Estes BBIII, Mean Machine, AlphaVI now available

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by EXPjawa, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Jul 6, 2018 #1

    EXPjawa

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    Title says it all. The reissued Black Brant III, Mean Machine, the Alpha VI have now all moved from their "Coming Soon" page to "What's New", and are shown as in-stock.
     
  2. Jul 6, 2018 #2

    DankMemes

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    Yes they have, couldn't pass up on that alpha VI ordered 2 of them, my first estes rocket was an Alpha III with the red nose and fin can almost 30 years ago, and still own in, the kit is still around although these days the nose and fins are day glow orange. I couldn't pass up a back to orginal red, and the metallic look just sets it off...

    kicking around getting a Mean Machine for old times sake, especially now its a split body from the factory, although I think I'd still mod is so it comes down in pieces on separate chutes...
     
  3. Jul 6, 2018 #3

    EXPjawa

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    I did that with my last-generation Mean Machine. I replaced the disconnect coupler with a balsa nose block. Rear on an 18" chute, the front on a streamer seems to work the best for matching descent rates.
     
  4. Jul 6, 2018 #4

    DankMemes

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    pretty much what i was thinking, seems like a much gentler way to bring back over 6 feet of thin-walled rocket
     
  5. Jul 6, 2018 #5

    DankMemes

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    Although there's a lot to be said if i did leave the disconnect in there with a baffle behind it, because it woudl be load, click & shoot at the pad
     
  6. Jul 7, 2018 #6

    Mugs914

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    Had to look to see what an Alpha VI was... Going to have to get a couple of those! The old red Alpha III was the first rocket I ever built and the first I ever flew, though they were two different Alpha IIIs!
     
  7. Jul 7, 2018 #7

    DankMemes

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    The beauty of the Alpha III platform was it would and was designed to fly great on whatever motor you had rolling around your rangebox and could survive a hell of a beating... I’m sure many a rocketeer had a start or had this in there fleet early on
     
  8. Jul 7, 2018 #8

    DankMemes

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    Same here still have mine although it needs re-tubing to fly again safely
     

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  9. Jul 7, 2018 #9

    HandsomeRob

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    After tree-ing and ruining the Alpha III I picked up a year ago as my first rocket to fly since I was a kid.....I kinda like the idea of picking up that new one (or a couple) to shoot off in between the bigger rockets. That was always a fun one and, man, does it go on a C6!
     
  10. Jul 7, 2018 #10

    BEC

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    Indeed - I've been flying an Alpha III with a FireFly stuffed in the nose cone and I have recorded flights touching 1100 feet with it. I've been flying that one with a streamer just to improve the chances of keeping it on the field.

    I am looking forward to picking up at least a couple of copies of the VI.
     
  11. Jul 9, 2018 #11

    dlrflyer1967

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    Hmm...C6-5 or C6-7 for this one? I’ve never braved more than a B in one of these. Alpha III are one tough bird and can easily handle fast streamer recovery.
     
  12. Jul 9, 2018 #12

    BEC

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    I went back through my recent logs....I got consistently higher altitudes using C6-7 over C6-5. That tells me the longer delay let the model coast long enough while the C6-5 was too short. It's rather hard to visually confirm that as an Alpha III at 1100+ feet (I have two flights just over 1200) is pretty hard to see clearly :)
     
  13. Jul 9, 2018 #13

    HandsomeRob

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    I definitely wouldn't recommend the C6 for small field launches. Love the idea of slapping a streamer on it too.

    I only ever pushed it that far at club launches but it was so fun to see it go. I had also cut a spill hole into the chute in hopes of keeping it out of the trees but it was a particularly windy day when I sent it up. I did find it the next month but, unfortunately, it had rained quite a bit since then and the body tube was kinda mushy. It's still sitting on my desk though haha. Also, I salvaged the parachute and used it in a Der Red Max for a little while after the super cool crossbones chute got melted.
     
  14. Aug 9, 2018 #14

    GlenP

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    My package of these 3 arrived today from AC Hobbies. Outer cardboard shipping box was crushed on one corner, but luckily all body tubes in the kits inside were fine, lots of airbags in there helped protect everything.
     
  15. Aug 9, 2018 #15

    DankMemes

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    I’m probably on my 5th or 6th order at least from AC Supply and I can say easily these guys know how to ship rockets, never once had an ovalled tube or crushed
     
  16. Aug 9, 2018 #16

    neil_w

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    Am I the only one that doesn't actually remember what the first rocket I ever built was? I feel like it might have been an Alpha, but I know I didn't have one in my fleet later on, so if I built it then I don't know where it went. Maybe it was built at camp, or maybe lost in the trees somewhere?

    I have much clearer recollections of the models I built afterwards.
     
  17. Aug 9, 2018 #17

    Mugs914

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    You probably painted it with Aerogloss dope then...
     
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  18. Aug 9, 2018 #18

    Bruiser

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    You're not the only one. I only remember two rockets that I had. One was a Big Bertha and was very impressed by the "slowness" of the launch. The other was the orbital transport which flew great the one time I launched it but the glider flew into an un-friendly neighbors pool and by the time I got it back, it was mush.

    -Bob
     
  19. Aug 9, 2018 #19

    jlabrasca

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    <smile>

    I remember all of the rockets I built as a kid.

    I cannot, however, remember the first rocket that I built as an adult; the rocket my students had to build for the rocket lab we taught in grad school.

    I recently found some of the engines that I must have purchased for that launch, along with a length of rocketry fuse (!).

    It was not an Alpha, but it was something about that size/complexity. I've looked at 1988-89 Estes catalogs -- no bells ring. The other TA for the lab and I both built the kit, and flew them with the class on launch day. We've corresponded about this, but his recollection is worse than mine. It bothers me more than it should that I cannot remember what the kit was.
     
  20. Aug 11, 2018 #20

    GlenP

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    I was going to build the α VI stock, but decided to add an ejection baffle and a Kevlar cord, then used the included shock cord at the end of that, which looked to be adequately long by itself anyway, seems like Estes has been trending to including sufficiently long shock cords these days, if I am not imagining things.

    The cone and fin can are really shiny, like those little rocket ornaments Estes makes. And the body tube has a nice sheen to it also, really hard to see those reflective highlights in any of the photographs on a computer screen, so I won't bother including another picture here, get one and see it for yourself! The sticker sheet includes two 60th annivesary logos, but the face card placement leaves room on the back side for a second one that would fall under the launch lug line where it might get rod rash, so I might just put the 60th sticker on one side. The assembly of this Alpha VI kit, how you capture the plastic fin can between the engine mount tube and the body tube, kind of reminds me of the Centuri Screaming Eagle kit assembly sequence.

    This is my first Alpha kit. My first rocket was the Centuri Viking I got at a Cub Scout Day camp. First kit I "bought" later from one of those sales clubs advertised in the Boy's Life Magazine, by selling greeting cards to neighbors, and mostly to my mom, so I could earn a prize, the Centuri Big Shot launch set with the Screaming Eagle and Excalibur kits and a launch pad that attached to a lantern battery. Very similar to the current Estes Tandem-X launch set with the Crossfire ISX and Amazon kits, which I bought for my son a few years ago when he was a Cub Scout.
    Issue Jan 1977 with the Big Grizzly on the cover was my first issue: https://boyslife.org/wayback/
    Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 5.31.49 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 5.27.18 PM.png

    BigShot color picture from the 1980 Centuri Catalog
    http://www.ninfinger.org/rockets/nostalgia/80cen006.html
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  21. Aug 11, 2018 #21

    DankMemes

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    I did the Kevlar shock cord as well on mine I have an almost 30 year old alpha III, that’s been through many of the Estes rubber band cords, so I put a Kevlar leader on this one run through the upper CR, the the band on that... did you have to sand the nose cone shoulder quite a bit in yours too?
     
  22. Aug 11, 2018 #22

    GlenP

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    those nose and fin can shoulders were a tight fit, but I gently worked them into the tube and did not have to sand either. The nose does not seem too tight now.

    Speaking of the Crossfire ISX, just cut open the bag of the BBIII or should I say B^2I^3 ... (that's a mathematical notation joke.)


    Also added a baffle and Kevlar line to the BBIII, just installed the engine mount and the baffle, starting on the fins. Hmm, scale-like wedge airfoils, or sport-style rounded LE sharp TE ... ? Seems like you gotta go with the scale fins on this fellow.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  23. Aug 13, 2018 #23

    kuririn

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    Received an Alpha VI and BBIII recently. Interesting to note that, although they were both released at the same time, the production date stamp for the BBIII is 12/21/17, while the Alpha VI is 3/26/18. Seven months lead time between manufacture and release for sale seems inefficient. Wonder if the bankruptcy had anything to do with that.
    BTW also picked up a recently released Rocketarium BBIII. Interesting kit. 3D printed nose cone. Same id as the Estes kit but thicker tube, so marginally longer in length to fit scale. Thin plywood fins, hard to sand the tapers into those. And no engine nozzle! Big fail compared to the cheaper Estes kit. I guess I'll have to make one out of cardstock.
     
  24. Aug 14, 2018 #24

    GlenP

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    Procrastinating sanding those BBIII fins, so I started building the Mean Machine, engine mount and cardboard couplers glued up. I made the lowest coupler into a baffle, and added a laundry shelf and Kevlar leader to a similar cardstock homemade coupler about half-way down the top most body tube.

    I tried using the non-toxic plastic cement from Testors in the blue bottle/tube to glue the twist-lock coupler parts in, but that was a mistake. The glue did not cure and did not bond, the plastic couplers slid right out of the cardboard tubes after an hour or so, when it definitely should have cured. Anyway, will try some Duco Plastic Model Cement to see if that works better. Maybe I put too much cement in there the first time and it needed much longer than I expected, but it just seemed to drip out and not be any where near tacky.

    If the Duco cement works, then I will be just about be done with the major body assemblies on the BBIII and the MM, then I will have to start sanding some fins for both of those. Update: the Duco plastic cement held fast, plenty of working time to slide the couplers into the tube, then it grabs pretty quick after.

    The BBIII fins seem kind of thin for shaping, but I will see what I can do. A little thicker balsa would be easier to work with, or a laminate of two thin sheets of balsa, so you know exactly where the LE and TE comes to a point. I actually have enough scrap from the MM fin sheet to cut thicker fins for the BBIII, hmm...
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  25. Aug 14, 2018 #25

    GlenP

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    Probably does not make any difference, but I noticed that the Mean Machine instructions show to put the male twist lock coupler into the top part of the rocket and the female coupler into the bottom part of the rocket. I prefer to swap this order with the male twist lock in the bottom section directing the ejection gases through the female coupler in the top portion. I think this might reduce any fouling of burning black powder into the gap in the twist lock coupler itself. Although the tolerances are such that I doubt any ejection charge can even get into that gap, it just makes more sense to me for the internal gap between the male/female joint to be facing away from the ejection charge. I wasn't sure if there is any other rationale to having the male/female couplers in the order per the instructions. Probably just a six of one, half-dozen of another thing. Another thing for me to think about instead of sanding those fins.
     
  26. Aug 15, 2018 #26

    chrisudy

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  27. Aug 15, 2018 #27

    GlenP

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    Hmm, that's why it has a nice lemony aroma, kind of like furniture polish. Yes, to the garbage that tube will go. Don't want to make that mistake again.

    Kind of nice to have a few rockets to build at the same time, since you can work on something on another kit while you are waiting for glue to dry on one kit. Here is a shot of the MM lower tubes before gluing them together, I added a baffle to the lower coupler, and put the male twist lock coupler in the lower half, instead in the upper half as shown in the instructions. I just lightly rounded the LE of the MM fins, I like the squared off sides and TE on that one, not concerned about setting any altitude records.

    Also, the BBIII stock fins are next to another set that I cut from the thicker scraps of the Mean Machine fin sheet. I guess I have done about everything with these builds that I can do before having to sand those fins. I will probably go ahead and sand one of the stock fins and one thicker fin and decide which one I like better, then will sand the other two.

    DSC_7647.jpg
     
  28. Aug 15, 2018 #28

    Nytrunner

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    Enjoy the Alpha 6, but carefully. It's limited release for the 60th anniversary and once it's gone, it's gone.

    Everyone at NARAM 60 got one in their bags
     
  29. Aug 15, 2018 #29

    kuririn

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    So are you building yours or keeping it as a collectible?
     
  30. Aug 15, 2018 #30

    Nytrunner

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    Both!

    (I was never one for leaving things unopened. Waste of space)
     

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