Vander-Burn Hi-Flyer XXL build

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AcadiaRockets

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This is my first build thread. My hope in doing it is to share discoveries during the process. Maybe slow myself down a bit as well. I ordered a Vander-Burn XXL Hi Flyer during Launch Labs Black Friday sale.
My 8 year old sons first rocket that wasn't a snap together RTF kit was the Estes Hi-Flyer he put together this fall. I ordered the 3" Vander-Burn kit and put it under the tree so when I unwrapped it " now I have a hi-flyer too!" :)
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First impressions the kit is very well thought out. shipped in solid cardboard box, good packing, clear instructions, quality parts, laser TTW airframe, plywood fins, included 29mm engine retainer, Kevlar shock cord, legit sStickershock23 vinyl decals, parachute and new to me - all the parts for a baffle to allow for wadless ejections. I have never done this before.
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Also since the Vander-Burn Hi-Flyer XXL from Launch Labs are a limited numbered 1-100 run the aft centering ring is hand numbered. Classy. I have number 86. it was the last of a parts batch. Steve Nevard answered a question I had and said they were doing 16 more to hit 100 then that was it.

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I dry fitted all the parts and tolerances were great! I did debate for a while whether to do the included baffle or delete that and just do a traditional build. They include additional bulkheads to build that way as well. I decided to go baffle as I had not done one that way. I also found a great use for the extra bulkhead.
 

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TigerHawk

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This is my first build thread. My hope in doing it is to share discoveries during the process. Maybe slow myself down a bit as well. I ordered a Vander-Burn XXL Hi Flyer during Launch Labs Black Friday sale.
My 8 year old sons first rocket that wasn't a snap together RTF kit was the Estes Hi-Flyer he put together this fall. I ordered the 3" Vander-Burn kit and put it under the tree so when I unwrapped it " now I have a hi-flyer too!" :)
img_20211228_213608284-jpg.498597

First impressions the kit is very well thought out. shipped in solid cardboard box, good packing, clear instructions, quality parts, laser TTW airframe, plywood fins, included 29mm engine retainer, Kevlar shock cord, legit sStickershock23 vinyl decals, parachute and new to me - all the parts for a baffle to allow for wadless ejections. I have never done this before.
IMG_20211228_213739812.jpg









Also since the Vander-Burn Hi-Flyer XXL from Launch Labs are a limited numbered 1-100 run the aft centering ring is hand numbered. Classy. I have number 86. it was the last of a parts batch. Steve Nevard answered a question I had and said they were doing 16 more to hit 100 then that was it.

View attachment 498599
I dry fitted all the parts and tolerances were great! I did debate for a while whether to do the included baffle or delete that and just do a traditional build. They include additional bulkheads to build that way as well. I decided to go baffle as I had not done one that way. I also found a great use for the extra bulkhead.
What’s your cat’s name? 😺
 
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AcadiaRockets

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First thing I did was sand the fins down with the orbital sander and 220 grit pads. With a very light touch counting the passes with the orbital sander I beveled the long top edge and the lowest edge leaving the outside edge a 90 degree.
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Then I taped off the part of the fins that would not get painted. I sealed them with the DEFT sanding sealer three times, sanding it almost off each time till they were super smooth.
Also worked up an open rocket file with my mods and anticipating the motors for it.

Capture.JPG
 

AcadiaRockets

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I have been getting into altimeters. two months ago I had none. Now I have a Featherweight tracker, a Perfectflite Pnut, an Estes altimeter and a Altus Metrum Micropeak. I Put the Featherweight in the nosecone of my Mean machine with a kit from LabRat rocketry but they didn't have something similar for the 3" plastic nose cone so I made one.
I cut the bottom off the Hi-Flyer XXL's plastic nosecone and sanded it smooth. Then I used a 3" hole saw with a 1/4 bit to cut a circle out of a 3/4 board and it was the perfect diameter inside and out. Nice snug inside fit. But the icing was that extra bulkhead that came with the kit that I didn't use because I went with the baffle. It hangs over my 3" cut out just enough to act like a stopper for the plug. Works slick. I debated drilling my static vent holes in the nosecone curve which I know is not best practice, or drilling holes up through the bulkhead from the airframe cavity to the nosecone cavity and then putting the vent holes in the airframe. In the end that seemed like too much so at the risk of maybe getting funky data from the Featherweight I am going to drill the vent holes in the curved part of the nose cone and see how that does. The tape is masking the cones shoulder. The four holes will be just above the tape.
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AcadiaRockets

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So I have been debating on whether to try building the fin can out of the airframe vs a traditional dribbling glue thru the holes and double dipping and hoping it levels itself inside there.

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Seeing others building their fin cans outside of the airframe seemed a level of tolerances I had not achieved yet. With its super long slots already cut for the fins and the whole thing only attached by a half an inch on the airframes bottom - I have never had a candidate that was more likely than this one. I see LOC is actually advertising this technique.

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With out committing I tested my level of detail by printing out some fin guides on the printer, spray gluing them to cardboard and cutting them out with the hobby knife.
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I can line up the three fins on my Estes fin guide on the bottom but the XXL fins are so big and tall things go sideways in the jig fast.
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The only way to be sure was to make these printed cardboard jigs and put a few of them on to be sure. They worked slick. So well I discovered the fins were warped ever so slightly.
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Putting them on a flat table they don't lay flat. I will put them under something heavy overnight to correct that before lining them up and tacking them on.
The end result is I think I can do this
Like I said I will probably not see another candidate with such long slotted lines through the wall fins in a cardboard tube airframe.

IMG_20220107_221139062.jpg

Its now or never to try this technique.
I prepped the MMT by drawing my three fin lines up the length of the MM then sanding them off to give a rough surface for the glue and then drawing them on again. Marking those, the position of the middle centering ring the position on the engine retainer on the bottom and the centering ring on the top.
 
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pathtouch

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Following along, looks like a nice kit.

Sincerely,
Your neighbor to the south!
 

AcadiaRockets

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Looks great! Ive got this kit in my build pile. Where did you get the fin jigs?
attached. I printed them. Sprayed them with 3M 77 and mounted them on cereal box weight cardboard and then hobby knife cut out the diameter and fins. really took the stress off having them lined up perfectly.
 

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AcadiaRockets

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Still building out the fin can, a very thin fillet of yellow Titebond to get in the spaces the direct fin to mm did not touch. That being dried since last night I am going to West System epoxy the internal fin to mm fillets with West Systems.

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I have been researching West Systems more in detail since building rockets. Also living on an island with a large boat building community West Systems epoxy is as common as Diet Coke around these parts. And while I have been around it I have never applied it to rocketry applications.
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Some assumptions I make is that paper, wood or carboard together Titebond is the best adhesive. I want to do the West Systems in the Hi Flyer XXL for a couple reasons. The epoxy does bond to multiple surfaces, it makes nice, bubble free fillets and I am going to be doing three Wildman fiberglass rockets this year and having never built fiberglass before I want to up my epoxy game.

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Not trying make anything too complicated I am going to start with 406 additive for my internal, never to be seen, fillets and 407 additive for my prettier exterior fillets.
I got to slide the fin can in the airframe after three tiny cuts to the laser cut slots. I put the unfinished Vander-Burn Hi-Flyer XXL rocket up next to my eight year olds Estes Hi_Flyer - Its BIG. Looking forward to seeing it progress. And look how it fits perfectly on the counter just under the ceiling!

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AcadiaRockets

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I have skipped over a few big steps in my post and will try to catch up. I epoxied the fins to the MM outside the airframe with the west systems, one squirt each 105/206 and a tablespoon of 406. this was probably twice as much as I needed for the XXL, it came out heavy. But its solid. I wonder how much the aft weight will mess up my CG? open rocket will tell.
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I used generous amounts of yellow glue to glue that into the airframe. The long slots wanted to bellow out which was made worse only slightly that I cut the slits to slide the fin can up. I think this woudl have been an issue either way because the slots are long and the tube is thin. I reused my three fin jig to press the airframe in to make contact with the centering rings. More yellow glue from the top. Let dry. More yellow glue from the bottom. Let dry. I have not attached the aft centering ring as I will put more west systems 105/206/406 in the airframe to fin from the inside bottom.
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in the meantime - fillets! I have a bit of a gap between all the fins and the airframe due to the aforementioned LONG slots. And believing yellow glue is best tool for card board to wood I put a yellow glue fillet on all the fins. Let it dry. Followed by a bead of Titebond quick and thick. Let it dry. Not being any holes left I moved on to practicing with the West Systems for pretty fillets for the upcoming fiberglass builds.
I mixed up a squirt of 105/206 and two heaping tablespoons of 407 this time. The other batch was a little thin and I did not want drips or hangs. I also resigned myself that I should only use half and would waste half the batch.
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I had been wanting to try the carbon paper trick to mark where my masking tape would go. I liked this technique taking the guess work out of where the selected fondant ball I choose would hit on the surfaces. Have marked it with carbon and masking it off I laid the thick epoxy in and with the fondant tool dipped in isopropyl pulled the epoxy up and down. Looked slick! Let it dry over night.
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After much sanding, the 407 sands . . .ok. It was not as smooth as I hoped so I try another product I got for the yet to be started fiberglass builds - Bondo glazing putty. A bit runnier than expected, I smeared a thin layer down all my fillets. This stuff dries pretty quick and I was sanding it in a couple hours. Better.
Later after the first primer coat, I additionally went with one last skim coat of thinned out Elmers wood filler. A light sanding of that and another rattle can coat of filler primer and I was satisfied.
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AcadiaRockets

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I painted the nose cone. Before building rockets last year my rattle can experience was pretty slim. I jumped right in learning about layering, timing, humidity, temperature, sanding, then wet sanding, decreasing grits, polishing waxing. I don't know how to improve on my current results.
I am pretty happy with how my mid sized rockets turn out. I think if I need to improve on what I am currently doing for larger rockets I may just turn it over to the local body shop to spray or vinyl wrap it with stickershock23.
Anyway my nose cone prep and painting went like this.
I took an emery board and sanded off the mold lines on the nosecone. Then I used 220 grit sandpaper and steel wool to sand it evenly (I won't say smooth)
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Then in my 65 degree 35% humidity garage (in Maine where its currently 5 degrees, snowing and blowing 25 knots) I put a few light coats of primer on it with light sanding with the 400 then 600 grit wet paper. Washing and drying with a sink towel each time. Then three coats of the auto paint ( Brilliant Black Pearl) first two pretty light but covering and a little wetter on last coat but not so much there was a threat of dripping. I tell Alexa to do a 15 minute timer between each coat so that the lacquer is barely dry to the touch but melts the last coat. Sanding with damp but not dripping 1000 grit and then 1500 grit between coats. Its hard to watch sanding even lightly that last black coats that looks (pretty) good as you dull that last glossy coat of black. The payoff is keeping on the every 15-20 minute schedule follow up with the clear lacquer that really glosses it up. Two coats of the clear lacquer with 1500 grit light sanding between and done!
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Almost. That looks really glossy - can't get better. But wait! Take a couple days to let all those paint layers cure and then hit it with the Pledge floor polish. I do the hang it vertical and spray the heck out of it and let it drip off and sit over night. Bam! Thats my process.
The rocket itself is primed and when I get a nice uninterrupted 4 hour chunk of my day it will get the same treatment.
 
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AcadiaRockets

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I had used multiple layers of rattle can filler /primer to identify trouble spots and touch up with thinned out elmers wood filler. Then the last primer coat was a grey sealer primer.
Today I had enough time to do the painting.
I masked off the fins with the 3M delicate surfaces tape and used those AARP paper magazines pages folded in half are the right size :) to cover.
In most of my other builds I used those smaller automotive rattle can paints as they had metallic finishes and were higher end. I kept seeing the Dupli-Color Metalcast Anodized Automotive Paint and wanted to try it. Since the auto paint I had been using was in smaller cans I was not sure if they would do a whole Vanderburn Hi-Flyer XXL. I decided to try the Metalcast as it was not just one regular sized can of pigment color, but you have to hit it first with the BASE silver layer of Dupli-Color Metalcast Anodized Automotive Paint to get the effect in the pictures. I figured since I had two cans, one base, one red, it would cover.
I am totally pumped over the results.
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I did three Dupli-Color Metalcast Anodized Automotive Paint silver BASE layers wet sanding with 1000 grit in between, and then three layers of the red with wet sanding 1000 grit in between. I like it.
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Dupli-Color Metalcast Anodized Automotive Paint does not do a black in that line so I will be using the Brilliant black automotive paint that I did the nose cone in for the fins.
 

AcadiaRockets

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I painted the fins the Brilliant Black automotive paint after waiting a week for the red paint to cure. I was anxious that my masking tape would pull up the red. The black went on without a hitch and the tape came off without any trouble.
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I applied the vinyl decals. Maybe they were oldish but they did not want to stay stuck down. Even after a couple days they wanted to rise off the paint. After a week of letting the black paint cure and coaxing the vinyl to really stick I committed the whole Vanderburn Hi-Flyer XXL rocket to a coating of Dupli color 1K clear coat to seal it all up. I had not used this clear coat before but for as expensive as it was it must be good right? (right?) That seemed to commit the vinyl to staying put.
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Then after another few days I finished the surface with the Renew Future floor wax. I am pretty tickled on how good it looks.
I did all this having not sealed the aft centering ring yet. This is the one that is hand numbered and I treated it with some marine varnish to preserve it. So I installed that and epoxying it in with some BSI 30 minute on the inside and 5 minute on the outside.
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I took it to a Tripoli level 3 friend for some show and tell. I installed the 20ft 3 loop one bad hawk harness and an Apogee 36 in chute wrapped inside a 9 inch nomex cloth to get a final weight. Uh oh.


Well I am paying for my newbie west systems experiments. The whole thing was projected to be 750 grams and the final weight came out at a whopping 1250gram without a motor! I had to adjust my Open rocket motor choices and re run all the sims.

xxl.JPG
 
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AcadiaRockets

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That red looks good! I was thinking of doing a rocket with that paint and just might have to now.
Its a two layer process. You'll see the cans of red and blue, sometime purple and smoke in that anodized. But you also need the anodized "base" layer that has all the sparkles. I say this only because I saw that only about half of the stores I went to had the base. I brought it to their attention it says right on the pigment can you need to lay down the base can first. Just FYI.
 

AcadiaRockets

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If your going for motor ejection did you just glue the nose cone on or how did you work that?
I am indeed doing motor ejection. I described at the beginning of the thread debating whether I wanted to eject the nose cone or the upper airframe. Another XXL owner gave compelling reasons for the mid frame ejection and having never done that and always up for trying new things, I went that direction.
Currently the upper airframe and nose cone are very friction fit tight. Not so much that I can't get to the electronics in the nose but certainly much tighter than the fit just above the baffle mid airframe. I have also entertained a tiny screw or two.
I look forward to seeing how it works.
 
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