- Jul 21, 2020
- Reaction score
I've seen a lot of postings about older Estes kits, and they all talk about die cut balsa fins. I'm pretty sure that when I first started building Estes kits (IIRC 1971) the fins weren't die cut. You got blank balsa stock and printed paper patterns that had to be cut out. After cutting out the pattern parts, you traced around the paper patterns with a pen/pencil to mark the balsa stock. Then you cut fin parts with a razor knife and steel rule. On my first model (Astron Starlight) I didn't lay out the parts correctly the first time I traced them. Fortunately, I realized it before I did too much cutting and was able to re-layout the parts correctly. But, I was unable to completely remove the first set of lines (using ball-point pen was a dumb idea), and still they're quite visible through the paint:
The Starlight was a "skill level 3" model and not a good choice for an 11-year-old's first model rocket. But, I hadn't noticed the "skill level" numbers yet and couldn't resist it when I saw it hanging on the hook at the local Rexall Drug store (I got to pick out a rocket kit for my birthday that year).
It's been roughed up during some moves over the past 50 years, but one of these days I'm going to fix it up and launch it again. I wish I still had the original nosecone, but I think I gave it to one of my great-nephews when I thought the rest of the rocket had been lost during a move. Yes, the blue rings are crooked, but not quite as bad as they look in the photo. I remember I had a pretty tough time getting all those fins aligned and the rings on correctly. The upper ring was supposed to be about an inch lower, and you can see where I filled in the original notches when I couldn't get the ring to fit down as far as was intended.