Monday, August 31, 2015

Old Estes Kits?

David Carllucy commented on a blog post:
"Have you seen these old kits?"

No I hadn't seen this one -
CLICK HERE to check it out.

This is a bagged Estes SCORPION, a Design Of The Month winner from July 1969.
I've heard that Estes did short runs of some contest winners. It was mentioned on TRF before. Maybe a market test?
To see the plans, CLICK HERE

Here's what the Scorpion looked like.
Nope, it's not a boost glider. It has standard parachute recovery.
LOTS of wing area. On a windy day it might go horizontal.
It reminds me of the Skydart design.

And the second "kit" -
CLICK HERE to see the eBAY listing.
To see the plans, CLICK HERE
I would guess these were released at the same time, both have the four color toppers and no face cards.

Am I going to bid? No.
Still, a real find for a collector.

UPDATE: From Bill Simon on YORF:
"Yes, Estes Ind. did "kit up" parts for some of the DOM models. It was Vern's idea to do so. I could have sworn that we offered them in the MRN, but after this many years, I'm fuzzy on the marketing details. I do know that we shipped of a bunch of them to the various NARAMs. Since I was back in Penrose minding the store while Vern, Bob Cannon and Norm Avery represented the company at the meets, I can only assume that we used them as free handouts." 
Bill Simon

Quest Magnum Sport Loader #3012 Build, Part 1 Parts

I have built a few of these before, but not for the blog.
A few years ago, Bill Stine contacted me to make one for NARAM demos. That model is on the Quest website. Tim at Apogee needed one built for his catalog. That model is shown on the Apogee website.
I have two unopened Magnum kits - here we go.

Here's all the parts. For a medium sized, two engine cluster model it's a great value. The current Quest retail price is $17.84
Two engine cluster rockets are great performers. No clip whips are needed.
Enclosed are water slide decals and two 14" Quest parachutes.
The payload capsule is very well made. This kit has an extended payload section. You could launch two eggs if you wanted.

The parts of interest, left to right:
The thick walled payload tube
Egg or Payload Capsule (Same as in the Quest Courier)
Blue adapter ring
Black nose cone coupler
Thin yellow engine tubes
Spring steel engine hooks
Inset: Letramax laser cut "Half Moon" cluster centering rings

Two sheets of die-cut balsa are included.

These fin sheets may have come from an older kit, I don't know which one.
All the fins I marked with the "X" are discarded. But save the duplicate fourth fins, the larger lower and smaller upper.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clear Body Rocket?

Cutaway display models were brought up on YORF and I remembered this gem at JimZs website: CLICK HERE

A clear ST-10 body with a ST-5 stuffer tube inside.
I especially like the spiral decor on the model on the right under "Construction Tips".
It was the second place winner in a 1968 Centuri design contest.
Just food for thought!

Estes Yellow Jacket #2008 Carded Downscale Finished

An 1/8" wide elastic shock cord was tied to the Kevlar line. The end of the elastic was tied to the nose cone lug. A streamer is tied to the elastic shock cord.

Next time I would use a darker, more opaque setting on my printer. The yellow looks fine but you can see a difference between the sprayed plastic nose cone and the tube wrap print. Oh well, done!
It will fly with a 1/2A3-4t and scream with A3-4t engines.

The PDF is available for FREE! Just print, glue and fly.
Contact me at and request the Yellow Jacket PDF.
All my past carded down scales are also available at Wayne Hill's Rocketry Blog - CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Estes Yellow Jacket #2008 Carded Downscale, Part 4, Engine Block

I didn't have any BT-5 engine blocks handy. Sometimes they fall apart when cutting 1/4" segments from engine casings.
I used two 1/4" lengths cut from a scrap BT-5 tube.
Notice the used casing set inside the body tube for support.
The segments were split with scissors.

The first segment was set tightly into the body tube and overlap marked. The segment was removed and the overlap glued.

The second segment was glued inside the first. The inside overlap was set in opposite the first segment seam.

Here's the finished engine block.
The Kevlar line was tied to set next to the recess overlap, no notch needed.

The block was glued inside the BT-5 so a 13mm T engine would extend 3/16" out the back.

Clothespins Clamp Idea TIP

Naoto Kimura send me a comment on the FSI Fin Alignment Tool:

"Speaking of wooden clothespins, turning them inside-out and backwards changes their clamping characteristics -- increased reach, and due to change in leverage, they're less apt to crush balsawood (you still want to put cardboard plates to spread the clamping force over wider area to reduce possibility of crushing)."

The picture above and more reading is at the Photo Ataku Blog, 
Naoto included this link: CLICK HERE

For a better reach in a tight area, I've done this in the past.
The clothespin pictured in the 
Photo Ataku Blog makes an even smaller clamp end.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Estes Yellow Jacket #2008 Carded Downscale, Part 3, Body and Lug Wrap

Trace a straight line down the length of the BT-5 tube.

Use glue stick over the entire printed skin. Work quickly before the glue stick coat dries.
Set the cut edge down the pencil line and wrap around the tube.
Wrap an inch, then smooth with your fingers. Then continue wrapping another inch. This helps prevent any gaps or wrinkles in the applied skin.

Burnish down the overlap seam edge.
If you didn't get the seam to close, sneak some glue stick under the overlap seam on the tip of your knife.

The 1" long launch lug is covered like the body tube using the glue stick.

Paint "Rotisserie?" TIP

Horizontal spray painting of rockets (versus vertical spraying) was brought up on a forum.
Coincidentally I put together this post about a week ago. 

Once in a while on the forums I see a picture of a rocket being painted.
There might be a painting stick in the back end, but the stick is in the ground with the rocket in vertical position for painting and drying.
Think about it, a model being painted vertically is just asking for drips and pools of paint at the end of the body tube.

I spray my models horizontally.

Using the picture as a reference -
1. I shoot the leading and trailing edges of the fins and nose cone tip first to be sure they get coverage.
I'll use the launch lug as a reference, a starting and finish point so nothing is missed.
2. I shoot the fin tip at the top of the picture, working back and forth down the fin surface to the root edge.
3. Shoot the entire body tube length, back and forth working down to the lower fin root edge.
4. Shoot the lower fin, back and forth root edge down to tip.
5. Rotate the model counterclockwise to the next set of facing fins (like the picture above)
    Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.
6. Rotate one more time to the last open facing fins. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.

The rocket should be more evenly covered with very little, if any over spray.
Sorry, it's hard to explain with just the one picture.

Before leaving the model to dry, slowly rotate ("rotisserie") the model by turning the painting wand. You don't want the paint to pool up or start a run.
Turn slowly for a minute or so until the paint "skins" up and starts to dry. Once the paint has started drying there is very little chance of a drip.

As I've said before, I use the old Centuri paint adage:
"Do not paint your model with one heavy coat!
. . . light coats first and THEN a finish coat."
"The finish coat should be applied a little heavier (slower strokes) and have a wet look when you're finished painting."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Schoolyard Launch, August 26, 2015

I haven't launched at the soccer field since July 5. Even at 7:00 a.m. it's already too hot and humid.
The downscale STAR SNOOP was up with a MicroMaxx engine.
Fast and straight with nose blow recovery. Altitude? Maybe 75 feet.

A downscale carded Centuri ASTRO 1 got great altitude for a 1/2A3-4t engine, it's built around a BT-5. Estimated altitude, 250 feet with a tight corkscrew and streamer deploy.

Here's the new Odd'l Rockets BREAK-AWAY prototype on its first flight with an A8-3.
I was a bit nervous testing the new tether ties between the six sections.
At ejection all parts separated and it did a serpentine to the ground. A perfect small field model.
Success with an altitude of 225'. Whew!

I haven't flown the Odd'l CYCLONE in too long a time.
If there is wind it will drift so on this field I stay with a 1/2A3-2t engine.
It performs best with not a lot of paint, this one is naked except for black marker and some trim Monokote.
I didn't hear a whistle this time. It topped out at 200' and popped apart at ejection.
The bottom half came in quicker while the upper half spun and spun.
No damage.
After 10 flights, the Quest RAPTOR has seen better days. I haven't launched it in a year.
The launch button was held down for three seconds to ignite the old Quest Tiger Tail igniter. (Note to self: Save these igniters for the 12 volt system at club launches)
A (German made) Quest B6-4 got it to an estimated 275'. The chute did eject but looked like it was melted together. When picked up the parachute was tangled and inside out, but no burns. The wadding was still inside!
Those small, rear antenna fin thingies always seem to break off the body tube. This time there was no damage!

Sorry about the launch picture quality. My camera had reset itself after a battery change and I couldn't find the fast 14 frame per second burst feature. The moving shots here are only 4 shots per second.

Estes Yellow Jacket #2008 Carded Downscale, Part 2, Fins

I've covered laminated 100 lb. card stock fins before so this build won't be as detailed.

The fins on all my carded downscale models have "butterfly" folded fin skins. This gives a rounded leading edge when glued over the interior cereal box cardboard.
The printed fins are scored and folded down the leading edge using a dull butter knife tip and straightedge.
A glue sticks works great for the outside skin lamination.

The fins are cut out down the printed border lines. After cutting the trailing edge can end up with a raised lip.
Burnish down the raised lip with a hard round dowel.
Here I used the smooth tapered end of a mechanical pencil.

On the left is the fin after the outside and trailing edges were burnished down.
A bead of white glue is rolled over the outside and trailing edges.
This seals the exposed edges.
After the glue dries, lightly sand with 400 grit. You'll end up with slightly rounded outside and trailing edges.

The smoothed white glue bead won't be a full rounded edge but does take the edge off the squared sides.

TIP: If you like to paper your balsa fins, the folded "butterfly" method works great.
Just round the leading edge and leave the outside and trailing edges square.
In the end you'll have a more aerodynamic rounded leading edge. The other edges will be squared off and even with the fin edges.
Next time, try using a glue stick to adhere your paper skin covering. The glue stick isn't as messy as liquid glue from a bottle and allows re-positioning if needed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Estes Yellow Jacket #2008 Carded Downscale, Part 1, Parts

On the last cruise I worked on a new carded downscale.
This time it's the Estes Yellow Jacket, Kit #2008, available from 1989 - 1998.
Originally a BT-50 based model, it had a great fin design and decals.

The downscale will be made around a BT-5 tube and uses 13mm engines. No painting except for the nose cone.

You'll need the Quark style long nose cone from the BT-5 plastic nose cone package, BT-5 tubing just over 7" long, 1/8" launch lug, some cereal box cardboard, engine block, Kevlar, elastic shock cord and a streamer.

The fin and body tube skins are available on a free PDF.
Email me at and request the Yellow Jacket PDF.
Print, glue and fly!

Here's the fins being cut out in my ship cabin. No white glue, a small straightedge and a glue stick.
The break-off blade knife was packed in my boots, not in my carry on luggage.

My cutting board is the back cover of the HAL Compass book.
The book is basically a sales tool for future cruises. They are replaced every year.
I wonder if the next cabin guest wonders about all the cut marks in the back cover.

FSI Select-A-Chute

F.S.I. or Flight Systems Incorporated was the first to come out with an adjustable sized parachute. They called it the "Select-A-Chute".
It was eight sided and could be sized from 10" to 16" just by cutting around the colored bands.

I always thought this was a great idea. It was the inspiration behind the Odd'l Rockets multi sized parachutes. The Odd'l chutes can be sized at the standard 12, 15" and 18" sizes.
It is a one size fits most all, you just have to supply shroud line long enough to make the larger 18" parachute.

Enlarge the picture at the right to read the directions or to see the catalog page, go to Ninfinger's - CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Less Than A Day Left For Bids!

There's less than one day left to bid on the finished Semroc Explorer - 

Support the blog, make a bid -
To see the model, CLICK HERE

Estes Lynx, Kit #7233, Build Finished

For a smaller 13mm model, there is a lot of detail.
The small engine vanes take time (and tweezers) to position. There are the intake tubes, the fit of the upper and lower wings and that bulbous canopy nose cone. The nose cone looks so much better on the Lynx compared to the old Space Racer model.

This one is a rewarding challenge.
I'm glad Estes is still making builder's kits.
John Boren did a great job with the design.

400 Grit, Self Adhesive Sandpaper

From TRF, 
Graduator found some self adhesive 400 grit sandpaper for use with the Great Planes sanding block!
The finest sandpaper Great Planes carries is 220 grit.
2-3/4" X 10 Meter 400 Grit PSA Roll - $9.95 

To check it out, CLICK HERE

Monday, August 24, 2015

FSI Fin Alignment Fixture

I ran across this one on Ebay -
F.S.I. Fin Alignment Fixture

I remember seeing it in the FSI catalog but never saw one up close.
It looks a little rough, even the FSI stamp didn't fit on the base.

The white squares are pieces of cardstock glued to clothes pins.
The instructions (below) show clothespins clipped over the fins and the vertical alignment plates. The flat card stock pieces prevent the fin from getting dents from the clothespins.
Well, that's what I thought. The card stock would have to be slipped under the open jaws of the clothespins. Gluing the pieces to the outside of the clothespins does nothing!

This device worked pretty well with three finned models, most all the FSI kits had three fins.

There was a problem though.
Notice the two different diameter central spindles.
All FSI kits (at the time) were designed for their 21mm diameter black powder engines.
Most FSI kits had 23mm and 30mm body tubes.
This Fin Alignment Fixture only worked with FSI kits. 
Later, FSI started making 18mm engines.

The FSI instructions I've seen had hand written copy.

Here's how it looked in the 1977 FSI catalog.
To see it and the rest of the catalog -

Estes Lynx, Kit #7233, Build Part 17, Decals

The metallic black paint isn't as smooth as a normal gloss paint. I very lightly sanded the decal areas with some old, reused 400 grit sandpaper. The paper is probably closer to 800 grit by now.

Like the white decals in the Mercury Redstone kit, these are very hard to see until they are soaking in water.
Be sure you cut inside of the gray border lines or you will see the lines against the black paint on the model.
Look at the upper decal in the inset picture. I had to set this one back on the transfer paper for trimming.

The wide wing decals aren't split where they go over the gun dowels.

For the right side of the wing decal - 
I set the decal down and burnished the side towards the center.
The decal was cut with a sharp single edge razor blade.
The left side was slid to the right making a space between the halves.

The right side decal (not soaked yet, still on the backing) shows how hard it is to see the white decal on the white backing. Take it slow cutting them out inside the gray guidelines.

After the decals had dried they coat a coat of Future rolled on with a Q-tip brush.

On the left - 
You might want to double check the decal positions before soaking them. The shapes and angles are different.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Estes Lynx, Kit #7233, Build Part 16, Nose Cone & Engine Mount Paint

The nose cone mask went well except for a small lift on the right side.
I used a fine point Sharpie to color in the gap. Again the metallic paint is forgiving and after a little bit of Future, the touch up isn't noticeable.

Here's the mask for the engine mount.
There is two pieces of masking tape (sticky side out) in the engine mount tube to keep out any paint.

The engine hook has a strip of Scotch tape over it.
On the left is the first light coat of the metallic black. Right now it looks like a blackened silver color. Go light with your coats.

The middle shows some light sanding after the second coat.
Sanding between coats can help fill any gaps on the root edges of the vanes.

The third picture is after the final third coat, all the tape has been removed.
A great thing about this paint - It seems to dry to the touch in just five minutes.

Estes Series III Engine

These "Series III" engines were the predecessors of the 13mm "T" engines. In the 1970 catalog they were used in the Midget, Beta, Sprite, Birdie, and Star Blazer models.

It uses the older rating system, this engine is 1/2A.8-4s.
This would be the equivalent of today's 1/2A6-4. The "S" stands for Short.
The manufacturer date code says RWU.
Does anybody know when it was made?

Check out the thickness of the casing!
The nozzle bore is curved, not squared off like today's engines.
The loose ejection charge is held in by a creased card stock cap.
There is a small vent hole in the top. Often times these caps worked loose and you'd find some black powder granules in the mailing tubes.

These "S" engines were phased out in favor of the lighter 13mm "T" engines. They were introduced with the new Mini Brute line in the Fall of 1971. The "T" stands for Tiny.

MPC was the first to produce 13mm engines, Estes followed shortly thereafter.
Back then we just called them "half inch" diameter engines. The MPC 13mm engines were longer and available up to a B3-7m! The "M" designation stood for "Mini" or MiniJets.
After Estes got into mini engines, Centuri also produced the longer "B" 13mm engines.
After too many bad engines, the Centuri Mini's were shortened and only available in A power.
Mini engines were lighter and more efficient especially when used in BT-5 models. Many NAR records were broken when the 13mm engines were first produced.

This Series III engine was given to me by Lonnie Buchanon for some good blog fodder.
Thanks Lonnie!

UPDATE: According to this engine dating list: CLICK HERE
Doug Sams did the research and drew up the engine charts.
This 1/2A.8-4s engine was manufactured between 1964 - 1967.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Estes Lynx, Kit #7233, Build Part 15, Fix the Paint

After the model sat for two months I decided to tackle it again.

The lightly roughed up rudder fin was masked again and shot with the Rusto Metallic Night Black.
This time I ran my knife blade tip down the tape edge lines, cutting the paint edge and preventing tears. Cutting down the mask line isn't usually necessary, I just wanted extra assurance that the paint wouldn't lift and tear again.

The tape lift was much better this time, but the mask on the right side of the rudder was higher than the left side.

I didn't want to sand and mask it again.
Instead, I sprayed a scrap piece of clear decal material with the metallic black paint to make a decal patch piece.

On the left you can see the cut patch before being slid to the right over the white/black color separation line.

Here's the patch in place.
Enlarge the picture and you can see the piece. The metallic paint camouflages the edges very well.

New Scout Rockets?

Here's some variations on some Estes designs found on the website.

The SCOUT SPIRIT is 14" tall, looking a lot like the "Make it - Take it" model.
Six kits for $39.99, CLICK HERE

The SPACE EXPLORER is 22" tall, a reboot of the #3208 Richochet 
Six kits for $44.99, CLICK HERE

Scouts and rocketry go way back.
Centuri developed a scouting group pack featuring the "AKELA" rocket.
The model featured thick card stock fins that could be glued on 24 different ways.
This design evolved into the Estes Viking.

Check it out, visit JimZs - CLICK HERE