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.


  1. Where you said, "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."... Why does Estes do that with soooo many kits! How much is Estes saving by not providing the proper (and pictorially indicated) number of stripes? I had that issue with the reflector where I was able to swap out the decal with white tape. I just finished the Flip Flyer and was stuck because they used multi colored stickers. The package picture on all those models seem to indicate the fins would have decals or stickers on both sides of the fin, but Estes only provides enough for one side.

    It’s such an obvious and noticeable pain point for everyone who builds one of those Estes kits.

    1. Hi Scott,
      I agree! If the face card picture shows decal trim, it should be included in the kit.
      The Launch Pad kits are also a decal disappointment. Their face cards do state "Detailing materials not included". The package picture gives you the impression that decals are in the bag. The Launch Pad instructions do give enough information for home print decals though.
      In Estes' defenses, the red decals can be looked on as "extras". The face card and instructions don't show them.
      I did figure out a way to use them and enhance the finished model. That's coming up in a future post.
      This is just one of the kits with one side fin decals. The QCC Explorer also had one sided decals for the built up intakes.

    2. The other kit that is known for shorted decals is the current version of the Estes Big Daddy.
      This kit only gives you decal coverage for one side of two facing fins!