Wednesday, March 22, 2017

California Trip Extended?

I'll be here in California through next Monday, maybe longer.
Without going into much detail - My Mother is having heart issues.
Depending on how she does I may extend my stay until we can work out
her care.
Until then I'll be doing one post a day. I still have some posts in draft form
but in time those could all be used.
So bear with me while I do my internet at McDonalds.

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 6, New, Harder Fins

I've described how to shape this style fin in the past on the blog:

And in the Apogee Peak of Flight newsletter:

Just what you wanted - HOMEWORK!
I won't be going into detail on how to shape the fins here on the blog. Use the addresses above to see one way to do it.

I'm building two Nike Smoke kits at the same time. While one kit had dense hard balsa, the other kit balsa was too soft. Press a fingernail in a border area to see if your balsa is soft. If it gives too easily to pressure you might want to buy some stiffer wood and cut out your own fins.
Shaping Nike style diamond tapered fin requires harder wood. The final fin shape will be thin.

There is so much extra wood on some laser cut sheets I cut more fins from what was left from the harder kit sheet.

With the edges glued back to back I had enough area in the center to cut four more fins.

Sand the edges flat and glue them back to back. The pencil tracing shows how the new fins were drawn.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 5, Fin Observations

Look at the low end of the fin and you can see the lighter wood tip.
Some kit wood is pieced together from smaller strips. The problem is the differences in the different wood densities. It becomes a concern when you are shaping the fins.

The fins are set over the full size instruction sheet drawing and the bevel lines are drawn in pencil with a straightedge.

You'll never get a sharp diamond fin profile by using little squares of sandpaper shown here in the instructions.

I've used the Great Planes sanding block many times before on the blog. The block is perfectly flat and the sandpaper is self adhesive. If you don't have one yet - trust me and buy one!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Job Opportunity At Centuri? 1979

While I'm in California taking care of family business, I looked through some of my old files and found this. I had thought it was lost . . .
It's dated September, 1979, from Grant Boyd.

I need to talk with you about an opening here at Centuri. If I have not made phone contact with you by the time you read this, please call me collect.

I had my first real contact with Centuri when I won a design contest in 1972. I got to know some employees (among those Bob Del Principe) at the 1975, 76 and 77 NARAMs.
I was lucky to have a strong graphics art background, could design rockets and build clean models. I was considered for a position at Centuri the first time around in 1975 when I was 19 years old. That job went to Jeff Flygare. Jeff had a good background in photography and knew the NAR people better than me.
I was disappointed to say the least. I left rocketry to pursue a musical career.

When I got this letter in 1979 I had just finished a Summer run at Knott's Berry Farm and did a Gong Show appearance. I was playing out again in the Monterey Bay area and probably returning to Great America for the following Summer. Still disgruntled by that first opportunity lost from Centuri I respectfully turned it down.

In the early 1980s, NARAM returned to Central Florida near Kissimmee, just South of Orlando. I was entertaining at a Sea World venue and in walks Bob Del Principe from Centuri. We talked about the current state of Centuri, things were moving to Penrose then. He told me I probably made the right decision by choosing to play the banjo for a living! The rocketry business as we knew it from 1969 had changed.

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 4, The Enerjet Smoking Nose Cone

Two holes are drilled into the nose cone base for a shock cord loop tie.

Start the hole by spinning the tip of a #11 blade in the plastic. Use an older blade, this really dulls a new one.
The hole is widened by spinning a small diamond file in the holes.
One of the raised plates is cut for a smoke release hole.

Trace around the raised plate with a pencil so you can better see it.
This plastic is harder and a bit more brittle than the old blow molded nose cones. It takes quite a few passes with the knife to cut through it. Leave the top 1/3 of the hatch still attached to make a "hinge".

The port is bent open and upwards making a pressure "hinge" in the plastic. Be careful, this plastic is not as flexible as what Centuri used on their Nike nose cones. It can crack at the hinge.
It has to be opened wide enough to allow the talcum powder to easily blow out.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 3, The Enerjet Smoking Nose Cone

I used my aluminum angle to get side slot sides straight.

The short end cuts were made by punching the tops and bottoms with a sharp blade tip. Punch the top corner with the sharp side down. Turn over the blade and punch cut the bottom with the sharp side up.
The shock cord attachment lug will be in the way of the internal BT-5 tube.
A hobby saw cut it close to the surface. The remaining nubs were sanded off. A small sliver was opened up after sanding smooth.

The hole was continually widened until I could get a dowel in. 220 grit was wrapped around the dowel and the hole widened.
Sand a little and check the tube fit.

The tube was slid in from the bottom and can be seen inside the cone end.

Shave off little by little until the tube slides through.

Here's the BT-5 fit at the bottom and top.

On the left I've pencil marked two holes that will be drilled out for the shock cord tie.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 2, The Enerjet Smoking Nose Cone

The original Enerjet Nike Smoke had a smoking nose cone. To see how it was done - CLICK HERE

The tip of the nose cone was cut off and a BT-5 was slipped in acting as a ram-jet. During boost, the forced air pushed talcum powder out of a vent at the base of the nose cone.

At this point I don't know if a B6 or C6 engine would get the model to the velocity speed needed to make the nose cone work properly.
I'm building two rockets, one will be a normal 18mm model, the other will be for 24mm engines with the ramjet nose cone.

All that is needed to make a smoking nose cone is the hollow blow molded nose cone, a length of BT-5 and a 5 sized plastic nose cone.

The tip of the nose cone is cut off.
Slide the BT-5 over the tip and mark around the tube base with a pencil.

The BT-5 on the right inset picture shows more tube than needed. I cut it larger than probably needed and will cut it to size after sizing.

Near the base of the inside tube are two slots, 1/8" wide by 1" long. The slots are marked and cut 1" up from the bottom of the tube.

NOTE: The new Estes Nike Smoke nose cone has a longer shoulder than the old Centuri nose cone. I wanted the rectangular vents directly opposite the open hatch on the nose cone. I had to re-cut a new tube with the slot bottom 1 7/8" up from the bottom of the BT-5 tube.

The picture shows the slots (at the earlier 1" mark) on the BT-5 ready for cutting. Draw the slots 1 7/8" up from the bottom of the tube edge.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Estes Nike Smoke #7247 Build, Part 1, Parts

This is one everybody should have in their fleet. Classic and pointy.

I've had different versions of the Nike Smoke over the years, first was the Enerjet Nike Smoke (essentially the Centuri Nike kit with a larger Enerjet engine mount) and a few of the Stine MPC Nike kits.

This is my third variant, all around the same size as those before it.

The parts are all good quality.
The nose cone is very clean with almost no mold seam. The pitot tube at the top is there, the Pro Series II Smoke doesn't have it. The three hatches are molded in and clean. Some versions of the Nike Smoke have decals for the hatches.
The balsa is hard, good thing for forming the wedge shaped fins.

The stenciled UNITED STATES decal is included.
Two Estes logos are there - why anybody would put this on a scale model is beyond me. The face card picture has the Estes decal on a fin side.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nike Smoke Comparisons

I first saw the Centuri Nike Smoke in the 1971 Centuri Catalog.
At the time it was big, 23.65" tall.
The airframe was an ST-16 at 1.64" diameter.
I never built this version.

Estes recently released a BT-60 version of the Nike Smoke.
Its very close to the same diameter as the old Centuri model at 1.637"
In the catalog page the tube diameter is rounded off at 1.64".
The Estes kit is a little shorter than the Centuri Nike Smoke at 22.9"

In 1972 I did order the Enerjet Nike Smoke. It was the only Enerjet kit I built and launched.
The Enerjet version was based on the Centuri kit using the ST-16 tubing and nose cone.

The engine mount was heavier duty. The nose cone tip was cut off.
An ST-5 tube was set down the middle with a plastic nose cone glued in the low end. Slots were cut above the nose cone shoulder. One of the the molded hatches was opened. The nose cone was 2/3 full of talcum powder.

When launched, air was forced into the open tube and the talcum powder was blown out the open hatch.

While doing research on these three versions I wondered why the Enerjet Nike Smoke was 2" shorter than the new Estes kit. The scale couldn't have been off by that much! Then I remembered the shortened "smoking" nose cone on the Enerjet rocket.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

California Trip

I'm taking a trip to California from March 15 through March 28,
there's some family business to take care of.
My Mother doesn't have Internet in her home,
if I get to McDonald's, I'll try to drop a blog post here and there.
Thanks for your understanding!

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Finished

This build was a bit of a conflict for me. I like my balsa grain filled and paint smooth. I did my best to keep it light, it did finish out at just 3 oz. without the engine. This model didn't end up with my usual glossy finish.
The face card says the weight should be around 3.1 oz. It may not be a contest duration glider but should still perform fine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Step 24, Pop Pod Chute Packing TIP

There's not much room for the parachute and shroud lines between the BT-20 pop pod and the BT-50 main air frame body tube. Careful packing can insure a good ejection and quick opening of the chute.
My first attempts at packing the chute were frustrating. Rolling a chute around a pop pod will take practice. Be sure to dust the chute with talcum powder before packing the day of flight.

The shroud lines can really get in the way when sliding the pop pod all the way into the glider body. You'll be better off with the shroud lines under the parachute.
Start by rolling the lines forward of the tape attachment wrap. Two wraps forward, then start back down for one long wrap crossing over the top lines.

(You might end up spiking the chute, then do the initial shroud line wraps shown above.)
Spike the parachute as normal and lay the "triangle" down the tube over the lines with the tip an inch back from the top.

Center the length of the parachute down the tube. While keeping the tip tight against the tube. (inset picture) Tightly roll the top side around the tube and tuck it under the low side. The thumb holds the tucked side in.
Keep the tip flat and tight against the pod body tube.
Roll the open low side up and over the tucked in side.

Hold the chute rolled up tight and flat as you slide the pod into the body tube. Turning the pop pod can help as you slide it all the way into the tube.

Practice packing the chute a few times before you go to the launch site. With all the distractions on launch day you'll be glad you had some dry runs.

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Step 23, C/G Balance Point

On the back of the smaller Parts List is the glide trimming directions. The balance point (without the pop pod inside) is 5" from the back of the body tube.

This was a hard picture to take!
I pencil marked the body with a pencil at the 5" point. Here the model was balanced on a straightedge.

The supplied clay weight starts at almost .25 ounce.
Bits of clay were added to the inside of the nose cone until it balanced at the 5" mark.
In the end .08 oz. of clay was pressed into the nose cone. Your model balance weight may vary -

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Estes Lynx Decals

If you've ever tried to do a clone you realize how models evolve over the years. Nose cone materials and shapes change, decals can go through revisions.

Harold sent an email and attached a picture of his recently finished Estes Lynx. I thought something had changed. Compare the differences in the face card picture and the decals on the finished model.
This kit has only been out for two or three years and the decals now have an extra thin border line on everything. Instead of a difficult mask around the white "rudder", now it is painted black and a white decal trim is in its place.

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Step 22, Pop Pod Parachute

The instructions show the typical chute attachment where you slide the canopy through the shroud line loops. I wanted a better attachment with no tangled lines.

All three of my line loops got a small overhand loop knot at the center point.
After removing any turns in the line, the three knots were set side-by-side and a cotton string was pushed through the small loops. With the ends tied side by side you can end up with no tangles in the lines.

That line was tied around the balance point of the pop pod tube. Place a used engine in the mount and balance the pod.
TIP: Tape the chute lines to that balance point. The instructions don't mention this but the pop pod will now descend horizontally.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

N.E.F.A.R. Launch Bunnell, FL March 11, 2017

There were a LOT of cars at the field by the time Lonnie B. and I arrived at 10:00 a.m. More cars extended just as far to the right side of the picture.
The low power pads were busy. In addition to the mid-power and high power away pads there was also a hybrid competition.
Check out the flag, the wind restricted many possible flights.

My Quest X-15 was launched first with a German Quest B6-4. After reaching an estimated 325' it drifted back to the flight line and hit a truck tailgate. Two fins were broken off, only one was found.

The upcoming Odd'l Rockets F-16 had another test flight with an Estes C6-5. Some altitude was lost when it flew into the wind. I had switched out the 12" chute for a long streamer. The clear canopy popped off on landing.
My final launch was the Estes SOLAR WARRIOR with a D12-5. It probably got to 750'. The spill-holed chute was tangled and it fell fast. One fin broken off.
Recently I've had a string of great launches with little damage. Then you have a day like today with too many broken fins.

I only had three launches today. I had hoped to launch my Estes Nike Smoke with an Enerjet smoking nose cone but thought the smoke effect could be lost in the wind gusts.
I also wanted to try the Skydart but couldn't even do any test trim glides with all the wind.

"ASTRON" - What Happened?

I purposely cut off the ASTRON name from the Skydart decal to match the original kit.
Here's a recent comment from the Skydart build decal post:

"What??!! Leave off 'Astron'??? NOOOOOO!!
Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Blasphemy!!"

I had thought the Skydart made it's first appearance in 1973. In the '73 catalog , the word Astron was not part of the catalog description.
I was wrong, the Skydart was actually introduced in 1972. In that catalog it was called the "Astron Skydart". In '72, most all the sport models (up to the K-57 Skydart) had the Astron name.
In the '73 catalog the "Astron" name starts to disappear. Only the Big Bertha, Shrike, Trident and Apogee II kept Astron in their descriptions.

I always wondered why Estes used the word "ASTRON" as part of the kit name.
From a great Estes article in Sport Rocketry issue from May/June 2007: CLICK HERE

VERN: "I am frequently asked where the term "Astron" came from. I remember we decided to use it while still in Denver. My recollection has always been that the word meant "over and above" and that I had found it in a dictionary or other printed reference. Today, when I look for such a reference it cannot be found. Perhaps I coined the word with the intent of it having such a meaning. Today, when I Google for the word "Astron," I find a lot of businesses and organizations using it in their names. Perhaps, some of these entities are ones that were founded by some of our early model rocketeers."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Part 21, Decals

The N3003 decal was placed on the stabilizer like in the original kit placement.

Notice the tape still on the adjustment screw. This was placed so no white spray got on the screw threads. The screw was also turned all the way down so no paint could get in or near the hole.

Set the door and window side strip down first. Center the door in line with the nacelle. that puts the windows at the slightly raised correct height.

After this side is in place you can line up the other side decal that just has windows and no door.

The first kit had just the SKYDART name below the cockpit windows. I left off the ASTRON and used just SKYDART II.

Here's how the nose cone decals ended up.

Estes Skydart II #3229 Build, Part 20, Decals

Instead of going with the new decal placement, I went with the original kit layout.
To see the instructions from the first kit: CLICK HERE

Always do a dry fit to figure out the visual spacing.
The canopy decal goes slightly forward from what is shown in the picture.

The stab decal sports the Estes logo. Normally I don't include company logos, everybody at a club launch knows who produced the kit. On this decal I'm stuck with it!
The old instructions mention cutting the canopy decal in three sections to better fit the nose cone contour. I didn't find this necessary. Wherever a wrinkle showed up I simply stretched the decal sides to flatten them out.
A wet rolled Q-tip helped "iron out" the sides and get rid of any small creases.