Big Bertha memories

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mikewrt

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My original big bertha built early 90s. I was 11 maybe 12. No laughing at the build quality. This was before I was allowed or had spray paint, brushed on testors model paint. Whatever.... finish didn't matter, painting was that last annoying step before FLYING! Making smoke and fire is what was important. The rubber shock cord has long since dry rotted. I think I'm going to fix it up. I'll put a new kevlar trifold mount recovery harness with some elastic to the nose cone and relive some old memories. I fully plan on building a new bertha some day and doing it up right. Cheers!
 

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rocketgeek101

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I recently restored my Big Bertha. Full motor mount and shock-cord replacement. It's my most flown rocket, and like you I built it before I was allowed to use spray paint. The BB is such a fun flier.
 

Back_at_it

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My original big bertha built early 90s. I was 11 maybe 12. No laughing at the build quality. This was before I was allowed or had spray paint, brushed on testors model paint. Whatever.... finish didn't matter, painting was that last annoying step before FLYING! Making smoke and fire is what was important. The rubber shock cord has long since dry rotted. I think I'm going to fix it up. I'll put a new kevlar trifold mount recovery harness with some elastic to the nose cone and relive some old memories. I fully plan on building a new bertha some day and doing it up right. Cheers!

My original BB from when I was young looked just about like that. While I was allowed to use spray paint, I had no idea what I was doing so I had bare spots in some places and heavy runs in others. The nose cone and black fins were hand painted so you could see the yellow under it.

When I returned to the hobby I found my old rockets and made them air worthy again with new shock cords and some fin repairs. On Bertha first flight in 20+ yrs. the ejection on the B6-4 didn't go off so she came in nose first and crumpled about 4 inches of body tube.

In all honesty it was the best thing that ever happened to that rocket. I cut the upper tube just below the coupler and added a baffle and new cord mount. From there I replaced the missing piece of tubing. The entire rocket including the fins were sanded down. I took the opportunity to do proper fillets on the fins, sealed, primered and repainted it. Finally I finished it off with vinyl from Sticker Shock. To this day it is still my second favorite rocket behind the Nasa Pegasus.
 

nosecone

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Looks good to me. The BB was my first rocket around 1983/4. Still have one on display at home.

Glad you were able to save yours !
 

mikewrt

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My original BB from when I was young looked just about like that. While I was allowed to use spray paint, I had no idea what I was doing so I had bare spots in some places and heavy runs in others. The nose cone and black fins were hand painted so you could see the yellow under it.

When I returned to the hobby I found my old rockets and made them air worthy again with new shock cords and some fin repairs. On Bertha first flight in 20+ yrs. the ejection on the B6-4 didn't go off so she came in nose first and crumpled about 4 inches of body tube.

In all honesty it was the best thing that ever happened to that rocket. I cut the upper tube just below the coupler and added a baffle and new cord mount. From there I replaced the missing piece of tubing. The entire rocket including the fins were sanded down. I took the opportunity to do proper fillets on the fins, sealed, primered and repainted it. Finally I finished it off with vinyl from Sticker Shock. To this day it is still my second favorite rocket behind the Nasa Pegasus.
While working on rebuilding and cleaning up mine I have been looking at all the neat mods I could learn about and experiment with. Until I really dug into mine I didn't remember the coupler with short section of body tube in the top third of the air frame. Could easily be a baffle like you did or make that top section an altimeter bay or even a clear payload section. I see myself building multiple of these and playing around with different options.
 

Retrospace101

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I got a big Bertha sometime back in a box of Vintage rocket items, The Bertha was dated to somewhere around 2009, where Estes could not produce its checkered parachutes, It was TOUGH, it kept getting beaten and repaired, sadly it was recently lost to the Trees at a nearby park. :(
 

mikewrt

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Nothing too special. New trifold with 130lb kevlar loop. The platic attachment loop on the nose cone was cut half way through. I finished cutting it off, filed down the nubs, drilled small hole and added a loop of kevlar. I will add a new section of elastic between the kevlar loops and will be ready to go.

IMG_20200628_161213.jpg


IMG_20200628_161549.jpg
 

Fishhead

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As with any rocket I like, I have multiple versions of the Big Bertha. One is done in the red/white/black paint scheme from the 1969 catalog, another in the yellow/black/white scheme from the 1977 catalog, and a 2001 version in that odd all black scheme with the sticker decals. I've got another original that I painted based on the face card. It's yellow/white/black with a red nose cone. Just for kicks I gave that one a cluster mount that I had laying around. I'd still like to do a couple more, one being the original that Excelsior had the decal pack for, another the oddball 1985 catalog variant and the late 80's/early 90's version with the name up the side.
 

Back_at_it

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While working on rebuilding and cleaning up mine I have been looking at all the neat mods I could learn about and experiment with. Until I really dug into mine I didn't remember the coupler with short section of body tube in the top third of the air frame. Could easily be a baffle like you did or make that top section an altimeter bay or even a clear payload section. I see myself building multiple of these and playing around with different options.

It's interesting to look back at the changes to the Big Bertha over the years. My first Bertha was bought and built around 1985/86. I recall it was the first year for the new black and orange decals. I was excited when I saw it and my dad bought it for me to build. (I was about 10yrs old). That first Bertha had two body tubes and a Stuffer tube to take up volume in the body tube and flew countless successful flights without drama.

Many years later I ran across an older version. The packaging had the Yellow and white paint job with the black stripes. Interestingly that version was a 1 piece body tube but no stuffer tube even though the instructions showed it. Not knowing any better I built it without. It flew twice and neither time did the parachute come out. Don't know what ever happened to it. I'm pretty sure it got tossed out as it was damaged and about 8 inches shorter than it started.

After returning to the hobby recently and flying my restored original bertha I was hooked on it all over again and of course I needed to build another one, this time with more power. By this point Estes had "E" motors in their line up so I knew at that point what had to be done. I found the black version online and a week later it was here. Looking at the kit I was scratching my head as Estes had once again removed the stuffer tube. Not an issue for me as I was going with a 24mm mount anyway. When I built that rocket I had to pick up a length of BT50 and the correct centering rings anyway so I went ahead and built it with about 10 inches of stuffer. It flew beautifully on a D12-5 and E9-something. Unfortunately the E9 fed that bertha to a rocket eating tree about a 1/2 mile from the launch pad.

Back to the drawing board. Back online and picked up yet another Black version. When It arrived it had the stuffer tube? Damn it Estes, make up your mind. Didn't matter, this one got a 24mm mount anyway.

Fast forward to this year. I picked up the most recently release and you guessed it. No stuffer tube.
 

GlenP

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My older brothers’ Big Bertha painted in solid orange is my first memory of model rocketry in action. They launched it at the family farm, it drifted in to the horse field. They ran to recover it. I chased after them running up to the break in the hedge row. I did not see the two electric fence lines that they skillfully crouched through, and I ran right into them. After a yelp from the shock, one of my brothers ran back and reached over the fence and lifted me over.

You might say my first Big Bertha rocket experience was electrifying!
 

Rocket86

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Way to go keeping the old Big Bertha flying! Mine is 'only' 20 years old and is my most flown rocket ever, and still going strong.
 

Wally Ferrer

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My older brother's Big Bertha was my first exposure to 'big' rockets circa 1968. My first one was around 1974, long lost to moving or who knows what. As a BAR in 2009, I immediately built a Big Bertha and a Baby Big Bertha, painted black. I still fly the Big Bertha, the first flight of the Baby landed in a tree and I was unable to retrieve it. I have another one now to build, along with a Super Big Bertha to join the fleet. Built but needing paint is my AMW Big Bertha, will be using the 1971 paint scheme here: http://www.ninfinger.org/rockets/catalogs/estes711/711est18.html

IMG_7848.JPG
 

kuririn

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I never had a BB as a kid.
Making up for it as a BAR.
Cloned a Super BB (the original, not the PS II re-issue).
Watched it get destroyed when an AT RMS motor catoed on the pad, blowing a hole in the airframe.
Immediately rebuilt an HD version:
Ply TTW fins instead of balsa.
Thick wall tube instead of standard.
Ply centering rings instead of fiber.
29mm mount instead of 24mm.
Only re-used the plastic nose cone.
Vinyl decals from Stickershock.
Flew well on its' maiden.
0629201839[1].jpg


And a cardstock Mini Brute BB:
0629201844a[1].jpg
Laters.
 

BlueTrane2028

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I didn’t have one as a kid. The one I have now, I found on eBay for less than the cost of a kit, missing the recovery system and nose cone. I happened to have the proper cone and took pity on it. I have another one unbuilt.

Even though the build is not up to my standards, it’s a treasure. I ended up painting the nose cone black. Maybe if I get some new decals I’ll smooth out the fins some more and make it nicer in general, but it flies well and I like the red more than I thought I would. It looks darker in person.

I last flew it chad staged, C6-0 to C6-5. Excellent up to the moment it landed in a tree, but I got it back.
 

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BlueTrane2028

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That does look awesome... I may have to paint one like that, but I'll probably pick something other than the yellow, perhaps orange, red or blue... or make the black be red and the yellow be blue, patriot bertha.
 

Karl

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The Big Bertha, Fat Boy & Big Daddy will always be special to me. They were some of my first actual kits when I got into the hobby in the early 2000's. Fond memories of building & flying them with my father. My original models are long gone, either misplaced in house moves or to the rocket gods. So when I got back into the hobby I just had to re-make them as I remember.
 

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