Saturday, April 30, 2016

Estes Mystery Parts Design Guess

From the Estes website, here's the parts that were shown for the upcoming Nike Smoke kit.

There's a lot of centering rings, two shrouds and an Honest John style nose cone. I assume that's the Mini Honest John nose cone.
There are three crescent shaped pieces that might fit the end of a tapered body tube piece.
Three trapezoid pieces could fit between the two tapered shrouds.

I played with the pictured pieces. Finding a place for all the centering rings was the challenge. Eight centering rings might be used to join the three tubes together. The upper cutaway drawing shows some of the centering rings.

The low end tube looks like a BT-60, the smaller tube in the center taper area is a 50, the upper overlapping tube is a 55.
Having the nose cone sit farther into a 55 tube would cover up the spin motors molded into the low end.
The tapered and capped outside tubes are cut from the second BT-55.

The fin grain dictates the shape position.

That forward tube has to be longer than what I drew. I'm probably WAY off.
Looking at this guess, I hope so!

Home Projects - No Rocketry Content Here!

Between music and rocketry projects I work on my house. Last year I started doing improvements.
When I bought my townhouse ten years ago, I was stuck with a lot of construction grade cheap faucets, lights and mirrors. I was ready for a refresh and upgrades.
I just added some back splash tile to my kitchen wall. The upper picture is the before.

Here's the after picture and a close up of the tile.
To my surprise the tile looked better in person than in the computer website picture. There are copper squares in-dispersed in each 12" X 12" piece.
I've still got to go back and touch up some grout. Considering it was my first attempt at doing tile, I was very happy with the final result.

Home Depot would have charged $400.00 for the install, not including the tile and grout. I only spent about $135.00 for the entire project.
Why didn't I completely cover the back center? I felt it would darken up the area too much. The wall needed a visual break.
It's a subtle change, but for me, a good one.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 7, Launch and Follow Up

Here's a picture of the first D12-3 launch of the 3" School Rocket, before the chrome trim was added. The picture is from the December 5th N.E.F.A.R. launch. Boost was arrow straight all looked good until ejection.

The Kevlar loop broke through the upper centering ring and the rocket came down in two parts.
This was a fluke - how could a shock cord break through a 1/8" thick plywood centering ring?
The nose cone descended on the 18" parachute and landed softly. No damage to the nose cone.

The body tube nosed in and hit the ground!
I thought the tube would be crimped and probably beyond repair. THERE WAS NO DAMAGE to the tube, except for some very light scratches. This is a strong tube, it looks to be about 1 1/2 times the thickness of a BT-60 with a .070" wall.
Looking inside the tube with a flashlight, the centering ring had broken through between the two tie-down holes. I had hoped to fly it again with an E9-4 but couldn't with the needed repair.

I called Bill at BMS and told him what happened. He agreed that the ejection charge had to of been a strong one. He didn't have this problem with his prototypes. While this pre-production model had a lightweight ply centering rings, the production kits will get heavier plywood centering rings.
I used an Estes style tri-fold mount for the repair.

UPDATE: The 3" School Rocket has flown a few more times with the E9-4 engine. It gets to a good, but manageable altitude, perfect for demonstrations. Slow off the launcher on the longer burning E9. This model is now a favorite, I have to buy more engines!

Again, this kit retails for $14.95!
At 28 3/4" tall it's almost 10" taller than the Estes Big Daddy - at half the price!
This one is highly recommended. You'll find it on the BMS website, CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 6, Chrome Trim Comparison - Finished

Simple, tapered chrome trim strips were applied on the right side of the fins. For me, trim on both sides of the fins would have been too much.

On the left is the before,
on the right is after the chrome trim.

Monokote Trim is an easy alternative to complex masking and a vibrant way to trim a rocket.
Look back on some Centuri sport models in the 1972 catalog for ideas - CLICK HERE.
You can overdo it, though.

New Estes Kit?

I don't know what this is . . .
When you go to the Estes website and look at the Upcoming Nike Smoke kit, this comes up as the parts picture. CLICK HERE and go to "Additional Images".

That is a Honest John nose cone. I don't recognize all those centering rings. The name decal looks like the atomic symbol and the word "Express", but I can't be sure. Somehow this picture got slipped in the Nike Smoke kit description.
Anybody have a clue as to what is is (or was?) 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 5, Stars Placement

Once again, the blogs posts came in out of order! Early this morning, #6 was posted. #5 was way down in the older posts.
Here's #5 answering the question posted by Neil W.

The star templates were taped to the chrome Monokote trim sheet and cut around with a new blade.

In the end I didn't use much of the chrome sheet. Many of the smallest stars were cut from the areas left between the larger stars.

Set the stars in place using the tip of your hobby knife. Don't place any stick on decal using your fingers.
Using just the knife tip leaves the underside of stickers cleaner and less likely to leave dirt and raised bubble areas.

The largest stars were purposely set over the nose cone / body tube seam.
Slide the nose cone all the way in before setting down an overlapping star. Burnish, then cut through the joint.

It just takes a moment to turn the cone to line up the star tips before flight.

Why Low Power?

On the NAR Facebook page, Mike Mann asked:

"I have a question for the masses. What keeps rocketeers in the low power side of the lobby? Money, nostalgia, etc? I personally love to see all the old classic models, and I have a few, but I find myself drawn to bigger and bigger rockets."

For me, plenty of reasons.
  • First up - I love watching mid and high power launches. I have great respect for the guys who successfully fly the big models. 
  • It seems the larger the rocket, the simpler the design. (Not all, but most.) Most mid and high power rockets seem to be 3FNC designs. I like doing detail work on the smaller models.
  • Money is a consideration. I can fly five models at a club launch for $15.00, instead of my entire budget going to just one flight.
  • I don't have the storage area for 4" diameter rockets.
  • I don't care to use epoxy or learn fiber glassing.
  • BP Dual deploy seems a bit daunting. I do like the Jolly Logic Chute Deploy, though.
  • And last (I'll catch some flack for this) - my BT-50 model with a C engine looks about the same at apogee as a larger mid power model. 
I was initially drawn to larger rockets when I got back into the hobby. I've built a few MPR and realized the parts were simply larger and heavier duty. Most all the same LPR construction techniques were used in both.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 4, Paint and Chrome Trim

The build is very straight forward and easy.
The 3/16" launch lug is glued and centered over the pre-etched lines on the body tube.

Bill asked for a simple paint scheme, Red, White and Blue.
Here's how the model looked for it's first flight, before I added the chrome trim.

I wanted to add some random chrome stars. These wouldn't be perfect stars. Cutting perfect five point stars isn't easy.
I always like the star decals on the old Estes Patriot and Shark models.

Some rough stencils were drawn up on card stock for templates.

These were cut out and taped onto the tube to get a better idea of the placement.

They start big on the top and get smaller towards the bottom.
There will be four lines of stars roughly following this pattern.

Hometown Rocket News

Edie, a best friend since we were five years old, sent me this via Facebook.
The article is from the Register Pajaronian, my hometown paper in Watsonville, California.
I had a route and threw 50 papers a day. The money earned (about 30 dollars a month) bought a lot of rockets.
The article looks like it might be a TARC competition.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Launch, Schoolyard, April 24, 2016

I haven't launched at the schoolyard for a few months. No real reason except I've been staying up late. Hitting the snooze button was just easier than a 7:00 a.m. launch time.
Today was all A engines.

An old reliable standby, the Hot Rod Rockets BELL BOTTOM flew first. For it's 21st flight, the A3-4t engine got a respectable altitude for the small field.
Nearing the 300' apogee there was a little wiggle as it slowed down, something to expect with a conical stability rocket.
At ejection the metallic streamer attachment string broke. Both the model and streamer fell separately with no damage.

The Odd'l Rockets prototype F-17 FIGHTER FLEET had a low powered A8-3 test flight.
The first run of decals are on now. Very stable with a slow turn during boost.
The A engine probably got to 250'. Ejection blew the 12" Odd'l parachute for a smooth descent and no damages on pickup.

My (Centuri) Estes FLUTTER-BY had a second flight with an A8-3.
Boost was straight to 250'. (The nose cone was glued in this time.)
At ejection both sections blew far apart. The tail section fell flat, almost looking like it was gliding. The upper half nosed in and fell slowly. I have to wonder if the clay nose weight is needed, probably for C engines. I wouldn't fly this one with anything over a B anyway. No "fluttering", whatever that means.
My second recovery separation was with my Quest VIPER. A loud boost Quest A6-4 took it to 300'. At ejection I was surprised to see only the nose cone under the 12" parachute.
The inset picture shows the charred break of the round Quest shock cord. This was the 18th flight for the Viper.
Here's the first launch of a new build. This has always been a favorite design, based on the OOP Thrustline Arapahoe.
This is the prototype KOKPELLI, downscaled to a BT-55 and 18mm power.
Today was an easy Estes A8-3, with an estimated altitude of 200'. the 12" Odd'l parachute brought it in with no damage. More B and C flights to come.

Five up, five down. Two models need the shock cords replaced, both an easy fix. Both models needing repairs were right around the 20 flight mark. To be safe, maybe I should double check or replace all my rocket shock cords right around their 15th  flights.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Today's 3" School Rocket Post, Part 1, Parts

An Email from Gary - 
"Your blog is missing Part 1 of the 3" School Rocket build."

Boy Gary, you are following this build pretty close! Thanks for pointing out the error.

I don't know why it happens, sometimes you hit "Post" and the blog software does a "Set date and time" from the day the original draft was first written. I never specify the day I want it posted, I publish in real time.
This build was done a few months back. The blog build was held off until the kit was put into production and for sale. Part 1 was on the blog, just a few months previous in the timeline.

Today it's fixed, in order! Scroll down and look for Part 1, Parts.

Opinions On Someone Else's Work

I was on Facebook yesterday.
Someone built a Mercury Atlas. It was a scratch build, I don't think any commercially available tubing was used.
Somebody responded saying that the transition was wrong.


Why not give credit to the builder that went out of his way to build and post a sport scale Mercury Atlas build! That's a very involved project.
Until that critic can build a scratch Mercury Atlas, he shouldn't comment on somebody's work. Hell, he shouldn't criticize anybody's work.

If I didn't receive some positive feedback growing up, I never would have pursued any hobbies - rocketry included.
Again, kudos and congrats on your Mercury Atlas build!

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 3, Fin Alignment

The fin tab doesn't reach all the way to the engine mount tube. When glued into the body tube notches it is plenty strong for D and E engines.

Bill (BMS) told me the kit might be offered with longer fin tabs as an option. Email Bill and let him know if your are interested in the longer TTW fin tabs.
The shorter fin tabs fit onto a 3" wide balsa sheet. A 4" wide balsa sheet would have increased the price of the kit.

On the left you can see how the glue was applied before sliding the tab into the body tube.

TIP: When looking over the trailing edges the fins should be in a straight line.Here I'm looking across two opposite fins to check their alignment. You can do this visual alignment with four fin models, not three fin rockets.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 2, Engine Mount

The engine mount assembly is straightforward, no surprises here.
The engine hook slot is laser cut, the centering rings glue onto the etched lines on the motor mount tube.

The Kevlar shock cord is tied with a bowline knot through the two holes in the upper centering ring.
You'll use the bowline knot a few more times in the model assembly.

The end of the engine mount tube end is flush with the 3" outside tube edge.
The spring steel engine hook overhangs the end by about 1/4".

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Build, Part 1, Parts

Everybody has rocket favorites, this is one of mine.
If you are a Big Daddy fan, you'll want to check this one out.
The 3" School Rocket is now available on the BMS website - CLICK HERE
There is a pull down menu at the center top, look for "School Rockets"
The instructions I drew up are there too -

The Mercury Engineering (BMS) 3" School Rocket is a big, 3" diameter stubby model built for D12-3 and E9-4 engines.
One of the main features of the model is no hobby knife or cutting is needed for construction!
(Well, except for the parachute) You'll only need wood glue and tape.
All markings for the centering rings, launch lug position and engine hook notch are already laser etched in the tubes!

I didn't know that Balsa Machining Service had bought Mercury Engineering. Bill had called me a while back and asked if I'd be interested in drawing up the instructions. I would also be involved in some flight testing.

The nose cone is BIG at 3" diameter and 11" long! Certainly a highlight of the kit. It's a bit loose in the body tube and needed two wraps of masking tape for a better fit.
The body tube is 11" long with laser cut fin slots.
The Kevlar provided is 750 lb.
The plywood centering rings have two holes in the upper ring for the Kevlar tie.
A 1" long engine spacer is included to allow for D12 and the longer engine E9 flights.
Four fins are 1/8" thick balsa, laser cut and through the wall. On this standard model the tabs don't reach or attach to the engine mount tube.

It was a surprise to find my design parachutes included in the kit!

This kit will probably be upgraded by many to use 29mm engines. Bill said he might offer a longer tab through-the-wall fin that'll glue to the engine mount tube. But that availability will depend on customer feedback.

The biggest news is the retail price - $14.95!!!
You'd normally pay more for that nose cone alone!
This is probably be the best bargain in rocketry today!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Finished


A large, clean, no-frills 3FNC rocket.
I do like the looks of the bigger version of the HiFlier. The small BT-20 HiFlier reminds me of old school 18mm minimum diameter models like the OOP Sky Hook.

The Rustoleum Metallic Red is a subtle upgrade but really shows up in the sunlight. The metallic specks are very fine and don't end up as a flat finish like other coarser "glitter" paints.

The white triangles on the fins decals are also carried into the rocket name decal and font - a smart design touch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mercury Engineering 3" Diam. School Rocket Now Available!

Here's the first page of the instructions I produced for the
BMS Mercury Engineering 3" SCHOOL ROCKET

To see the kit: CLICK HERE Look for "School Rockets" along the top of the first page.
For the instructions: CLICK HERE
The kit is now available and worth waiting for. A blog build of this model will start in a few days.
A great value and great demonstration rocket for only $14.95!

If you need instructions produced for your rocket kit, contact me at:

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Part 21, Paint Ends and Edges

Here's a final touch for any finishing obsessed builders.

The ends of the body tubes usually end up unpainted, with white edges.
This body tube was painted with Rusto Red Metallic. The paint is a little transparent, not much pigment. I was afraid the metallic paint wouldn't give very good coverage on the edge. I used a regular 2X Apple Red paint for the edges.
A small amount of paint was sprayed into a disposable mixing cup.
A Q-tip was dipped in the paint and the excess rolled off.
The Q-tip "brush" was rolled over the edge being careful not to get paint on the body tube sides.

In the picture there is no paint applied yet on the close side.

Here's the finished low end.
The nose cone end of the tube got the same treatment. This is a moot point to many but you'll see a sharper color separation when the black nose cone is seated in the body tube.

On the left you can see the CA glued edges inside the main tube and motor tube.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Part 20, Decals Part B - TIPS

After the surface is wetted, slide about 1/4" of the decal off the backing paper.
On this model, the rear edge placement is the most critical. Leaving the decal on the backing paper, the rear edge was visually spaced on the trailing edge cut.
When I was happy with the position, the backing paper was pulled and slid out from under the decal leaving it in place.

A wet paper towel was used to remove bubbles and wrinkles.
Gently smooth from the center out to the edges.

Hold the decal area under a bright light to see if there are any small bubbles under the surface.
Roll out the bubbles with a Q-tip. Don't brush the bubbles to the edge, roll the Q-tip pushing the bubbles out.

TIP: Be aware when applying decals on the opposite side of the fins. While the decals placed on the back side might seem set and stuck, sometimes fingerpressure can move the decal underneath the new one you are applying. Play it safe and let the "first side" decal dry a bit before applying the second one on the other side.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Part 19, Decals Part A - TIPS

I read forum posts about problems applying water-slide decals. Vendors use different suppliers for their decal printing. Some can be hard to transfer.
I've been using water slides since I was 6 years old, putting together my first plastic model. Experience does help - I'll try to offer a few tips.

The shape of these decals are a little misleading. The white area is hard to see against the white backing paper. Cut them close to the edge, be careful not to cut into the white areas.

Before soaking, set the decal on the fin to get an idea of the centering and spacing from the trailing edge.
My decal bottom was a little wider than the angle cut of the trailing edge.

Don't be impatient! Allow enough time for a decal to soak and release from the back paper.
I first soak the decal in water for about 30 seconds. Remember, every decal soak time can be different. a 30 second soak is a good starting point.
The picture shows the decal sitting on a paper towel. Letting the decal sit for a minute allows it to further relax and release from the backing paper.

Try to "rub" the decal and see if it slides from the backing paper. If it doesn't move, soak for another 15 seconds and let it sit on the paper towel again.
Test to see if the decal slides. If so, you are good to transfer onto the model. Don't remove it from the backing paper yet.

Rub some water on the surface. The water will be a surface lube allowing you to easily slide the decal to it's final position.
Set a decal on a dry surface and it might stick in the wrong position.
Continued next post . . 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Part 18, Second Build Mask - OOPS!

The first HiFlier XL paint mask went well. The tape pulled off clean and left a sharp mask line at the root edges.

My last can of Rusto 2X Gloss Black was running low and I was due to replace the spray cap button. I pulled the old cap, it was starting to spray unevenly.
A new nozzle was set on the can, I knew I had enough left to spray the fins on the second model.

After a few air-shots to be sure the new nozzle was okay, I aimed for the fins.
The nozzle cap got stuck in the down position! While I was trying to react I held the spray in one spot a little too long. That area developed an uneven surface and a drip!

After the paint was fully dry it was taken down with some old 220 grit.
400 grit followed until I couldn't see or feel the raised drip.

I'll have to re-mask, hit it with primer/filler and sand smooth.
Then a final shot with a new can of gloss black.

Estes Hi-Flier XL, #3226 Build, Part 17, Mask and Black Fins

Here's the mask for all fins to be painted gloss black.

Scotch tape strips went down first at the root edges, masking tape filled in the areas between the fins.

A plastic grocery bag is slipped over the top and taped to the body above the fins.

Here's the first HiFlier after the tape was pulled.
Everything looks good, on to the second HiFlier mask and paint.
Fingers crossed!