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Jun 19, 2004
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Sorry for the newbish question, but here goes. I've launched a few ready to fly rockets in my year-long career:D, but now am ordering my first kit. I'm going to build a Custom Rockets Redliner. First of all, does anyone know if this is a bad kit to build? I read some good reviews about it. Also, the burning question: what do I paint it with, and what is the process? Like, which paints should I use and how should I apply them? I'm ordering from Thanks!
I've never built the Redliner, but if it's like the other Custom kits, it'll be a good first kit. As far as paint, and the process, most people use Krylon spray paints. Start by lightly sanding the model with a fine grit paper, then spray a coat of primer, sand that down smooth, and prime again. Do this two or three times, until you are satisfied with the smoothness, then you are ready to paint. Start with a few light coats, waiting about 10 minutes between coats, then spray a final coat a little heavier. What ever brand of paint you choose, stick with the same brand from primer, to final coating.

Don't be discouraged if it doesn't turn out as perfect as you want, it'll take practice to get your own system down to make them look like you want.
First off, welcome to TRF. 8)

Ok, this may be long winded..

The basic idea is to finish building the rocket completely - following the direction that come with the kit, and when done, let her sit for a day or so to thouroughly let the glue/epoxy/CA dry. Once thats done, you can move on to Prepping the rocket for painting:


IF Balsa - Use fine sand paper and lightly sand the nose cone - this is just to make it smooth, and prepare it for the sealer step.

IF plastic, trim off the mold lines - sime kits have really bad or old molds they use, so you'll want a smooth look, with no discernable lines sticking up.

body tube/airframe

1) If the seams are very deep - that being the thin wrap line that runs in a spiral all the way down the airframe, fill all seams with Elmer's Fill-n-Finish , then sand smooth, you might have to repeat if the seams are deep. The idea is to have a smooth tube, with no visual seams.


Same basics apply for the fins as with the nose cone, but just make sure your fillets are completely dry, and smooth before moving on to painting.

Sanding Sealer, Primer and Paint

Always try to use the same products from the same company - if you use Testors for everything, then continue to use that as you progress throughout the various coats in the rocket. Why?

Less chance of having a reaction between coats - which can lead to wrinkles, melting of paint, or worst of all, the paint refuses to dry properly- if at all. IF this happens, well, your looking at stripping off all the paint, and restaring over. Trust me, it will happen at least once to you, and when it does you'll know to be more careful the next time.

When all else fails, and you can't match all the sprays together..use a test piece of balsa and plastic and see how the paints react. Well worth the rtrouble to do this in advance.

Sanding Sealer

Always use a Sanding Sealer first to seal balsa or any type of wood thats on your rocket. It helps seal the pores in the wood, and gives the following coats of primer and paint a better base to dry on and gives a smoother finished look.

As well, on the off chance you just wish to seal and not paint, sanding sealer works fabulous followed by a gloss, or flat clear cote.

So, following this rule, seal the cone, fins and any other porous wood surfaces first. Then let dry, and hit with a second light coat and repeat the drying. Then sand the wood lightly, and repeat sealing if you wish. I even do this on the airframe because it helps prep for primer.


However good, or bad the primed coat looks when your done sanding, thats how the finished top coat will look. Period.

A grey or white primer is next on the finish list. Why?

Your going to spray the entire model with the same color and let her dry. From there, you can check the model and see what needs to be sanded or in the case of theose seams on the airframe we worked on earlier - you can see exactly where any problems are.

Sand the model smooth and let her sit for a bit. Close your eyes, and slowly run your fingers all over the model, letting your touch guide you to the problem spots.

When done, hit her again with the Primer, and repeat till perfectly smooth.


A finish coat can not hide scratches, bumps etc. - and even with 4 or 5 coats, it still doesan't help. So, take your time and make the primed coat the best you can, smoothing, filling (with Testor's or Signal white or green putty) so it looks sharp.


Rule #4
3 or 4 light coats are better than 1 heavy runny coat. Let the coats dry for 30 minutes before spraying the next one, so that your not creating pockets of tacky paint under a new cote, as it can cause wrinkles etc.

1) IF you have access to an airbrush you can use either Testor's enamal ( thinned ) or go with Acrylics.

Spray cans work just fine if:

1) Make sure the can is shaken soundly for 2 to 3 minutes. That can help ensure most globbing will be avoided.

One tip for paint can users, when you buy a new can at the store - make sure you shake it to ensure that little agitation ball is in there BEFORE you buy it. Some clear coat flat paints do not have the agitation ball, but most every other paint does to help stir up the can.

If that ball isn't in there, get a different can.

2) Invert the can when you get done to clean the nozzle for about 10 seconds. This helps on the next use to prevent globbing right away.

3) Almost to the letter, every cans directions says " Shake for 10 seconds for every minute of use " - Do this without fail when covering larger areas. It helps keep the contents shaken, and again can help prevent splatter.

4) Spray only 6 to 8 inches away from the model ( any further away and you risk the paint starting to dry before it reaches the model, but do it in quick sweeps. Example:

Say your paining the fins - start spraying about 4 inches to the right of the fins, across them, and finish the pass about 4 inches beyond - this keeps the spray from drying before it reaches the surface of the model. You should see a light sheen of wetness when the pass is made.

Too close and you risk having the paint run, which can kill a finish.

5) Finally, ensure that you don't shake the dickens out of the can and start spraying right away at full blast, remember a can is like a car's engine, it needs time to warm up, so spray away from the intended target for 3 to 10 seconds to help clear her to speak.


Apply all decals once the rocket has dryed for a couple days. Use Microscale Microsol and Microset to help the decals mold to the paint, and give them that painted on look.


After the decals have dried for a day or so, hit her with a finish coat.

1) IF you want a scale look, a dull coat is best, because no extra shine will reflect off the bird, thus giving a crisper and cleaner look.

2) If you want the bird to reflect in the sunblight, use a gloss coat.

Finally, I use DEFT Lacquer Sanding Sealer, American Tradition Primers and Paints made by Valspar - both are available at Lowes. When you compare the price to testors - a small can of Testors is over 4 bucks at the local Hobby Store, and these are under 3 bucks for cans 3 times the size.

My finish coats tend to be Testor's Gloss and Flat clear cotes.

I've tested all of these together, and they work very well, with a finish thats as smooth as glass.

Wheww....hopefully that helps get you started... 8)
Hi and Welcome to TRF.
Just to add a little to the great advice you have already received.
I have found getting a good paint job can also include the following.
Read the instructions on the can Before you buy it.
Try to get paint that allows you to "recoat anytime".
I have also found that I can get much better control over the paint can buy using one of those plastic trigger attachments that hook to the top of the can.
Best of luck.
You could always fly it paint at all.

I have a few...some that I just like the looks of for some dumb reaso...that I have finished in clear model airplane dope.

Something about balsa makes me do it some times.

Couple more notes:

When you're ready to try more complex paint schemes, don't use plain white masking tape. Yes, it's called masking tape, but it doesn't do so well for masking. Get some of the blue painters tape, and you'll notice a difference in the ease of removal afterwards.

Secondly, and most importantly, don't get discouraged if it doesn't turn out perfectly the first time. There's a reason that painters are called artists - it takes time and practice, and almost always, mistakes. So enjoy it, play around with it, and you'll get the hang of it.

Wow, thanks for the great replies, guys! (especially Silverleaf). If I get some Testor's gloss pearl clear coat, and buy primer, paint, and sanding sealer at Lowe's or Home Depot, I should be all set, right? Thanks! I never expected this many replies!
welcome to the rocketry forum sponge.You'll have to get used to it because you'll get more advice than you can shake a stick at.:D :D :D
Also, I'm fine with just spray cans for now, but if I ever get an airbrush, is it OK to get a really cheap one, for around ~$50? Thanks for the replies guys, I now understand the painting process, even though I didn't know a thing about it a day ago! I think I'm here to stay.:D

Edit: way off topic, I know, but what kind of launchpad would a large rocket use, such as the Richter (w?)Recker?
Well, the true "Large" rockets typically use a rail launcher. While longer than most of the typical low-power and mid-power (LPR/MPR) rockets, the Richter Recker is still a low-power bird.

To send one of those flying, you'll just need a standard low-power launch pad, but you'll need a 12-Volt ignition source and some method of lighting all 3 motors in the cluster. The preferred method is a "clip whip" which is basically 3 igniter leads connected to a single pair of leads, to which the launch pad's igniter clips are attached.

Not sure about the RR (Haven't flown one... yet) but it may need a longer launch rod than the common 3-foot rod. Also, it may need a thicker rod (3/16 or 1/4"). Again, I haven't built one yet - might have to ask jflis, since he's the one who designed and sells them. Jim, you out there?

I'm currently building a Richter Recker,,it comes with 3/16 launch lugs attached within the 3' rod area,,

I put 1/4" lugs on mine so I can use a longer stiffer rod,
just personel preference
I wouldn't suggest it.
Although it depends on what kind of detail you want and other things.
But to be honest you could try to "learn" on a real cheap airbrush, but if you spend about $70-80 you can get a really great brush that will last you forever if you take care of it. Not to mention it will produce perfect results everytime (its usualy the "paintee" that messes things up) :p
You also would need some type of compressor or if you chose you could buy the can propellant...i've found thou that these don't work well and cause flaws easily.

If you ever decide to get into airbrushes just research them a bit there are milllions of manufactures out there and most of them will have what suits you well.

here's a link to a really good Manu. also the brand i own good brushes. check it out.

Good luck!

Originally posted by sponge008

Edit: way off topic, I know, but what kind of launchpad would a large rocket use, such as the Richter (w?)Recker?

Hey, is this a first, guys?? sponge008 sent his *own* topic off-topic :D gotta love it :)

Sponge008, welcome to TRF, rocketry, and all the fun (and frustration) that comes with it :)

The Richter Recker comes with 3/16" launch lugs and I fly mine off of a standard 3/16" rod (3 foot long). I've been flying these things for over 20 years and have never had a problem with the rods. A long and/or fatter rod or even a rail would be fine, but not necessary. There are many Richter Recker owners in here also who could pipe up about their success (or lack thereof :) ) with the stock Richter Recker.

Also, with 3 E motors, the Richter Recker qualifies as a Mid-Power model.

Also, I wouldn't launch the Richter Recker on a model rocket tripod launch pad as the model is too long and would most likely topple the pad. Launch from something a bit heavier duty if you can.

As for the cluster, the kit comes with a hints sheet on clustering that should be of great help for any first cluster modeler. The most important thing is to READ all of the instructions *and* have a good SOLID power source (i recommend and use a lead-acid battery (my truck battery) to assure fast ignition of all motors.)

I will make a poing of watching this thread (I had missed it earlier until someone brought it to my attention), so if you have any more questions about this or other FlisKits model rocket kits I can help you out.

sponge008 ~

The Testors paints are nice, have a whole bunch of nifty colors, and will break you financially. In other words they are real expensive.

One thing that attracts people to them is the metalflake and candy finishes. If you are nnew to this:


Stay away. They are finicky and easy to mess up. I painted one rocket with candy blue over gold. This was a 24" rocket that took one can of gold, and five cans of candy blue. It also took almost 20 coats to look right.

Stick with things like Krylon ~ learn the skills and then work on being an artist.

As to an airbrush ~ my looking around resulted in a whole bunch of advice that said the cheapos sre not worth the money. For anything approaching good results and repeatability, expect to spend around $100. Also, you don't want to depend on spray can propellant. It is a mess if you run out during a critical job (or so I've heard).

BTW Welcome ~ There are several TRF members in Mass and at least one launching club CMASS. The forum is great, however nothing compares to holding your model in front of an experience rocketeer and asking "How the _____ do I fix this?"

Well, for the paint, I stopped by Lowe's and got exactly what Silverleaf recommended, minus the Testor's pearl gloss coat, which is coming by mail. As for the joys and frustrations of rocketry, I experienced that first hand, watching my first (birthday present) rocket fly off on a C6-3 that was really too big for it, and disappear. After about ten minutes of searching, it was found on the busiest street in town, totaled, crushed, and minus the nose and parachute. It drifted about a quarter mile. My only other rocket had its parachute rip on its last launch, and I am waiting for a new one in the mail (same order as the Redliner and pearl gloss coat). And I'm getting more and more attracted to building the Richter Recker once I get more experienced. jflis, what would you recommend using for a launch pad for the Richter? Thanks for the great replies, guys!

PS: what could have cased the parachute to rip on its way down?

Edit: newb question #3: what does CATO'd mean (as in the EMRR flight logs)
Contraptions Accelerating Toward Orbit

Carefully Arranged Tree Ornaments

Crash Assess Tantrum re-Order

Consume assets Allocated To Others
To bring my topic off topic yet again:D instead of starting a new topic, what exactly are the mm sizes for motor classes. I think it's something like


What does it go like? And what SHOULD you use as a launch pad when launching large rockets? Thanks, guys. (should I have made a new topic?)
Originally posted by sponge008

PS: what could have cased the parachute to rip on its way down?

Edit: newb question #3: what does CATO'd mean (as in the EMRR flight logs)

Probably the C6-3, and it wouldn't have ripped on the way down as much as up. I assume you knwo about teh motor codes and all that, so it was probably the 3 second delay that did you in. You hinted that this was a starter set, so most of those (exception: Astrocam) need the C6-5. The 3 second delay probably ejected the chute when it was going up, thus overloading and stripping it.

Well, ther is no mm assigned to a specific motor class. I know some people who could put a K motor in a 38mm casing, and there is a 24mm G37 and a 18mm D21, D13. I do know that most O motors are 98mm, and the only commercially sold and certified O motor is 160mm. About teh launch pad: a rail.
The NAR maintains a list of motors certified by them and Tripoli for insurance purposes. It is published once a year in the NAR magazine "Sport Rocketry" and is updated as often on the NAR website. The location of the list itself, which includes the dimensions of each motor, is:

Burn curve data, for use in simulations, etc. can be accessed on a motor by motor basis at:

Both the list, and the motor burn curve data are in pdf format, so to read them you'll need at least a pdf viewer; a link to which is on the aforementioned site.

This data comes in quite handy at times, especially when you start designing and building your own rockets.

Peace :cool:
Back on topic, the Redliner kit came, but in the directions, it says to just paint the rocket, and ignores the primer and gloss coat steps. I should ignore the instructions in that respect, right?
uh being as how i've never seen the kit i dunno if the tube has a good finish on it or the nose or fins....but really thats personnal opinion i think. If you wanna however and which ever way you want then do it. Give it your own touch man. ;)
You know.. a lot of folks spend a lot of money and time on their rockets.. but you might want to consider something before speding $5 a can to paint a $10 rocket...

A lot of smaller rockets lauched C6 motors sometimes go bye-bye and end up in outer space or never-neverland! I started test launching them once or twice before I paint them now... Usually just primer them.

I usually buy the .94 cent cans Walmart carries, though I do opt for the $2.97 cans of Krylon Satin or Gloss Clearcoat for the finish. Do however buy the better "blue" painters tape. It makes better lines and comes off easier. The regular yellow tape gets gooey after a sortwhile in the garge.

It all comes out pretty good. Just make sure you basecoat stuff. That always helps.

Jerome :cool: