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Balsa Nosecone question

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prowlerguy

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I'm almost embarrased to ask this question, but since everyone here knows I am a clueless newbie, here goes.

I have never had a balsa nosecone before (at least not one that I cared about the quality of the finish). Now I have my Duece's Wild, and I need to know:

For the rocket to be considered well finished, what is done with the nosecone shoulder? Full Finish (sanded down first), clear coat or sealer, or bare?

Thanks.
 

sandman

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Bare or just primer...or paint it...it doesn't matter.

Check the fit, if it's tight, roll the shoulder on the edge of a table to compress the fibers of the shoulder before you paint it. You know...kinda squash it a bit.

If it is too loose, paint it with white glue and it will expand a bit and get tighter.

A lot of guys use "finishing epoxy" on balsa, I think that's overkill but that's just my opinion.

Or just put some masking tape around it, paint it and when the paint is dry take the tape off and put some fresh tape on.

It's sort of a judgement call.

sandman
 

eugenefl

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I am one that uses thin finishing epoxy. It's not so much for durability (which is added btw), but for appearances. Finishing epoxy is like glaze on a donut. (Insert Homer -> Mmm....Dooonuts) I like my balsa to look no different than a plastic cone once it's done.

Another great method (that I picked up from jetra2) is to coat the entire cone in Elmers FnF. Once the thin coat is sanded smooth, there's no more grain to see.

I just think sandman is one of these diehard veterans that begs to be recognized for using balsa and white glue. ;)
 

sandman

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I just think sandman is one of these diehard veterans that begs to be recognized for using balsa and white glue.
Ahhh...you know me so well!

sandman
 

jflis

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yea, sandman and me, both :)

Heck, i;m even looking into *staining* one of my rockets so the balsa is *clearly* seen LOL (Wish it had a more attractive grain...)
 

Fore Check

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I found an aerosol can of sanding sealer made by Folk Art at Hobby Lobby and have used it on my last couple of builds.

I've since gone back and bought several more cans.

I can't say enough about how impressed I am with the aerosol sanding sealer (you know, it applies just like spray paint.) You can lay it on thick and it requires very minimal sanding to impart a glasslike finish. It dries quickly, and when sanding you can tell how micro fine the particles are. 400 grit is perfect for it. Even if it runs just a tad, it sands out perfectly. I've used it on both balsa and plywood and love the results. Makes it a heck of alot easier to attach the fins and such prior to sealing. Just mask off the tube and get after it. Made a balsa cone of mine look better than plastic, IMO.

(sorry, no pics yet)
 

sandman

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Heck, i;m even looking into *staining* one of my rockets so the balsa is *clearly* seen LOL (Wish it had a more attractive grain...)
Jim,

Poplar is a great wood for that! Really pretty grain, done it a few times for people. Actually just a thin coating of West epoxy gives poplar a pretty amber color and really makes the grain show up. Carl's 38mm Deuce has a poplar nose cone. Was a shame to paint it!

One wood that I have a bunch of and nobody ever asks for...is black walnut! That polishes up real prudy!

Looks like a gun stock!

sandman
 

SwingWing

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Originally posted by sandman
Poplar is a great wood for that! Really pretty grain, done it a few times for people. Actually just a thin coating of West epoxy gives poplar a pretty amber color and really makes the grain show up.
sandman
From what I understand from building a Cedar strip Canoe, epoxy is not UV stable and should always be overcaoted. My cedar strip canoe is varnished over the epoxy (RAKA clear coating epoxy, which is just like West Systems)
 

prowlerguy

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I appreciate all your input on this. However, I feel fairly comfortable with my wood finishing techniques that I use on fins and I will certainly use on the exposed sections of the nosecone as well.

Let me state my question another way. When you pull the nosecone out of a flawless rocket, do you expect to see a finish of some sort or plain wood? I just want to avoid negating any hard work I do on my DW just because I didn't know to finish the entire nosecone (if that is expected).

On the other hand, this may fall into the category of "to each his own," in which case I should just do what I feel like. Either way, I appreciate your help more than you know.
 

Fore Check

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This certainly falls into the "to each his own" category.

For me, when I pull out the nose cone you see the guts of the rocket (recovery system, etc.) None of that is "pretty" either. Now, if your filling and finishing the INSIDE of your body tube, polishing your chute swivel, and all of that stuff......

But since I don't, the shoulder of the cone (to me) becomes part of the "guts" of the rocket. I only bother to finish the part you see when it's on display.

Come to think of it, when you show off a rocket, how many people (including yourself) say "Open her up and let's see what she looks like on the inside!" (those of you HPR dudes with fancy payloads and fancy ring systems and stuff need not apply. This is for the LPR stuff.)

Ya know what I mean?
 

sandman

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On the other hand, this may fall into the category of "to each his own," in which case I should just do what I feel like. Either way, I appreciate your help more than you know.
That's it! I like to have a little color on the shoulder so you don't see the unsightly unpainted stripe if the cone is loose.

My cedar strip canoe is varnished over the epoxy (RAKA clear coating epoxy, which is just like West Systems)
So is my canoe! You are right about that. Marine varnish is available in a spray can if you are in a big hurry!

Sold my canoe to the guy across the street so I get to see it whenevr I leave my driveway. He stores it hanging on the front gable of his garage!

sandman
 

eugenefl

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Fore Check,

This almost is a "To each his own" type scenario. I suppose the reasoning behind some of my methods is to ensure a shiny and polished looking wood piece. I recall as a kid never using primer. I would go straight to the gloss coat and enjoy a really nice finish except for one part - the fins. The bare balsa would soak the gloss coat and leave me with a furry and dull finish. Decals on this unfinished surface were unheard of. Of course, evolution and perfectionism teaches us to overdue everything to ensure a great finish. This thread is going to be a lot of answers. The one question you need to answer is "How shiny and smooth do I want my balsa nosecone to appear?"

Have fun! Once those dual canted motors ignite you will have forgotten about the paint job! :D
 

SwingWing

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Yep, to each his own.
I like the lazy method, I stick the NC 1/2 way into the BT and prime and paint it with the rest of the rocket. This gets paint on the rim of the shoulder and makes the NC a little tighter. I usually seal the balsa with shellac (dries really fast!) and sand lightly b-4 prime and paint
 

Silverleaf

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Black Walnut is some seriously gorgeous wood, second only to Zebra wood - when polished, its purple in color with black rings and oh so lovely. I'll have to get my camera fixed and take a pic of my full-tang Katana and Wakasashi with Zebra Wood inserts. Delish !

On the subect at hand, I prefer to finish the shoulder with the same color that is on the main tube - call it preference or my over-indulgent imagination, but I think it looks sweet that way.

I test fit first, then see how loose the cone sits when seated. If its loose, a simple base coat of SS folowed by a quick sanding and followed by a touch of paint.

If too tight, I sand it first then repeat the above steps.

Then finish both ways with a flat finish.
 

jflis

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Originally posted by sandman
Jim,

Poplar is a great wood for that! Really pretty grain, done it a few times for people. Actually just a thin coating of West epoxy gives poplar a pretty amber color and really makes the grain show up. Carl's 38mm Deuce has a poplar nose cone. Was a shame to paint it!

One wood that I have a bunch of and nobody ever asks for...is black walnut! That polishes up real prudy!

Looks like a gun stock!

sandman
ooohhhh, if I can find some black walnut stock (i used to have a source for sheets) and/or some venier, I may just have a nose cone project for you :)

jim
 

sandman

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ooohhhh, if I can find some black walnut stock (i used to have a source for sheets) and/or some venier, I may just have a nose cone project for you
I found a whole bunch of 2", 3" and 4" thick black walnut in an old barn that was being torn down...mine now!

sandman
 

rbeckey

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I usually paint a little way down the shoulder just in case the tube end or cone shoulder isn't even.
 

astronboy

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If you are really looking for a small piece of exotic wood, try these guys:

http://www.dlumberyard.com/

I purchased some 3" x 1/8" x 12" ebony from them for a ship modeling project, and they are the best!! Click on the button labelled 'WOOD" and scroll down to see what is available.

Note: These exotic woods can be a handful to work. Purple Heart for instance is hard as stone, and will dull almost any cutting tool in no time, but it is GORGEOUS!!
 

powderburner

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Prowlerguy,
You already have gobs of good advise here, I'm not sure I can add much. The sarcastic side of me wants to say: if you're worried about the shoulder showing and interrupting your beautiful paint scheme, tap it down into place.
I used to CA the shoulders of Estes balsa cones, because they were (often as not) cut from pretty soft balsa and it began to get mashed down after a few flights. If you wanted to keep a good fit inside the front of the BT, you had to (carefully) coat the shoulder with a little CA to harden it up.
The balsa NC products I have seen in Fliskits have all been made of very high quality balsa, and have worked just fine in a nekkid condition (the shoulders, I mean). Sandman made some custom stuff for me, and it too was cut from good quality balsa and needed no further help.
I guess you can just decide on your own path, because there is no wrong way to do it (unless you glue the NC into the BT).
And don't be afraid to ask questions, just stand ready to pitch in and help reply to someone else's when it's your turn to know the answers!
 

prowlerguy

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Thanks again all. I was just worried about going to the closest NAR club launch (several hours drive), only to be marked as a lacksadasical (sp?) modeler when I really do put some effort in. First impressions and all that. Thanks for all the help and for allaying my silly fear.
 

Stymye

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Prowler ,
you will probably see all manner of finishes at your club launches
from things that look like they were brush painted to,nekid,
....battle-worn ,to fantastic works of art,!,but usually nomatter what the technique, most flyers are more than happy to show their work off when someone asks,,

I have seen half finished rockets put in spectacular flights and
have seen beautifull rockets power prang on their first flight..

what matters is that your happy with your technique.I've never heard anyone say at a launch ...".look at that ugly rocket ! "
 
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