Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Estes Executioner Returns!

From a YORF post, found on the Estes website by Turbofireball - CLICK HERE

Estes Long Tom #3016 Build, Part 3, Parts Prep

The nose cone was a little banged up! The tip wasn't round.

One body tube end had a rough cut. Always check the tube ends and touch up with a sanding block if needed.

The balsa adapter sides were rounded at the wide end. I marked it with a pencil where it is curved.

200 grit on a sanding block brought it to the correct, flat profile.

The blue engine mount tubes are thin.
A strip of paper was cut and a glue stick adhered the wrap.

One wrap of copy paper strengthens the open end of the mount.
The ring in the inset picture looks crooked but it is straight.

Waxing A Launch Rod? TIP

On TRF, a post mentioned sanding a launch rod to remove corrosion.
Sanding is pretty rough on a launch rod considering some rods are now made of aluminum. Most use a very fine steel wool to clean them off followed by a wipe of spray silicone.
On my home system I wipe off the rod to remove any exhaust residue. Some fine oil is dripped into a paper towel and the rod gets wiped down. I've used the same launch rod for years and hundreds of launches.

From TRF, Neil W posted:
I think I (fairly recently) read someone suggesting rubbing wax paper on the rod to slick it up a bit. I thought that sounded interesting, but haven't tried it and don't know if there's any potential negatives.
That's an interesting idea! As kids we'd rub wax paper on our swing set slide. The wax did transfer and the slide was almost too fast!

For a very un-scientific test, I tried sliding an old rocket over my old launch rod. There was very minor roughness felt.
I rubbed a scrap of wax paper down the rod then slide the rocket on the rod again. 
The rocket slide was smoother on the rod! 

Who knows, maybe the wax from the was paper might help prevent corrosion or help seal a steel rod from rust. The waxed paper is now in my range box.

EDIT: Neil W sent a link to the original TRF post from Hornet Driver: 
" . . . As far as the problem of binding goes, I oversize the lug just a bit so it slides smoothly but you just can't beat a nice true rod to solve that problem. I do like to polish my (launch) rod with a handful of wax paper. It keeps the oxidation down and smooths out the surface.--H

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Estes Long Tom #3016 Build, Part 2, Engine Mounts

If you've never built a two stage model before:
The engine block (Part B) goes to the bottom of the booster.

On the upper stage mount:
The engine block goes to the top.
It's very important to keep track of where the engine blocks are.

I use my sanding block to press the engine block into the glue.
The flat surface of the block insures the block and tube ends are even.

The ring with the notch goes to the top of the mounts.
On the lower booster, the notch was patched with the nub left left on the punched out center piece.
On the upper mount the notch is left open for a Kevlar tie.

The patch was glued and made even and level with tweezers.

Here's how the engine mounts will lay out. From the outside, they both look the same.
TIP: Mark the blue tubes "Rear" and "Front" so you won't glue them in wrong. I've done that before, play it safe and mark them now. (Yeah I know, I should have properly labeled them forward and aft.)
(Between the two mounts there is no engine hook. That is just a reflection from the backside of my  straightedge ruler.) 

Estes Nike X Kit #1270 Inspiration

Sometimes you find design inspirations when doing image searching.
When the Nike X kit was introduced in 1975, the Estes designers didn't have access to the internet. They were going off what few pictures were released at the time.

While looking up pictures of the Sprint ABM I ran across this.
You can bet the Spartan ABM was the inspiration for the Estes Nike X kit ,#1270.
You can see the instructions courtesy of JimZs; CLICK HERE

The roll pattern was copied. The nose cone fins were made smaller and set back onto the body tube. They looked more like small conduits now. Estes instructions called them a "balsa fairing detail".
The "openings" beneath the middle fins were a simple decal wrap.
A great design based on the real thing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Estes Long Tom #3016 Build, Part 1, Parts

Here's the parts for the Long Tom build.
This is another rocket I never got around to building when in my teens. I remember liking the looks of it in the Centuri catalog. Most parts are good, the nose cone and transition are balsa.

Parts of interest:
The centering rings are generic and have a slot cut for an engine hook. This staged model doesn't use engine hooks.

One of the two laser cut wood sheets looked discolored like it had some water damage.

The decal sheet had red stripes for the fins but the face card illustrations doesn't show them. If the fins are painted black these red stripes might not show up - if there is no white undercoat.

Cracked Root Edge Joints? TIP

I've made a resolution not to buy any more rockets where wood fins are glued to plastic. Everybody has had fins break off on a hard landing. Fins glued to plastic seem to be more prone to this. Wood to Kraft tube is a stronger more flexible joint. Wood to plastic isn't as good a bond and doesn't flex.

On the left is my well worn Quest Striker AGM with 13 flights on it. The low half of the fins continually crack away from the plastic tail cone. The instructions said to use CA to attach them but super glues get brittle over time. These root edges were cracked after the first flight.

Here's the newer Estes Honest John after the first flight. All four fins have cracks at the root edges. The entire root is set against the plastic blow molded tail cone. The fins are through the wall with fin tabs glued to the motor mount tube.

I'm curious if anybody else has had these cracks where the fins are glued to plastic. Leave a comment if you've noticed these breaks at the root edge on your models.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Estes (Centuri) Long Tom Background

The next build is the Estes Long Tom, #3016 from the Estes Classic Series of kits produced in 2008.

The Centuri Long Tom was introduced around 1971. This picture shows the 1972 Centuri catalog page which matches the paint scheme of the Estes "Classics" re-issue kit.
To see the Centuri page, CLICK HERE

At that time, the Long Tom was probably the tallest two stage kit produced at almost three feet tall. The original Long Tom was 35.5" tall, the Estes reissue kit stands 33.25".

Notice the red stripes on the booster fins. The Estes kit includes some red decals on the sheet but only enough for one side each of the four fins. The face card and instructions make no mention of the red decal stripes.

The Centuri kit featured "Pass-Port" staging and an ejection baffle.
Pass-Port Staging was a Centuri Patent exclusive. The stages were joined by a coupler with two holes in either side. The holes vented off some of the compression gasses allowing a split second longer for the upper stage to ignite.
If you've ever had an upper engine not fire you can appreciate this simple solution.
Many gap staging rockets (two-stagers with a distance between motors) rely on this for ignition of the second stage.
This newer Estes version uses a simple "pop and go" tape wrap around the booster and upper stage engine.

STM-12 Kitbash? Maybe Not - EDIT!!!

EDIT: I did this post before I had a chance to see the STM-12 kit. It isn't a good candidate for an AMRAAM build.
Sure it looks a bit like the AMRAAM, but the STM-12 kit only has three fins! The AMRAAM has four.
The STM-12 body tubes are already slotted for three fins. You'd have to buy new BT-60 body tubes - and maybe a shorter nose cone so forget I ever brought it up!

The Estes STM-12 is on clearance right now on the Estes website for $6.99: CLICK HERE
I like the looks of the STM-12 but it could be kit bashed into an sport scale AAMRAM pretty easily.

Here's the Peter Alway scale data I found after a search:

Let's see - 
The STM-12 body tube is a BT-60 at 1.637" diameter.
The AAMRAM is 7" diameter.
Divide 7" by 1.637" to get a 4.27 scale factor.
Simply divide all the measurements in the Alway drawing by 4.27 to get the build sizes needed.

Divide 144.25 by 4.27, the model will be 33.78" tall.
The STM-12 kit is 44.4" tall so you could use the tubes supplied in the kit.
New fins might have to be cut out, the trailing edges of the STM-12 fins aren't flat.
That nose cone looks long, but for a sport scale model it'll be close enough.
Those blue bands could be done with a strip of Monokote trim. Decals look to be all black, so home decal printing is easy.
With the forward fins, the OOP Estes AAMRAM kit had two pats of clay to go into the nose cone. THE STM-12 kit doesn't require any clay.
A little time with a calculator and you'd be good to go! Sure there would be some cutting and adjustments. but for $6.99 it's a good start for a semi-scale rocket!

Before you order the STM-12 kit on clearance, bear in mind many bagged kits have had malformed body tubes. The kits are bagged up in China. The tubes are packed tight in bags that are too small.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Pink Max Finished

The "Kitty and Crossbones" fin decal didn't get the white layer underneath, it would be too hard to cut it accurately. It's not really noticeable over the light pink paint.
It's a cute rocket and a good companion to the standard size Pink Max rocket.

Steve Lindeman's Little Me-Me

The Estes Jetliner is one of the models currently on clearance for $4.59.
I've read a few reviews. Some have found it under powered with the A10-3t engine. It reminds me of the old BT-60 based Goonybirds. The Goonys also needed more power than the 13mm engines provided.

Steve Lindeman did a build of the Jetliner on - CLICK HERE
Steve built the Jetliner for 18mm engines but kept the 13mm engine mount and made a spool rocket out of it.
"On a side note: Take the unused original motor mount and drill two holes in line on the opposite side from the clip large enough so that can slide it up and down a launch rod as a spool rocket. I call mine "Little Me-Me" and the kids love it. Have thought of building a few more of these from scratch to give away to kids at the park on the 4th of July. Just the sort of thing to spark their interest in the hobby. Always trying to play forward."

Great idea Steve!
This spool is simply a launchable engine mount not glued into a rocket body. No launch lug is needed, punch two holes in the centering rings for the launch rod. 
Use "0" delay (booster engines) or engines with a very short delay. These spools are normally stable and have tumble recovery, so heads up! I might take a look in the spare parts box and make one.
Be sure to pick out flat wide centering rings that are much wider than the engine tubing - 5/60 or equivalent.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Alien Invader On Ebay

The Estes Classic
is up for auction on Ebay

To see the listing running through next Wednesday night: CLICK HERE
Stop by make a bid and support the blog!

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Part 10, Streamer

The supplied streamer looks to be cut from table top covering plastic. This plastic sheet is textured.
Usually one side has a rougher texture than the other. Run your fingers down the streamer to feel which side is smoother.
TIP: The smooth side will adhere better to the tape set over the shock cord.

The instructions say to use masking tape to attach the streamer. Past experience has showed that masking tape easily tears at ejection.

I use clear packing tape. Be sure the smoother side of the streamer is facing the sticky side of the tape.  It is cut a little wider than masking tape would be. Packing tape is stiffer than masking tape but will certainly hold better.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Y'All

So . . . I go to the Apogee website and saw their Thanksgiving banner. Notice any similarity?
If you didn't pick it out, the turkey feathers are rockets. My Thanksgiving blog header was from a few years ago. Sometimes I recycle them.

So tell Mr. Timothy Van Milligan to expect a letter from my lawyers. (Now that's the holiday spirit!)
But, I would be willing to settle out of court for a bulk pack of B6-4 engines.

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Part 9, Decal Application

I still have some grain to fill after the white undercoat was sprayed.
It was hit with more CWF rubbed in with a finger and sanded to surface.
The model was sprayed pink, the nose cone black, no masking!

The "Hits" decal ended up bit wide. I cut off one vertical row off the right side for a better visual fit.

I use a damp Q-tip to roll the air bubbles from the center out to the edges.

The skull and crossbones upper wrap should have a white layer underneath. I can't print white so a white band will go down first.

It's simply cut from a white decal sheet and set down first before the skull and crossbones wrap.
I cut a piece a little smaller than the outside edges of the wrap.
The wrap pieces were set down dry to make sure of the position before transferring.
The white band is soaked and set down first. Be ready, without a clear coat (not really needed for the white underlay) the white decal feels slimy after soaking.

Be sure and let the white decal totally dry before doing the skull and crossbones wrap. The inset picture shows the finished decals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Part 8, Decals From Decals, Tips Part B

The Excelsior art is good but I didn't like the layout of the "kills" decal. The spacing and art sizing seemed off. I wanted something closer to the layout on the standard Red Max model.
I played around with the "bugs" and came up with the art on the right side. Some bugs were resized, some flipped.

I also played with some of the fin decal sizes to get them closer to the scale of the larger Red Max model.

More decal information: Why are some decals printed on white back paper and others on blue backed paper? Both colored papers work the same when soaking and transferring onto the model. On a blue backed decal paper you can actually see a white ink decal.

On some recent Estes kit decals, you have to hold the decal up to a bright light to find the white decals on the sheet!
The upper part of the picture is the white backed decal sheet in normal room light.

The inset picture shows the white invisible decals are revealed when held close to a light bulb.
TIP: Before cutting up a white backed decal sheet, always do a light bulb scan. It's too easy to cut and ruin a usable white decal.

Larger Semroc Parachutes

I've run across larger Semroc parachutes in some of the bigger models. Most Semroc kits come with 1 mil. printed 12" chutes. This 16" yellow parachute came in the Starship Excalibur model.

The chute plastic is interesting, it has a fine grid texture on both sides. It's probably cut from sheet plastic table covering.

The shroud line attachment tabs are two piece.
At the top are the Tyvek reinforcement pieces. These are "sandwiched" inside a fold of sticky backed paper seen on the left.

The smaller Tyvek pieces center over one of the holes in the self-adhesive tabs.

I'm not touching the adhesive.
It's easier to hold the tab sticky side up on a knife blade. The Tyvek piece is held and placed with tweezers.

The Tyvek side of the tab is set and stuck to the underside of the chute corner.
The tab is folded over and stuck directly over the lower half.

NOTE: After the finished parachute sat for a day the self adhesive tabs were lifting off the plastic sheet. The sticky tabs don't adhere well to the textured sheet. I might have to substitute another parachute. Better yet, go with this parachute and remember to press down the sticky tabs before flight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Part 7, Decals From Decals, Tips, Part A

This is one of those posts where I happened on something that could help in making decals for cloned models. Some online decal scans have light blue or discolored backgrounds. Using the "Threshold" setting in your photo software could really clean up your home print decals.

One of the two Mini Red Max kits I'm building will be a Der Pink Max version. I don't have any downscale decals, just the decals that are already on another finished larger Pink Max model. The decals are set down over pink paint.

I didn't really know how to pull the art off the finished model. The original art was produced by Excelsior Decals. Excelsior is no longer producing decals.

I did some experimenting with my GIMP photo editing software.
GIMP is a free photo editing software package. I use it for all the pictures seen on the blog. To get the free software: CLICK HERE 
First a picture of the decaled fin was taken with my digital camera.

Drop the picture into the Gimp screen. Under "Colors", go to "Threshold".

Threshold automatically drops out the pink and white paint colors and leaves just the dark black.
This picture can be copied into Corel Draw to make a decal sheet.

Please note: This "threshold" tool will only separate into a single color, in this case just black. If you are trying to isolate many different colors it won't work.

Estes Alien Invader Paint Fix - Part 2, TIP

Here's the front and back after the flat clear was shot.
The light spraying of acrylic dries almost instantly. If you enlarge the pciture the black might look splotchy. That's just the low pixel resolution. The black actually looks very even now.

This is the angled mask over the transition decal wrap.
Look close and you can see a little of the gum residue from the edge of the tape.
I sprayed a little glass cleaner on a paper towel, some light rubbing removed it. I used Glass Plus cleaner, not Windex with ammonia. Windex could remove the clear acrylic spray. I just needed a light solvent cleaner.

Gloss paint shows everything! Spraying flat clear acrylic is a great way to cover up some light finishing inconsistencies.
I don't recommend applying a matte finish to lighter colors like white, yellow pink or orange. Light flat finish colors pick up dirt and finger oils quickly! Flat finishes are also harder to clean. On this model the flat finish sprayed over the black won't show any discoloration from handling.

The instructions do say to use gloss black paint, but it looks so much better with the back end in a flat finish.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Estes Alien Invader Paint Fix - Part 1, TIP

A few years back I was talking to a local guitar repairman. Early on he had worked for Tobias guitars, learning the finer points of lutherie.
He drilled the screw holes for a tailpiece install. After drilling he realized one hole was in the wrong place, off by a good half inch.
Expecting the guitar body would have to be thrown away, he went to his boss expecting the worse.
His boss didn't bat an eye and simply said: "Put an inlay there. Make it look like you meant to do that."
This rocket fix is a little like that. Sometimes you can cover things and make them better than before.

I didn't like the looks of the gloss black paint on the rear half of the recent Alien Invader build. Too many inside surfaces were hard to get smooth and reach with the black spray paint.
Some areas got more paint than others. The gloss finish showed every unreachable glue line and rough area.

This was one of those finished projects I let sit for a few months while I figured out a solution.
I'll attempt to paint over the gloss black fin areas with a dusting of flat clear acrylic.

The picture shows me brushing off any dust from the gloss black. Black seems to attract dust. A soft brush got most of it off before spraying the flat clear.

One problem was the upper decal. The low end of the wrap isn't in a straight line. I decided to mask it off, half gloss and half flat - like it was meant to be that way!

I didn't use Scotch tape, this clear line isn't critical. Before setting the masking tape down I stuck and lifted the sticky side on my jeans pant leg a few times. Some jeans fibers will stay on the sticky tape and diminish its tackiness. I don't want to risk lifting the decal edges.

Only one piece of masking tape was used for the edge mask. The tape was gently set on an angle and bunched over itself over the curve. The upper yellow body was covered with a wrap of printer paper and a small piece of tape to hold it down.

Estes Mini Max #2445 Build, Part 6, Fin Fill and Glue

After brushing on some thinned CWF the wood grain was raised.
The inset picture is after sanding. Some of the raised grain was sanded off leaving open pores.
More CWF followed and smooth sanding.

I glue on the launch lug before marking the body tube for the fins. It's just easier to line up the lug with the engine hook. Then line up the fin marking guide wrap with the launch lug already in place.

The root edge locations are masked off and primer / filler is shot.
You can see how rough the body tube is in the inset picture. This was taken before the primer was sanded.

The fins are glued on and Titebond M&TG fillets applied.

I had to make some adjustments to the fin lines. The marking guide was a little off.

At this stage,
If the OOP Quest Pipsqueak fins were clipped it would look like the Mini Max!