Estes Screaming Eagle build

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afadeev

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I've been on a binge building plane looking rockets and gliders lately - did SR-71 and my second Estes Shuttle.
Now onto the Estes Screaming Eagle kit that I picked up from https://www.rocketryworks.com/ a year or two ago (figured they can use a plug in these difficult times).

Here are the contents of the kit.
I laid them out for my own benefit, so that I can go back and use the measurements to clone or upscale this kit later.
Screaming Eagle kit.jpg


Plastic parachute and elastic shock cord are heading straight into the trashcan (if anyone wants the chute, PM me, and it's yours free, just pay for shipping).

I'm undecided as to whether or not to stick a 24mm motor into the tail end of this kit.
Body tube is 24mm, so it will fit, but 24mm motors are heavier and will shift the CG way aft.
There is not a proper .rkt kit for this model, and no easy way to model CP vs. CG. I could old-school spin it on a string, so we'll see. I may leave MMT decision and installation until after the kit is otherwise completed.
 
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afadeev

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Here are all the balsa parts, with wings glued together, set against size-printed cutting mat.
All parts will get papered for strength as well as ease of finishing.

I've all but given up on filling the balsa wood grains with wood filler, bondo and/or multiple coats of primer. It just takes too long, and with long and delicate parts like wings, I usually end up braking a piece off while sanding it. BTDT.

Papering does have a few downsides. Namely, it adds extra weight (to be determined how much later), and makes parts harder to twist and bend, if so required. It just so happens that this kit does need to have one piece of the intake duct bent slightly, so I'll have to figure out how to manage that. I could either paper that piece after it has already been bent and glued, or experiment with bending it by soaking it in ammonia (BTDT for another project a while back). I will probably try the latter on one piece, and if it doesn't comply, clone the replacement from balsa stock and go fall-back on the former.

IMG_20200331_123614.jpg
 
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neil_w

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Surprising amount of wasted wood on those balsa sheets.
 

afadeev

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Surprising amount of wasted wood on those balsa sheets.
Good point.
By the looks of it, they could have fit all the parts into 3 sheets, not 4.

Also, what's the theory behind all Estes kits splitting wings into 3-5 individual pieces?
Is it for balsa sheet packaging optimization (clearly not on this kit)?
So that we can re-align the grains for different segments?
So that glue seams would reinforce the whole sheet, that otherwise would have been too flimsy?
 

kuririn

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Just a heads up. Since this kit has been OOP a really long time you might want to test a throwaway decal (like a logo or kit #) off the sheet to see if it's still viable.
If it's brittle and breaks apart easily you might be able to save the rest with a decal restorer film like this one:
0405201832[1].jpg
A spray on clear coat might also help keep the decals from breaking apart.
Or you could scan the originals and home print them on new decal paper.
In any event, I would scan and save first before trying to use them (just in case).
 

Lugnut56

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Screaming Eagle picture.JPG
Screaming Eagle picture (2).JPG
I built one of these a few years ago. I got the kit from a friend of mine who had bought it for his son, not realizing this is not a good first kit to build, so I swapped him Hornet kit (3037) for this kit. The kit had been opened and was missing some of the missile parts, so I was only able build 4 of them. It was built stock and I have only flown it once on a B4-4 (way underpowered and weathercocked badly). Learned a lot building this kit and hoping to fly again when normality returns.
 

neil_w

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Also, what's the theory behind all Estes kits splitting wings into 3-5 individual pieces?
I would assume it's a combination of grain direction and balsa sheet optimization. But "optimization" is only part of it... the other part is actually getting the wings to fit onto a balsa sheet at all. Look at those assembled wings and measure how wide the balsa sheet would need to be to fit even one wing on, with grain parallel to main wing leading edge. Then think of the *enormous* balsa waste that would occur if you tried to lay out two of those.

But I'd do it for the grain direction even if I had enough balsa to do it in one piece.
 

afadeev

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A spray on clear coat might also help keep the decals from breaking apart.
Or you could scan the originals and home print them on new decal paper.
In any event, I would scan and save first before trying to use them (just in case).
Thanks, Kuririn, I do have a set on hand (MicroSol Setting and Micro Liquid Decal Film), though haven't had to use them yet. Got them post the Estes Strike Fighter decals frustration.

Have you, by any chance, found a solution to the "silvering" of the old decals, once they are Clear coated ?
I ran into that problem with my recent SR-71, and would prefer to avoid a repeat:
https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/coronavirus-work-from-home-build-thread.158551/#post-1984200

I built one of these a few years ago. I got the kit from a friend of mine who had bought it for his son, not realizing this is not a good first kit to build
Nicely done, Lugnut56.
Did you paper those fins, or primer and sand, to get them that smooth?

Also, any trouble with the chute lines snagging on the missile ?
I've read that may be an issue, and am toying with ideas to make missile racks removal before flight.
 

kuririn

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Have you, by any chance, found a solution to the "silvering" of the old decals, once they are Clear coated ?
If the decals were applied over a glossy paint and dried fine without silvering, then the silvering occurred only after the clear was sprayed on?
Then you got me.
Usually silvering occurs when decals are applied over a textured surface like a flat or fluorescent paint.
 

afadeev

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If the decals were applied over a glossy paint and dried fine without silvering, then the silvering occurred only after the clear was sprayed on?
Yes. Only after the clear was sprayed on.
Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear, to be exact. Which has never surprised me before with adverse paint, sticker, or watercolor interactions.
And it's fairly uniform across 99% of the surface area of the decals.

I don't mind it all that much, just curious.
 

BABAR

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I built this without papering the fins. To get the stock paint scheme I know I used a lot of paint. It came in heavy. If you paper the fins (which I think is a good idea) I suspect yours also may be heavy. Pretty underpowered with Estes 18mm motors. Might consider either adapting it do a 24mm mount or go with a quest 18 mm D.
 

foose4string

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Good point regarding the decals as mentioned in some of the earlier replies. I remember them being super thin and difficult to work with regardless of their age.
 

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Lugnut56

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Did you paper those fins, or primer and sand, to get them that smooth?

Also, any trouble with the chute lines snagging on the missile ?
I've read that may be an issue, and am toying with ideas to make missile racks removal before flight.

Thanks afadeev, to get the paint that smooth was a 2 step process--
Step 1--Meticulous care when filling and sanding the fins
Step 2--After priming and putting on a couple light coats of gloss and getting ready to put on the final coat of paint, grab the primer instead of the gloss and spray liberally. Then wonder why it's not as glossy as you thought it should be. Then cuss some and sand and repaint.

On the question about chute snagging on the missile rack, I had no issues with chute deployment and recovery. Just needs more thrust--mine ended up at almost 120g, without motor.
 

afadeev

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Pretty underpowered with Estes 18mm motors. Might consider either adapting it do a 24mm mount or go with a quest 18 mm D.
I've seriously looked at going minimal-diameter with 24mm motors, but had to discard that plan after weighting those motors. Here is the data:
Estes C6-3 = 24.6g
Quest D16-4 = 24.7g
AeroTech D13-7 = 30.1g (loaded casing, with igniter)
Estes D12-3 = 46.4g
Estes E12-4 = 49.0g

Since a proper .rkt file for this model doesn't exist, and I don't think I can build one with either OpenRocket or RockSim (far too many complex shapes), I am not comfortable increasing the tail-end motor weight by 50%, and moving CG aft by 2-3". That can adversely effect stability.

Plus, flying a 2.3 oz / 65g rocket on Quest or Aerotech 18mm D-motors is easy, and actually cheaper that buying Estes D12's.
Plus I can still fly them on dirt-cheap C6-3's.
Thus, I'm sticking with a 18mm MMT.

a
 
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afadeev

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If you paper the fins (which I think is a good idea) I suspect yours also may be heavy.
OK, here is the data on extra weight from fin papering.
I have always been wondering about this myself, and was going to share it regardless. The above quote is a perfect lead-in for that.

  • Raw glued 3-section balsa fin weight (left & right were withing 0.1g of each other) = 2.7 g
  • Balsa fin with two sheets of yet to be glued paper overlaid = 4.9 g
  • Balsa fin papered (Titebond II glue), excess paper overhangs removed, edges sealed with CA = 5.1 g
  • Papered fin after applying and sanding off one coat of primer = 5.4 g
I had exactly doubled (2x) the weight of the fin!
raw balsa wing.jpg balsa with papers.jpg
balsa fin papered.jpg papered fin, primered.jpg

The major revelation, for me, has been how much weight raw paper sheets add. I used the thinnest copying printer paper I had around, marked as 75g/m^2.
Compared to the weight of paper (+2.2g), a layer of primer added very little extra weight (+0.3g). Though that is not a fair comparison, since that primer went over an already smooth paper layer. Had I sprayed and sanded off multiple layers of primer to fill in the balsa valleys, it would have added a lot more weight.

How much more? I don't know. Enough to offset the weight of paper? Probably not.
The only data point I'm missing is how the weight of similar wings that were filled by applying and sanding primer, over and over again.

Also, with the unpredictable spring weather, it would have taken me many more extra days, if not weeks, to wait for a painting opportunity to apply and sand-off the primer. I don't have a paint booth in the house, and have no plans to build one, so I spray the paint in the back yard.

Nevertheless, I'm very happy with the added strength and smoothness of my papered balsa wings.
 
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afadeev

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One idea that did not pan out was installing removable missile pods.
I've read reviews that claimed the recovery harness can either snag on them, or break them off, so I wanted to seal the top edge of the holes in the wing where the pods go, but avoid glueing them in permanently.

After multiple tries, I just could not get those plugs (bondo reinforced with CA, and/or wood filler) to hold. The plugs would either pop out when I removed the missile pods, or on the final try, the missile pod had glued itself to the plug, and one of the pod attachment tabs broke off.
So I gave up and glued the pods in, permanently.

Question - what base color should I go with ?

Estes instructions call for white primer, yet show grey and dull looking end product.
I'm leaning towards either leaving it all white, or going with bright silver base color. Then decals on top of that.
 
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afadeev

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Two more data points.

1). I had papered the air-intake pieces before gluing everything together, and one of them needed to be bent into proper curved shape during assembly.
I was prepared to resort to exotic methods to achieve the curvature (soaking in ammonia, steaming the surfaces, stripping paper layer if all else fails), but none were necessary. TiteBond II is flexible enough to allow for sufficient bending of the horizontal air-intake plank without any drama.

The picture below doesn't show the exact point of gluing the curved air-intake assembly piece. Rather, it's the step prior, when the air intake is glued together.
The section outlined with the red rectangle remains unglued in this step.
After glues dried, I applied more TBII to the unglued section, and pressed it in place with one of the mini-clamps. No further motivation was required.
intake.jpg


2). Motor mount had to be slightly adjusted to support Estes C6-3 motors, as well as Quest and AeroTech D's.
The latter two have a protruding ejection charge capsules in the forward end of the motor, which do not fit through the stock Estes engine block (needed for C6-3's). To solve for that, I removed two layers of material from the inside of the Estes engine block, test fit everything, then glued it in place.
Rocketarium 18mm aluminum motor retainer got JB Welded as well.
https://www.rocketarium.com/Build/Motor-Retainers

engine block.jpg MMT.jpg
 
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afadeev

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It's been a while, and the model has been mostly painted and done, so it's time for the thread to catch up.

My biggest cosmetic challenges came from filling and smoothing the dimples from 10 holes in each wing, painting, and applying the decals.
Each step came with its own complications.
From the beginning.

All holes get covered on one side of the wing with an attaching component (tail, air intake box, missile rack), but need to be filled on the other side to avoid visual distractions. That has turned out to be easier said than done, partly aggravated by my choice of gloss silver paint for the airframe. Gloss paint accentuate imperfections, and metallic silver does nothing to hide them. Nevertheless, after multiple rounds of primer and sanding, and top coat, I got to this level of acceptable-to-me (though far from perfect) finish:
painted body.jpg
If you zoom in, you can see some surface imperfections, but they are no longer glaring.

For the missile rack, initially I planned to insert it into the wing, seal and smooth the area above the rack attachment points, and leave the rack friction fit for the sake of removing it before actual flight. It's fragile, and protruding missiles can tangle the chute lines during ejection. That plan got canned after multiple attempts to seal the surface on top of the wing failed: the bondo would go on, dry, and sand smoothly, but then would break after I took the racks out. Bondo with CA was more secure, but CA leaked onto the rack mounting tabs, and sealed them in place. I split one rack trying to remove it, and cut my losses by gluing missile racks in place for good.

The decals were very old, and decal sheet showed signs of cracking and uneven staining of the backing paper.
I applied a few layers of Microscale Liquid Decal Film to protect them from cracking and disintegrating, and that kept the waterslides mostly in one piece during subsequent application.
The "before" and "after" pictures do not fully illustrate the rate of decal degradation with time (decades?), but do provide some illustration:
waterslide before.jpg waterslide after.jpg

The other waterslide decal challenge was getting them off the backing paper.
In the areas where the backing paper was discolored, the decals refused to separate: half the decal would lift, but the discolored portion would stay attached. The solution that worked for me was taking them out of the water and scraping off a few layers of backing paper with a hobby knife.
Not enough to cut through and damage the decals, but enough to get water through the thinned layers of the backing paper, and finally to dissolve the aged glue. I could tell when it was enough after re-submerging the decal into the water face-down, and watching the freshly scraped backing paper saturate with water evenly and change colors. I wish I had taken pictures of the process, but I was a bit too preoccupied with the problem at hand to document the process.
That worked, and got me to this stage of decal application:
body with FWD decals.jpg
 
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afadeev

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Couple more data points on the decals application.
What follows are not complaints, just observations of things I would love to improve on the next time around. If someone has advice on how to do better, please do share.

Getting decals to conform to the cockpit curves was a real challenge. Sadly, no pictures, as I had my hands full.
I had cut the cockpit waterslides into three (3) pieces along the red divider lines, and applied them one at a time.
They really didn't want to tailor to the cockpit curvature. After I found a position where the front-most piece was happy, the middle piece would be badly out of shape, so I had to reposition the front piece to make two of them almost fit together. There was some shape distortion and bubbling between the two. Same with the rear-most piece - I had to move first two forward, else the rear was not dove-tailing correctly. In the end, I had to introduce a fair amount of overlap, and still had a major bubbling problem around the areas where the 1st and 2nd pieces come together.

That's where Micro-Sol saved the day.
The "before" pictures would have shown widely misshapen cockpit waterslides, with the aft edge of the front-most piece buckling up. The "after" pics represent the current state of the world, after three (3) Micro-Sol applications:
microSol.jpg microSol 2.jpg

Again, not perfect, but nothing is sticking up or out. You can only see the imperfections when you look really closely from about one foot away.
A little bit of uneven surface on top of the decals was introduced after I sprayed a few layers of clearcoat over them, to seal in the edges and to protect them from further damage.

Keeping in mind that a bunch of the decals were cracking and very brittle to begin with, I'm happy with the outcome.
To illustrate the brittle nature of the decals, see the closeup below:
side decal.jpg

I believe Liquid Decal Film and MicroSol applications have saved these decals from obliteration.
However, they had one minor side effect - almost imperceptible wrinkles on the surface of the decals (see right wing's red patch).
The "wrinkles" are imperceptible to the touch, and can only be seen if the light hits the decals just right, but they are there.

I wonder if I should have done something differently to smooth the top surface areas of the decals after MicroSol application?
Or even before then, after brushing on the Liquid Decal Film?
microsol wrinkles.jpg

If someone knows how to do it better the next time, please chime in.
 

afadeev

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Lastly, the funky Estes paint scheme on the card-stock.

I really do NOT care for that orange patch on top of the fuselage.
It just looks way too busy, almost garish, and the top black decals have already been applied. So the orange is definitely not going onto my rocket.
However, the multi-shaded grey triangles on the wings and tails look interesting, so I've put a pause on applying any more decals to the rear of the rocket.
eagle.jpg


Trouble is - I don't have THAT many shades of grey (no pun intended) in my spray paint inventory, nor am I likely to require them on any other rocket any time soon. Thus the choice is to either order some lighter/darker shades of grey and blue just for this rocket, or keep it as-is: silver with a red/black decals (more small decals would go onto the tails and aft edges of the wings):
screaming eagle.jpg


The latter is definitely the path of least resistance, and the one that minimizes my chances of screwing up the paint and making things worse.
The former has not been ruled out.

Thoughts?
 

kuririn

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I wonder if I should have done something differently to smooth the top surface areas of the decals after MicroSol application?
No, once you have the decal in the right position and apply MicroSol, don't touch it.
I made that mistake once and totally mucked up the decal.
Even if it looks like it's wrinkling, leave it alone. When you come back in the morning it will look like it's painted on.

As good as MicroSol and Liquid Decal film are, some decals are just too far gone to be salvaged.
I think you did a great job.

As far as the canopy decals not conforming to the surface, that is the age old problem of shaping a flat surface to a curved one. Cartographers have had to deal with that for centuries, with varied degrees of success.

If you have the right color Sharpie, you can blend in lines from two decals that do not match up.
Laters.
 

BABAR

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Lastly, the funky Estes paint scheme on the card-stock.

I really do NOT care for that orange patch on top of the fuselage.
It just looks way too busy, almost garish, and the top black decals have already been applied. So the orange is definitely not going onto my rocket.
However, the multi-shaded grey triangles on the wings and tails look interesting, so I've put a pause on applying any more decals to the rear of the rocket.
View attachment 416929

Trouble is - I don't have THAT many shades of grey (no pun intended) in my spray paint inventory, nor am I likely to require them on any other rocket any time soon. Thus the choice is to either order some lighter/darker shades of grey and blue just for this rocket, or keep it as-is: silver with a red/black decals (more small decals would go onto the tails and aft edges of the wings):
View attachment 416932

The latter is definitely the path of least resistance, and the one that minimizes my chances of screwing up the paint and making things worse.
The former has not been ruled out.

Thoughts?
The enemy of “good” is “better”. Might consider adding a couple of triangular white trim Monokote pieces, but definitely would NOT try to mask and paint, especially with tenuous decals already in place.
 

kuririn

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The enemy of “good” is “better”. Might consider adding a couple of triangular white trim Monokote pieces, but definitely would NOT try to mask and paint, especially with tenuous decals already in place.
+1, and masking on metallic paint can pose more problems, like lifting the sheen off.
Looks good as is.
 

SCIGS30

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I built this rocket 12 years ago and she was pretty fun and flies great with the Estes C6-5. I was not attracted to this model mainly because of the face card, ugly décor. Then I saw a picture of the Centuri F-15 and decided to make my rocket look more light a fighter jet. I built mine right out of the bag, added the heavy clay and she flew great. I built the rocket then brushed on a few coats of Aerogloss balsa sealer for a grain free finish. I have flown this rocket multiple times with no issues what so ever. By the way, your rocket looks great.
 

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neil_w

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Looks good so far. I too hate to buy a can of paint just for an accent color for one rocket.
 
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