The Understated Estes Alpha.

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by Overeasy123, Jul 6, 2015.

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  1. Feb 6, 2017 #121

    sl98

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    While you do the history...I think I will build one today since I don't have to go to work.
     
  2. Feb 6, 2017 #122

    BEC

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    Indeed.... we have 8 inches of snow in the yard (which is a big deal in the Seattle area)....and since I retired from Boeing last November I didn't have to go to work today anyway :D.

    I'm actually working on a three-pad launcher today, and shopping for parts to clone the first version Alpha, which means a small order to eRockets to get the right nose cone. I think I have everything else I need. We need to come up with a Golden Anniversary livery, or maybe just a logo to put on the Alpha of one's choice. I'm an engineer, not an artist, so does anyone else want to tackle that?

    Eric - between what you know and have built and the stuff I have scattered around here we could geek out big time. It also occurred to me to do a sort of family tree. The original Alpha III has a bunch of descendants if one counts all the models that have used the Alpha III fin can (with or without clipped fin tips).
     
  3. Feb 6, 2017 #123

    sl98

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    Spirals filled. Fins on. Motor mount drying.

    I think I will start fillets and install motor mount in a couple of hours.

    I'm thinking metallic gold body. 2 white fins. 1 red fin. Put 1967 on one white fin and 2017 on the other.


    ImageUploadedByRocketry Forum1486417616.410940.jpg
     
  4. Feb 6, 2017 #124

    TangoJuliet

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    Interesting fin alignment guide.
     
  5. Feb 6, 2017 #125

    Woody's Workshop

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    Need some kind of seal decal.
    Maybe in the center of ribbon.
    1967 on the left side ribbon, 2017 on the right side.
    In the center, some kind of round thingy with 50 in it and Annv under the 50, in gold.
    Red, White, Blue, Black and Gold colors.
    Red, White & Blue striped ribbons with black years numbers.
     
  6. Feb 6, 2017 #126

    sl98

    sl98

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    There was a guy who sold them here on TFR a few years back. They are called "The Ultimate Fin Jig." The work with 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 fins. You can change mandrel for motor mount size. I love it.
     
  7. Feb 6, 2017 #127

    Woody's Workshop

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    Check them our at "BMI"
     
  8. Feb 7, 2017 #128

    Gary Byrum

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    1967 Got my very first rocket. Astron Alpha. A WHOLE $1.50! SHAZZAM! Pricey little bugger. I followed the unstructions (I thought) to the letter. Thinking I was going to conquer the skies, I went and launched it 15 minutes after gluing the fins and lug on with that Testors clear wood glue in the lead tube. Yeah buddy.....dries fast! Fin sheared 20' up and it was a sky writer all the way down. ME:...."well, that sucks" OK, bad first experience and I hated the Alpha forever. A countless number of BAR's later, I still hadn't built one. Then just last year, CREEPS showed up in Camden with a mid power version and flew the hell out of it...3 TIMES! OK nuff said. I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised about that first flight. I was only 11 years old when I built that Alpha.

    It was about time I let go of the grand Alpha funk I had been toting for nearly 50 years and got one on the drawing board. Since I usually don't do kits anymore I will clone one that I once owned and as a rule, I'll scale it up. After cruising this thread at all the nifty paint jobs and one particular aesthetic touch I liked, I now have one on the bench. It's a BT 70 version with a tail cone like the one Solomoriah has on his. I thought that was a really nice touch. It'll sport Estes D's, E's and composite E's mostly. I have the wood ready to turn to make my own version of a BNC 70-K, so yeah, I'm finally working one. By my standards today, I feel the Alpha has the same rights as the Big Bertha. No shelf is complete without one. Especially if it was you very first rocket. There will be no standard procedure with the paint job either. It'll come straight out of Corel Draw and become Gary's Alpha. Construction is nearly half done.
     
  9. Feb 16, 2017 #129

    BEC

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    To add just a little bit to the madness: I've recently acquired two yellow face card K-25/1225 Alpha kits. I've opened one of them to actually get the SP-25 out of it - and it seems to match in all the key ways the one posted earlier in this thread. This variation has the AR-2050-ring-based motor mount (the thick rings) rather than the original RA-2050 ring-based mount that my original instructions show. And the instruction sheet itself lacks the red color in some of the illustrations that my original instruction sheet has.

    I also laid a laser-cut fin from a current bulk pack Alpha on the SP-25 and it does not quite match at the tip.

    As we build two or three more I will have to do some scanning and comparative picture-taking and maybe add to one of the Alpha minutiae threads on YORF.....
     
  10. Feb 16, 2017 #130

    BEC

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    .... and in part to add to speculation in a post 122 above - do we count as Alpha descendants other models which use Alpha fins (the balsa ones)? If so the recently re-released Super Nova would count as it uses two sets (one set mounted "backwards" on the booster).

    Also, I just rediscovered a set of die-cut fins which belong to a 1225 with the black/red decal -those fins match the SP-25 I now have quite nicely. So the current lasered ones are the outliers, so to speak.

    Geeze this is crazy :eek:
     
  11. Feb 18, 2017 #131

    Mugs914

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    I seem to remember a reference somewhere to an Alpha II, which was supposedly the same as the original all balsa Alpha kit but with die cut fins. I don't remember where I saw the reference but it was way, WAY back; early 70s or so. Anyone else remember such a thing?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  12. Feb 18, 2017 #132

    BEC

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    EK-25_face_card.jpg EK-25_back.jpg

    Yes....

    Though I don't know if any Alpha IIs had balsa nose cones. A regular Alpha (K-25/1225) with a similar face card has both a balsa nose cone and cut-it-yourself fins.

    This particular Alpha II, except for the longer motor tube, is pretty much the current Alpha configuration - pre-cut (now lasered) fins and that blow-molded nose cone. (Well, current ones have the one huge centering cylinder instead of two AR-2050s for the motor mount, too....). Not also that in the kit is the black and red decal variant of the current blue and red peel-n-stick variant of the livery of current Alpha kits, yet the face card shows a simple painted scheme with no decals/stickers involved.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  13. Feb 18, 2017 #133

    BEC

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    .....and since this thread popped back up.....

    In the last couple of days I built a BT-60-based scale up of the first Alpha configuration I know of (based on my original instruction sheet from the late 1960s). I was surprised to find that the fins of the BT-60-based "Super Alpha" from several years ago are essentially a perfect match for a 1.66x scale-up of the SP-25 shape.

    But the Super Alpha body is shorter and the nose cone is longer (mine is from the first batch - with the balsa nose cone - not the later plastic one). The final model winds up being slightly taller than the direct scale-up (which uses a Semroc BNC-60K nose cone).
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  14. Feb 18, 2017 #134

    Gary Byrum

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    My BT 70 version is in the putty filling stage at the moment. Pics to come soon. But regarding the nose cones, the old balsa nose cone was 2.75" exposed length, and my upscale is from that. Comes out to 6.25". The fins were based on that old version as well, but with the addition of a tail cone, that changed it. I'm liking it.
     
  15. Feb 18, 2017 #135

    Woody's Workshop

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    You have me really interested Gary, in what that looks like with a Tail Cone.
    Photo's are MUST now! No teasing allowed.
     
  16. Feb 18, 2017 #136

    BEC

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    Somewhere in one of these Alpha minutiae threads either here or on YORF is a discussion of how the recent Super Alpha isn't quite a proper scale up, with the nose cone being mentioned as not being "right". I guess that's why I was surprised that the fins were right for going from BT-50 to BT-60 (which based on tube ODs is 1.675x). I will admit that I haven't checked that Semroc BNC-60K to see if it is a precise scale up of the BNC-50K but I will. And it looks right.

    Woody: pictures probably later today - sanding sealer but no paint. (It won't be warm enough to spray outside today and it's raining - which is why I'm on the computer instead of launching rockets. I was planning to fly the BT-60 Alpha "nekkid" today, among other things.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  17. Feb 18, 2017 #137

    Gary Byrum

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    You twisted my arm. Here ya go.

    100_1676.JPG 100_1688.JPG
     
  18. Feb 18, 2017 #138

    BEC

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    Intersting. There was a fellow I know who boat-tailed a regular-sized Alpha and used it in competitions (PD, I think). The performance improvement from doing the boat-tail was quite noticeable.
     
  19. Feb 18, 2017 #139

    BEC

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    FourAlphas.jpg

    OK - group shot.

    Leftmost - Current version Alpha built from bulk kit in 2010 (at least I think it's still the current version). Blow molded nose cone, laser cut fins (that are slightly shorter in span than the originals), big green centering cylinder in the motor mount.

    Next - Super Alpha (3216) from about the same time frame. This one was from the initial balsa-nose-cone batch but the nose cone that is on it now is from Semroc. I had a shock cord failure flying it on a D10 that left the original nose cone and a first-generation AltimeterOne in an alfalfa field for several months..... I just checked the other 3216 kit I had on hand and the balsa nose cone in there actually looks to be a pretty close 1.67 upscale of the Alpha III cone. But with that nose cone the whole thing would be too short, since the body tube is an inch too short for a straight upscale.

    Next - K-25 Alpha x 1.67 that is complete and flyable (as it was to fly today if the launch hadn't been rained out). It will be finished in the simple red/white livery of the original 1967 Alpha instructions when conditions permit, though I may add some gold something to indicate "50th Anniversary" or some such.

    Finally - what was intended to be an EK-25 Alpha II clone based on Semroc parts. This uses the laser cut fins that they made which are an exact match for the fin pattern in the handbook middle-of-the-catalog yellow pages in the late sixties/early seventies. As such these fins have more chord and less span than the originals....but at the time I did this I thought they were the original shape. It flies just beautifully and had its third through sixth flights last weekend. It was so calm the sixth flight was on a C6 and it landed well within our field.

    Since I know someone will ask....the holes are static ports for altimeter use. On the BT-60 birds this is/will be Jolly Logic devices. On the current Alpha - I was going to do an experiment involving tethering a PerfectFlite FireFly in a basic bit of protection at the launch that was cancelled today. Those holes were just added last night, even though the model was built in 2010. If the BT-60 Alpha works as well as I'm hoping, it may also employ a Jolly Logic Chute Release as it has a 24mm motor mount long enough to take an Estes E9/E12 (or some composite Fs).

    And Gary, I checked that BNC-60K and it is the correct length for 1.67x2.75 inches exposed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  20. Feb 18, 2017 #140

    Trident

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    Yes, the fin can holds paint, all kinds of paint. You don't have to live with Halloween colors!

    IMG_0128.jpg
     
  21. Feb 18, 2017 #141

    BEC

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    I once had a Halloween Alpha III crash in a puddle and I opted to replace the body tube with a piece of Semroc ST-9 tubing. They don't look so bad orange and white....and that orange is really great for twilight flights as it almost glows in low light. But I'd be happier myself if they were still red/white.
     
  22. Feb 19, 2017 #142

    TangoJuliet

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    That's good news. I've got one of the Halloween Alpha's and intend to paint it to match my first Alpha - my first rocket - from 1980.
     
  23. Feb 20, 2017 #143

    Mugs914

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    Thanks Bernard, that is really cool.

    As I said I have never seen anything about an Alpha II except for a vague reference (Not that I have been looking very hard, obviously). Certainly have never seen an actual kit!

    I guess they are all Alpha IIs, now that there is no real cutting involved...

    Thanks again!

    Mike
     
  24. Feb 20, 2017 #144

    Solomoriah

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    Actually, I seem to recall a YORF conversation about the Alpha II. Seems they were made for educational use; the engine tube was elongated and used as the anchor point for the shock cord. Also, the die-cut Alpha II fins had dots punched to indicate the root edge. Anyway that's the story as I recall it.
     
  25. Feb 20, 2017 #145

    BEC

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    Solomoriah,

    Yes...all correct - and the kit in my picture has all those features. And to Mike's point, the current Alpha kit has all those features except for the longer motor tube. The laser cut fins still have the dot/hole indicating the root edge (it's kind of big in the most recent Alpha kit I have thanks to running the laser a bit too hard - or so it appears). The other significant difference between the Alpha II in the picture above and the current Alpha is still in the motor mount - a single "centering ring" that I've referred to above as a centering cylinder in the motor mount, and of course a motor hook with the finger tab as is currently used wherever Estes uses a motor hook.

    One other EK-25/1419 Alpha II feature that has not carried forward, however, is pre-marked fin location lines on the main body tube.

    Via a combination of several sources I have instruction sheets in hand for at least six variants of the Alpha kit from the original 1967 K-25 to the current version of 1225. From the numbering on the instruction sheets themselves I think there are several missing in the middle of the sequence. In particular I'm wondering if there are Alpha variants with two AR2050s and the current style hook or conversely a variant with the centering cylinder and the original style hook. And when does the blow-molded nose cone replace the BNC-50K relative to the motor mount changes. Crazy, no? There's also the transition from black/red to blue/red for the livery and the transition from real decals to peel-and-stick.....
     
  26. Feb 20, 2017 #146

    Joe_Shockcord

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    With the right preparation, by all means they will hold paint. That allowed me to make a KC-1 Quasar clone.

    Quasar Clone.jpg
     
  27. Feb 21, 2017 #147

    BEC

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    That's lovely. What silver paint did you use? It looks like the wrap is silver trim MonoKote or some such.....
     
  28. Feb 21, 2017 #148

    Gary Byrum

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    Since mine will be trimmed with vinyl, I drew up something my new plotter can cut. It's all black though. That's the only vinyl I have.

    50th.jpg
     
  29. Feb 21, 2017 #149

    Woody's Workshop

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    Thats Cool Gary.
    Kinda like I described in an early post.
    To bad you don't have some colored vinyl.
     
  30. Feb 21, 2017 #150

    Gary Byrum

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