Estes Ricochet

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Jan 17, 2009
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I bought all four of the new Estes "Sustainable" kits. One Walmart location I went to had all four in stock a couple weeks ago, and for the price, it's hard to let them sit on the shelf. They offer a great value for a builder kit. I'm glad to see WM once again carrying some kits that require some assembly and basic building skills. I'm not super thrilled with the minimum diameter(in relation to the motor size) on three of the four kits, but they are interesting designs nontheless, and will be some sharp looking models when completed. Since the Ricochet was the largest of the four, I decided to build it first.

Here are the parts.

There has already been discussion regarding the plain white chutes. Doesn't bother me since I probably wont use it anyway. I think 12" will prove to be too large for the kits(except the Taser Twin-streamer recovery), especially if you are used to flying in any kind of breeze, like I am. The Ricochet was the only kit of the four that wasn't minimum diameter(it's a BT50) and should accommodate a 12" chute should you choose to use one. The others will be a little tougher to pack into a BT20 which is another reason why I may downsize the chutes to 8 or 10 inch....perhaps even streamers.

First thing I do when opening any kit with balsa cones and transitions is to give them a couple coats of Minwax Wood Hardener. It's good stuff IMO, and does what the name and product description says it does. Some people have their preferred methods for hardening balsa, this happens to be mine.

In typical Estes tradition, the building motor mount is the first step. One thing I found a little out of the ordinary was the use of one extra wide centering ring instead of two normal sized rings. I actually like this, as it eliminates an extra step or two. A "C" motor is going to really send these things for a ride. I think adapting down to 13mm will not be out of the question for small fields.

One interesting feature of the Ricochet is the fin strakes. The squared ends of the supplied lumber are supposed to be beveled. My cutting mat was already handy and aided supremely for this step.

I marked the tubes and attached the main fins and strakes.
Then, attached the upper fins which reside on the strakes(note the pencil marks in the last pic). You can see the Kevlar coming out of the top of the tube. I had installed the motor mount at this point which provided an anchor for the Kevlar. I'm obviously ditching the trifold mount and rubber shock cord.

Now, it was time to fill the balsa grain. In most cases, I use sticker paper to laminate the balsa and cover the grain, but used some thinned Elmer's Fill N Finish on all the balsa parts and tube spirals. The balsa was tough stuff and the fins aren't that wide, I wasn't worried about them warping.

Sanding followed. Lots of sanding. This is my favorite step. :rolleyes:
Primed the whole rocket with the old Krylon grey primer followed by a very light dry sanding. It's important to note that I didn't glue the nosecone and transition to the upper body tube until they were painted. It became evident that these parts would be much easier to paint separately when it became time for the top coats. Nose got old Krylon Gloss Black. Upper tube with old Krylon True Blue. Lower tubes and fins got a few coats of old Krylon Gloss White. Then masked around the fins for a final coat of Gloss Black.

I can't give an accurate assessment of the decal quality because I coated them with liquid decal film. I wasn't taking any chances. I like the colors and graphics used in the decals and they add a nice touch to the model. I had to trim some excess film from name decal in order to make it fit between the fins. Clear coated with Future.

All in all, this is a great little kit for the price. I made the typical recovery attachment mods, but the parts were good quality, and it went together quickly.
I'm completely shocked that estes is going back to balsa! I've been out of "circulation" for a while and so the changes are quite profound to me, having come back in the game after a hellaciously busy year. Great job foose, I agree I'm not big on minimum diameter but if the price is right... :)
I'm completely shocked that estes is going back to balsa! I've been out of "circulation" for a while and so the changes are quite profound to me, having come back in the game after a hellaciously busy year. Great job foose, I agree I'm not big on minimum diameter but if the price is right... :)
The Ricochet has a BT-50 lower body tube and a BT-20 motor tube, so it's not minimum diameter, though the other 3 Sustainables kits are.
That looks great Craig, the blue goes well with the decals. Makes me miss the old Krylon even more.
I picked up two of the "sustainables" from WalMart: Ricochet and Taser Twin. I chose these two because I had half-cans of blue and metallic gold to use up. Both are straightforward builds with no plastic structural parts. The Ricochet comes with the dreaded plain white chute and the Taser Twin with an orange plastic streamer. Both come in a box. For some reason, the box picts of the Ricochet show fin decals on only one side of the fins but they give you enough decals for both sides. Decals are waterslide. The kits are part of the Basic Builder Series but there's no indication what that means on the spectrum of E2X to Skill Level 3. The Taser Twin is very Apogee II-like, same BT-20 diameter, engine retention system and fin shapes (but 3 instead of 4 per stage). Prices from $8 to $11 for the kits in this series.


Has you flown this one yet?

Sure have Nick. First flight was on a B6-6 about a month ago and again last week on a C6-7. I'm using a little Hartle 8" chute with it which seems about right. Matter of fact, it caught a small thermal and it seemed to hang in the sky for a minute or two. Luckily, there was hardly any wind and there wasn't much drift to worry with.

The C6 easily puts the Ricochet over 1000 ft. The 7 second delay was just a second or two too long and the ejection occurred right after apogee. The 5 second delay would probably do better.

B6-6 is a great motor for this. Still plenty of altitude and the delay seemed just about right. Sorry, didn't get any good flight pics of this one.