Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Estes Alien Invader #3003 Build, Part 2, Engine Hook TIP

If you've followed the blog you know I don't like the long finger tabs on engine hooks. The original model didn't have a finger tab, this one won't either.

I've seen some forum builds where some have had problems cutting off the tab. Some "after" pictures show a bent up hook.
You could grind or saw off the end but it can be done with two small pliers.

Score (don't even try to cut completely through) the tab with a wire cutter.
Then use two small end pliers to bend and crack off the tab. One pliers holds the hook steady, the other one bends the tab close to  the scored line. A few back and forth bends should break off the finger tab.

Flip the hook over so the squared bend (original top end) goes to the bottom. The end you cut off goes to the top of the engine mount.

EDIT: I was reminded in a comment below - File the sharp rough end of a cut engine hook. The flipped hook will be slightly longer than the original low end bend. A few passes with a metal file will clean it up.

The Estes hooks are spring steel and are worth using after cutting off the finger tab. The Quest hooks are easily bent and are tossed.

Centuri Tour, 1968 American Rocketeer, Part 1

Here's a photo tour of the Centuri facility from the American Rocketeer magazine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2016 FAI World Championships for Space Models Results

From Steve Kristal (Gus on YORF)

Best showing ever for a US team on foreign soil!

Gold Medal - Senior S2P (Emma Kristal)
Gold Medal - Senior S2P Team ( Emma Kristal, Matt Steele, Chris Flanigan)
Silver Medal - Junior S2P (Ashley Van Milligan)
Bronze Medal - Junior S2P (Allison Van Milligan)
Silver Medal - Junior S2P Team ( Rachel Nowak, Allison Van Milligan, Ashley Van Milligan, Stoil Avramov)
Silver Medal - Junior S1A (Ashley Van Milligan)
Silver Medal - Junior S1A Team ( Ashley Van Milligan, Allison Van Milligan, Rachel Nowak )
Gold Medal - Senior S1B (Dr. Bob Kreutz)
Silver Medal - Senior S1B Team ( Dr. Bob Kreutz, Matt Steele, Steve Kristal)
Gold Medal - Senior S5C (Matt Steele)
Bronze Medal - Junior S8 Team (Stoil Avramov, Alyssa Stenberg, Zak Stenberg)
Bronze medal - U.S. Senior Team Meet Championship ( Dr. Bob Kreutz, Matt Steele, Steve Kristal, Emma Kristal, James Filler, James Duffy, Steve Humphrey, Randy Ringner, Dave O'Bryan, Chris Flanigan, Jay Marsh, Kevin Kuczek, Mike Nowak, Kevin Johnson, George Gassaway, Chris Kidwell,and Matthew Berk)

Note that every one of our juniors won at least one medal during this contest.

I am extremely proud to have been a member of this tremendous team.

Special thanks to Aerotech, Estes, Aurora Flight Sciences, and FedEx for all the support they have given this team.


Estes Alien Invader #3003 Build, Part 1, Parts

I built one of these when it was first released in 1976. Estes brought it back when they released the Classic Series of kits.

There is a lot of small fins on it, many areas I didn't get smooth the first time around.
I remember how the simple yellow/black mask worked so well with the detailed upper body wrap decal.

In the two kits I'll build there was one bent BT-50 tube. The rest of the parts were of high quality.
The 12" parachutes were a clear red.

The parts of interest:
The wing/fin layout template.
The nose cone with the side bumps. I understand a new mold was made for the reissue kit.
The decal has some white print that is hard to see.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11, Finished

This is a tiny rocket!
You would need others to help track both sections after ejection and don't launch it in high grass.
Centuri wisely only recommends 1/2A6-4, A5-4 and A8-5 engines. "More powerful engines (B4-6, B6-6 and C6-7) may be used, but there is little chance of seeing and recovering the tiny Moonraker with those exteme altitudes."
Time will tell if I ever launch this one!

Model Rocket News idea Box - D.I.Y. Fin Marking Guides

From the Estes Model Rocket News, Vol. 4, #2, 1964.

I still use this method to make fin marking guides when the kit supplied guides don't fit correctly.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Postcard From Vern

After my 1972 (correction, 1971) visit to Estes I sent a letter thanking them for the tour.
I got this postcard shortly thereafter:

That's what you call great customer relations!
It was addressed to Chris Dichielson. That's me, back then I had a weird way of writing capital "Ms".

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11 Build, Part 7, Chrome Trim Placement

EDIT: I don't recommend using this wrap around this Monokote trim method I tried here. Over time, the trim strip lifted where it folded over the leading edges of the fins.

The trim strips can be difficult to set down parallel to the root edge.
Thin strips of masking tape were set down to the outside of where the chrome will set. It took a few tries to get the masking tape in line, something you wouldn't be able to do with the final chrome trim piece.

My Moonraker will be assembled in the "Raked" configuration with the rear fins facing up.
The ends of the chrome strips overhang the trailing edge for now.

On the left is the leading edge with the trim strip rolled over the tip.
On the right the chrome trim was trimmed off at the trailing edge.

The fit of the trim pieces was good overall except for one piece.
You can press this back down but it'll probably rise up again.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Odd'l Rockets Break-Aways In Stock!

The Odd'l Rockets BREAK-AWAY kits are back in stock at my distributors!

One of the most popular Odd'l kits has been improved.

Longer couplers, simpler Kevlar tether ties between segments and heavy-walled BT-50 body tube for durability.
The Break-Away breaks apart at apogee and the tethered parts gently return to earth. 
A great demo bird, wait for the interesting crowd reaction! 

Stop by, or for your Break-Away.

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11 Build, Part 6, Paint and Chrome Trim

A white undercoat was sprayed.
After it dried I could see glue boogers and some areas that needed cleaning up.

On the left are the sanded ridges left from the Titebond M&TG.
To the right are the sanded nose cone joint and body tube seam.
As mentioned in other builds, the sanded white undercoats can help fill any remaining very small recesses.

I ended up painting the back section gloss white, the upper section in metallic red. The plastic red nose cone looked slightly pink after white undercoats. Painting the upper section red covered that up and blended well.

I liked the trim stripes shown on the face card. I decided to do them in chrome trim Monokote with the hope that the reflected sunlight might help with recovery.

The center line of the stripes have to be cut at an angle to fit over the leading edge.
cut a strip of paper and bend it over the leading edge of a fin.
Crease and mark the overlap at the bend.

Open up the bend and cut out the middle angle "V".

The two sides are taped together for a cutting template.

Set the paper template on the chrome trim, mark and cut with a straightedge.
I cut six trim pieces two for each fin.

An Email From Larry Brown

I just got this email from Larry Brown. He must have ran across the blog doing a search of the X-24.
This letter gives some insight into the X-24 Bug development. As Larry explains, he did a lot of design work for Centuri.


For 4 years, I worked in R&D at Centuri engineering with Grant Boyd as the divisional head.  The X-24 was one of my designs.

A few years prior, I worked in Quebec in a high-rise office building.  We're talking 1969.  I don't remember how many of us were involved, but somehow, we got into a contest to see who could make a Styrofoam coffee cup fly the best. I think it started by spiral-footballing them into trash cans and evolved (or degenerated) from there.  Finally, we were launching off the roof.  I was into model rocketry and interested in lifting bodies, so I tried adding tiny lumps of modeling clay to the nose and to a spot near the rim to see if I could get the cup to assume an angle of attack while falling.  Eventually, I had a flying cup... horrible by any standards other than maybe any other Styrofoam cups.

Pages blow off the calendar and I'm in Arizona at Centuri.  They had a rocket called the Point, a paper cone with no fins needed.   I started fooling with it and, thanks to a plastic nose cone (weightier than the Point's balsa) and some modeling clay at a point near the rim.  Sure enough, it went up kinda straight and sort of glided back down.  I stuffed a more triangular insert into it so the clay weight could offer more roll stabilization and added a paper cockpit and a paint job.  It worked even better.  So I suggested it as a product: MR's first lifting body.  The boss wanted fins.  I worried that any warping or misalignment of the fins would induce roll - and then it wouldn't glide.   Lost that one.  For NARAMs and local demos, I took to using only the tips of the cut-out fins, more for decoration than anything else.  Aerodynamically, the X-24 has less drag with no fins or maybe with tiny glue-ons to resemble pods of some sort.

If you're still fooling around with this, try making a card-stock pattern, printing up a bunch, and see for yourself.  It makes for a nice lesson in aerodynamics - and it doesn't need a huge field.

I was canned from Centuri during a purge by the parent company.  Had designed a bunch of rockets there, my favorites being the Space Shuttle and the Orion.  Worked 4 more years in business and have been an English and history teacher for the last 40 years.

Larry Brown, Hyannis, MA

I don't think Larry remembered we had met before. He gave me the tour of Centuri. Later I got to know the Centuri R&D guys at the NARAMs in 1975, 76 and 77.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11 Build, Part 5, Luglets and Retainer Wire

The launch "luglets" are short and easy to misplace.

Assemble the segments using an engine casing and visually align the lugs.

Here's how the wire overhangs the back end of the single upper section fin.
Slide the back section and bend the end down over the casing end.

With a casing in place the wire seems too long and is too close to the nozzle flame.
The inset picture shows the wire cut back just a little longer than the inside of the casing.

Some of the new kits introduced in the 1973 Centuri catalog allowed building variations.
The Moonraker lower section can be flipped for a "Traditional" or "Raked" configuration.

Model Rocket News Idea Box - Nose Cone Retention

From the Estes Model Rocket News, Vol. 4, #2, 1964.

Everyone has lost a nose cone (on top of a payload section) at ejection.
I've used this retention method for a few years. Sometimes a simple friction fit at the nose cone shoulder isn't enough.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11 Build, Part 4, Nose Cone and Retainer Wire

At first I couldn't find the nose cone gluing tab. It was stuck under the "Spec-plate" stapled to the face card.

The gluing tab is a pressure sensitive (peel and stick) paper. It is stuck to the nose cone shoulder giving the white glue something to adhere to.
The tab in my kit was much larger than the illustration showed.

Peel off the backing and roll it around the nose cone shoulder.

The retaining wire is bent by setting it over what's left of the die cut fin sheet.
The end of the wire is set on the large fin trailing edge corner. Bending it over the end of the die-cut sheet gives the "hook" the correct thickness to fit over the front of the large fin. A clever step.

Bent as shown in the instructions, the long end of the hook wire does end up at 2 7/16" long.

How Many R/C Rocket Gliders Can You Make From One Kit?

All these R/C Rocket Gliders were made using the large nose cone and 2" body tube from the discontinued Estes Cosmic Interceptor kit.

Frank produces the R/C Rocket Glider kits from Dynasoar Rocketry.
To see the entire product line, CLICK HERE
There are even more models than what is shown here.
While you are on the website, check out the videos - very impressive!

Note: The Trident styled model in the lower right isn't a rocket glider.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Live Stream of 2016 FAI World Championships for Space Models

There is a live stream of the 2016 FAI World Championships for Space Models : CLICK HERE

Apogee Peak Of Flight Article - TIPS

Tim at Apogee asked me to come up with two articles for the Peak Of Flight e-newsletter based on TIPS from this blog. To see the first article: CLICK HERE

If you've been following the blog you've probably already seen some of these ideas. There are always new blog readers and an item in the two articles might give you something new to think about.
The second TIPS article will be published in two weeks.

Centuri Moonraker #KB-11 Build, Part 3, Fin Prep and Gluing

The outside fin edges got a smoothed bead of white glue.
After that dried it was rounded and smoothed with 400 grit. Another bead of glue and smooth sanding followed.

The glue bead seals the exposed edges and prevents delamination. It also gives a slight rounded edge to the fin.

The fins were sprayed with primer/filler and sanded smooth.

The root edge was sanded down to get a better glue bond. The fillet area was also sanded down.

A vertical alignment guide is printed on the instructions sheet.
These work well and insure the fin spacing is correct.

With the fins glued on the sections were slid over an engine casing. An empty casing is needed to hold the halves together when displayed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Body Tubes!

Just received a BIG order of body tubes from BMS for Odd'l kits.
It doesn't look like much until you look in from the side and that's a small portion of all the tubes. These are all 34" long - there are tubes in tubes!