in the varnish and wipe it on.

After drying the dowel was sanded smooth with 400 grit.
The dowel is almost 9" long. The instructions say to cut it into four equal lengths so each piece will be just under 2 1/4" long.

You could cut the dowel with a razor saw, but on a 1/8" dowel it's easier to use a razor blade.
TIP: Don't just roll the dowel under the blade, chances are the blade will travel down the dowel and you'll get a spiral cut. Mark the cut lengths with a pencil.
Start the cut but only roll around the dowel towards you for 1/2 turn.
Go back to the pencil mark starting point and roll the blade away from you.
Doing the cut "half and half" helps get the rolled cut line meet up.

The forward end of the four dowels are rounded with 220 grit followed by 400 grit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 8 Glue Together the Fins

The fit of the forward and rear fins was checked against the corner of my straightedge.

The instructions are vague about sanding the leading edges.
Don't sand the leading edge of the larger rear fin until after the two pieces are glued together.
You can sand the leading edge of the forward fin before gluing.
Round it now.

Glue was applied to the forward fin.
TIP: Notice the glue doesn't go all the way to the end of the (already rounded) leading edge.
Glue can soak into the leading edge of the rear fin making it hard to round the corner when the two pieces are glued together.

Using the strait edge for alignment again, here's how the two pieces look when the glue has dried.

The leading edge of the forward fin is rounded and meets up to the squared leading edge of the lower fin.

Getting into the corner for rounding takes some extra time.
You can see why glue was kept away from the corner. The wood isn't hardened up from the dried glue.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 7 Fin Prep - Uh-Oh!

The laser cut "balsa" parts were easily removed from the sheet.

On this kit, the "wedge cut" from the laser was really apparent.
If you didn't square them up, the root edges wouldn't sit at a 90 degree angle to the center line of the model.

The eight forward strakes look like small launch lug standoffs.

They are small and loads of fun to sand square.

I didn't notice the difference in the fin thickness until the forward and rear fin pieces were stacked. The thickness difference is subtle, but would require some filling. The balsa sheet that had the forward fins was thinner on one side so two of the forward fins were a bit off..

I could cut out new fins from balsa sheet of the same thickness - or,
Sand the thicker main fin down to the thickness of the forward fin.
I'll cut some new forward strakes in the correct thickness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 6 Adapting the Adapter

The plastic adapter shoulder extends 1 1/2" into the lower BT-55 tube. The engine mount extends 1" out the back.
Enlarge the picture to see the pencil lines showing the empty space available inside. 
This lower BT-55 tube is only 6" long. With the engine mount and adapter in place, there is only 2 3/4" of open space for the wadding and parachute. I'd prefer a little more room.

I decided to cut off the eyelet end off the wide BT-55 end of the adapter. There is already a recessed line for cutting on the adapter.
This opens up the adapter for shock cord and even some parachute storage.

The shock cord (I'm substituting 36" of elastic for the rubber band supplied in the kit) will be tied at the shoulder of the smaller BT-50 end.

Three holes were drilled with a small rat tail diamond file.
These holes were just large enough for the elastic to pass through.

Be sure there are no sharp edges on the holes that might wear on the elastic.

The elastic was fed through from the bottom (the wide end) and through on side hole.
It was looped through the eyelet and tied with three overhand knots.

The loose end was fed into the remaining open hole on the right side.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 5 Prepping Plastic

The plastic wall on the nose cone was uneven.
So much so that the lip overhangs the body tube more on one side.

This will take some careful sanding to get it even.
There are some molding divots. Around the edge is a slight raised lip.

Take a moment and sand the small ring off the nose cone tip.

There is a molding seam on both sides of the adapter.
This recess line got a bead of medium CA.
After it dried the CA was sanded to surface. First with 220 and then 400 grit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 4 Kevlar Tie

Sometimes the Kevlar doesn't want to sit flat against the forward ring.
Setting the Kevlar into the fillet - 
The loop was tightly tied around the motor mount tube and the loop slid back toward the rear.

A fillet was applied to the ring and smoothed out with a fingertip.

Allow the glue to set up, but not fully dried.
The glue is tackier now and will hold the Kevlar tight against the back of the centering ring.

Press the Kevlar into the glue. With the glue "half dried" the loop will hold tight against the underside of the ring.

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 3 Engine Mount

I'm jumping ahead to the engine mount assembly.
The engine hook end was cut off to give the model a more retro look.
The lower hook is the before, the upper is after the cut and file.

Score the bend with a wire cutter and carefully bend it back and forth until it breaks. File off the rough end

I'll use Kevlar attached under the forward centering ring.
The forward ring does slide over the end of the engine hook so a small "allowance" was punched for a better fit.
Below that is a small half circle punched for the Kevlar line to pass through.

The instructions have you slide the clear retaining ring against the lower ring. This doesn't allow much movement of the engine hook.

The inset picture shows where the ring was glued, about 3/8" forward of the rear ring.
The Kevlar is tied on after the fillets are applied in the next post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 2 Parts

Here's all the parts -
Like I mentioned in the last post, the water slide decals show Centuri influence.
This kit has the red parachute with no printing.

Everything looks standard, except for the adapter and nose cone.

A letter is included apologizing for the plastic nose cone and adapter.
Originally these parts were balsa.
The note mentions a "worldwide balsa shortage".

That 50/55 adapter is interesting. Depending on how it it cut it can be a nozzle, a hollow interior adapter or simply joins two tubes together.
The wide end shoulder is a little long. More on that later.

Vintage Estes Rockets Website

A forum post from collector Eric Higgins:

"Just wanted to take a moment to tell the YORF community of the completion of phase I of my Estes K-Kit research website,

As a lifelong collector, I began contemplating putting this site together many, many years ago. Back in the early 90's I began to photograph my collection, but never took it past that point. My kits were photographed with a 1.3MP camera, which was state-of-the-art for the time. As you might suspect, I re-photographed my collection a couple of years ago with a better camera, and it was at that time I had the site's layout sketched in a notebook and began the work that is now online.
The site is comprised of items from my collection. Over the past few years I connected with Joe Warner (Mojo1986) and just recently, obtained a large amount of materials for the site. Joe's input has been very important to help with the completion of phase 1. Here's a brief overview of what the site contains, as well as what's forth coming:

PHASE 1 Completed:
K-Kit Registry
Digital scans and Photoshop cleaned face cards
Hang Tags
K-Kit Designers
Pre-Damon & early Damon Era Advertising
Some Catalogues

Phase II Underway:
Catalogues in Full
Other related items

If you're an Estes collector, I'm certain that you will enjoy what is presented here. It's very enjoyable!   
To keep up with updates and the progression of the site, visit the What's New page.
Finally, I'm interested in your feedback. If there is something that needs added or corrected, drop me an email thru the email link on the What's New page."

To the moon!

Eric Higgins 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Estes Plasma Probe Build Part 1 All The "Probes" Background

Here's the next project on the blog -
The Estes PLASMA PROBE, Kit # 3211

Compare the Plasma Probe side by side the older Centuri Laser X Space Probe.
The Laser X was Centuri's answer to the Estes Mars Snooper.
The old Estes Mars Snooper and the Centuri Laser X have smaller forward fins.
The colors and roll patterns are about the same. There is definately Centuri influence here.

Last year I called Lee Piester (Centuri Engineering President) and he mentioned there was a new Estes kit that looked a lot like the Laser X. This has to be the one he was referring to.

Centuri came out with the Stellar Line in the mid 1970s. The futuristic design in the series was the Photon Probe, kit # KD-16. That black and white pic on the right is from the JimZ site.
The forward fins on the Laser X have been replaced with the 8 small strakes.

Next up was the Estes Solar Probe, the reissue of that design.
This one is almost an copy of the Centuri Photon Probe but no dowels on the fins.
Both the upper adapter and rear boat tail are card stock shrouds.
All four previous models have the word "Probe" in the name.

Here's the back end from my flight worn Semroc Laser X.
There aren't twelve coolant vanes on the back end of the Estes Plasma Probe. No rear card stock boat tail either.

The Laser X had 1/16" thick balsa throughout, a little thin.
The Plasma Probe has 3/32" thick fins and strakes.