Madcow Honest John

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Well-Known Member
Jun 16, 2009
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Tucson, Az
About 6 mos ago I got back into rockets again after 30 years. My first four rockets where Estes; Patriot, Big Bertha, and Executioner, and a Madcow Honest John.

The HJ was the kit that is a little smaller and a pre-fiberglass version of the one on their website now. It has the nose cone that is made up of two seperate balsa pieces. This was also the first rocket I used epoxy on.

Anyway, I pretty much built all four at the same time. The 3 Estes rockets went well because they were simple to build. With the HJ I pretty much did everything badly. When I filled the spirals I didn't scrape the excess filler off and let it harden. I sanded for days to get that tube even close to smooth. I then epoxied the fins on and added the fillets. As I was doing this I turned the rocket before the epoxy had set enough to not run. There are some epoxy runs between a couple of the fins. I sanded on these a little while but gave up before they were sanded off. They still show. I epoxied the nose cone together and filled in with the filler. I just smeared the filler on and then took the cone in bare hands and rubbed it smooth then let it dry. After sanding, it didn't look too bad but I had my doubts about whether it was straight and balanced. When I put the launch lugs on I just globbed the epoxy on. On one of the lug fillets on one side I must have mixed the epoxy badly because it remained sticky after several days. I came back later and put some more on top and it finally cured. When you hold the rocket up and look at it you can see epoxy everywhere; between the fins, in puddles on the offset launch lugs, and the messy looking fillets. I painted it with Rustoleum Primer, then Hunter Green, added the US Army decals and then painted clear over that. I also added a 29mm Hamr motor retainer to it.

I had decided that I wouldn't try to fly it because I had my doubts that it would even fly. I figured I would just hang it from the ceiling because from a distance it looked pretty good and I had decided the money for the retainer was just wasted also.

Since building the HJ I have built and flown several more rockets including 2 and 3 engine clusters, one two stage rocket and an Aerotech Arcas and Strongarm. Last weekend I broke down and flew the HJ on an F26-7W. Absolutely PERFECT flight. It had the straightest flight of any of my rockets and a perfect deploy and recovery. I guess there is hope for the ugly duckling and maybe me as a builder.

I look forward to my next Madcow kit.
Good story, congratulations on the successful first flight.

I recall one post where someone said they finish their rockets so they look good from 15' away.

I just take my glasses off, everything looks good.