Estes U.S. ARMY PATRIOT M-104 (2056) Restoration.

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Back_at_it

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Not letting the work bench get cold between builds. Following the restoration of the CUBIX I decided it was time to grab another from the box. Yes the box of forgotten rockets is deep and wide and the pile grows larger every week as I've never found a forgotten collection I can turn down.

This time we're looking at an Estes U.S. Army Patriot M-104. There are actually three of them in the box waiting but I promise not to bore you with rebuilding each one.

On the surface it doesn't really look all that bad and in all honesty, I could have replaced the shock cord and probably gotten a few flights out of it the way it was. Upon closer inspection it looks like it was built by someone just getting into rocketry as there are a couple of the common first timer issues present here.

On the first pic we see the a lot of first timer issues. Decals not cut along the lines and poorly applied etc. If we look closer we can see that the yellow upper tube isn't seated against the main body tube. The coupler obviously got stuck when they were inserting it and they just left it as is and covered t with electrical tape.

Also note that the motor mount tube is sticking out the rear about 1/2 and inch. Other common problems are the normal stuff, sloppy fillets and glue everywhere. Surprisingly three of the four fins were perfectly straight and aligned. Only one needed to be removed and reattached.

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Time to get naked. Removing the decals was pretty easy except for the electrical tape. Here we can see where that coupler got stuck leaving a large gap between the upper and lower tube. The builder did a good job of filling it with glue for strength but its got to go. Removing the upper decal also peeled off a top couple of layer of the tube. Overall it appears that we have a solid rocket to start with.

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At this point it was time to start cutting stuff up. I knew I needed to replace a section of body tube as there is no fixing that coupler issue. Since I was already replacing a portion I decided to go down far enough to get past the weakened section where the outer layer peeled off as well. While I was at to I removed the one misaligned fin. The Motor mount also came right out in my hand with little to no pressure so that statement earlier about getting another flight out of it as is was a bit premature.

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Now guys, I'm not going to lie. The idea of simply attaching the nose cone and making a pygmy version did cross my mind and in all honesty, I think I will do this with one of the others in the pile. I think it would be a fun little rocket.

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Time to plan the reassembly. The nose cone, fins and lower portion of the body are all reusable. Below is a pic of everything that is going into this rocket to make it air worthy again.

I've checked the body tube length and cut a section to bring the length back to stock. I'll be using a 4" coupler that I believe came from Apogee. Since we're doing a coupler we might as well make it a baffle. I cut four plates for the baffle from 3/16 lite ply. We're also adding a plywood centering ring sourced from BMS for the upper ring. Since the stock paper rings came out so cleanly, I have glued them together effectively doubling the strength and will be reusing them for the lower ring. The stock motor tube will be reused and a motor block will be added as well.

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Reassembly begins tomorrow.
 
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Back_at_it

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I'd put a larger-diameter motor mount in that bird !!!
I considered it. My previous Patriot had a 24mm mount and I went back and looked at my flight logs. I flew it on a C11-3 once and a D12-5 once. All other flights were C5-3 and C6-5's with the occasional B6-2 thrown in for good measure. Living in Chicago, I have limited room for recovery so big altitude doesn't really work for me. If this bird was destined for the AZ house then absolutely it would have a larger mount. Might even stick a 29mm in there and a full length coupler, Basswood fins etc. Maybe the next one I put together will be like that. :)
 

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Did a little more work last night. Had some other stuff going on so I didn't get as far as I would have liked.

Started building my baffle using an Apogee 4 inch coupler and baffle plate cut from 3/16 lit ply wood. A basic screw eye will be attached to the upper plate with a drop of epoxy on the back side of the threads to keep it from pulling through. The plates are positioned 1 inch apart inside the tube on opposite sides of the tube.

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Once finished the internals of the baffle were coated in thinned wood glue for a bit of fire protection. The screw eye was attached and the outside layer of the baffle was peeled off to allow the glue to penetrate the fibers for a better bond.

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Next I turned my attention to the motor mount. I've decided to stick with 18mm on this one as it was the most common size I flew in my previous Patriot before it was lost to the water gods. The previous bird had a 24mm mount and I can see from my logs that I only took advantage of that twice.

Here the motor mount is assembled with a plywood upper ring and I sandwiched the stock paper rings together and used those for the lower as they were in really good condition. Since I will be friction fitting my motors, I decided to give the motor tube a little extra strength by wrapping the outside of the motor tube with a scrap of BT50 I had laying around. The scrap BT50 was cut to length then sliced down the side so that it fit nicely around the motor tube and glued in place with TBII. Fillets were applied and let dry for a couple of hours.

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Next the lower section of the body tube was prepped. The left over glue was peeled off and some light sanding with a Dremel removed the rest and gave me a nice surface for the glue to bond to.

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The inside of the main tube was then coated with TBII and the motor mount inserted until the ends of the tubes were even. A Fillet of glue will be added around the rear ring at a later time.

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After letting the mount dry for a period of time, the baffle was marked at the halfway point, the inside of the lower body tube and the lower portion of the coupler were covered in a generous amount of TBII and the baffle was slid into place. A fair amount of glue was squeezed out during this process. Be sure to have a damp rag nearby for cleanup.

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I then cut and attached a length of 500# Kevlar to the screw eye and tucked it down in the baffle to keep it out of the way for the rest of the assembly process.

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It was getting late so I decided to stop there for the night and let everything cure.

Tonight I'll be attaching that one broken fin and cleaning up the fillets of the three fins that I left attached.
 

Back_at_it

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Got the hard part done last night. Cleaning up the old fillets and removing all of the old glue that was seemingly strung over the lower body was a pain in the rear but it's done.

Started with attaching the new upper tube. Nothing fancy here. Just some TBII on both the inside of the tube and the outside of the coupler. This prevents that sticking and everything slid together nicely. Tip: Have a damp rag near by as this creates a bit of a mess when the glue pushes out. Also, don't be tempted to use wood glue to fill the gap between the tubes. When you try to sand it smooth later, it will simply roll up into balls and peel. You'll never get it smooth.

The rocket was stood up and let the glue dry for an hour before proceeding.

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Next came the fun part. At this point I honestly considered removing the fins and sanding the entire rear end of the rocket smooth and reattaching but decided not to as these three fins were on perfectly straight. I broke out the Dremel with a ball bit and started removing the old fillets. Some final clean up was done using various grit sand paper.

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I was working on another project in the shop that required epoxy so I figured I'd go ahead an use it on this since I was already mixing a batch.

The fin area was taped off using blue painters tape and fillets were applied.

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That's it for last night. I let the epoxy cure over night and checked it this morning and it looks perfect. The launch lug was added and I applid what I'm sure is only the first coat of wood filler to cover the seams and tube lines.

Thanks for following along.
 

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Well the weekend here hasn't been the best for painting but I did manage to get some more work done on the patriot. We left off with the first coat of Elmers wood filler being applied to the joint and seams. I used a little more on the fillets and make them smooth.

After about 30 mins of sanding with various grits I managed to get to a finish that was close enough for primer.

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Two coats of SEM high build primer were applied and let cure. I like this stuff as it's designed to be used in body shops where time is money. Each coat was cured in about 30 mins. The final primer coat was sanded with 600 then 800 grit.

Finally I applied two coats of Krylon Gloss White. The paint is currently curing and should be ready for the red tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm laying out the vinyl on my Cricut. Hoping to have this one wrapped up by the end of the week as it's time to start with the upscale builds.

Patroit white paint 1.jpg
 

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Little more progress. Taped off and painted the lower portion of the rocket and fins. Also painted a stripe about an inch wide around the top.

Vinyl is cut and ready to go on as soon as the paint is cured.

Patroit red 2.jpg
Patroit red 3.jpg
 

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Had a few other little things come across the workbench in the past week but I finally got a chance to get back to work and wrap up the patriot.

First up was adding the gold section around the top of the tube. This is was done using gold 651 vinyl.

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From there it's just a matter of adding the remaining vinyl. Overall I'm pretty happy with the results. Doing the graphics on these models with the wrap is never easy but a little time with the vinyl and heat gun and the results are pretty nice.

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This one is finished and moved to the "ready to fly" table.

Thank you to everyone that followed along. The next build will be something completely different.
 
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