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Estes Explorer Aquarius

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JAL3

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The Explorer Aquarius is to my mind one of the nicest looking rockets to have come from Estes. Something about the design says to me, "this could really happen". I scored mine from Ebay and was too intimidated to start it for a long time. Now the time has come and I opened it up. It looks to be much easier than I thought it would be.

r_aquarius.jpg


Aq-box-1.jpg
 

JAL3

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Construction began by locating the 24mm motor tube and marking off the distance for the engine hook and the centering rings. I thought about leaving out the hook in order to accommodate long Es but decided I would likely use AT Es instead.

Aq-mm-1.jpg
 

JAL3

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A slit was made for the hook and the hook was inserted. The instructions said nothing bout wrapping it but I went ahead and added some electrical tape.

Aq-mm-2.jpg


Aq-mm-3.jpg
 

JAL3

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The centering rings were then sanded a bit on their inner surface, slipped onto the motor tube up to the marks and glued into place with yellow glue. Fillets were applied to both sides of the rings.

Aq-mm-4.jpg
 

JAL3

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I found no thrust ring in the package and found no mention of one in the instructions but figured the rocket would last longer with one so I cut the end off an old E9-6 casing and glued it into place over the engine hook.

Aq-mm-5.jpg


Aq-mm-6.jpg
 

JAL3

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At first glance, I thought that I would have to cut the fins from sheet material using a provided template. Not being able to find such a template I took a closer look at the instructions and, sure enough, it mentioned die cut fins. I took a closer look at my balsa sheet and found that it have been die cut but the impression was so faint that I really had to search for it. The fins were sanded loose and then stacked and sanded to even them up.

Aq-fins-1.jpg


Aq-fins-2.jpg
 

JAL3

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The next step in the instructions was to start assembling all those tanks that give this rocket such a distinctive appearance. There are 6 long tanks and 12 shorter ones. All are assembled the same way. Cardboard end caps are removed from the die cut stock and glued onto the ends of the tank tubes. I used white glue for this.

Aq-tanks-1.jpg


Aq-tanks-2.jpg


Aq-tanks-3.jpg


Aq-tanks-4.jpg
 

JAL3

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When the long tanks were done, I got started on the shorter ones.

Aq-tanks-5.jpg


Aq-tanks-6.jpg
 

JAL3

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The kit assumes the use of a trifold shock cord mount, something I detest. Since the next step involved inserting the motor mount, I went ahead and tied a length of Kevlar around the motor tube just abaft of the forward centering ring and added a yellow glue fillet.

Aq-rec-1.jpg


Aq-rec-2.jpg
 

Fred22

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I have long been interested in this one. :)
Cheers
fred
 

tibadoe

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Got one in the closet. Was going to sell it, who knows, might just have to build it...:)
 

mjennings

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I always like the look of that one, but never got it. I got one on the old drawing board that is a cargo ship of sorts that has a few of the same design features.
 

JAL3

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I always like the look of that one, but never got it. I got one on the old drawing board that is a cargo ship of sorts that has a few of the same design features.
I llike the looks of it as well.

Its not exciting in the SciFi sense of an action packed thriller; it just different from the run of the mill and it looks plausible as well.

Its also turning out to be less than the Skill Level 4 on the box, as far as I'm concerned but I have not gotten very far yet. I have high hopes for it.
 

Micromeister

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The Explorer Aquarius is an intersting model: Flys well on D's, on still days OK on C6-3's with an adaptor.
Built a micro powered version that just a little on the heavy side but does see some flying time every now and then.
Personally I think it's one of the most intersting designs Estes put out since the mid 70's.

126-sm_Explorer Aquarius-170.8g_08-13-92.jpg


MM 243a1-sm_ExplorerAquarius_12-22-00.jpg


MM 243a2_ExplorerAquarus(s)_12-22-00.jpg


MM 243b1-sm_ExplorerAquarius_FliightAlmost_01-13-01.jpg
 
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markschnell

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I've got one of these too. The hardest part of it was masking off the circle of canopy section on the nosecone.

I love this design and I agree, it looks like it could be a real ship. I put it in the same category as the Eagles from Space 1999. Looks like it could really be put into service. The eagle made a horrible rocket, BTW. I had one of those babies when I was young. :y: Crash and burn!!
 

Fred22

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Hi folks :)
Im sure you will do your usual excellant job John and micro I like the look of yours.
Cheers
fred
 

JAL3

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I've got one of these too. The hardest part of it was masking off the circle of canopy section on the nosecone.
Asking about how to do this has definitely been on my mind.

Any suggestions?
 

Micromeister

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Asking about how to do this has definitely been on my mind.

Any suggestions?
John:
easiest way is with a liquid mask. apply one or two coating and allow to completely dry, then a sharp razor blade or stropped #11 X-acto blade are all thats needed to trim around the window joint remove the mask from the dome and mask off the remainder of the model with tape and paper. spray the dome and remove. a little hand painting work with some grey around the edges helps give a little blending from the white to blue.

Tapes-08-sm_Liquid Masks_3 brush or spary types(128dpi)_07-30-06.JPG
 

n3tjm

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Seeing this thread makes me want to get my Explorer Aquarius out of the fix pile and get it flying again :)
 

JAL3

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John:
easiest way is with a liquid mask. apply one or two coating and allow to completely dry, then a sharp razor blade or stropped #11 X-acto blade are all thats needed to trim around the window joint remove the mask from the dome and mask off the remainder of the model with tape and paper. spray the dome and remove. a little hand painting work with some grey around the edges helps give a little blending from the white to blue.
That blue looks good. The pic on my box looks black but I think I like the blue better.
 

JAL3

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Seeing this thread makes me want to get my Explorer Aquarius out of the fix pile and get it flying again :)
That's a good thing, right?

I got to do a little work on it earlier, just finished the caps on the tanks and got one fin mounted before duty called.
 

luke strawwalker

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Asking about how to do this has definitely been on my mind.

Any suggestions?

Here's an old farm shop paint trick--

To paint rims without getting paint all over the tire, simply wrap a piece of flat metal flashing into a cylinder that fits JUST outside the bead ring of the tire and tape it together. Lay this cylinder on top of the tire and carefully paint the rim-- the flashing will catch the paint overspray that would normally stick to the sidewall of the tire.

SO, what I'd do, is cut a piece of cardstock into a strip about an inch wide and about 6 inches long (or longer is the circumference of the window is larger) and over lap it into a cylinder, and carefully fit it in the groove around the window, and tape the end to itself to make the cylinder. Now, given that this is SUCH a small target (considerably smaller than a car rim) I'd put masking tape around the outside of the cylinder to keep the overspray from getting to the nosecone. One could also cut a hole in a sandwich bag the size of the window cylinder and then tape the baggie to the cylinder, and install it over the cone. Voila-- instant mask!

Good luck! OL JR :)
 

atticus

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"Here's an old farm shop paint trick"

Good idea, but it won't easily work here. The window edge doesn't lie in a plane. It's more like a Pringles chip.

John, have you finished the build and are posting steps when convenient or are you posting as you go. If the latter, I'll tell you how I did the tank/ main tube assembly and maybe make a neater job if you haven't thought of it already.

Tim
 

JAL3

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Here's an old farm shop paint trick--

To paint rims without getting paint all over the tire, simply wrap a piece of flat metal flashing into a cylinder that fits JUST outside the bead ring of the tire and tape it together. Lay this cylinder on top of the tire and carefully paint the rim-- the flashing will catch the paint overspray that would normally stick to the sidewall of the tire.

SO, what I'd do, is cut a piece of cardstock into a strip about an inch wide and about 6 inches long (or longer is the circumference of the window is larger) and over lap it into a cylinder, and carefully fit it in the groove around the window, and tape the end to itself to make the cylinder. Now, given that this is SUCH a small target (considerably smaller than a car rim) I'd put masking tape around the outside of the cylinder to keep the overspray from getting to the nosecone. One could also cut a hole in a sandwich bag the size of the window cylinder and then tape the baggie to the cylinder, and install it over the cone. Voila-- instant mask!

Good luck! OL JR :)
Hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the tip.
 

JAL3

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"Here's an old farm shop paint trick"

Good idea, but it won't easily work here. The window edge doesn't lie in a plane. It's more like a Pringles chip.

John, have you finished the build and are posting steps when convenient or are you posting as you go. If the latter, I'll tell you how I did the tank/ main tube assembly and maybe make a neater job if you haven't thought of it already.

Tim
No, I have not finished the build. I am farther along than has been posted but not much. I have two fins in place and a lot of tanks sitting around and starring me in the face.
 

atticus

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I thought I had some build photos of the tank attachment, but I can't find them so I'll try to explain.
I marked the vertical attachment lines on the main tube and start/stop positions for the tanks. I also marked a line on the 'back' of each tank. Next I applied a length of 6mm tape centered over each line where the glue will be, stopping about 1/4" short of the marks and the end of the tanks. I then drilled two small holes near the ends of the tape on each tank. I then cut a piece of wire (I used baling wire) for each tank long enough to form a "C" shape when inserted in the holes. You will need to form a bend at each end (or at least one) to keep it in place and keep the tank from flopping around while spraying.
Now you can prep the tubes, insert the wire 'handles' and spray your color on them and the main. I used a long dowel mounted horizonally to hang them on as I went. A second dowel allows you to work from one to the other for additional coats.
After the paint is good and dry, remove the tape and place small pieces of tape above and below each tank position on the main tube. Extend the alignment lines back onto these pieces of tape. Now you can glue the tanks in place using the marks and you have a clean assembly without the problems of over or under spray.
Note on launch lugs: I marked one long and one short tank opposite the attachment line for lugs and attached them before painting. I then used a section of rod to ensure alignment when installing these two.
I would suggest attaching the top and bottom sets of tank first and then using a straight edge to align the center set with their inner ends.
Hope this made sense.

You may already have a better or simpler plan in mind, or someone may suggest one.
In any case here's mine at ignition:

IMG_0056cdc2.jpg
 

Pem Tech

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Very cool design....
Interested to see how it turns out John.
 

JAL3

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I thought I had some build photos of the tank attachment, but I can't find them so I'll try to explain.
I marked the vertical attachment lines on the main tube and start/stop positions for the tanks. I also marked a line on the 'back' of each tank. Next I applied a length of 6mm tape centered over each line where the glue will be, stopping about 1/4" short of the marks and the end of the tanks. I then drilled two small holes near the ends of the tape on each tank. I then cut a piece of wire (I used baling wire) for each tank long enough to form a "C" shape when inserted in the holes. You will need to form a bend at each end (or at least one) to keep it in place and keep the tank from flopping around while spraying.
Now you can prep the tubes, insert the wire 'handles' and spray your color on them and the main. I used a long dowel mounted horizonally to hang them on as I went. A second dowel allows you to work from one to the other for additional coats.
After the paint is good and dry, remove the tape and place small pieces of tape above and below each tank position on the main tube. Extend the alignment lines back onto these pieces of tape. Now you can glue the tanks in place using the marks and you have a clean assembly without the problems of over or under spray.
Note on launch lugs: I marked one long and one short tank opposite the attachment line for lugs and attached them before painting. I then used a section of rod to ensure alignment when installing these two.
I would suggest attaching the top and bottom sets of tank first and then using a straight edge to align the center set with their inner ends.
Hope this made sense.

You may already have a better or simpler plan in mind, or someone may suggest one.
In any case here's mine at ignition:
I appreciate the tip. I have alignment issues and getting all those tanks lined up sounds like quite a task.
 

JAL3

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After 2 sessions, I finally finished the tanks.

Aq-tanks-7.jpg
 

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