How do you Mod?

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Will cross-certified reloads become more common?

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  • I didn't know that they could do that!

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Catching up and tripping all over myself.
Feb 6, 2004
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Clinton, SC
I usually like to stick to the instructions and the pictured paint scheme, but I was wondering how everybody else likes thier rockets?

I like to build them...

1) as advertised, no mods

2) normal kits are boring, I like to accessorize

3) It's pretty in pink, paint mods

4) Straight up(down)scale, I like it just the way it is, only BIGGER

5) It started out a kit, but after full hardware and software (paint) its a whole new creature.

6) I've never seen one of those, KIT are you kidding, its scratch built
i make it look stock, but with a bigger motor...or multi-staged
Like a tank. Epoxy EVERYWHERE! Baffle design, epoxy fillets, better longer shock cord, bigger MMT, the works! I build mine to last or take one serious crash!
I like to over-engineer mine (cardstock lamination on balsa fins on Estes kits with epoxy fillets!) and then throw in the biggest motor mount that will fit the BT.

Then I paint them as close to the original cover art as possible (I've been known to spend an entire month just painting a model)

Mostly in the paint department. I figure the kit is the way the kit is, and I don't feel comfortable (yet) messing around with its basic structure.
ModRocs always get a kevlar thread shock cord and are set-up for a quick-switch nylon parachute. The elastic shock cord and plastic paracute go in the spare parts box. I sometimes laminate the balsa fins with paper for strength.

MPR and HPR models get modified for durability and for quickly setting-up each model at launches. Most get the following:
  • Airframe sliced right above the fins for anti-zipper construction. Extra coupler and centering ring required.
  • Add eye bolts or u-bolts for quick change tubular nylon or kevlar recovery harness.
  • Nearly all models over about 1 1/2" diameter are modified for altimeter deployment with electronics bay.
  • Anything with at least 1/2" between the MMT and body tube gets expanding foam.
  • Nose cone gets modified to add a more substantial connection for the recovery harness. Usually a forged eye-bolt.
  • T-nuts are added for motor retention.
  • Rail Buttons replace launch lugs.
Optional but frequent modifications:
  • Fiberglass airframe.
  • PML Extended Kwik-Switch added to some larger non-PML kits.
  • Larger MMT (requires replacement of stock centering rings).
  • On PML kits, the anti-zipper design makes pistons virtually useless. They often become quick-change ejection charge assemblies.
Regardless of size, unless a kit is a (semi-) scale model (Amraam, Bullpup, Patriot), the sky is the limit on the paint job. Honestly, I usually fly HPR rockets naked a couple of times before I paint them. That way the rocket gods seem less greedy.

You might ask: "If you do all this modification, why bother with a kit?" That would be a good question and the reason is that I don't have an adequate shop or tools to cut fins or centering rings and I'm not all that creative with innovative rocket designs (I'm a computer geek, after all). I might start doing more scratch rockets, though. I can have Giant Leap Rocketry make fins for me and I've got so many parachutes, shock cords, MMT and coupler tubes, and nose cones around here that a kit is added unnecessary cost.

I hope I haven't bored anyone with my long reply.

My preference is to scratch build, but I'm not adverse to a well crafted kit, especially if it's scale.

I'll also kitbash, if there's something close to what I'm looking to build.
I prefer to scratch-build. Either I've seen something I like the look of because it's unusual, or I've had an idea I want to try out. Either way, it's very unlikely that there's a kit available. The last kit I bought was the Estes Phoenix, and that's only because it was a convenient way to get a size 80 ogive nose-cone, some BT-80 and a parachute all together. Unfortunately I had to buy the balsa for the fins separately because the supplied piece had a lot of lines cut into it. :D
All of the above, only not the first one... I never build anything stock. Never. All AT kits get payload bays or whatnot. LOC kits get misc mods, PML kits get bigger MMTs if possible... All kits get new chutes:D

Some get electronics.

but I never build stock.:D
I will always say that I like to scratch-build the best, however my fleet is close to 50/50. :eek: This is mostly due to three factors though: old pre-BAR rockets (before my 2nd re-incarnation); contest wins :D, and a large number of Art Applewhite kits.

Even with kits I almost always make some mods. I say almost because of my Art Applewhite products - Ihave only modified three.

My top changes are in the recovery system...adding Kevlar leaders, anti-zipper devices, eye-bolts, swivels, and using an array of 'mobile' nylon (and a few mylar) chutes. Next is motor retention adds, and railbuttons on anything BT-60 and up. I also like adding a larger motor mount to 18mm/24mm kits. On scratch builds I'll usually go with a 38mm mount in place of a 29mm, although a kit I will leave at 29mm. Other changes depend on the kit, the phase of the moon, and what parts I have laying about.

Painting is yet another animal. I very rarely paint a stock scheme, unless its a scale kit.
Mainly, I change out the recovery anchor. I HATE those stupid fold-up tabs that you are supposed to glue inside the front of the BT, right where you want NO obstructions to the recovery gear coming out. So I generally add a tether to the MMT and let the string hang out the front, then tie on the shock cord.

I also tend to swap out the 'chute for a streamer (or a smaller 'chute). I want my rockets to come down fast, because around here it always seems like the wind is blowing. Too much float time = lost rocket.

Because I like to get 'em down fast, I also like to laminate the balsa fins with paper or cardstock for a bit of reinforcement.

I really do not like to over-build modrocs, because too much weight turns them into 'dogs.' Besides, the terminal flights of my rockets are the ones where they fly away, not where they wear out.
I like to make them look stock but change "what's under the hood". Here is a picture of my Estes Fat Boy with stock paint scheme but modified to fly a cluster of 3 B/C's or a single D or E with a quick change motor mount system.
I like to clone from scratch.

I like to paint per the "intended" or "kit" scheme.

I like to add kevlar shock cord retention, and I often increase the size of the motor mount.

Upscaling is a favorite, but that's a lot like cloning from scratch - just using larger parts.

I'll make minor mods during a build process if it helps "constructability" or "finishability" without changing the final appearance. I can think of lots of examples if you want some.

I've never taken a kit or a plan and just started adding to it or changed it significantly (at least in appearance.)

Now, I *have* crossed two kits from scratch, but I'd consider that a scratch rocket incorporating major design elements of two very different kits.