# Estes Alphas; I, III, IV and II?

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### Gillard

##### Well-Known Member
Does anyone know what the deal is/was with the Alpha II.
Whilst there is lots of info on the I, III, IV alphas, they are really available on auction sites, the plans can be found on the net.
but i can't find anything about the alpha II, other than a small reference that it existed.
Even in the 1980 estes catalogue they have both the I and III listed, but not II.
Does anyone have a picture of what the II looked like? Would be a nice project to clone/build all 4 (and perhaps the upscales that followed later).

##### Roger Smith
Does anyone know what the deal is/was with the Alpha II.
Whilst there is lots of info on the I, III, IV alphas, they are really available on auction sites, the plans can be found on the net.
but i can't find anything about the alpha II, other than a small reference that it existed.
Even in the 1980 estes catalogue they have both the I and III listed, but not II.
Does anyone have a picture of what the II looked like? Would be a nice project to clone/build all 4 (and perhaps the upscales that followed later).
The Alpha II was a version of the Alpha (I) with die-cut fins that was sold primarily to educators.

Generally ...

Alpha ... + die-cut fins = Alpha II
Alpha ... + plastic fins = Alpha III

Of course, the current Alpha has die-cut fins, so maybe it's an Alpha II.

-- Roger

Last edited:

#### Gillard

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha II was a version of the Alpha (I) with die-cut fins that was sold primarily to educators.

Generally ...

Alpha ... + die-cut fins = Alpha II
Alpha ... + plastic fins = Alpha III

-- Roger
thanks, that helps, always wondered about it.

where the decals for the Alpha II the same as Alpha I or Alpha III, or were they unique?

##### Roger Smith
thanks, that helps, always wondered about it.

where the decals for the Alpha II the same as Alpha I or Alpha III, or were they unique?
I'm not sure.

I found the instructions for the Alpha II online at:

https://estesplans.larocketryforum.com/K-25 alpha II.pdf

It looks like it also came with assembly tools, a motor, "igniter wires," and wadding!

-- Roger

Last edited:

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
Interesting that the Alpha II instructions have the motor mount being installed from the top of the body tube and pushed down through the glue. And, the shock cord is attached to the top of the engine hook rather than the three fold paper mount, and the motor mount tube is 3.5 inches long instead of the usual 2.75 inches.

I just acquired an Alpha kit (not a III) from a current educator pack of 12. It has laser cut fins and the nose cone is not the same one as that in my recent Alpha III (from a new starter set) but instead is a blow-molded one that is closer in shape to the original BNC-50K than the Alpha III cone.

Both of these are recent enough to have "lead free" monochrome parachutes that have the little note in them about that.

Last edited:

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha IV was a limited production model that was released in 1998 to celebrate Estes' 40th year in business. It was an E2X model with a body tube covered in sparkly red Mylar and with a black plastic nose cone and fin can.

MarkII

#### ManofSteele

##### Active Member
The Alpha II was the "educator's" version of the Alpha I. The primary difference in the kit was that the fin lines were marked in blue ink on the BT-50 tube.

The Alpha IV was the commemorative version of the Alpha to celebrate Estes's 40th anniversary. I suggested that idea as the Estes brand manager at the time, and oversaw the final decor and packaging. It has the same parts as an Alpha III, except for the decals.

Matt

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha II was the "educator's" version of the Alpha I. The primary difference in the kit was that the fin lines were marked in blue ink on the BT-50 tube.

The Alpha IV was the commemorative version of the Alpha to celebrate Estes's 40th anniversary. I suggested that idea as the Estes brand manager at the time, and oversaw the final decor and packaging. It has the same parts as an Alpha III, except for the decals.

Matt
My error. I was rehashing received information; I never actually saw the kit.

MarkII

#### powderburner

##### Well-Known Member
I would like to see someone make a list of all NC shapes and part numbers. I swear I have seen about a half dozen different NCs come with those kits over the years. Balsa, plastic, pointy, round, long, short....

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
I have also found that the fin shapes have changed slightly. I have some Semroc laser-cut fins which match the fin pattern on the JimZ site exactly, and I have a set of current Estes laser-cut fins (from a current educator bulk pack of Alphas) and the root and tip chords are lower but the span slightly larger. These balsa fins match the shape on the Alpha III/Phantom/Hijinks/Athena RTF fin can.

It would be an interesting exercise for someone even more picky than me to try to catalog and time-line the variations in the Alpha from the original release to now, even if one confined oneself to the BT-50 body sized variants only.

The motor mount has evolved over time as well....I have the instructions from my original late-60's Alpha (but alas, no the fin pattern sheet) and that motor mount has the thin RA-2050 rings near the very ends of the MM tube (the aft one only 1/16 inch from the end) and the engine hook retained by a paper strip wrapped around and glued in the middle. The Alpha docs on JimZ (these at least are back after the recent hack job he suffered) shows AR-2050s with the lower one doubling as motor hook retainer (no notch) on the page with the fin pattern, but the other two pages match my original plans.....so he has two versions there. Then there's the longer motor tube in the Alpha II instructions linked to in Roger's post #4 above.....

Of course I'm not being historically accurate as both the original Alpha clone I'm building and the Alpha from the educator pack will have kevlar shock cord retention tied to the upper end of the motor hook rather than using the folded paper shock cord mount.

Last edited:

#### Mikus

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha IV was a limited production model that was released in 1998 to celebrate Estes' 40th year in business. It was an E2X model with a body tube covered in sparkly red Mylar and with a black plastic nose cone and fin can.

MarkII

Ding.

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
Well, I just came home with two Alpha IV and one Maxi Alpha 3 kits. Add those to the current Alpha (I) made from a recent bulk educator's pack and the Alpha II clone (Semroc parts) I have ready for fill and finish (my previous post in this thread) and an Alpha III already on hand and I'm going to have quite a family. I'll have to post a family portrait when I get 'em done....

#### Mikus

##### Well-Known Member
Well, I just came home with two Alpha IV and one Maxi Alpha 3 kits. Add those to the current Alpha (I) made from a recent bulk educator's pack and the Alpha II clone (Semroc parts) I have ready for fill and finish (my previous post in this thread) and an Alpha III already on hand and I'm going to have quite a family. I'll have to post a family portrait when I get 'em done....
Might as well epoxy those Maxi Alpha fins on. They will break on the 1st flight.

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
I haven't looked too closely at that kit yet, but I can see why you would say that..... Thanks for the suggestion.

#### dragon_rider10

Can anyone explain the significant difference in cost between an Alpha III and other Estes E2X kits? When I see them for $19 next to a shuttle express for$13, I just scratch my head. I used to think it was being done on the retailer level, but looking through the catalog I see the MSRP is $18.99 or so. #### shreadvector ##### Well-Known Member Can anyone explain the significant difference in cost between an Alpha III and other Estes E2X kits? When I see them for$19 next to a shuttle express for $13, I just scratch my head. I used to think it was being done on the retailer level, but looking through the catalog I see the MSRP is$18.99 or so.
Supply and demand.

People have a silly emotional attachment to the Alpha and anything with the Alpha name (II, IV, Maxi, etc.)

Regular sized Alphas are TOO short to fit wadding and the parachute in for the average model rocketeer. They should be longer. The Generic E2X and all the other named versions of the identical rocket are a perfect size for wadding and parachute.

Anyway, kits with long standing consumer appeal (i.e. they sell thousands of them no matter what they charge for them), will continue to be made and sold for the highest price the market will bear.

#### Gillard

##### Well-Known Member
Supply and demand.

People have a silly emotional attachment to the Alpha and anything with the Alpha name (II, IV, Maxi, etc.)

Regular sized Alphas are TOO short to fit wadding and the parachute in for the average model rocketeer. They should be longer. The Generic E2X and all the other named versions of the identical rocket are a perfect size for wadding and parachute.

Anyway, kits with long standing consumer appeal (i.e. they sell thousands of them no matter what they charge for them), will continue to be made and sold for the highest price the market will bear.
all valid, i paid over the odds just to get an original Astron Alpha kit. i could clone it or buy a more recent version for less but i wanted the original, i will probably never build it, but i'm happy knowing i have an original in a box in my lab, sat there, doing nothing!

#### Initiator001

##### Well-Known Member
Can anyone explain the significant difference in cost between an Alpha III and other Estes E2X kits? When I see them for $19 next to a shuttle express for$13, I just scratch my head. I used to think it was being done on the retailer level, but looking through the catalog I see the MSRP is $18.99 or so. For the past 3 or 4 decades, Estes has always had an annual price increase (Sometimes two in one year :y: ). This price increase is 5-7% annually. There are occassional increases due to a rise in the cost of materials. The longer a kit stays in production, the more price increases it will experience. Take a look at motor prices. In 1970, a pack of three D12 motors had an Suggested Retail Price of$2.00. Today, a pack of D12s has an SRP of \$15.29.

As Lee Piester once told me, the thing he regretted most when looking back at running Centuri Engineering, was that he did not raise prices often enough.

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha IV was the commemorative version of the Alpha to celebrate Estes's 40th anniversary. I suggested that idea as the Estes brand manager at the time, and oversaw the final decor and packaging. It has the same parts as an Alpha III, except for the decals.

Matt
One other small difference: My very recent Alpha III has a regular tubular launch lug which is glued onto the body tube (I roughed the BT up to remove the shiny black finish locally first).

The Alpha IVs I acquired last night have a plastic molded part with two "loops" for the launch rod. It appears to be the same part as is used on the current ready-to-fly offerings. I haven't opened one yet to see how one is supposed to attach the launch guide part (what sort of adhesive is recommended).

Last edited:

#### Gillard

##### Well-Known Member
The Alpha IVs I acquired last night have a plastic molded part with two "loops" for the launch rod, as is used on the current ready-to-fly offerings. I haven't opened one yet to see how one is supposed to attach the launch guide part (what sort of adhesive is recommended).
probably plastic cement which is basically a solvent that dissolves the two pieces of plastic, then the solvent evaporates and the two pieces of plastic are effectively welded together, use too much cement and the plastic "melts" away

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
probably plastic cement which is basically a solvent that dissolves the two pieces of plastic, then the solvent evaporates and the two pieces of plastic are effectively welded together, use too much cement and the plastic "melts" away
I know. But that's not gonna work. The launch lug bit is polypropylene (at least on the RTFs) - not susceptible to "plastic cement", or most any other adhesive for that matter. And the mylar wrap that provides the iridescent finish isn't soluble with plastic cement either.

I've seen some rather poor recommendations in Estes instructions regarding appropriate adhesives.

My current plan for the Alpha IVs is to build one, and I may well substitute a normal launch lug, applied as I did with my III (or with RC-56) and stash the other one. But I'll have to open the package and verify first.

On the RTFs the launch guide piece is attached in the Chinese factory with hot glue. This part also serves as the shock cord anchor on those models.

#### Gillard

##### Well-Known Member
I know. But that's not gonna work. The launch lug bit is polypropylene (at least on the RTFs) - not susceptible to "plastic cement", or most any other adhesive for that matter. And the mylar wrap that provides the iridescent finish isn't soluble with plastic cement either.

I've seen some rather poor recommendations in Estes instructions regarding appropriate adhesives.

My current plan for the Alpha IVs is to build one, and I may well substitute a normal launch lug, applied as I did with my III (or with RC-56) and stash the other one. But I'll have to open the package and verify first.

On the RTFs the launch guide piece is attached in the Chinese factory with hot glue. This part also serves as the shock cord anchor on those models.
polypropylene!, great, a plastic that is resistent to nearly all types of glue - that's why they make glue bottles out of it. you have to hand it to ESTES, they picked the very worst type of material to make plastic parts out of if they have to be glued together!

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
I opened one of the Alpha IVs......the launch lug device feels more like styrene to me now that I've handled it. The instructions have one scrape off the metalized skin to glue on the lug with plastic cement (but see the various "today's plastic cement ain't what it used be" sorts of threads here and on YORF).

I will still likely do the "normal" launch lug/RC56 thing with this one....if I can get the fin tips to stay straight....

#### RocketT.Coyote

##### Well-Known Member
Once had a Maxi Alpha III back in the 1980s. Flew it a few times and had it displayed on a parade float. Then some ditz set a flagstand base on top of it immediately after said parade.:y: