Sunday, March 30, 2014

The mood strikes!

This weekend the desire to build rockets finally hit, after a hiatus of several months. That's the way I roll - the urge will strike, I will build several rockets, burn out will set in, and I will build nada for months. The reason for my rocket building flurries lies in my current techniques. Unlike my younger self, I want my rockets to fly well AND look nice; the models I built when I was 13 were lucky to have their fin edges rounded and a single coat of paint. Consequently, builds take more time than way back then. Consider the typical build sequence:
  1. Seal body tube spirals
  2. Sand body tubes
  3. Sand balsa fin sheets
  4. Cut out/remove fins
  5. Sand fin leading and trailing edges
  6. Build rocket according to instructions (this is the fun part!)
  7. Seal balsa surfaces
  8. Sand
  9. Repeat 7 and 8 above until balsa grain is filled
  10. Apply first coat of primer
  11. Sand off most of first coat of primer
  12. Apply second coat of primer
  13. Sand (rocket surfaces should now be smooth as glass)
  14. Apply base coat of paint
  15. Light sanding
  16. Apply top coat of paint
  17. Apply other colors as needed
  18. Apply decals
A glance at the above reveals my issue - sanding. I hate sanding. Unfortunately, if you are going to build nice-looking rockets you have no choice but to do it, unless you can bribe someone else into doing it for you (The wife of a rocketeer on one of the forums loves sanding - he's a very lucky man). It is because of this fact of life that I, a dedicated rocket nerd, eventually get sick of all the sanding, to the point I can't stomach the thought of building another rocket for months. This is very sad, and sometimes I wonder if all the care I put into the builds is worth it. After all, we all know it is the ugly rockets that hang around the longest, surviving 500 foot falls as if they had fallen off a chair, while the pretty ones will crack a fin if you merely pick them up. Nature is perverse that way.

My current builds - From left, a Rocketarium scale model of the KSR-420S
sounding rocket (cluster, of course), a clone of the Estes Bat, and the start 
of an A.S.P. scale model of the Corporal missile (Click to enlarge).
But then I remember a teen wanting so very much to be able to produce rockets like those in the Estes and Centuri catalog. He lacked some tools, and most importantly, the patience to do it right. My current self has these things, and each time I build a new rocket, I snag a little bit of that old dream, with a good dose of "job well done" thrown in. That's what makes it worth the effort.

But nothing is worth sanding all year round… No mortal can handle that.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more, Bill. The "bug" bites at its will and when it does, look out! I have built 9 rockets in the last three weeks (five in one weekend) and I am working on two more HPR, one of which I am absolutely certain you'll find interesting. Love your blog, keep up the good work!