Friday, July 31, 2015

Estes Mercury Redstone #1921 Build Part 28, Decals

According to the older Estes instructions, 
The side of the roll pattern decal lines up with the left side of the UNITED STATES decals already in place.

TIP: Notice the masking tape set inside the body tube. With a decal so close to the end of the tube, water might get inside. The masking tape prevents any chance of water getting absorbed in the open tube.

You'd better have a tall glass to soak the tall decal.

The inset picture shows a spot that wouldn't absorb any water. On that area the decal had to be torn off. There was a stretch mark there, good thing it was on a clear portion of the decal.
The wrap is BIG and feels slimy when transferring.
I always rub some water on the area where the decal will be placed so it can be re-positioned easily. The water under the decal made the decal very slippery.
Be ready, it takes extra time to line up and work out air bubbles.

All the pink boxes and bars got a red decal overlay. Wait until the wrap decal is completely dry before laying the red decals on top of the pinkish areas.

With the nose cone in place there is some white showing on the body tube lip.

TIP: I marked the checkerboard areas black so it continued the black squares over the top of the tube.

Go slowly and carefully with the Sharpie marker. The decals must be completely dry before using the marker.

Installing and Removing Tight Engines?

On TRF, Ron Lemke (Shade) asked the question:

"First for existing built rockets I have several that have very tight MMTs. I have difficulty getting Estes BP engines in them to the point where I feel I am going to damage the rocket, any suggestions on how to deal with this? Some are 18mm some are 24mm, The rocket affected are both Semroc and Estes and or components from either company.

Second, are there better/looser MMTs I can use for engines in general that will fit all engines?"

Some replies suggested peeling layers off the engine casing.

From Solomoriah: "Estes engines are often a bit tight in Estes tubes.  Quest engines (both the old German and the new Chinese) are smaller and never stick. Rockets with Centuri-sized #7 tubes work better with Estes engines, because the ID is just a hair bigger; makes flying most of my Semroc fleet easier.
Getting the engine in doesn't usually trouble me,  but getting the casing out is sometimes a bit of a bear.  I have a pair  of pliers with curved jaws that I got as part of a gift years ago, which is darn near perfect for removing 18mm engine casings, but even so it's still tough sometimes."

I agree with you on engine fit being easier in the stronger ST-7 tubes.
Estes engines (especially the 13mm engines) bulge above the nozzle area.
I don't peel the engines, sometimes a peel can get away from you and you can take off too much.
I'll sand down the bulge a bit with sandpaper on a block.

Fred Shector gave out some great advice about engine removal -
Remove the engines right after a flight while it is still warm.
You'd think it would be easier to remove when the engine cools down but it is removed easily right after the flight.
This is especially true when an engine has been friction fitted.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Estes Mercury Redstone #1921 Build Part 27, Decals

The kit decals didn't have the 1/8" wide lower black bar.
I cut mine from old decal sheets.

Notice how the MR8 decal is set over the bar, no space between it and the black band.
I used online pictures of the actual launch and Alway's ROTW as a reference. The low bottom line of the MR8 box overlaps the black band and disappears.

Online rocket data searches can be misleading. You'll find incorrect painting and detail photos especially on rockets that are on display at some museums. Every few years a rocket is repainted, sometimes incorrectly!
In the end it's a compromise. I try to get my decals and decal placement as close to the original as possible.
I often refer to Alway's Rockets Of The World for colors and detail placement.

I placed the 1/4" wide center black band 8.75" down from the top of the body tube edge.

I used paper wrap to be sure it was going straight around the tube.
The decals are slippery! This horizontal band can easily slide after you think you have it straight.

As mentioned earlier:
The older instructions say the vertical UNITED and STATES are set 3/16" above and below that line.

It's hard to see in the picture but you can line up the UNITED STATES by the reflection of the fins sharp leading edge.
When you look down the body tube you'll see the leading edge reflected in the glossy, wet decal.

After positioning my home print UNITED STATES decal, I placed the kit supplied decal next to it for comparison.

You can see the pink tint of the kit decals.

New Painting Wands

It was about time to make some new painting wands.
I bought a 48" long, 1/2" diameter dowel and cut it into three 16" long pieces.
An empty engine casing friction fits over the 1/2" diameter dowel perfectly. You might have to round the edges of the dowel to get the casing to slip over the end.

I left the dowel recessed at the top for a glue fillet.

This painting wand even works on this two engine cluster Magnum rocket.
I'll put another casing in the other empty motor mount to keep out the sprayed paint.

I usually leave the dowel wand in the model after painting. Sometimes it helps to have the extension dowel left in for wet sanding and decals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Estes Mercury Redstone #1921 Build Part 26, Still More Decal Questions

I don't know what this decal is for!
It's the same length as the 1/4" middle band so I assume it simulates the bolts in the band right above the fins.
The dashed line looks too thin. The older instructions say it's 1/8" wide. For right now I'll just add a line of black from some old decal sheets.

Here's the fins from the Mercury Redstone on display at KSC.
Check out the bolt band recess right above the fins.

The pull out plugs (lower right side) are raised a bit above the end of the body!

I added the low 1/8" black band to the decal sheet.
Below the solid black band is the band with the bolts. I tried to make them look 3D.

I'll use the simpler 1/8" black band cut from an old decal sheet.
I make no guarantee that the second bolt wrap will fit or be evenly spaced. I've printed up too many decal sheets trying to get the other stuff close.

If you have one of the pinkish, MR7 decal sheets in your kit, the PDF is now available if you print your own decals.
Email me at and request the Mercury Restone decal PDF.

PLEASE NOTE: The line thickness of the MR8 boxes may vary on your PDF decal sheet. This is typical of some PDFs. That's why there are extras, pick the best ones for the model.
The two lowest 1/8" wide bolt wraps may also have varying shading thicknesses. Again this is a PDF thing. If it doesn't look right to you, use the plain black band above it.

Polishing Plastic? Tips

Dale Bills wrote:
 I searched your building blog for any mention of how to polish and buff plastic parts such as the fins and nose cone in the Estes Pro Series II E2X Mammoth. The fins and nose cone are molded plastic. The fins are two-piece molded plastic that you glue together with CA. The nose cone is also injection molded plastic. After gluing the fins together, I had a few CA drips and finger touch points that I sanded off with #0000 steel wool. I also used the steel wool on the mold seam of the nose cone. 

Now, to avoid having to paint these black plastic pieces, I'd like to polish and buff them back to their original plastic shine (not high gloss, but an acceptable matte shine). Any suggestions on how best to do that?

Best to you, Dale  

My response:
Hi Dale,
A few years back I assembled a Magnum model for the Quest demo launches at a NARAM.
I was surprised how well the black plastic nose cone and adapter polished up without any paint.

I got there by using finer and finer grades of sandpaper.
A bead of medium CA was used to fill any recesses at the molding seam. That was sanded smooth with 220 grit on a block.
From there I went to 400 grit and all the way to 1500 grit.
(You can get the fine grits at auto supply stores)
Then polishing compound and final rubbing with a soft cotton cloth.

It ended up very smooth and with a good gloss black finish.
The picture at the right is my Magnum model from the Quest website.
Good luck and I hope this helps out - 
Chris Michielssen 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Estes Mercury Redstone #1921 Build Part 25, More Decal Questions

To help with decal placement, go to the older Estes instructions: CLICK HERE
Decal placement is at the bottom of page 7.

The single, long kit body tube is 19.5" long.
The older Estes instructions say the two kit tubes were the same length.
The 1/4" wide black strip was placed over the body tube seams at the center. This would center the decal on the new kit at 8.75" from the top.
The older instructions say the vertical UNITED and STATES are set 3/16" above and below that line. After looking at many M.R. pictures, that spacing looks too tight against the wide black band.
I'm spacing mine at 9/32" away from the horizontal band.

The face card decal placement is incorrect. See View 2 in the above older instructions.
The UNITED STATES should be centered over the next fin or 90 degrees to the right of what is shown.
The area above the "half-half" black and white fin quadrant has no decal.

Am I nit-picking? Yes.
If the decals are positioned like the face card picture it is still a good representation of the Mercury Redstone. At a club launch nobody will know the difference.