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Favorite Estes kit mods.

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Bdpeters

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Many times it is difficult for us to just leave things as they are. What are some of your mods or upgrades to the standard Estes kits? I apologize in advance if this question has already been posted.

One of mine is upgrading to a 3x18mm motor mount in the Big Bertha. From plans in sport rocketry mid 90’s bu Fred Williams.
 

SecondRow

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I make the motor mount for the Quinstar removable (i.e., I just don’t glue it in). That way I can fly it on C11s and D12s, as well as the recommended 18mm motors.
 

Blast it Tom!

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I retro-fitted a stuffer tube into my Mercury-Redstone. Just seemed like a lot of volume to pressurize or fill with wadding that would get blown everywhere. Were I to build it again, I would probably go with a 24mm motor mount and a stuffer tube.
 

afadeev

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  • Always: Kevlar braided harness instead of elastics.
  • Usually: papered balsa fins for strength, and smooth finish.
  • Whenever possible: positive motor retainers (Estes plastic, Rocketarium and Aeropack aluminum, etc), whenever possible.
  • Whenever possible: vinyl skins/wraps, instead of paint.
 

Bdpeters

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  • Always: Kevlar braided harness instead of elastics.
  • Usually: papered balsa fins for strength, and smooth finish.
  • Whenever possible: positive motor retainers (Estes plastic, Rocketarium and Aeropack aluminum, etc), whenever possible.
  • Whenever possible: vinyl skins/wraps, instead of paint.
Great tip with the vinyl wrap
 

Joekeyo

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  • Always: Kevlar braided harness instead of elastics.
  • Usually: papered balsa fins for strength, and smooth finish.
  • Whenever possible: positive motor retainers (Estes plastic, Rocketarium and Aeropack aluminum, etc), whenever possible.
  • Whenever possible: vinyl skins/wraps, instead of paint.
So close. I use kevlar line, not a harness. Papered fins Yes! Friction fit for motors is ok, I have no experience with skins and wraps, but I am getting better with decals.:)
 

GlenP

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I kit bashed/converted an Estes Jetliner into a glider, with an 18mm motor mount rear eject, basically in the style of the Astron Sky Dart 2. I added some additional balsa sheet to make the wing and tail fins larger so it can actually glide.
 

Rocks&Rockets

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I modified the Estes Leviathan to be my first try at dual deployment.
Worked flawlessly! Further experimentation though caused a major zipper of the airframe. Wish Estes would bring that one back. Thought of scratch building one with the leftover parts and heavier wall tubes from LOC for fun, but NOTHING is interchangable- NC, BT, Couplers all non-standard . . .
 

kuririn

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I modified the Estes Leviathan to be my first try at dual deployment.
Worked flawlessly! Further experimentation though caused a major zipper of the airframe. Wish Estes would bring that one back. Thought of scratch building one with the leftover parts and heavier wall tubes from LOC for fun, but NOTHING is interchangable- NC, BT, Couplers all non-standard . . .
???????
Estes has the parts, why order from LOC?
 

Back_at_it

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Replace the shock cord with Kevlar and Elastic should be considered a must. After that I think my biggest mod is motor mounts. If a rocket comes with an 18mm mount I find myself upgrading to 24. If it comes with 24mm I'm upgrading to 29mm. Of course there are those exceptions like the Wizard and Yankee where I actually went down to 13mm.

I also deviate from the instructions on adhesives. I don't use model glue for anything. If the rocket calls for model cement I'm using CA or Epoxy.

I also find myself modding nose cones a lot lately. We're all familiar with the issues with the Big Daddy cone but I've had something similar with the Bertha cone on the normal BB so that typically gets cut flat and a bulkhead applied. Also gives more room when you're working with something small like the Baby Bertha or Maxi Streak.
 
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Back_at_it

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I modified the Estes Leviathan to be my first try at dual deployment.
Worked flawlessly! Further experimentation though caused a major zipper of the airframe. Wish Estes would bring that one back. Thought of scratch building one with the leftover parts and heavier wall tubes from LOC for fun, but NOTHING is interchangable- NC, BT, Couplers all non-standard . . .

Not a bad idea. I like the quality of LOC's products. The tubes feel like they'll last forever. Of course you'll need to fly bigger motors to get them off the ground but that's the point right !
 

Mugs914

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Lessee, there are a few things I do to all Estes kits, most have been mentioned already:

Replace the tri-fold with Kevlar thread anchored to the motor mount tube.
Sometimes I just use a long Kevlar shock cord, on others I'll use elastic on the nose cone end.
I prefer to friction mount the motors on my LPR stuff, so I almost never use the motor hooks.
If I do use the motor hook I cut off the big tab thingy so that it is like the old style hooks.
I use nylon chutes, usually a Top Flight thin-mil X-form in an appropriate size for conditions.

Often I will do one or more of the following:

Upgrade the kit motor mount to a larger size.
Convert to through the wall fins.
Built up fins for a more accurate airfoil on scale models.
Add scale details not included with the kit like wraps, rivet and bolt heads, weld seams, etc.
Use rail guides on anything with a 29mm mount (stock or modded).
Convert appropriate kits, like a Nike X or Red Nova to multi-stage.

On the newer kits that have a short tube for the fin can coupled to a long body tube, I glue the fins and motor mount to the long tube and use the shorter tube as a payload bay.

Other times I just use the tubes and the nose cone to scratch build something completely and utterly unrelated to anything even resembling the picture on the bag... :rolleyes:
 

Ez2cDave

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Favorite Estes kit mod . . . Motor mount upgrade, where desirable. 13mm-18mm, 18mm-24mm, sometimes 24mm-29mm.

For example . . . The Estes Citation Patriot should have been a 24mm kit.

Back in the day, the Sandhawk was perfect for an FSI 1.14" mount for E60 and F100 motors . . . Just peel the inside of the 5055 rings and glue it in place !

Dave F.
 

Bdpeters

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Added a booster to my pathfinder. Flies great on D12’s. Both stages.
 

ATJOE1972

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24mm motor mount and papered fins for a Big Bertha. Also a baffle for the top end, so I don’t have to use as much dog barf. 🤓
 

GlenP

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24mm motor mount and papered fins for a Big Bertha. Also a baffle for the top end, so I don’t have to use as much dog barf. 🤓
Yes, of course, a Baffle! I usually make one from the leftovers of the fin balsa sheet. Surprised no one has mentioned that yet.

In the coupler of the lower section of a Mean Machine, for example...
Screen Shot 2020-09-20 at 11.10.24 AM.png
 
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ATJOE1972

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Yes, of course, a Baffle! I usually make one from the leftovers of the fin balsa sheet. Surprised no one has mentioned that yet.

In the coupler of the lower section of a Mean Machine, for example...
View attachment 432285
Very nice looking baffle and appropriate rocket to use it on. I had read comments about the Mean Machines having issues with chute deployments and using baffles to correct the problem. It was a game changer for my Mean Machine builds. 👍
 

ATJOE1972

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I kit bashed/converted an Estes Jetliner into a glider, with an 18mm motor mount rear eject, basically in the style of the Astron Sky Dart 2. I added some additional balsa sheet to make the wing and tail fins larger so it can actually glide.
That’s a really great mod to the Jetliner! I bet it really screams with the 18mm mount. Gliding is probably the best way to get it back without breaking something on it. 👍
 

BABAR

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For the Estes Flip Flyer, ditch the chute, attach the forward section to the rear with the shock cord and add a fishing swivel, the whole thing comes down in one piece, albeit a bit faster than otherwise.

No chute to pack, only one piece to find, it’s win win

Credit @5x7

 

SteveA63

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Adding a staging coupler for the cc Express to gap stage rather than taping booster and sustainer motors together. I’ve always hated that. It adds a wee bit of length to the booster, but I don’t care. It looks better and allows you to fly the upper stage as single without a motor 1/4 of the way out of the back end.
 

neil_w

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@kuririn @afadeev how do gents typically attach the Kevlar to the body? Do you send it down to the forward centering ring/thrust ring?
Yes, exactly.
motor mount 5.jpg
Some folks like to run it on the inside of the forward centering ring; I prefer to do it on the outside, to keep the kevlar even slightly further away from the ejection blast.
 

Back_at_it

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If you’re building from scratch, attach it to the underside of the top centering ring of the motor mount or add a baffle and attach it to that.

if you are retro fitting. Simply do a traditional tri-fold mount and glue it as low into the body tube as you can reach.

something I have started doing over the last 40-50 builds is to add heat shrink tubing to the lowest portion of the Kevlar that will take the brunt of the heat from ejection. It will add protection and prolong the life of the Kevlar.
 

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