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A Visit To Centuri Engineering

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Initiator001

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Thanks to my new scanner, I can post images from prints and slides.

Back in June, 1974, my family was on a vacation trip. We stayed overnight in Phoenix and I was able to talk my folks into stopping by the Centuri plant the next morning on our way out of town.

We drove up to the plant early the next morning. The building had a sign letting us know we were at the right place...
 

Initiator001

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Finding the building was easy.

The front door was a different experience. It was sort of hidden and in a poorly lit area...
 

Initiator001

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The door led into a waiting area/range store. A woman was at a counter. Behind her there was an opening in the wall and I could see into a warehouse.

Centuri did not have tours as Estes did. There seemed to be one of every Centuri model built and on display. I took out my trusty X-15 camera and took some pictures of the models on display...

L-R: Saturn V, Unknown, Orion, Skylab-Orion.
 

Initiator001

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Here's the sales counter and some more models on display. Notice the packaged kits hanging on the wall in the background...
 

Initiator001

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Lastly, here is a picture of two starter sets on display.

That's all there was to see. I did buy an Screaming Eagle kit to take with me.

I flew that Screaming Eagle kit many times and sill have it.

I hope everyone enjoyed the tour!

Centuri5 Starter Sets.jpg
 
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Aerobee300

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Wow .... that was pretty neet ! A little bit of rocketry history !!!
 

bigT

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Thanks for the pics. I too had the Screaming Eagle Starter Kit but I could not remember the name of the rocket until I saw it again. 30 years after the fact. OUCH!
 

Initiator001

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I'm glad to see folks are enjoying my Centuri pictures. None of my friends at the time were interested in model rocketry so I didn't have anyone else to enjoy them.

At the time I had no idea that 13 years later I would be working for Lee Piester.

But, that's another story...
 

Chr$

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Way Cool!

Thanks.

Funny thing, I actually flew my Screaming Eagle today.
 

SwingWing

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Originally posted by Initiator001

At the time I had no idea that 13 years later I would be working for Lee Piester.

But, that's another story...
We have plenty of time..... Keep tellin......:)
 

cussler08

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That unknown is a Centuri Hercules :) I still have mine, will post a pic later today :)
 

kelltym88

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That was really neat. Thanx for sharing those pictures. Reminds me when I was about 12 and used ride my bike over to Frank's Hobby shop in Orange ,Ca. I remember just glancing at the Centuri kits and going for the Estes kits. If I knew then I what I know now...... Sadly, Frank's is no longer there. Anyway great tour though.
 

astronboy

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Yes, I really appreciate your posting these pics. Please, take your time in telling about the visit.... we are all ears!!
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by astronboy
Please, take your time in telling about the visit.... we are all ears!!
It isn't that exciting, but, here's the story.

One of my family's trips, during the summer of 1974, found us stopping for the night in Phoeninx, AZ. As a die-hard model rocketeer then, I couldn't let the opportunity pass not to visit Centuri Engineering located in Phoenix. Centuri and Estes were the two biggest model rocket companies in the world and the chance to stop and visit either one of them was a chance not to be missed.

My brother and I 'convinced' our parents to take a little time to drive over to Centuri the next morning before we left Phoenix. That morning i called Centuri (Their phone number was in the yellow pages) and asked if we could stop by. I was told they did not offer tours of the plant but there was a range store we could visit.

We arrived at Centuri a little after 9 A.M. The building was non-discript and typical of south-western design. Finding the entrance was a bit of a game as it was a small door flanked by tall bushes.

We entered the building into a combination display/retail store counter area and were greeted by a woman working behind the counter. Behind her we could look into the facility but there wasn't anything going on in the area we could see.

I asked if we could take pictures of the models on display and was told that was okay. My brother and I each shot about 4-5 pictures. It was a small area so our picture taking pretty much covered everything there was to see. All of the then current Centuri models were built and on display. These were very nicely done models and may have even been the ones photographed for catalog use. There were also some prototype or R&D models on display.

We took our pictures and then decided we couldn't leave without each buying a rocket kit. I bought a Screaming Eagle while my brother purchased a Vector V. After that we thanked the woman at the counter and left to continue with our vacation.

My brother and I still have the rockets we bought that day at Centuri.

That's the story.
 

Micromeister

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A fine story it is!
Great Pics, really brings back some very treasured memoies. I was I Big Centuri fan in those days...Best designs, kits and lots of Scale models:D
A BIG thanks for sharing your photos and recollections. Isn't it amazing the great amount of "stuff" that came for that common looking little building...
 

dtomko

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Bob,
Thank you for those pics! But please tell us how you came to work for Lee Piester.
Drew Tomko
 

graylensman

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Thanks for the story! That's the kind of history that links all generations of rocketeers.

I too was not one for Centuri kits back in the day, and I too kick myself now for what i might have missed. Oh well, there's always the clone route...
 

Chr$

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Might I Guess by your handle " Initiator001" that you worked for Lee at Enertek?

If not then, was it Hobby bench?

I always wanted to go to Centuri's plant myself, too. I lived in Paradise Valley, which is essentially a small town surrounded by Phoenix on three sides, but never did. Centuri was on the "west side" and My folks never ventured towards that end of town. Bummer.

My first experience with rockets was at a summer day camp in 5th grade. The camp had (and still has) a rocketry class. at the beginning of class, we got to choose a CENTURI rocket. There were no Estes kits present. I built an F15 Eagle, and a Jayhawk. The Eagle never flew, however. Thru the school, with a discount I bought an Eagle Power starter set for $9 that I still have today.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, and again thanks for posting the photos.
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by Chr$
Might I Guess by your handle " Initiator001" that you worked for Lee at Enertek?

Yes, I worked at Enertek. I was listed as "Customer Service Director".

I worked with some great folks at Enertek. Bill Stine was my direct supervisor. Scott Branche had an R&D related title (I forgot it, sorry Scott). Steve Gram would finish his REAL job and come over and help out on occassion.

We saw Lee and Betty Piester once or twice a week. Gary Rosenfield would fly down from 'Vegas to visit. 'Other' rocketry folks would stop sometimes.

It was an exciting time. Enertek held much promise. Too bad it just never got going.

Hmmm. I guess I'll start an 'Enertek' thread and post some pictures from back then.
 

rokitflite

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Hey Bob!
First off, I WAS the R&D Department!:D Second, How could you say we saw Lee "a couple times a week?" I seem to remember that it was almost every darn day! "Bob, what are you doing? We don't have time! Scott what are you working on? Did Bill tell you to do that?". Then again, when I wasn't at Enertek I was working at one of his stores so I got more exposure. Did you know Lee was getting his pilots license?
I loved the Centuri pictures!!! The only thing that would have made them better would have been pictures of little Bobby looking in wonderment at all of the cool rockets! I will try to scan some pictures of one of my Estes visits, but young goofy me was in every picture!
Thanks again for posting the cool pics Bob!!!
 

Dr. Don

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I, too was a Centuri fan duringmy earlier Rocketry years.
These are a couple of kits out of my collection:
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by rokitflite
Hey Bob!
First off, I WAS the R&D Department!:D Second, How could you say we saw Lee "a couple times a week?" I seem to remember that it was almost every darn day! "Bob, what are you doing? We don't have time! Scott what are you working on? Did Bill tell you to do that?". Then again, when I wasn't at Enertek I was working at one of his stores so I got more exposure. Did you know Lee was getting his pilots license?
I loved the Centuri pictures!!! The only thing that would have made them better would have been pictures of little Bobby looking in wonderment at all of the cool rockets! I will try to scan some pictures of one of my Estes visits, but young goofy me was in every picture!
Thanks again for posting the cool pics Bob!!!
I'm glad folks are enjoying my Centuri pictures.

No doubt about it, Scott, you had good ideas when we worked together at Enertek. I would have liked to have seen the set of kits you designed make it into production.

You saw Lee more than I did. A pilots license?!

Sorry, there are few pictures of me from my time at AeroTech & Enertek. I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.

As for you, I have many pictures of you from our Enertek days. I guess I'll have to post some of them here to this forum...
 

rokitflite

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"As for you, I have many pictures of you from our Enertek days. I guess I'll have to post some of them here to this forum..."

Oh God Bob...

Please don't...

Tower: Attention aircraft, you are not clear for a landing at this time!

Pilot: I, I don't have time, I'm very busy...
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by rokitflite
"As for you, I have many pictures of you from our Enertek days. I guess I'll have to post some of them here to this forum..."

Oh God Bob...

Please don't...
Aw, come on, Scott. You are very photogenic.

This from a guy who had his picture grace the Estes catalog for how many years?
 

graylensman

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Well, Initiator, you MUST post those pics now!

...and tell more about Enertek, please. I've never heard of it.
 

rokitflite

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Thanks for your support graylensman.:rolleyes:
I do have a couple of goofy pictures of you I will have to dig out if you do that Bob! We can compromise and just post the "alternate" Enertek catalog photo!:D
 

jflis

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Originally posted by Dr. Don
I, too was a Centuri fan duringmy earlier Rocketry years.
These are a couple of kits out of my collection:
Lordy, hang on to that Orion! That's an eBay *giant*! :)

I got $485 for mine about 2 years ago... a VERY sought after kit, that's for sure!
 

Gus

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Thanks for posting the pics. I, too, grew up in Phoenix and have really indistinct memories of being in that front-office store. Phoenix was definitely a Centuri town. I remember the first time I saw an Estes product being surprised that some other 'little outfit" was trying to copy the "big guy" Centuri by getting into the rocket business. Then "those airplane people", Cox, got into the act by making all-plastic kits that weren't really rockets because you didn't have to build them. Sheesh, what were they thinking? Ready-to-fly rockets, what a stupid idea. No wonder it never caught on! :)
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by graylensman

...and tell more about Enertek, please. I've never heard of it.
See the new thread I started titled 'Enertek'.
 

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