Friday, January 19, 2018

Star Trooper Back In Business

If you recall, back in early 2017, the Star Trooper model experienced a fairly substantial crash that left it in less than perfect condition.

Two new fins, some body tube repair, nose cone clean-up, and a new paint job later, the Star Trooper is once again fully flight ready.

One small change in detail was the placement of the fleet number decal.  It was originally on one of the fins, but with the model's propensity for losing fins (3 to date), the marking was moved to the body tube.
To go along with the Trooper, I finished off the booster section that caused the mishap.  It now has proper fins and a paint job.
The model is scheduled for its next test flight in an upcoming February launch.  If all goes well, and the staging system proves reliable, I will begin work on a scale BT-20 based WAC Corporal / Tiny Tim model.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

No Resoultions: Part 2

I spent part of last night outlining my upcoming 4-month project agenda, and even gathering the parts kits for some of them;

1.  MPC Lunar Patrol - I started this one in 2016, and it's going Veerrrrryyyyy SLoooooow.  All that is left is painting and applying markings.  This will get done once the weather gets warm enough to trek out to the BlastFromThePast Vehicle Finishing Facility, a.k.a, the back yard....

2.  Satellite Interceptor clone.  This build was not planned until I bought a Super Neon kit on clearance from Hobby Lobby last year.  I didn't want to build the Super Neon.  I had to decide whether to use the kit nose cone to build either a Black Brant III or a Satellite Interceptor...  Construction is complete - just need to finish filling and sanding the fins, painting, and decaling.

3. Star Seeker - A clone of the sci-fi model from Estes' old Mini-Tri Pak.  The beginning of this build was started way back in the summer of 2016 when I first became a BAR.  It got pushed off to a remote corner of the workbench and forgotten in favor of other projects.  It's all painted and ready for markings, which I should be able to get done soon. 

4.  Star Trooper / Test booster tandem.  This is the one, if you recall, I crashed severely last year.  The Star Trooper is now repaired to flyable condition, and the booster has received proper fins and paint job.  All the pair needs now is a coating of 'gloss sauce' (Future).  I'll have it ready to fly at my next launch session.


1.  Mercury Redstone
2.  MPC Flatcat Boost/Glider
3.  Canopus-2  This is a re-build of my own cluster model design that I had published back in the early 80s in an issue of Model Rocketeer  (or was it American Spacemodeling?)
4.  Astron Alpha - During all of my involvement in model rocketry, I never got around to building an Alpha.  Sacrilege!   I shall remedy this oversight at once!
5.  Orbital Transport - Another rebuild from the dim and distant Days Of Yore.
6.  Time Permitting, I may use one of the numerous cardboard core tubes I have hanging around to do a scratch-build model of some sort.  I'm leaning toward an IQSY Tomahawk scaler...We'll see.

And - don't tell anyone - but I'm a few dollars away from having enough pocket change in my piggy bank (actually a large ceramic coffee cup) to spring for a Little Joe II kit......


Monday, January 15, 2018

No Resolutions!

I never make New Year's Resolutions.
I don't ever keep them, so I never waste time making them.
Instead, I tend to make detailed plans, lists, and schedules to outline progress on my various pursuits and hobbies.
The other day I was inspired by a post on one of the model rocket forums by a member who was lamenting how few rockets he had managed to complete in 2017. This got me to looking at my own model rocket fleet and the even more dismal rate at which I get projects completed.
In the past year, I only completed 3 new rockets and a glider, plus a couple pieces of launch pad accessories.  This brought my fleet total up to a mere ten flyable rockets since I became a BAR a year and a half ago!
The current BlastFromThePast fleet.

To my credit, however, I do have three more birds on the bench started in 2017 that are almost done.
Almost-done projects:  MPC Lunar Patrol, Estes Satellite Interceptor, and Star Seeker

Part of the issue is that my free time away from work is shared by many other endeavors:  Loads of family activities (the most important of all), music practice and performance, and woodworking projects, not to mention all the myriad things to be done around the house and yard.  Many times, I find that I can only snatch 20 minutes here or half an hour there to work on the latest model rocket project.  A bird that could normally be built and completed in a day or two takes me a couple of months to realize.  I definitely have to make the most of these short segments of bench time available to me. 

Nonetheless, I have sat down and compiled a list of all the model rockets I would like to get built in 2018.  I've got 18 projects outlined - six for each four-month time span throughout the year.  If I can pull it off, the fleet will be triple its present size by EOY. 

I think it's entirely do-able....

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Launch Date: January 5, 2018

My first launch session of 2018 took place on Friday of the New Year week.  Checks of local weather and wind websites showed afternoon temperatures in the mid -50s and minimal wind.  Ideal.  I was off from work for the whole week and my two grandkids, ages 7 and 9, were still on winter break, so they came along to fly their Generic E2X models.

Arriving at Dove Valley Park at 1 p.m., we found that the temperature was at 56 degrees with high overcast, and NO wind whatsoever.

The first model off the pad was the Hornet for flight number 38.  Once again, the bird performed very well on an A3 engine, deploying its parachute and landing very close by.

This was followed by flights of the kids’ Generic E2X rockets, all on A8-3 engines.  The grandson flew his once and his older sister flew hers twice.  All performed flawlessly, and were recovered very near to the launch pad.  I was really liking these calm conditions!

Next, it was time to fly some gliders.  The Griffin-2 and Firefly parasite were prepped and placed on the pad.  The tandem lifted off nicely on B4-2 engine power, achieving a respectable altitude.  The Firefly detached immediately at ejection and started a flat, straight glide toward the northwest.  The model has no turn trimming whatsoever, so I knew it would glide for a long distance.  It ended up flying out of the park boundary and landed in the median of the adjacent street.  I timed the glide duration at 71 seconds.  I definitely need to work on further glide trimming to instill a turn in its flight pattern.  As for the Griffin, it deployed its parachute and landed softly very close to the launch pad.

Next up was the Mini-Maggot-3 boost glider.  A 1/2A engine sent the model straight up to altitude where glider separation occurred perfectly.  Unlike the Firefly, this glider is trimmed to describe about a 25’ diameter right hand circle.  The MM3 circled gracefully straight over head and landed about 30 feet from the launch pad after a 56 second flight duration.  If this glider ever catches a thermal, I’m afraid it will be “Bye, Bye, Birdie!”
The final flight of the day went to the Estes Lynx.  An A10 engine took it perfectly straight and high.  Unfortunately, the parachute didn’t open so the model took a rather hard landing.  Luckily, the only damage sustained was the loss of the dowel ‘antenna’ detail on the rear dorsal fin.  An easy repair.

Failure analysis revealed that I had committed a dumb ‘rookie’ mistake.  Forgot to powder a new parachute….

Anyhow, it was time to pack up and head home, having completed seven highly successful model rocket flights in absolutely ideal flying weather.

Again, it was great to have the grandkids along – they performed all of the button pushing and model recovery – except for the fly-away Firefly, of course.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Belated Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you model rocket blog readers! 
Why is this so late?
I've been on vacation from work up until yesterday, and it's been a whirlwind of family activity.  Haven't had time to sit down at the computer much over the past couple of weeks.
I did get a bit of rocketry stuff accomplished, however, mostly getting the workbench cleaned up and organized, as well as planning out a list of build projects for the upcoming year.
I also managed a flight session with the grand-kiddoes last Friday.  Will work up a launch report post in  the next couple of days.
Anyhow, it is my hope that all of you have a happy and prosperous 2018!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Back In The Day, Part 9: More Estes Stickers Found..

This past weekend, I was again rummaging through the piles of accumulated stuff stored under the basement stairway, when I came across yet another object adorned with old Estes Industries stickers...

Only this is not a rocketry-related item.

It's my old skate board!

And we are talking 'Very Old School' here.  The Genesis of skate boards!

You Gen-X-ers and Millennial skaters in the blog-reading audience may not recognize such an antique, but us old Baby-Boomers know all about them.

So, here's the scoop...back in the late sixties, if you wanted a skateboard, you made one.  Literally.
All it took was a good, sturdy hardwood plank, a roller skate, and a handful of hardware.
The skate, of course, was one of those old metal-wheeled jobs that clamped over your shoe and was tightened with a key.   The skate was taken apart, bolted to the board, and...voila... you had yourself a skateboard!

These early skateboards were a beast to ride - nothing like the fancy boards available nowadays. 
The difficult part in riding one was that you had to carefully balance on an extremely narrow wheel-base.  The metal wheels were not very forgiving with sidewalk cracks and bumpy surfaces. Pretty rough ride...and noisy as all get-out!   They also did not lend themselves very well to performing flips, jumps, and all the other stunting seen with modern boards.
Basically, you just jumped on it and clattered down the sidewalk!

Anyway, this is the one I rode back in the day...and it was decorated with spare Estes stickers.   I must have had enough of those to plaster all over everything I owned....


Thursday, November 30, 2017

MPC Lunar Patrol: Part 12 - Let The Painting Begin !

The first task in getting the LP finished is painting the interiors of the booster pods and glider fuselage tubes.  I went with some matte black acrylic for this part.

Back in my 'old fleet' days, I wouldn't have bothered with this detail.  Back then, it was all about getting the bird out to the launch pad ASAP, without spending a great deal of time with the craftsmanship aspect of the build.
Nowadays, in my curmudgeonly, grumpy, perfectionistic old-fart BAR years, these details do not go overlooked!

Next is a couple of brushed-on coats of gloss black enamel to the glider nose cones.

 I'm not worried at all about weight here, since I am going to have to add more to the nose cone bases anyway for glide trimming.

Next up- the good stuff - masking and shooting the base color coats.