Saturday, February 28, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 7, More CWF Filling

The nose cone fit is loose in the clear payload section.
I'll build up the diameter the same way as the nose block with a coat of CWF.
I kept the CWF away from the new, sharp lip.
This will be sanded to a tight, friction fit in the payload tube.

I could have used masking tape but the shoulder gets gummy after a while.

With the filler/primer sprayed you can better see the inside leading edge angle joint.
Some 400 grit was wrapped around the stick part of a Q-tip to even out the rounded leading edge.

To round out the corner you can add a small fillet of Titebond M&TG.

What Should SEMROC Bring Back?

Forum posts have already been suggesting what Semroc should initially produce.
Most everybody wants parts. 
In 2012, Carl McLawhorn posted and let TRF readers know what were once the top selling kits at that time.

By quantity: (all over 1000)
1. Boid
2. Laser-X
3. Saturn 1B
4. Golden Scout
5. Mars Lander
6. Swift (A 3FNC model, not the boost glider)

By sales: 
1. Saturn 1B
2. Mars Lander
3. SLS Laser-X
4. Hydra VII
5. Laser-X
6. Orbital Transport

The Boid and Swift are typically bulk sellers to school and youth groups.

3FNC models are not the biggest sellers.
From both lists the top sellers are the Saturn 1B, Laser X and Mars Lander.

A new message on the Semroc website:
"Semroc has been sold and moved to Dayton, Ohio. Randy Boadway long time rocketeer and owner of eRockets will also be taking on Semroc. We plan on operating both eRockets and Semroc as two seperate entities and share basic resources.
Semroc will continue to produce some of the best quality flying model rocket kits in the world.
February 2015 has been an exciting month for Semroc. The 8 containers of products, parts, shelving and equipment was moved from North Carolina to Dayton, Ohio. At this point we are moving everything into the existing eRockets building. It is a tight fit but we have everything inside the building now. We are in the process of putting all of the parts away and will soon fire up the equipment to make sure everything works prior to production starting.
We are already starting to contribute to improvements in the existing line of kits. All future Kevlar shock cords will be switching to braided Kevlar rather than twisted and waxed. Tape strips for parachutes will also switch to unbreakable nylon rather than paper."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 6, Some CWF Filling

The shoulder edge on the replacement nose cone wasn't very sharp.
I painted filler just over the edge. The clear payload tube was slid on and the tube edge pushed the CWF up into a bead. Push and turn, then removed the tube.
This bead of filler raised the outside diameter of the shoulder edge.

After it dries the bead of filler will be sanded down.
Slide the clear tube back on to check how much should be sanded off and try to match the diameters.
Don't sand down the CWF shoulder with the clear tube in place!
Sand, slide on the clear tube, check, remove the tube and sand again if needed.
The fit of the nose block was too loose in the clear tube.
The lower half of the block got a wrap of masking tape.
The upper half got a brushed coat of CWF.
After that dried a little sanding got the diameter to a good tighter fit.

This rough look of the block under the clear tube will be covered later with a coat of paint.
The block fit in the lower BT-50 heavy wall tube was very good.

CA Glue and Teflon Tubing

I use Teflon tubing for more control when applying thin CA glue.
I'm fortunate to have a hobby store close by that sells the tubing in the right diameter for use in the CA nozzles. Don't ask me what the diameter or suppliers are, I did a quick check online and can't figure out what the right Teflon tube is. Check with your local hobby store.

On the right is a new nozzle. The tip is closed and must be cut off with a sharp blade for the glue to flow.

To fit the Teflon tube applicator you have to shave off very thin slices of the tip until you reach the right hole diameter.
Like I said, shave off very thin pieces while checking the fit of the Teflon tube. When you have it right, the tube will be a friction fit in the nozzle hole.
Notice the Teflon tube is cut at an angle to allow easier insertion.
You might find it easier to push the tube in place with some tweezers.
I leave the tube long and cut the end off after it is 1/4" inside the glue bottle tip.
Cut the exposed end off at about 3/8" to 1/2" at an angle.

TIP: After using the glue, squeeze the bottle sides to blow any excess glue out of the Teflon tube. Hold a paper towel over the top of the tube tip when blowing out the excess.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 5, Fins, Leading Edge Rounding

The laser cutting didn't quite go through the back of the wood!
Not a big deal, a sharp blade and straightedge freed up the fins.
The instructions say to round the leading edges of the fins, the outside and trailing edges remain square. How do you get rounded leading edges of the "dorsal" fin (Part H) and main fin at the corner joint?

You could sand them both round after the two pieces are glued together but I prefer to round the smaller, dorsal fin first. It's hard to get into that corner. Sand it round now and it's less work later.

Don't pre-round the larger main fin. When both are glued together you'll use the dorsal fin as a inside corner sanding guide.

On the left is the first dry fit of the two piece fin against a straightedge. The gluing edge doesn't match up.

After some truing up with a sanding block you can see the better fit in the inset picture.

Pins are set into the cardboard underneath to press the two pieces together. Don't press the metal pins too tight against the fins, the pins might dent the wood edges.

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 4, Fins, Leading Edge Rounding

The leading edge of the smaller dorsal fin is already rounded.
With a sanding block I'm sanding in a 45 degree "corner" into the larger main fin.
Don't sand any more off the dorsal fin. Going down the rounded edge, use your block to "knock" into the main fin balsa cutting the small 45 degree notch.

The leading edge of the main fins are rounded. Be careful when you get close to the 45 degree notch already at the fin joint, that is your "stop point".
After applying filler the angled notch probably won't be as sharply defined. That's okay, the transition between the two pieces will probably be smoother than you would get otherwise.

Looking ahead - 

The engine hook overhangs the back end of the tube.
If you've ever built a Estes Goblin, the rocket didn't stand up on its fins. It wobbled on the engine hook.
I'll recess the engine mount tube (not even with the main air frame BT-50 tube) so the model will stand on the fin trailing edges.

Coupled Tubes?

Sometimes it doesn't make sense.
In some kits, the main air frame body tube is in two sections joined by a coupler.

The tube joint might be at a color separation point like on the Estes Cosmic Explorer. TIP: If the separation joint falls on a color separation, don't glue the tubes together during initial construction. Glue them together after spraying. and you'll have an easy color separation.

But on models like the Monarch, it seems the tubes are in two pieces only for shipping purposes. Estes could fit the tubes into a smaller bag and more kits into a shipping box. This is just a guess on my part.
This leaves the builder with the job of filling the tube end joints.

Some minimum diameter Centuri kits came with two part body tubes. This illustration is from the Centuri Scram Jet. In those kits the shorter tube was to the rear, the coupler served as the engine block. This saved first time builders from problems setting an engine block 2 1/2" from the end of the shorter tube.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 3, Long Nose Block and Engine Mount

The newer Estes kits have nose blocks that are 2" long.
The old 50 tube nose blocks were 1" long. Even back then it felt a bit short with only 1/2" on either side.
I'll compromise and cut this block to 1 1/2" for 3/4" exposed to join up the tubes.

1/2" inch was cut off the 2" long nose block with a razor saw leaving a short 1/2" block.
I'm building two kits so I have two short pieces. These will be glued together and thrown into the spare parts box.
The thin BT-20 blue engine mount tubes will be replaced with Centuri style ST-7 tubes. They are thicker, stronger and like the original kit.
The green adapter ring will need some inside peeling to fit the wider ST-7 tube.
A channel strip was also cut from the inside to clear the engine hook.

This is a dry fit to check the fit of the long adapter channel fit over the engine hook.
Cutting the channel takes away friction and compressing of the adapter and engine tube.

Here's the finished engine mount.
The Kevlar line was tied under the top bend of the engine hook, Semroc style.

Note the tied loop is long enough so the knot ends up over the top of the tube.
There is very little room between the tube diameters and the knot might get into the way when the mount is glued in.
The tail end was pushed back through the loop to hold it down against the engine mount tube.

Centuri Rocketry Exploration Set (Approximate?) Altitude

The Centuri Rocketry Exploration set was introduced in the 1977 catalog.
Two "base" models were included, a one or two stage ST-7 based model and a ST-16 based rocket.
The manual guided you through different launch scenarios using both models.

Centuri had sent me this set for review. I didn't remember that a ping pong ball was included in the box.
This page showed the suggested X-16 model flights.
The ping pong ball used to get the approximate altitude.

"When the parachute ejects at the peak of flight, a ping-pong ball is also released. As it fall to the ground it accelerates (for less than a second) to a speed of 30 ft/sec. The ball is very light and offers so much air friction that at 30 ft/sec. it reaches "terminal velocity" and descends at this constant rate.

To measure this atltitude it is necessary to observe how long it takes from the parachute ejection to when the ball hits the ground.
Multiply the number of seconds by 30 and that product is the altitude in feet, even in a breeze."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 2, Replacement Parts

The body tube is a standard thin walled BT-50 and prone to bends and crimps. It will be replaced with a thick wall T-50H from BMS.

On the left is the kit supplied BT-50. The clear payload tube is wider and overhangs the BT-50.
The inset picture shows the thick wall BT-50. It's a much better match to the payload tube diameter.
The thick wall tube has an outside diameter of .990, not quite (but closer) to the Centuri ST-10 at 1.04" diameter.

I'm also replacing the BNC-50K style Alpha nose cone with a parabolic custom cone from BMS.
It's about 1/4" longer and closer to the original Centuri kit shape. On the left is the kit nose cone, the inset shows the replacement. Cutting 1/4" from both sides gives an additional 1/2" of payload area.
Besides that, it just looks better. Why bother with a clear tube if half of it is filled with balsa?

Lonnie B's Conversion Chart

Lonnie Buchanon made a conversion chart for upscales and downscales using Estes body tubes.

"If you build upscales and downscales of Estes kits, you may be interested in a chart I have posted here that helps you quickly find the multiplier to convert measurements from one Estes body tube size to another. In other words, if you want to make a downscale Red Max from BT-55, you choose BT-60 in the left column and then go across the row to BT-55 to find your multiplier (in this case, .8094), then multiply all the measurements by that number. If you're printing decals or a fin tracing, change the multiplier to a percentage (in this case, 80.94%) in the Print window."

Very handy. To see the original TRF post, CLICK HERE
(To print your own chart, go to the TRF post for links to the files. I can't post PDFs and XLX files on the blog.)
Thanks Lonnie!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 1 Parts

All the parts are standard and of good quality.
For a while it was rare to find kits with clear payload section tubes. I'm glad to see they made a comeback.

Part of interest:
The laser cut fins didn't get cut all the way through the wood.
While you should never just punch fins off the sheet, these will take a few passes with a sharp knife to free them.

Semroc Orders Log-In

I was able to log into the Semroc website and looked at my old orders.
I got back into the hobby in 2006. Below are the first kits I ordered, in order.
It's easy to see I was re-living my teen years by picking up Centuri kits and a few others I had always wanted.
This list doesn't show all the parts I've ordered, just the kits. Orders are separated by a space.
Sometimes I order two of a kit, one for my active flying fleet, another built to sell on Ebay.
Semroc has offered free kits in the past.

QtyItem DescriptionSub Total
1KV-16  Javelin Model Rocket Kit - $8.50 $8.50
1KV-58  The Point! Model Rocket Kit - $7.50 $7.50

1KV-56  SLS Explorer Model Rocket Kit - $31.00 $31.00
1Rawhide  Free

1KA-1  ThunderBee Model Rocket Kit - $7.00     $7.00
1KV-33  Laser-X Model Rocket Kit - $15.00 $15.00

2KV-4  Golden Scout Model Rocket Kit - $10.00     $20.00

1KA-4  Astro-Jr Model Rocket Kit - $11.50 $11.50

2XES-K34  Nighthawk xKit Model Rocket Kit - $15.00 $30.00
1Astro-Jr  Free

2KV-53  BatRok Model Rocket Kit - $12.00 $24.00

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Show Business Isn't Pretty!

I did a show in Lake Placid, Florida on the evening of February 21.
It's Sunday, the next day and I haven't even unloaded my car yet.

I've started painting the white undercoats on the Pershing and I get a frantic phone call from my agent:
"Chris, where are you? You've got a show in 15 minutes at Lazy Days in Fort Myers!"
She asked: "How long would it take you to get to the show?"
My response: "It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive!".

Here's the email from my agent from last December 29 - 
"It looks like Lazy Days may need to cancel the show on Feb. 22nd. They have a conflict with a number of people away from the park on a cruise.
I'll let you know."

My response: 
"I understand these things can happen.
Let me know if they are interested in re-scheduling the show."
Chris Michaels 

In a later phone call: According to my agency, the client told her in December the show was cancelled. The client doesn't remember ever saying that. 
The venue management is mad at me and the agency. Neither of us will probably ever work for them again!
EDIT: The agency called, the venue wants to re-book the show on Sunday March 1!

Seattle NARCON and Model Rocket Display

The Seattle NARCON opened their long awaited Model Rocket Display this past weekend.
Here are some pictures from the NAR Facebook page by Jim Wilkerson.

The G. Harry Stine Archive boxes ready for unloading. I can see as many as 26 boxes.

The "Fusillade display" showing many different rocket styles.
The P.O.N.G. I built for Custom Rockets is to the upper left.
Directly below the PONG is my second model, an Estes RANGER.
Interesting - they put both of my builds on the same wire!

The NAR board and VIP group.
On the left is Lee and Betty Piester.
In the middle (in purple pants) is Gleda Estes. To her left is Bill Stine. Two more to her right is Vern Estes.

Centuri Payloader II, Background Part 2

In doing a little search before the build I came across the old Centuri Instructions: CLICK HERE
The Centuri fins are a different two piece glue joint, it's longer down the root edge side. The Estes re-issue kit has a smaller triangle glued onto the upper leading edge.

TRIVIA: Many of the Centuri kits released before 1971 suggested to fill the balsa grain before gluing the fins onto the body tube.
This instruction sheet is dated from 1969.
Maybe that's when I started doing it this way. 
When filling the grain after assembly, I was never happy with the way the balsa looked around the root edge / fillet area.

More stuff to think about:
Some forum posts comment that the water based CWF warps balsa fins. The warp usually goes away when the other side of the fins is treated.
When filled off the model, fins treated with Sanding Sealer also warped! Dope based paints shrink and continue to shrink even after you think the sealer is dry.

In later instructions you are told to mask and paint over the clear payload section.
Many builders will paint the balsa shoulder underneath the ends of the clear tube. It makes more sense (and a better fit) to paint over the clear tube. I've always done it this way.

More TRIVIA: The 1971 catalog CLICK HERE says the Payloader II will reach 2,000 feet with a C6-5 engine.
The 1976 catalog CLICK HERE downgrades the performance stating: "Streaking as high as 1,000 feet!"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Centuri Payloader II, Background Part 1

I just purchased two Estes (Centuri) PAYLOADER II kits from Ebay.
I had always like this design since first seeing it in the Centuri Catalogs.
These models were not in the most recent Estes clearance sale and are out of stock from some vendors.
The EBAY buy it now price of $9.99 each was a good incentive considering the Estes retail price is $21.79!

The first Payloader was introduced in 1964 and was 15" tall.
It was a ST-7 based diameter model with three fins.

In 1966 the newly designed Centuri Payloader II is now 18.5" tall. The Estes re-issue is 17.0" tall.
The Centuri kit used a ST-10 tube. (1.04" dia.) The Estes kit includes the thinner walled BT-50 tube (.976" dia.)
If this were a true (slight) downscale, the BT-50 sized Payloader II should have been 17.45" tall. But it's close enough. The balsa nose cone in the Estes kit looks to be shorter, like an Alpha BNC-50K style. I have a longer BMS replacement.
My version will be a close to catalog build and including the Centuri logo and PAYLOADER II decal, plus the vertical black stripes between the fins as shown in the Centuri instructions. Estes includes the stripes but doesn't mention where they should go.
The thin walled BT-50 will probably be replaced with a thick walled BT-50.

New Shroud / Lug Slot? TIP, Part 2

Here's the fit of a regular shroud slot with straight sides around a 1/8" launch lug.
On the left side picture you can see the corners lifting off the body tube.
This is the fit of the new "teardrop" shape lug slot.
The shroud fits around and under the top end of the lug.
A moot point to some, but it's a better fit and easier to fillet and finish.
The picture shows the shrouds dry fitted, no glue yet. If the shroud were glued, the top ends of the lug slot would have an even tighter fit around the lug.
The final shape was found after cutting and forming about ten shrouds! 

Underneath, the FLARE will get a second layer ring of card stock to reinforce the open end. It's not really a nested "Super Shroud" but will help prevent damage on a hard landing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Shroud / Lug Slot? TIP, Part 1

I've been designing a new Odd'l Rocket called the FLARE.
It's a conical stability model to replace the Powered FLIC in the two model Combo Kit. (Flics are no longer available from Quest.)
In some kits, the fit of the lug through the shroud slot isn't good. I wanted to improve the shape and fit of the lug slot.

Trying to set a launch lug through a tail end shroud can be hard.

In the picture, the shroud pattern at the top shows the typical straight sided cut. This is supposed to fit around the launch lug going through the top end of the shroud.
Below is a new teardrop shape that will fit around and hug the sides of the lug.

Here's an enlargement to show the shape.
Pencil lines were extended outside the edge.

The smaller top taper allows the shroud to go around and a little underneath the top of the lug.

Don't bother cutting out the small hole with a hobby knife. It's too small and will never come out round or cut clean.
Punch out the hole with a rotary punch. Finish the side cuts with scissors. Cut slow and join the side cut with the side of the punched hole.

TLP Pershing #K046 Build, Part 39, Launch Lugs

Okay, I'm a low power guy, I still use launch lugs. I know, I should be using rail buttons. This model will get 3/16" lugs.
The TLP instructions don't mention the position of the lug. Forum posts have said that TLP leaves that up to the builder.
The kit supplied lug looks like a plastic soda straw sprayed with a flat finish paint. I'll substitute two regular 3/16" diameter x 2" long lugs.

The lug seams get filled off the model with CWF.
This lug was slipped over a dowel. A wrap or two of masking tape made a tighter fit over the dowel.
With the lug on the dowel you can paint the entire lug without getting filler on your fingers.

I couldn't find the Pershing Center of Gravity in the instructions or online.
I'll split the two lugs and place them on the flat sides of the fin pads.
This hides the lugs - somewhat.

The will be a delay on more posts and finishing the Pershing. In Orlando, it's too cold to paint right now! I'll get back on it when it warms up a bit.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

TLP Pershing #K046 Build, Part 38, Dang!

I play guitar so I've got fingernails. I try to be careful when sanding but I scratched and scarred a balsa fin pad!

TIP: A water based filler (like CWF) won't stick to the gray primer.
Squadron Putty has solvents (sticks and fills plastic model joints) and was used on the scratches.
While the putty was still wet (it dries quickly) the excess was taken off with a flat blade knife.

Here's the pad after sanding.
The white putty is easy to see against the gray primer filler.

Old Estes A3-6t Engines

Lonnie B gave me these engines at a recent R.O.C.K. club launch.
They are Estes A3-6t engines from the late 1970s.
(Correction - made in 1983)

Estes no longer makes the A3-6t engines, there just isn't room for a long delay in the casing.
Over the years black powder has changed. It takes more BP to get the engine up to the proper thrust.
In the inset picture you can see the clay ejection cap is almost to the end of the 1 3/4" long engine.

TRIVIA: The "t" designates "tiny" engines. 13mm MPC and Centuri used an "m" to say "mini". MPC named theirs Mini-Jets, Centuri and Estes called them Mini Engines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All I Need . . .

. . . is more rocket kits!

My Estes Clearance order came a few days ago.
I got three of the BT-55 based bulk packs.
BT-55 kits have always been a favorite. The 55 tube diameter and wall thickness make for very strong models.
I like the Hornet and Centurion designs. I'm not too fond of the Monarch. The Monarch kits will make great starts for kit bashes.
Oh yeah, that's a Leviathan laying down in front.

Have you noticed how many have gotten into the Estes resale rocket business on Ebay?
The clearance prices are too good to pass up.

The shipping box was a recycled kit container from China.
I hate Chinese cardboard, it's not anywhere near as strong as US made boxes. I think the Chinese boxes are only made for one time use.
The other side was pushed in. I was concerned about crushed body tubes but everything inside was fine.

Hey Estes, if you are listening . . . 
Now that you are back in the mail order business, why not have a stamp made saying:
"From the Model Rocket Capital of the World!"
It would be very retro, just like the newer parachutes.

I opened one of the Monarch kits. It has a two piece body tube and red coupler.
The coupler wouldn't slide into the adjoining tubes without sanding and rounding of the coupler edge. Way too tight!