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Estes Ascender--Two Parachute Failures in a Row Glitch? Or Not??

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tfrielin

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In discussing the availability of the Der Red Max that will use F-16 engines, I noted on this forum earlier today that I have quite a few leftover F-16 engines that I want to use on the Der Red Max.

Why, you ask?? BecauseI built an Estes Ascender to use them on. First flight---no parachute opening, came in balistically. End of rocket.

So I built another one. Exact same result. I fly near horses and in-coming rocket failures like that scare the heck out of me.

I've been building and flying rockets since about 1965 and while I don't claim to be a master modler, I can put together a functonal rocket.

So, Im wondering---has any one else experienced this Ascender failure mode? I don't want to get another after this, so I'm hoping the Red Max will solve my excess F-16 engine problem. Thanks for any input!!
 
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kuririn

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Which F-16 motor? How long was the delay?
From your description it sounds like there was no separation prior to impact.
Is that the case?
 

epflyer

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I have an Ascender and have not had any issues. I use a couple pieces of wadding then about 2 calibers of "dog barf." It has been a good flyer for me using Estes F16 engines.
 

tfrielin

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Which F-16 motor? How long was the delay?
From your description it sounds like there was no separation prior to impact.
Is that the case?
Just a four second delay. The nose cone never separated. It came in like a javelin---twice each one, so I'm relutant to go back for another one.

It was an easy build with that current-day screw-on engine holder, so engine ejection was not a factor.
 

Bruiser

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4 second delay probably wasn't long enough. Ascender is pretty "clean" and I bet it was still moving to fast to pop the nose cone.

Just did this with a Vapor. Put an E30-4 in it and had the same result. It wasn't until I was scratching my head wondering what went wrong when I realized that a 4 second delay is fine with a D12 but not for a E30...

Just my thoughts for whatever they are worth,
-Bob
 

kuririn

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Yeah, I second what Bruiser says.
The recommended motors are E16-6, F15-6 and F15-8.
Also check the nose cone fit, not too snug.
Good luck on your third flight!
 

BABAR

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First flight---no parachute opening, came in balistically. End of rocket.

So I built another one. Exact same result. I fly near horses and in-coming rocket failures like that scare the heck out of me.
I’m guessing the horses weren’t overly thrilled either!
 

tfrielin

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Yeah, I second what Bruiser says.
The recommended motors are E16-6, F15-6 and F15-8.
Also check the nose cone fit, not too snug.
Good luck on your third flight!
Thanks, guys. That sounds like a plausible scenario.
 

tfrielin

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I’m guessing the horses weren’t overly thrilled either!
Nor their owners!! The farm's pasture is about 80% big enough for a sporting chance to get back D, E, and some composite engined-rockets. But I have to cant a little into the prevailing winds--no straight up trajectories. And that puts apogee over the horse farm, so it's imperitive that I at least get the nose cone popped off to avoid my Ascender javelin descent!
 

Back_at_it

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Humm. Interesting. If you look at the motor, is the clay missing on the top after the flight? Do you know if the ejection charge is evening going off?

Reason I say this is, I have mistakenly flown mine on F16-4 without any issues. The force of the charge should push the upper section out without any issue regardless of delay or vertical motion. Mine even has a 4 plate baffle in it and it separated violently the last time I made that mistake. It didn't zipper but it did deform the upper tube a bit.

I'm thinking this is more of a weak ejection charge than anything else. If it were me, I don't think I would use those motors if the packs are from the same batch.
 

tfrielin

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Humm. Interesting. If you look at the motor, is the clay missing on the top after the flight? Do you know if the ejection charge is evening going off?

Reason I say this is, I have mistakenly flown mine on F16-4 without any issues. The force of the charge should push the upper section out without any issue regardless of delay or vertical motion. Mine even has a 4 plate baffle in it and it separated violently the last time I made that mistake. It didn't zipper but it did deform the upper tube a bit.

I'm thinking this is more of a weak ejection charge than anything else. If it were me, I don't think I would use those motors if the packs are from the same batch.
I also wondered about a batch problem. But, no I never got to inspect the engines---never recovered the first one and for the second, my "recovery crew" only brought back parts and, again, no engine. It would have been interesting to see the clay that topped the ejection charge.

I had thought somehow I was faulty in assembling the engine mount, but with that screw-on engine holder it uses, I really don't see how that could have been the problem. It's not like it was 1965 all over again, when just a little too little tape for the friction mount meant the engine blew itself out instead of blowing out the parachute.

Except for not having to trace and cut out balsa wood fins, engine mount improvements are the best things separating today's Estes rockets from their '60s era ancestors!
 

Back_at_it

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The only other thing I can think of is that the entire screw on motor mount was blown off the rocket. They really need to be roughed up good and installed with epoxy. I have seen them come off when installed with super glue. I guess that could be a cause but without inspecting the wreck it's hard to guess.
 

tfrielin

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The only other thing I can think of is that the entire screw on motor mount was blown off the rocket. They really need to be roughed up good and installed with epoxy. I have seen them come off when installed with super glue. I guess that could be a cause but without inspecting the wreck it's hard to guess.
I don't think I have the instructions any more (With this covid year, lost to my getting to fly, these mishaps are over a year ago now) and don't remember what glue I used for the engine mount. But whatever it was, I'm sure I slavishly followed those instructions.

In my own defense---If it was epoxy, I can say I've gotten pretty good at mixing and working with that stuff. I have several Nike Smokes that have not failed in this way. Pretty sure epoxy was involved in the engine mounts. If it was Elmer's white or wood glue---would that really have been so inadequate in maintaining the integrity of the mount???
 

Back_at_it

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The instructions call for Epoxy. Since you have experience with Epoxy I'm sure that is what you used.

Elmers would have popped right off. Hell, it might have loosened up just screwing the retainer in place.
 

RalPh8

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I have an Estes ascender that I’ve flown prolly in the neighborhood of 15 times. Maybe more. Once it even landed in a lake and I had to swim to get it. It’s been beaten up pretty good but I’ve never had an issue with the parachute not deploying.
 

BABAR

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i think if I bought the same rocket twice and both times it wrecked on the first flight, I wouldn’t go for the hat trick and buy a third. Maybe just bad juju between you and that model. It’s not like there aren’t lots of other rocket choices to crash....I mean launch.
 

tfrielin

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i think if I bought the same rocket twice and both times it wrecked on the first flight, I wouldn’t go for the hat trick and buy a third. Maybe just bad juju between you and that model. It’s not like there aren’t lots of other rocket choices to crash....I mean launch.
Barbar---I hear you. Not gonna go for Ascender Number Three, which goes back to the origin of this thread and the related one about the 3'' Der Red Max coming back. It's the Red Max that I'll get when I can to use up my remaining F-16s.

Now if I get the same failure then, I'll be persuaded its a bad batch. I'll do a static test from then on to see up close what happens with the ejection charge!!
 

jrap330

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4 second delay probably wasn't long enough. Ascender is pretty "clean" and I bet it was still moving to fast to pop the nose cone.

Just did this with a Vapor. Put an E30-4 in it and had the same result. It wasn't until I was scratching my head wondering what went wrong when I realized that a 4 second delay is fine with a D12 but not for a E30...

Just my thoughts for whatever they are worth,
-Bob
Gee, never heard this before, ejection charge so weak that it can not pop the nose cone while still traveling up? Have you read about this anywhere?
 

tfrielin

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Gee, never heard this before, ejection charge so weak that it can not pop the nose cone while still traveling up? Have you read about this anywhere?
Jrap---I can't say I've ever heard this before either. I'm leaning to the Bad Batch Theory wherein my Estes Two Pack package might have been defective or deficirent in the ejection charge department.

Or, that I just built two faulty kits one after the other. But, I swear, my build to flight success record is pretty good since the Johnson Administration. I swear!!
 
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Bruiser

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I remembering seeing it somewhere but I can't give either of you a reference. I wonder if anyone has a Rocksim or OR file that they could use to check the deployment speed with a short delay.

-Bob
 

kuririn

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Too bad you can't inspect the wreckage to see if the motor mount blew out .
The Ascender has plastic centering rings so epoxy is a must.
Doesn't hurt to scuff up the rings to give the epoxy better adhesion as well.
If it turns out to be a defective engine batch then Estes customer service will replace the totalled Ascenders and motors or substitute a comparable item(s).
The problem with a static test of just the motor is how do you visually judge if an ejection charge is normal or weak?
 

tfrielin

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Too bad you can't inspect the wreckage to see if the motor mount blew out .
The Ascender has plastic centering rings so epoxy is a must.
Doesn't hurt to scuff up the rings to give the epoxy better adhesion as well.
If it turns out to be a defective engine batch then Estes customer service will replace the totalled Ascenders and motors or substitute a comparable item(s).
The problem with a static test of just the motor is how do you visually judge if an ejection charge is normal or weak?
Well, my static test plan consists of planting it in the berm we use for pistol target practice and ligthing it off. If the ejection charge fires, I'm sure we'll know it!

Any better ideas??
 

kuririn

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I guess if it goes poof instead of BANG then you'll know. :D
Anyway videoing the test might be a good idea, it may serve as proof for reimbursement.
Estes is very good about warranty service.
 

tfrielin

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Too bad you can't inspect the wreckage to see if the motor mount blew out .
The Ascender has plastic centering rings so epoxy is a must.
Doesn't hurt to scuff up the rings to give the epoxy better adhesion as well.
If it turns out to be a defective engine batch then Estes customer service will replace the totalled Ascenders and motors or substitute a comparable item(s).
The problem with a static test of just the motor is how do you visually judge if an ejection charge is normal or weak?

I'm trying to remember if the Ascender's fins were through-the-body-tube and into the engine mount? Or just slotted into the boby tube?

Unlike the Nike Smoke's fins which are incorporated into the engine mount which keeps the fin/engine mount component pretty hard to come apart.

It would be harder to envision a total engine mount blowout on the Ascender if the fin-through-the-body-tube-into-the-the-motor-mount were the case.

Who's got the Ascender instructions handy??
 

tfrielin

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I guess if it goes poof instead of BANG then you'll know. :D
Anyway videoing the test might be a good idea, it may serve as proof for reimbursement.
Estes is very good about warranty service.
At this point, I'd be happy with a 3'' Der Red Max as a comp if it ever gets released.
 

BABAR

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Gee, never heard this before, ejection charge so weak that it can not pop the nose cone while still traveling up? Have you read about this anywhere?
Thanks, I was thinking the same thing
 

tfrielin

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Estes has copies of the Ascender instructions on their web site (https://estesrockets.com/wp-content/uploads/Instructions/009706_ASCENDER.pdf). Fins appear to be TTW, and engage into slots in the centering rings.

r/
Dave

Yeah,ok---that configuration makes it much less likely the whole engine mount could have blown out, or so it seems to me.

No more Ascenders at any rate and on to the new Der Red Max. And that other Nike Smoke in the closet I've yet to build...
 

Back_at_it

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Yeah, the entire engine mount isn't coming out of the rocket with the fins still attached. At best you might blow off the motor retainer.

Edit: I just pulled out my unbuilt Ascender and the included motor retainer is extremely loose on the motor tube. I did not notice this when building my earlier model but I can easily wrap two or three rounds of tape around the motor tube and still slide the retainer on the tube.
 
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