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Estes Nike Smoke PSII Build (Possible L1 HPR Cert Rocket)

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lcorinth

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DSCN1024.jpg

I started building this around the same time I started my Leviathan build (thread here).

For a while, the Nike Smoke was progressing much faster than the Leviathan, but the Leviathan is now finished, while I'm still wrestling with paint on the Nike Smoke (you'll see what I mean later in this thread). My planned L1 cert flight will be in September, so if I finish this rocket by then, and if I change my mind about the Leviathan (or if something happens to it), this will be my backup.

Shortly after opening the package, I stacked the nose cone and body tube together, just to see what it would look like. Up to this point, this was the largest rocket I had worked on. I was pretty impressed.

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While it's often a good idea to lightly sand the body tube on rockets with externally-mounted fins for better glue adhesion, on this rocket, it's really necessary. The tube is so slick, you can barely make a pencil mark on it. I used a sanding sponge and kept it light, as there would be some more sanding later. Then I marked the a line for either launch lugs or rail buttons. I hadn't decided which to use just yet.

The fins are made of plastic and come in two parts, which must be glued together before installing onto the rocket.

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They snap together, as you can see, but when dry fitting them, it became obvious that they don't fit perfectly. There is a gap around the edges. Still, they're nice fins.

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I wasn't sure what adhesive I wanted to use to glue the fins together. The instructions recommend CA. I also considered 5-minute epoxy, as was recommended to me by someone online.

My worry about epoxy was that I'd have to pinch the fins together to keep the gaps closed while the epoxy cured. I might get some oozing out onto the edges, and not be able to clean it up before it cured. I'd need both hands free to hold the fins tightly together.

While thinking about what glue to use, I went ahead and started assembling the motor mount, beginning with the middle centering ring, which is the one with the grooves cut into it.

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I often mark the forward and aft ends of my motor tubes ("F" and "A") to make sure I'm putting things together correctly.

The green paper ring helps you get the centering rings on perfectly straight. It slips over the motor tube, and you put the centering ring up against it, and glue the centering ring in place with a fillet. Then you remove the green spacer ring and fillet the other side of the CR.

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The spacer ring is then used to keep the forward and aft centering rings straight.

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Finally, you glue the green spacer onto the forward end of the motor tube. It probably isn't necessary, but it may add a little bit of support to the centering ring, and you don't have anything to throw away.

Once the motor mount is assembled, you can see how the fin (which is just dry fitted together here) snaps into the middle centering ring, assuring perfect fin alignment.

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At this point, you can even dry fit the whole rocket together, by putting the motor mount into the rocket (not gluing it just yet!) and inserting the fins. It all snaps into place, and you can see what the finished product will look like.

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lcorinth

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The whole rocket, dry fit together.

View attachment 298477

Nothing is glued together yet, except for the finished motor mount. It's a pretty impressive looking rocket!

My first choice for gluing the fins together was a "Plastics Bonding System" from Loctite. This is a CA specifically meant to bond plastics. It comes with a purple primer or kicker, which you apply to all surfaces to be glued first.

View attachment 298478

This turned out to be a bad choice. This stuff bonds immediately, which means if you don't get everything lined up perfectly, everything gets stuck out of whack, which is just what happened. It takes a little fiddling to get all the grooves lined up and snapped into place, and you have to apply some pressure.

I ended up prying the first fin apart just enough to get a putty knife in there to try and work it apart, like an oyster. It took some doing, and once it was apart, I had to sand out all the cured CA, using an emery board in the grooves. It took some real time to get enough of the cured CA out to where I could fit the fin together again.
 

Rex R

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Re:fins
spring clip clothespins are your friends no matter which type of adhesive you use(you're going to need a lot of them for each fin to clamp the entire perimeter of the fin). a minimal filet is all you really need on this bird those fins are not going anywhere :).
Rex
 

dhbarr

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Re:fins
spring clip clothespins are your friends no matter which type of adhesive you use(you're going to need a lot of them for each fin to clamp the entire perimeter of the fin). a minimal filet is all you really need on this bird those fins are not going anywhere :).
Rex
Hobby stores sell a half-size clothespin which is a bit softer than standard as well as a touch more rounded. Super handy, and you can stuff several of them in a smaller area.
 

dhbarr

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3/4oz fiberglass tape over the leading edge would take care of that, I think.
 

kevinkal

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For the fin halves bonding, I used liberal medium thickness CA (Gorilla Glue Brand). Before glueing these, I carefully sanded the bonding surfaces with fine sandpaper. I was careful not to round off edges etc.. sanding enough to break the glossy surface while leaving a nice flat fit. As the CA will set in roughly 10 seconds after the parts are held together.. I did not bother using any clamps.. as the time to get the clamps in place would be longer than the set time on the glue. Instead, I practiced quickly, carefully aligning the halves as if I were glueing them together.
Finally when I was confident to try this, I was very careful to make certain there was enough glue on the leading and trailing edges that it would bond strongly, but not so much that it would run out and make a permanent mess. They went together very nicely and I haven't had any problems with them splitting.
I think it's important to make sure that the leading edge of each fin is well bonded, with no seams or cracks... else the high dynamic pressure airflow during ascent could pressurize the fin internally and cause it to crack open. I would make it a point to check the fins before each launch and after every landing. It would be my guess that landings could compromise the leading edge seam and the next launch might not go too well.
 

Andy Greene

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Looking forward to see what you come up with paint wise, just finished mine last week and plan to first flight it in Sept as well.
I went a little outside the box on my paint scheme, certainly not for the purist- but a little different spin I liked better than the factory paint scheme.
Keep the pics coming.

 

lcorinth

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Looking forward to see what you come up with paint wise, just finished mine last week and plan to first flight it in Sept as well.
I went a little outside the box on my paint scheme, certainly not for the purist- but a little different spin I liked better than the factory paint scheme.
Keep the pics coming.

OK, that is freaking gorgeous!
 

lcorinth

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I ended up using some thick CA to bond the fins together, since it was faster than epoxy, but still gave me a little bit of working time to get the parts aligned. Once they were bonded, I felt the edges with a fingernail. Though there were no gaps, there was a seam. And the tips didn't match up perfectly. One is slightly longer than the other.

To fill in the seam and even up the tip edge, I decided to try some Tamiya plastic putty, which is what I use to fill imperfections on nose cones. I applied a bit to all external edges, and scraped off as much excess as I could with a putty knife.

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I would need to build up the tip edge a little bit to get it even.

While waiting for the putty to cure, I filled in the spiral grooves on the body tube using this technique.

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It requires very little sanding, though I always do a quick sand just in case with a sanding sponge once it's dry. I found I needed to re-draw the launch lug/rail button line when I did that, because I nearly erased it.

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I also ran a ring of medium CA around the inside edges of both ends of the body tube.

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Once the putty had cured, I wet sanded the edges of the fins. The putty filled in the leading and trailing edge seams pretty nicely.

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You can see small bubbles on the tip edge. A bit more sanding took care of those. But you can also see how it evened up the shorter tip with the longer tip. It's filled in and even.

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I installed the motor mount with Bob Smith 30 minute epoxy. It's critical to get the motor mount installed just right, because the fins have to fit into those slots on the middle centering ring. I made sure there was no epoxy in the fin slots or on the middle centering ring, and I dry fit the fins in place into the centering ring to hold the motor mount in place while the upper fillet of epoxy cured.

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Once the epoxy had cured, I took this picture of the interior of the fin can, because it looks like a nice quiet place to hide out and just think your thoughts, doesn't it?

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Andy Greene

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Looking good Daniel. How tight are your fins to get to bottom on the motor tube? I had to do a lot of sanding on mine till I got a fit I was happy with before gluing them on.
The upside was, zero external fillet required, and a really nice look.
 

Flyfalcons

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Beautiful paint design on yours, Andy. That should look awesome on the pad.

I also had do some sanding to get the interlocking fins to sit all the way down, but it sure results in a strong joint!
 
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Andy Greene

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Thanks Ryan- :cool: Agreed on super strong- just wish they where wood fins .
What kind of weight did you guys that have yours finished come in at ?
 

Salvage-1

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Good choice on your L1 bird. The Estes Nike Smoke is a beast, and you look like you are doing a fine job.
Mine have flown on H410VMax's a few times, so I can tell you that the rocket can withstand H's just fine.
The only difference I did was to use Gorilla Glue to do attach the two fin halves to each other, they didn't come apart!.

Look forward to seeing this finished and fly.
 

lcorinth

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Looking good Daniel. How tight are your fins to get to bottom on the motor tube? I had to do a lot of sanding on mine till I got a fit I was happy with before gluing them on.
The upside was, zero external fillet required, and a really nice look.
It's funny you should ask that, because it reminds me I forgot something earlier in this thread.

When I first ordered the Nike Smoke, I got a kit with one janky fin (bad corner)

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When I emailed Estes, and asked them if they could send me a new fin, they sent a whole rocket. When I asked if they'd like me to send the first one back, they said not to bother. Props to Estes' customer service for that!

But it meant I had an extra set of fins, so if I messed up the gluing on one or two, I had extras, plus some spare parts if I needed them.

In fact, the first fin I glued together, due my having to pry it open and re-glue it, has a slight gap at the base of the fin tab. Because of this, it didn't quite fit.

Now, I'm already trying to build a second Nike Smoke, using this kit. I am trying to see if I can build the fin back into shape with multiple layers of the Tamiya plastic putty and a sanding block. While trying to fit the fin into the CR slot, I have sanded the heck out of the fin tab with some coarse sandpaper. Not quite there yet. But if I can get a spare out of this, I'll darn well try!
 

lcorinth

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Once the MMT was installed, it was time to install the motor retainer.

View attachment 299170

The adhesive of choice here is JB Weld, a two-part epoxy with steel mixed in. Here's part of why I scuffed up the motor tube before building the motor mount. Epoxy doesn't adhere that well to slick surfaces. Also, you have to rough sand the inside of the plastic motor retainer - the part that fits onto the end of the motor tube. I also rough up the bottom edge, which comes in contact with the centering ring.

View attachment 299171

Mix even parts of the black epoxy resin with the gray hardener and mix until you get a uniform, dark gray mass of epoxy.

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Spread the epoxy on the outside surface of the motor tube extending from the aft centering ring. Avoid getting any epoxy inside the motor tube. If you do, clean it up right away with a paper towel or cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol - cleans epoxy right up.

View attachment 299175

Any epoxy left to cure inside the motor tube might inhibit installing a motor when it's time to fly!

After applying the JB Weld, I ran a fillet of the clear Bob Smith 30 minute epoxy around the aft edge of the aft centering ring, securing it to the body tube. This will also seal the wood (and, if you care to keep it clear of paint, will help you wipe off any soot that accumulates during flight if you want to.

View attachment 299176

Finally, install the inner ring of the motor retainer by sliding it over the end of the motor tube and giving it a twist, so that the epoxy works its way into the grooves you've sanded into the smooth inner surface.

View attachment 299177

With the JB Weld on the motor tube and the Bob Smith on the centering ring, the motor retainer should be nice and secure.

Note: I know most of you guys reading this thread already know how to mix JB Weld and such, but I'm trying to spell out every step, because sometimes beginners come across these. I like to make everything as clear as I can for the benefit of the n00bs on the forum. Also, I took lots of pictures, and I want to post them. I think that photo of the JB Weld is pretty.
 
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lcorinth

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About to update this thread. Anybody know why some of my pictures are now showing up as "Attachment 123456" links instead of images, and they're all dead links? I didn't do anything different to upload them...
 

lcorinth

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Don't know what happened to all the pics in the last installment. Here they are (hopefully).

DSCN1106.jpgDSCN1107.jpgDSCN1108.jpgDSCN1110.jpgDSCN1111.jpgDSCN1112.jpgDSCN1113.jpgDSCN1114.jpg
 

lcorinth

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Time to install fins - one of my favorite parts, because it really starts to look like a freaking rocket!

First, I chamfered the sides of the fin tabs. Thinking back, I'm not sure why I did this, except that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Perhaps I wanted to improve the chance that I'd hit the slot with one quick motion, avoiding getting lots of epoxy all over the airframe. Anyway, it's what I did.

I also rough sanded the root of the fin tab, as well as the root of the fin itself, and even the inside of the slot which locks into the middle centering ring, for better mechanical adhesion.

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I applied a layer of Bob Smith 30 minute epoxy to the root of the fin tab, the slot, and the fin root, trying to get it even on the bit of the fin root that overhangs the fin tab slot. I'm trying to get a full seal on the whole fin, with no gaps to fill later.

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I used my Guillotine Fin Jig, without the arms, to hold the rocket firmly while I installed fins. With the locking fins, you don't need a jig. In fact, with the radially-tapered fins, it probably wouldn't do you much good anyway, since it's really meant for flat fins. But I often find other uses for the Guillotine.

Anyway, Plunk! In they went.

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Some of the epoxy oozed out from under the fin root. I cleaned this up with some rubbing alcohol.

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I used a flash light to check for any oozing epoxy I missed. I'd check several times over the next 10-15 minutes, and clean up any drips with alcohol.

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Dang it, this thing is starting to look really cool at this point!

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Next up: Shock chord mounting and a decision on launch lugs vs. rail buttons...
 

smugglervt

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Definitely Rail buttons....use standoffs though. Flew mine Saturday twice, once on a old G33-7J to 831' and the second time on a G64-7W to 1,528'. Great flights both times.
 

jbuscaglia

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Next up: Shock chord mounting and a decision on launch lugs vs. rail buttons...
Why not do both? Put lugs on one side and buttons on the other. That way, you have flexibility on which pad you can use and you can still fly it if you find yourself at a launch with no rail.
 

lcorinth

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Why not do both? Put lugs on one side and buttons on the other. That way, you have flexibility on which pad you can use and you can still fly it if you find yourself at a launch with no rail.
I considered that, but I decided to go with buttons for this one. I might put lugs on the second one.
 

Andy Greene

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Nice fin jig , rockets looking great . :cool:
I did buttons on mine for the first time also, just make a couple stand offs and your good to go.
I had to laugh when I looked at the pic I posted of mine, I went really off key for my builds and did all the finish work -before - I fitted the fins. Not the normal way I build and finish, but due to the way the kit went together and the scheme I wanted, it made it easier. Anyway, if you look , the fins are NOT glued in , in that pic and the rear centering ring or buttons where not even on yet :rolleyes:

Got a paint scheme in mind yet Daniel ??

Andy
 
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lcorinth

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Nice fin jig , rockets looking great . :cool:
I did buttons on mine for the first time also, just make a couple stand offs and your good to go.
I had to laugh when I looked at the pic I posted of mine, I went really off key for my builds and did all the finish work -before - I fitted the fins. Not the normal way I build and finish, but due to the way the kit went together and the scheme I wanted, it made it easier. Anyway, if you look , the fins are NOT glued in , in that pic and the rear centering ring or buttons where not even on yet :rolleyes:

Got a paint scheme in mind yet Daniel ??

Andy
Oh, yeah. The rocket's finally painted and decaled, and has only a clear coat and buttons to go. But I'm saving those photos until the end of this thread.

Speaking of which, quick break, then I'll upload more of the pics.
 

lcorinth

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Some readers may have noticed I installed the motor mount as is. My next question was about shock chord mounting.

While I started this rocket around the same time as my other PSII builds, I went ahead with this one pretty fast. When it came time to mount the shock chord, I started reading around here on TRF and elsewhere. Some people hate the paper mount and elastic shock chord that come with this rocket. Other people say it works just fine, no problem.

It's plenty long, so at this point, I decided I'd use it. But I did want to consider reinforcing it. With my LPR, a little glue spread over top of the mount seems to work well. With this one, I wanted to be cautious (since it's not one of the PSII rockets that have been marked down).

I looked at the possibility of epoxying in a bit of Kevlar (I think that's a PML mount, but I forget for the moment). But I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to get it neatly inside as deep as it needed to go, and get it well covered, without getting epoxy where I didn't want it. The shoulder of the nose cone is a little long, so I needed to get it in there kind of far.

Here's the compromise I came up with. I decided to use the paper mount and elastic chord. But a fellow CMASS member - Matt Laudato - was kind enough to give me a bit of lightweight fiberglass cloth, when I told him what I was thinking of.

I glued in the paper mount, as per usual.

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I then reinforced it with bit of fiberglass cloth soaked with epoxy.

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This was my first time using fiberglass cloth, and it was tricky getting it to lay down flat. I taped a rubber spatula to a dowel rod to help, but I ended up having to sand some of the raised bits off.

If the elastic looks like it's going go fail after a few flights, I can cut it off, sand off as much of the fiberglass as I can to make it smooth, and replace the mount with a "shopping bag" Kevlar mount and Kevlar chord, as I would later do in my Ventris build.

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If I had it to do over again, I might attach an eye bolt and some braided Kevlar rope, suggested to me by the same CMASS member. It's flexible and very strong.

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Anyway, I decided this would do for now.

I settled on rail buttons for this rocket. Still wasn't sure whether I'd do 1010 buttons or mini buttons, but I knew I needed a standoff. The launch lugs on the Nike Smoke are slightly raised.

DSCN1015.jpg

I measured from the base of the lug to the inside. If I used a rail button, it seemed like 1/8 inch is all I'd need to raise it off the body of the rocket. Since I save all my scraps from any kit, I selected a 1/8 inch thick piece from some other rocket and cut two rectangular pieces then marked their centers for drilling.

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I wrapped some coarse sandpaper around the airframe of the rocket and sanded the balsa standoffs so they'd be conformal.

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I then picked at the rocket here and there over the next few months, forgetting to take some pictures.

When we return, we're already in primer, and getting close to finished.
 

Andy Greene

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Oh, yeah. The rocket's finally painted and decaled, and has only a clear coat and buttons to go. But I'm saving those photos until the end of this thread.

Speaking of which, quick break, then I'll upload more of the pics.
You CANT tease like that , pics required :wink:
 

lcorinth

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In between the last post and these pictures, I did the following steps, which I neglected to photograph.

I decided on 1010 buttons, because I figured a 1010 rail would be more readily accessible to me than a metric one (I have a metric rail, and think now I've figured how to mount it onto a 1010 rail, but at the time, I didn't know how I'd do this).

If I had it to do over, I'd do the standoffs and drill the holes before attaching fins. I have a drill press and a jig for drilling into cylindrical stock, but because of the fins, this got tricky. I had to balance the rocket as best I could to get the hole drilled straight into the aft standoff.

Then, I sanded off any ridges from the nose cone, and filled the low spots with Tamiya basic plastic putty. I then wet sanded this off.

Finally, I primed.

The nose cone has some nice details on it, and primer really makes them "pop."

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Unfortunately, while filling the low spots on the nose cone seam, I got a little on one of the smoke vent plates. While sanding off the putty, I took off a couple rivets.

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Oh, well. Next time, I'll be more careful.

I sanded the whole rocket. I love the look of a rocket in primer.

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Then I masked the quick-release retainer while it was on the painting wand I made from plumbing parts for 29mm rockets.

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Next up: Painting. Four times, because I had some disasters that had to be fixed.

That will have to wait, though, because I just realized I need to take another picture.

We're getting nearly there...
 

lcorinth

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You CANT tease like that , pics required :wink:
SOON.

A spoiler, though. I didn't go for something sporty and cool, like the pic Andy Greene posted above. I went for the stock paint job. Getting there was a little bit of an ordeal, though.
 

lcorinth

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Painting!

First, I forgot to photograph, and therefore mention, two things. First, I had considered doing round epoxy fillets. But I suspected the Nike Smoke and other sounding rockets did not have the traditional round fillet we like to use in model rocketry. I asked on the NAR Facebook page, and several people, including Peter Alway, confirmed that no, the Nike Smoke did not have fillets.

In fact, the fins were bolted on, and (at least on some vehicles) were not even in contact with the airframe. I had already glued on the fins, and didn't know of a clever way to simulate bolts, and the build was going well, so I didn't bother with that part of building a scale model. But I'd skip the round fillets. One less thing to worry about. It would also make masking the fins easier.

I checked the roots of the fins after priming. Despite my care with applying the epoxy to the roots of the fins, there were a few gaps. So I did do a very thin fillet of Titebond Molding and Trim Glue. Just enough that it would shrink in and fill the gap, but not enough that it would show up on the rocket.

OK, Paint for Real.

My painting booth is a large cardboard box. Pretty big, but not big enough for the whole rocket. I'd have to paint the nose cone separately.

I made a painting wand for the nose cone with a length of PVC. I simply superglued it onto the end of the PVC wand with some thick CA.

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It would even fit on my PVC painting wand stand for drying.

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I thought about the paint for a long time. I usually use Rusto 2X for my rockets. But sometimes, I get weird, spiky chunks, especially in new cans. The other thing is that I try not to drive around Boston too much, so I try to get things where I can walk or take a train to.

I finally stopped in at an auto parts store, and they had some Dupli Color. I have always heard good things about this paint, and indeed painted my Quest Quadrunner with it. But it's expensive. Also, it's lacquer. Since I would finish with a dullcote, probably of enamel, I wasn't sure how the paints would mix.

But I found some Dupli Color enamel, and it was even cheaper than the other stuff. I got it.

Huge. Mistake.

Here's what I got:

DSCN2884.jpg

What you may have noticed, but which I did not, was the word "paint" is not on this can. Nor is the word "gloss." This is "multi-purpose coating," whatever that means.

Here's what it did to my rocket:

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TRF policies prohibit me from posting what I shouted out loud after the first coat. Since I knew I'd have to wet sand this thing to get it smooth again, I went ahead and did a couple more coats for full coverage, to make sure it was sealed against water.

I wet sanded (after a cooling-off period) and went for something else.

Although the Rusto gloss sometimes gives me bad results, I've always had good results with Rusto 2X flat white. Now, I know you're not supposed to put waterslides on flat paint, but I have used this paint on several rockets, applied waterslides, and never had any peeling or silvering, even after a couple of years. It's nice and smooth. I never get orange peel or spikes or fish eyes with it. Besides, I would seal everything down with a clear coat.

So, I went for a second attempt. After a couple coats, I took a flashlight to look at the rocket and thought why is the texture so weird??

I had been storing my flat white primer next to my flat white paint.

No good. I wet sanded again...

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By this point, I had second thoughts about the flat white paint. So I decided to go gloss after all.

Most hardware stores in Boston, at least near me, are mom and pop shops. They don't have a wide selection. The one on my way home from work mainly carries Krylon. So that's what I got

I've read people don't like the new formula of Krylon, but I got my very best paint job with it - my Astron Sprint XL.

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Well, this can was not like that can. More awful chunks!

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After a couple times getting results like this with Krylon, I've decided I don't trust it any more, despite the spectacular results when it works right.

More wet sanding. Finally, I walk to another hardware store that carries Rustoleum 2X Gloss White.

Finally, I got a decent gloss finish on the rocket.

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That was four times I did a base coat!

(I've reached the limit of ten attachments. More pics of the gloss coat in the next post).
 

dixontj93060

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I know you said your selection was limited, but lately I have been staying away from 2X gloss and going with their satin finish instead. It seems like that formulation is more like the flat and less prone to run than the gloss. It still ends up with a nice sheen but I can gloss it up or dull it down depending on how I apply my Future Finish anyway.
 
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