Looking for a replacement to Estes Mongoose

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Hello Everyone,
As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I really enjoyed my Mongoose rocket - both flights... The booster is crumpled and I made a "It ain't no good like it is" repair attempt and finished it off. I am looking for recommendations on a better 2 stage kit that is better designed and more durable. Here's my criteria:

1. Nothing bigger than C Engines.
2. Something durable enough to survive a streamer for recovery. (I understand the broadness and complexity of this - to an extent). I'm not trying to stay within the bounds of any special streamer requirements, just something visible to get the rocket down.
3. Don't mind an intensive build if necessary.
4. Would like it to be able to handle the Estes Universal Astro Cam.

I was looking @ the Estes Epic II kit. I can see that some of you have this one, but I can't tell if they are liked. I figured I would ask rather than go through what I did with the Mongoose - find out what's bad about it and then discover many of you said that in the first place.

Another question - I bought an Aspire rocket from Apogee that I have not gotten to yet. I bought a fin alignment tool, but it is sized specifically for the tube and number of fins. My assumption that a specific tool is best - life has taught me that anything multi-purpose is only marginally good at anything - but I could be wrong on this.

Just to help you understand what I am about, I am not a serious rocketeer like most of you. I love building anything that flies though. (I am an RC fixed wing pilot.) My interest is having fun with flying the rockets with my grandkids. They have the attention span of a gnat, so I do all the building. Our biggest challenge is a flying site that is too small and not being able to find rockets, and in the case of the Mongoose, building low quality rockets. My grandkids are still young, so being able to have multiple launches without long hunts is my main goal. (Although.... Looking through this site, I could easily catch the rocket bug if I'm not careful ;-)

Thanks much,
Brian
 
I think Boosted Bertha fits your requirements, except the streamer. But it's not a rocket you're likely to lose sight of, anyway.

If you're concerned about it drifting away, it's big enough to use a Jolly Logic Chute Release.

(I expect you could put a streamer in it and it would survive landing on grass, if the streamer was sized right.)

Regarding fin alignment: there are lots of different kinds of jigs, some easily built at home, others bought. Honestly, though, you don't need a jig to start out. Just do it by eye. If it looks good enough, it is good enough, unless you're in an altitude contest. When I was a kid, my fins were often a little wonky, but it never resulted in an unsafe or unsuccessful flight. To directly answer your question, I don't think being universal makes a fin jig any less effective — but if it's more complex it might be harder to use.
 
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Makes all those stage couplers easy breezy. And the Kevlar cord to a coupler, instead of a tri fold.

Sometimes I tack my fins on with CA, then check alignment. Sometimes CA soaks into the tube a ton. Then Epoxy is a must, wood glue doesn't seem to stick to CA well. Or at least that's my luck.

A Der Red Max would be fun for ya'll, as well. With a 12" Apogee chute.
 
Get a couple of Viking kits.

You can kit bash the sterling silver with the parts

https://www.spacemodeling.org/jimz/estes/007275_STERLING_SILVER.pdf.

Use the kits for the core (nose cone and body tubes). You can make your own couplers and motor blocks from card stock. If the body tube segment used for the sustainer is over 6 inches, don’t cut it, KEEP IT LONG.

For fins, use three on sustainer, broad edge at the root, this will by definition leave a trailing edge swept forward. Whatever rocket you build, a forward swept trailing edge is always a good bet if durability is a goal.

Fins for the Booster? Mind-sim suggests that if you put 6 of the fins on you should be good. If you go with long edge as the root, I might go with 7. Long edge As root will be more robust. If you go with the second to longest short edge will be more stable but more likely to bend on tumble recovery.

For low power builds, with the exception of motor mounts (which some people like to use epoxy to prevent premature grabbing/adhesion), white glue is fin for paper to paper, for paper to wood or wood to wood white glue works fine, although yellow glue works well too.

You said you have a small field.

This should be a very light rocket. Given this and the field, I’d go A8-0 to A8-5 (if you can find them) or A8-3.

With a home-made or store bought adapter* you can adapter either booster or sustainer or both down to 13 mm.
A10-0 for booster and 1/2A3-4T for sustainer.

You may want to get a bulk pack of Vikings (look on eBay and some other sites, often they sell pretty cheap.)

It’s a nice little rocket, doesn’t require sanding, and can be used to kit bash a lot of stuff. Has one of my favorite nose cones.



*https://estesrockets.com/products/engine-adapters-mini-to-standard?_pos=3&_sid=1f45041cc&_ss=r
No I don’t get a commission!1-855-888-8798

Oh, if you add the astroCam probably go with b6-0 on booster
 
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To be clear for the OP, Epoxy is not necessary for any A-C powered Estes rocket. You can just use plain white glue on all of them, including Boosted Bertha.
You need to make sure the bottle is Elmers Glue-all and not Elmers School Glue, they are two different formulas and Glue All is better for rockets (cardboard and wood ones anyways).
 
Wow folks! Thanks for all the informative and thoughtful replies. I must admit, I am drinking from a fire hose with all the information.

I spent a big part of today thinking about streamers. I used some 2" metalized ribbon and made a streamer and tested it on an Estes Bandit for a cheap experiment. I was totally blown away with the visibility it provided! This rocket is so tiny that I think it could survive a free descent.

Thrilled with the visibility, I thought heck, I'll just use streamers on ALL my rockets.

It didn't take long for me to see that most of my other rockets are too heavy for streamers... I racked my brain all day trying to figure a simple way to combine a streamer and a chute. I thought about a really long shock cord with the streamer anchored length wise with both ends attached to the long shock cord so it would not interfere with the chute at the far end. But, I have a feeling that might be a nightmare to pack.

Then, I wondered if there was a way to kill 2 birds with one stone... Well lo and behold, there is such a thing as a silver mylar chute! These are discussed in a different forum, but the thread is 20 years old. However, I did see that they can still be purchased.

It's the visibility I want, not so much the light weight and competing to see how long I can keep it aloft.

I'm visualizing a silver mylar chute with a spill hole. Can anyone recommend a good source for these? Durability trumps weight for me.

Also, I have an Aspire rocket to build. Looking at the Apogee site, it says to use a streamer on rockets that are 30 grams max. The Aspire weighs twice that, and it comes with a streamer. What's up with that?

I also saw a video where Tim was folding a 10" wide streamer. That would be fine with me if feasible for my other rockets.

Thanks for your time and patience with a newb. I really appreciate it.

Brian
 
Hey! I just found the thread on making chutes out of mylar ballons!
Home made chutes are extremely easy to make, balloons is a good source.

You can also find Mylar gift wrap at places like Walmart or Amazon.

Classically I believe cotton button thread is a common shroud line material. I’ve found kite string breaks too easily.

For your low power needs, small fishing swivels are nice to allow quick switches.

Mylar has a strong “memory”, meaning if it is held in shape for an extended period (like overnight) it tends to stiffen in that shape. So don’t pack your chute the night before.

It tears easily, so reinforce your shroud line attachment points.

I really like gold foil color, in the sun it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Don’t forget wadding. Shroud lines burn easily, and Mylar melts easily.

Have fun,
 
You can make your own couplers and motor blocks from card stock.
Another easy source of motor blocks is spent Estes engine casings.

Guaranteed to have the right outer diameter to fit your tube, and gives your rocket that nice flown smell!
 
Another easy source of motor blocks is spent Estes engine casings.

Guaranteed to have the right outer diameter to fit your tube, and gives your rocket that nice flown smell!
This would definitely work. In my experience, even with power tools cutting thin segments of motor casings can be challenging (and check twice to make sure it is an EXPENDED motor casing. Meconium happens..)

for all my scratch builds, I haven't used a dedicated motor block on a rocket in over a decade. Since I scratch build, I usually have extra tubing scraps around I cut 1/4' segment of motor mount size tubing, cut about 1/8' piece out lengthwise, and slide it into place with WHITE, repeat WHITE glue. If it is minimum diameter or in a long motor mount, I run a few practice dry fittings before I add glue, so I can get the piece in place with a smooth single inward motion and immediate outward motion with a spent motor casing. While just one layer of tube IS in fact far thinner than a dedicated block or a cut motor casing section, it's one of the few things I can say has never failed on me (I only use this for 13, 18, and 24 mm motors, which is pretty much all I fly.) Definitely cheaper than buying a motor block (although if you get the Viking kits, they come with one--- I usually save them for centering rings for BT-5 inside BT-20 scratch builds.) Definitely lighter than and IMO easier than cutting an expended motor casing. It does however lack the "odeur de utilisé" of @Raythain 's technique.

Especially for multistage rockets, anything you can do to reduce pad and particularly tail weight is usually a plus.

While you could probably get by with yellow glue, i've had a few close calls with pusher casing "seizing" or grabbing with yellow. I've never had it with white glue HOWEVER as mentioned I do a few dry runs so the motor casing is never inside with tube with glue around it for more than 10 seconds. Definitely give it at least 24 hours to dry before you stick a motor in, both to make sure there is no remaining tacky glue to permanently fix your flight motor (see my signature block to figure out how I know this) and to make sure the block is securely glued.

YMMV.

Straight Trails.
 
Rockets like the Alpha 3, and Black Brant 3, have massively oversized chutes. Those rockets suck. Just hang in the sky and fly away, everytime.

A mylar streamer works perfectly in them.

And .any other rockets do far better with downsized chutes. Black Brant 2, down to a Top Flight 12", for example. I rarely use more than an Apogee 15" in lpr's.

Mach1 fiberglass rockets weigh 55-80g and come with a streamer or an 8" chute that's just a glorified streamer. Come down fast and straight.

You can even fly a Star Orbiter on a streamer. Fin repairs are far better than losing the whole rocket.
 
In my experience, even with power tools cutting thin segments of motor casings can be challenging (and check twice to make sure it is an EXPENDED motor casing. Meconium happens..)
In my experience, hand cutting is often superior to power tools for the thin segments. Puts less of a buckling load on the ring. If you have it, sand down the inside of a larger motor casing to a slip fit and put that in a hobby vise. Slip a spent casing of your desired block (or centering ring!) size in and cut along the edge with a razor saw. I’ve made quite a few blocks, and 5-20/20-50 centering rings this way. Blocks are mostly for when I need them as anchors for the shock cord.

I’ve got a separate box for the spent casings, have no interest in “exciting” fabrication techniques.
 
Blocks are mostly for when I need them as anchors for the shock cord.
now THAT is an excellent idea. I hate Tea-Bag mounts as they ruin the smooth "outlet" from the body tube for the laundry. Do you have a technique for "flame" proofing the part of the shock cord which is inevitably right in front of the motor casing? Even with Kevlar I've had some issues with this.
 
now THAT is an excellent idea. I hate Tea-Bag mounts as they ruin the smooth "outlet" from the body tube for the laundry. Do you have a technique for "flame" proofing the part of the shock cord which is inevitably right in front of the motor casing? Even with Kevlar I've had some issues with this.
No good techniques yet. Haven’t been a BAR for long enough to get burn-through on any of my scratch builds. If I’m really worried about burn through, I’ll mount the ring higher as a quasi-laundry shelf. Really just hoping that future me has better ideas when he builds the next original design. 😅

Mostly I’ve built with the understanding that at some point, anything built with Kevlar cord will either need a major repair or retirement.
 
I'm visualizing a silver mylar chute with a spill hole. Can anyone recommend a good source for these? Durability trumps weight for me.
Based on my limited experience with mylar chutes, a spill hole may not be a good idea since mylar is extremely susceptible to tearing and cutting a hole in the middle of one may create that risk of tearing on descent.

I wouldn't consider mylar chutes to be durable, at least not the ones I've used from TLP kits. They are very lightweight though.

I read a story (legend?) here years ago about a person who saw an old timer repeatedly crumpling a mylar chute in his hand and when asked what he was doing, he simply held his hand out, released the chute and it fully opened in that instant!

I tried this myself, but I never got it to do that. Maybe it was just a rocketry urban legend designed to fool you into crumpling a chute endlessly. lol
 
now THAT is an excellent idea. I hate Tea-Bag mounts as they ruin the smooth "outlet" from the body tube for the laundry. Do you have a technique for "flame" proofing the part of the shock cord which is inevitably right in front of the motor casing? Even with Kevlar I've had some issues with this.

I bring the Kevlar cord mount down to the motor tube at the bottom of the rocket in a loop, drill thru centering rings, even plastic ones It can be replaced that way as well. Works on small , medium rockets just fine.

Kevlar thru rings , works all the way down to BT5. When it is getting worn, you can use a wire feed to run new cord up from the bottom.
Slip knot loop at the bottom on tube, centering ring. Lariat Loop was the name by contesters. Reduce in size all the way down, it works fine even on Mongoose. Slits cut in smaller fiber rings work easy on smaller kevlar cords.

1719013814399.png
1719013967326.png
 
Looks like a good company. These are advertised as competition chutes. Individual chute prices look great, I didn’t see shipping costs.

Anybody have experience with durability and shipping?

I used to buy a lot of them from Andy when I did competition. Mylar chutes are not going to last long unless carefully treated. See @KenECoyote post.

Shipping is cheap as they don't weigh anything and why they are used on competition rockets :D

Edit: Google folding competition mylar chutes. They do hold the shape you first fold them in.
 
now THAT is an excellent idea. I hate Tea-Bag mounts as they ruin the smooth "outlet" from the body tube for the laundry. Do you have a technique for "flame" proofing the part of the shock cord which is inevitably right in front of the motor casing? Even with Kevlar I've had some issues with this.
The Newway solution is heat-shrink tubing to cover the bottom part of the Kevlar. Seems like a good idea to me. Won't protect it forever, but should at least extend its life.

1719019066358.png

Plus it is an excuse to do some heat-shrinking, which is always fun.
 
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I use a strip of aluminum tape on the shock cord, if it's mounted to the motor tube.

On longer rockets, I epoxy the cord to a coupler, and slide the coupler into the tube.

Some couplers, I'll add baffles to. No wadding needed. Just a left over rag. Baffles are a great laundry shelf.
 
To get back to the original question: the Epic II/Sterling Silver (same parts, different paint and decals) is a great flyer. It’s BT-20-based rather than the BT-50 of the Mongoose, and so might be a little iffy for the AstroCam. Also, the booster sometimes tumbles, sometimes glides so an extra pair of eyes while flying this one in order to find the booster is a good idea. This is far superior to the Mongoose, whose booster always streamlines in.

Right now there is a dearth of two-stagers around the size of the Mongoose. The Multi-roc and the Super Nova are both similar in size (though both out of current production) but use balsa fins. Their boosters also behave properly. Either one would work fine with a streamer in the sustainer unless you are flying over hard dirt or pavement. Boosted Bertha, which is much larger, also behaves properly. I’d be a little leery of putting a streamer in that one, though I know someone who flies a Baby Bertha on a streamer with good luck.

Lots of other interesting digressions in this thread (which I’ve mainly only skimmed after the first couple of posts).

Added: I see eRockets.biz has the Custom Models Aztec, as well as the Estes Loadstar II. Both would be good candidates for your use.
 
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Not exactly relevant to this request, but previously there was a similar—I think physically identical?—Estes kit called the Scorpion. Have to say, whoever was doing graphic design for Estes often had a real talent for taking a basic rocket and applying a killer decoration scheme to supercharge the appeal.
Scorpion - 1.jpeg
Stickershock does carry that deco.
I wonder why the Estes catalog showed it with a gap between the stages. Just because it made it look even cooler? I'd be tempted to mod it to make it look like that.

On shock cords, how many people building model rockets use stranded metal wire? From the motor mount up to below the top of the tube, with fabric ribbon and/or elastic tied on from there to the nose cone to prevent zippers? Beading techniques could be applicable. It would be heavier for the same tensile strength compared to Kevlar, but the durability could be worth it.
 
Not exactly relevant to this request, but previously there was a similar—I think physically identical?—Estes kit called the Scorpion. Have to say, whoever was doing graphic design for Estes often had a real talent for taking a basic rocket and applying a killer decoration scheme to supercharge the appeal.
View attachment 652034
Stickershock does carry that deco.
I wonder why the Estes catalog showed it with a gap between the stages. Just because it made it look even cooler? I'd be tempted to mod it to make it look like that.

On shock cords, how many people building model rockets use stranded metal wire? From the motor mount up to below the top of the tube, with fabric ribbon and/or elastic tied on from there to the nose cone to prevent zippers? Beading techniques could be applicable. It would be heavier for the same tensile strength compared to Kevlar, but the durability could be worth it.
I used stranded stainless fishing leaders for a bit, however they are not as resistant to corrosion as I thought and all three failed before the rockets had 20 flights on them. iirc North Coast rocketry uses a stainless steel cable as a shock cord mount and seems to have good luck with them. The biggest thing is to keep the ejection charge from impinging directly on the kevlar shock cord from just ahead of the motor mount up to about 6", since that section is usually where mine have failed, a BP ejection charge is still hot enough that repeated ejection charges will eventually weaken a kevlar shock cord. As for elastic it has no place in my rockets anymore, and a z-folded and taped shockcord is my standard now (the tape tears loose to provide the deceleration without the rebound effect that elastic has).
 
Not exactly relevant to this request, but previously there was a similar—I think physically identical?—Estes kit called the Scorpion. Have to say, whoever was doing graphic design for Estes often had a real talent for taking a basic rocket and applying a killer decoration scheme to supercharge the appeal.
View attachment 652034
Stickershock does carry that deco.
I wonder why the Estes catalog showed it with a gap between the stages. Just because it made it look even cooler? I'd be tempted to mod it to make it look like that.

On shock cords, how many people building model rockets use stranded metal wire? From the motor mount up to below the top of the tube, with fabric ribbon and/or elastic tied on from there to the nose cone to prevent zippers? Beading techniques could be applicable. It would be heavier for the same tensile strength compared to Kevlar, but the durability could be worth it.

That was the first Mongoose style two stager I built. I have always liked it. I have at least 4 of the newer mongoose in my stash. I'm going to have to paint the next one like that but use florescent red/orange EnerJet colors.

On the booster, don't glue the body tube to the plastic part, use masking tape to friction fit it. When/If it gets damaged, easy to replace. One 18" tube could give many replacements. Generally I can get lots of flights on them with no damage if over grass.

Having a long rocket always survive on a streamer to get it down quick has the risk/reward situation. You can replace the body tube and reglue it to the plastic fin can until you loose it. Just takes more effort to remove the glue on the fin can before gluing on the new tube.
 
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I wonder why the Estes catalog showed it with a gap between the stages. Just because it made it look even cooler? I'd be tempted to mod it to make it look like that.

I think it was to show the staging, the 1980's catalog show it better now that I looked it up.

On a side note, see how similar the Bandit and Patriot fins are? Makes me think I can make a Bandit out of a Patriot kit by adding the payload bay.

1719047736964.png
 
I have an Estes Hyperbat that has a booster. It's out of production, but you could probably make a reasonable copy of it. I have flown it out of sight, but also kept it low on out small field. It does come with a small chute, but I think it would do ok on a streamer with good fillets. Kids love the Batman look to it.
image-estes-hyperbat-300-400-035912141928971.jpg

Streamers... A guy in my local club likes to use caution tape as streamers. Rolls up tight so you can have a LONG streamer. Cheap to get a lot of it. Easy to replace. Just make sure you use wadding.

BTW, on my Goblin, which comes with a couple of little streamers, I thought it was landing too hard. So I added a small chute to the shock cord. So now it comes down nicely on 2 orange streamers, and a little yellow 9" chute. Easy to see. Works well for our smaller field on C motors, but can go high on D.

Shock cord heat protection - I often cover the shock cord that is close to a motor ejection with a couple of wraps of heavy duty metal tape (used in heating and AC systems). It's stiff, so keep it short of the nose cone.
 
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