Estes Laser #1938 build with modifications.

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Jul 16, 2019
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Chicago Burbs.
Took a little break from building and flying but I felt the need to start something new last night after finally getting the shop cleaned up.

I've always said that there are a number of Estes rockets that I loved but wished they were larger. I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of original Laser's off market place a few months back and figured It's about time I put one together. At some point in the new future I'll be doing an upscale of this one but for now let's get started.

I never cared for 18mm motors in these small rockets. Always felt like it was overkill and the extra weight of the larger motor only added to the amount of broken fins I had to deal with. On these smaller BT20 rockets I've been swapping in 13mm mounts forever and i'm going to keep that going here.

Parts List.
BT20 - 8.65" long.
Stock Nose cone with end cap. Note the small wood disk just below the end cap. The plastic hooks on these cones become brittle so I add a piece of wood so I have some place to add a screw eye when the plastic breaks
BT5 to BT20 centering rings.
Motor Block cut from a scrap piece of BT5 tubing.
Stock Laser fins.
BT5 motor tube - 2" long.
200# Kevlar to replace the shock cord.
Stock water slide decals.


Started the build with the motor mount.


The motor block was inserted into the motor tube and spaced using an old 13mm motor. I'm leaving .25" of the motor exposed. The centering rings were installed flush with the top and bottom of the motor tube. Next I wrapped the Kevlar around the motor mount below the upper ring and glued it in place.

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Once dry the motor mount was inserted into the body tube until the end of the motor mount was flush with the end of the tube. Note that the body tube has been sanded and marked where the fins will attach.


Last thing I did last night was to build the nose cone. Using medium CA, I first glued a small wood disk inside the bottom piece of the nose cone and let that dry. Once dry, I sanded the mating surfaces with 100 grit sand paper and wiped clean with alcohol. The pieces were then attached with medium CA and let that dry over night.


Next steps will be adding fins.
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Got all four fins attached, fillets applied and sanding sealer on the fins.


During assembly the upper part of the body tube began to come apart from basic handling. Not sure if it got wet at some point or if this was just due to age. I soaked the inside and outside of the tube in thin CA, sanded with 400 grit then did a little filler work. It's stronger now than stock and should last a long time.


Managed to see just enough sun shine yesterday afternoon to get a couple of coats of primer on. Going to let this dry for a day and hopefully get enough warmth to spray a basic one color paint job.

Decided that I was tired of waiting and got creative. Used my buddies empty garage to get the paint applied.

After sanding the primer with 600 grit and wiping with alcohol, I warmed my paint in hot water for about 10 mins and warmed the rocket with a hair dryer then headed next door. Shot on two coats of Ace brand Safety Red. The more I use this paint the more I like it. Very simply to spray, doesn't run unless you do somethin really stupid and covers in two coats. The only downside is that it takes about 12hrs before you touch it.

Snapped these pics this morning. Paint is dry enough to lay the rocket down for a pic for a second but I'm going to wait a another day before I try to put the decals on.

Looks good. I'm hoping to do something similar (install a 13mm engine MMT) with a BT-20 rocket, like a heavily modified Yankee, Wizard or Viking.
I was flipping through '80s catalogs yesterday and came across the Laser. I really love the graphics, they totally remind me of the era. You said yours were originals, do you know if anyone repops them? That model may be another one I'll have to build. :)

Yours looks great! Congrats on a fine build!

I've always said that there are a number of Estes rockets that I loved but wished they were larger.
Same here, but I also apply this to other manufacturers both larger models and smaller models. I've been on a kick to pick out designs I like and upscale or downscale to a size that is easy for me to build. I size to BT-55 or BT-60, BT-55 is my favorite size for 18mm black powder motors and BT-60 for D12 motors. I've cloned a few by creating a scale drawing in AutoCAD and scaling up or down to the target size, but if I can find a Rocksim or OpenRocket file for the original I can take the critical dimensions out and scale them up or down in a spreadsheet.