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Estes Black Brant II (1958) Restoration.

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Back_at_it

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I’m thinking this forum needs a dedicated “Builds” section as I feel like I’m cluttering up the normal forum with all my restorations.

Well it’s been about a week since I wrapped up my last resto project of the Estes Yankee and with the exception of some painting projects, the work bench is empty but there are literally hundreds of rockets waiting for some attention.

I decided to dig through the box of broken rockets I picked up locally to see what was next. There were two that caught my attention right away and it came down to this Black Brant II or the old Nova Payloader. Looking at my choices, this Black Brant seems to be in better condition so we’re going with it this time. The Payloader is coming but will require a bit more work as it’s missing parts and has a crushed tube.

I like the lines on the Black Brant II. It’s simple but purposeful with nice details around the tail with coupler and cone. This is another rocket I built as a kid and lost. I recall having several good flights on it using B6 and C6 motors. I let me dad talk me into a D12 and the last time we saw it was when I pushed the button.

The plan for this build is to put it back together visually stock but incorporate all of the little tricks we have all learned over the years. This one will get a Kevlar and Elastic shock cord. I’ve also recently purchased some baffles from Qualman Rockets that I’m looking to use so one will be going in here. With the amount of plastic on this model I’m strongly considering Epoxy for the aft section. Basically use it for all of the lower plastic couplers and to attach the fins as a part of them connect to the lower cone.

OK, Let’s get started.

Pic 1 and 2 - At first glance the rocket doesn’t look bad. One fin is broken off cleanly and the other two show signs of repair and are loose. The tube is in good shape and everything seems to be there.

Pic 3 – After pulling the nose cone I can see that the parachute is missing but the shroud lines are present and the shock cord has been pulled out of the tri-fold mount.

Pic 4 – Thank you Estes for telling people to use plastic cement to assemble this model. Literally every part with the exception of the paper coupler has pulled apart with absolutely no effort. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t use model cement to build rockets. But thank you to all of those out there that did back in the day as you make my life much easier today. :)

Pic 5 – Here is something I didn’t expect and missed on the initial inspection. The motor mount tube is missing. I see where it was glued in place at one time but is MIA now. It looks like it pulled out cleanly. I wonder if this is a result of motor mount failure during launch. That would also explain the broken shock cord and missing parachute.

At this point I took measurements of everything for future reference including the dims on all of the decals. I’ll include them at some point during this resto.

The resto looks to be pretty straight forward on this one. Going to need to address the motor mount issue but otherwise this should be a matter of sanding down the old parts and reassembly.

That’s as far as I got last night. Will pick up the project again later today.
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OC-Patrick

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good luck with the restoration. BBII is one of my all time favorites - I have my original (built late 70's) in slightly better condition but still a favorite flyer, also scratch-built upscaled versions.
 

dcastle

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On the antennae --- the original came with toothpicks to replicate the three antennae that protruded from the nose area. Those break off if you just look at them sternly. I found some material in the local hobby store...I can't remember what it's called but it's a somewhat flexible plastic rod with a bit of wire inside. I found a diameter that was pretty close to scale, measured the right length plus some extra. Then I created holes at each appropriate location and inserted the rods and bent them on the inside so that they lay along the inside of the tube, setting the outside portion to the right length and angle for each antenna. They are then secured with epoxy putty. They look perfect and won't break off. Slightly thicker in appearance than the toothpicks but I'm not certain, without a micrometer and a bit of research, which is closer to scale.
 

Back_at_it

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On the antennae --- the original came with toothpicks to replicate the three antennae that protruded from the nose area. Those break off if you just look at them sternly. I found some material in the local hobby store...I can't remember what it's called but it's a somewhat flexible plastic rod with a bit of wire inside. I found a diameter that was pretty close to scale, measured the right length plus some extra. Then I created holes at each appropriate location and inserted the rods and bent them on the inside so that they lay along the inside of the tube, setting the outside portion to the right length and angle for each antenna. They are then secured with epoxy putty. They look perfect and won't break off. Slightly thicker in appearance than the toothpicks but I'm not certain, without a micrometer and a bit of research, which is closer to scale.
Good call on the antennae. I forgot about those but I do recall them breaking off mine as a kid. I'm going to need to see what I can come up with. I'm thinking I might want to try piano wire or something similar.
 

RJT

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I'm starting the build on the new Estes version. The decal placement, especially near the fin area is puzzling to me. Any thoughts/suggestions?
 

Back_at_it

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Made some good progress last night. I'm pleased to say that everything is in really good shape. I'm able to reuse everything except the original launch lugs. While they are reusable, I just don't feel like sanding them. Call me lazy...

Pic 1 & 2 - Here we see the parts. The main tube is in good shape. The remaining glue popped off and what was left sanded easily. The entire tube was sanded and most of the paint removed. What is left on there is really well stuck so it's staying.

The nose cone cleaned up nicely. There are a couple of dimples that will get some filler before priming. Both plastic couplers cleaned up nicely. The lower body tube outer layer was separating so I simply peeled the outer layer off. The Upper tube with coupler has several coats of black paint on it. Not sure what was going on in the builders mind, but I've sanded it smooth.

Speaking of the upper tube. The coupler that is inserted is only sticking out about 3/8 of an inch. When test fit into the main body tube, the upper section (body tube and nose cone) are not very stable with only 3/8 of an inch of coupler going into the main tube and kind of wobble around. The coupler will be removed and replaced with a new coupler that extends down further.

Last are the fins. These were never sealed so the decals fell off. The fins were then sanded with 240 grit to remove some of the paint and get down to wood fibers. A rough taper was done on the leading edge of the fins. This will be cleaned up a bit later.

Pics 3 & 4 - In keeping with the theme of reusing as much as I can from the older rockets I decided to recycle some old body tubes. If you caught my resto of the Maverick a while back you know that I had to replace the original tube as there was a large hole in one side. The remnants of the original Maverick tube landed it the scrap pile. Since I now needed a section of BT50 for a motor mount, it seemed like a good opportunity to recycle.

A section of the original Maverick tube was cut to 3.50 inches. The length was determined based on the position of the centering rings already in the main body tube plus the required length that needs to extend down to into the lower tube, coupler and tail cone. The tube was sanded to remove the original paint and a new 20/50 centering ring was installed to act as a thrust ring.

Pic 5 - Motor mount is marked for the depth and ready to install.

Pic 6 -
I missed a pic in between here. Because I wanted to be able to move the motor tube around to ensure a perfect fit with the lower sections, I used BSI 30 min. epoxy to install the tube and let that cure for about 15 mins. Once it was set I went back and decided that I wanted to add a bit of additional strength to the motor tube. After all it is an old tube that was just sanded down. Considering that this is also going to be friction fit, adding a bit of strength would be a welcomed thing. Using the last piece of the old Maverick tube, I slit it up one side and created a sleeve for the motor tube. The sleeve runs from the centering rings inside the body tube down and stops about 3/8 of an inch from the end of the tube. This too was installed using BSI 30 min. epoxy.

Pic 7 - An unforeseen bonus of adding the sleeve is I now have a nice snug but not tight fit for the lower plastic couplers. I took advantage of this by marking where the lower section of the coupler would contact the sleeve and removed the outer layer of the sleeve.

Pics 8, 9 & 10 - The lower sections were all installed using BSI 30 min. epoxy. Epoxy was spread inside the main tube and the upper plastic coupler was installed. A fillet was also added where the lower part of the coupler met the sleeve. More strength.

The lower body tube had epoxy coated inside and was then installed.

Finally, a healthy bead of Epoxy was placed around the exposed section of the lower motor tube and the tail cone was installed. It's worth mentioning that the motor tube sits dead even with the tip of the tail cone. Cutting the sleeve short was done intentionally knowing that I was adding epoxy later. By adding this bead of epoxy around the tube I will effectively fill the lower 1/4 -3/8 inch of the tail cone. Once hardened it will be like a rock. This will help with stregth and stop the all too common problem of this cone melting when using big motors.

At this point the entire rocket was place in a long clamp under light pressure to hold the parts together while they cured. Excess epoxy was wiped away with 91% alcohol.

That is it for last night. Tonight will be fins. I've decided to use the epoxy to attach them due to the connection to the lower plastic tail cone. Everything else on the bottom of this thing is over built. Why skimp on the fins.


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Back_at_it

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Made some good progress over the weekend.

Pic 1,& 2 - Decided that I wanted to run a baffle in this rocket. With the D engine mount I can put plenty of power behind it for good flights so a little bit of additional weight won't make a different. I recently purchased some items from Qualman Rockets and decided to install one of his baffles. I like the design. They are plenty strong and fit is near perfect. I touched the sides of the baffle with a Dremal so I would have a rough texture for the glue to adhere to. These sides were left intentionally rough. One addition I made was to add an extra layer of wood up top for a secure place to mount my screw eye. The Baffle was then test fit into the rocket body.

Pic 3 & 4 - Decided that I didn't care for how little of the coupler was exposed in the upper tube and nose cone. While test fitting, the upper section was loose and wobbled around a bit. It seemed easy enough to replace the existing coupler with a longer piece. I cut a 1.5 inch piece from some coupler stock that I purchased from Balsa Machine. 1/2 inch will be glued into the upper tube leaving 1 inch exposed to slip down into the main body tube.

The outside of the exposed coupler was soaked in thin CA then sanded until the desired fit was achieved. A bulk head was installed and a screw eye attached for a solid upper mount for the shock cord.

Pic 5 - Fins attached. Decided to use 30 min epoxy to install the fins. Due to the rough tube and having to peel off some of the glue from the fins, there were minor gaps between the fins and the tubes. Combine that with the fact that I'm attaching to plastic and I felt it best to use epoxy. All three fins installed and ready for fillets.

Pic 6 - I used LOC-Poxy on the fins. I have used it a couple of times prior on plywood but was curious how it would work on balsa. I was surprised how far the epoxy wicked into the wood. As you can see in the close up. The fillet is only about 1/8 wide. You can see the edge of the fillet as the reflection line on the lower fin. All of the other shiny spots are where the epoxy wicked under the tape and soaked into the wood leaving a very hard smooth surface.

Pic 7 - Test fit of everything. First time the rocket has been back together.

Now it's time to fill the fins and do a final sanding before primer.

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rklapp

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Pic 4 – Thank you Estes for telling people to use plastic cement to assemble this model. Literally every part with the exception of the paper coupler has pulled apart with absolutely no effort. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t use model cement to build rockets. But thank you to all of those out there that did back in the day as you make my life much easier today. :)
Someday, I may want to convert my SWAT from 19mm to 24mm. I would need to cut off the nozzle because I think I used epoxy.

 

Back_at_it

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Been kinda lazy this last couple of days so not too much to report.

I did get a coat of Elmers wood filler on the fins. This will be sanded then I'll hit it with some sanding sealer and it's time for primer.
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primer.
 

K'Tesh

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I’ve seen a couple of variations on the roll pattern on this model. Seems like they are all just a little different. When researching this resto I found the link below. This is how I’m doing the decals on mine

Glad you were able to find that... I believe there's a parallel thread here on TRF... Yup..

 

K'Tesh

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For my antennae, I use paperclips that are straightened out, and glued in from the inside.
 

Back_at_it

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For my antennae, I use paperclips that are straightened out, and glued in from the inside.
K'Tesh, First I'd like to thank you for all of the SIM files you put together. They have been incredibly helpful when building some of my old favorites.

Thanks for the tip on the paper clips. I think I'm going to go with that. I've turned the upper section of the BBII into a true payload section so I can get to them from the inside with epoxy.

Thanks again.
 

Back_at_it

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Been a while but the weather finally cooperated with painting. Over the weekend I managed to finally get the Black Brant into primer. Since the upper section was pretty much done I went ahead and painted it Black. Of course I then remembered I hadn't added the Antennae yet so I'll need to go back and do that tonight and give it one more coat.

The Rocket itself is looking pretty good. Needs a good sanding with some 400 grit but it should be ready for paint tomorrow.
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Brendans

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Nice job so far. The BB II is one of my favorites. My kids loved that one along with the HJ. I lost count how many we lost in the small field we flew out of back then. Eventually I just used a streamer so we had a chance of recovery. Good times, as they say.

Brendan
 

Back_at_it

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Nice job so far. The BB II is one of my favorites. My kids loved that one along with the HJ. I lost count how many we lost in the small field we flew out of back then. Eventually I just used a streamer so we had a chance of recovery. Good times, as they say.
Brendan
Agreed. I've always liked this design and I feel like Estes pulled it off well with their model. I never really understood why they made this a D motor rocket being as light as it is when built stock. Seems like everyone I talk to has the same story. They've built and lost more than one. Maybe it was a marketing decision at Estes to sell more rockets. :) I know that I had a number of good flights on B & C motors before we launched on a D and never saw it again.

I just picked up a couple of more at AC Supply to put in the build pile as I'm sure this one will get lost at some point as I can't resist a big motor these days. Hopefully the added weight and the larger flying field will give me a chance to get this one back. Looking forward to weighing the finished model. Hopefully have it ready to decal by this weekend.
 

Back_at_it

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Little more progress. I finally managed to get some white paint on the main body. Two coats of Krylon Gloss White were applied.

Now it's time to play the waiting game. I'm going to let this sit for a few days as it's only 25F here right now and this will need some time to cure.

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K'Tesh

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You could accelerate your kit's drying time by constructing a hair dryer oven... Set a hair dryer on low to blow into a suitable sized hole made in a box that will hold the rocket... The heat will help flash off the VOCs. Adam Savage talked about them this week on his channel, "TESTED".

 

Back_at_it

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I had something similar setup at one point last winter. Basically just blow hot air into the bottom of a large plastic container. I used an old kitchen garbage can for my setup. Had hole large enough for a junk hair dryer at the bottom and a 2 inch hole in the top as you really need to keep the air moving.

Worked ok. I just realized I wasn't in that big of a hurry. If I find someplace indoors that I can paint in the winter, I might set it back up as I'll be able to get multiple coats on without a ton of waiting.
 
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Back_at_it

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Back from vacation and managed to get in some flying while in AZ. It's time to pick up the projects.

I made some additional progress on the Black Brant yesterday. Got the Antennae mounted into the upper section. I used some cut up paper clips and epoxied them in into the upper tube. Next I masked off the lower section and fins and gave everything a nice coat of Krylon Gloss Black.

All that is left now are the decals. I'll be cutting those tomorrow and hoping wrapping this one up later in the week.


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Back_at_it

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Sorry for the long delay. Work, family and travel have gotten in the way of working on the rockets over the past month but I'm finally back at it.

Finally finished up the Black Brant II. Cut vinyl based on measurements taken from the original rocket. I can tell you that decals on the BBII is one of my least favorite things to do as there are a dozen or more posts out there showing a dozen different positions for the roll pattern. I used the one from the Estes Instructions which aren't much better but over all I think it looks ok. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

I've had a couple of people ask about the added weight when doing some of these builds as I tend to use epoxy, fillers, baffles, primers etc etc. so I decided to throw in a pic of the rocket on the scale. Final weight complete ready to go minus the motor is 3.1 oz. A quick SIM still shows 550ft on a C6-5 and 1015ft on a D12-7

This one is done.

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Here is a quick before and after
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