Saturday, May 31, 2014

For the 4th

Every year I build a USA-themed rocket for the 4th of July - the Estes Liberty, Citation Patriot, and Yankee have been the recent constructs. While sealing the fins of the Hen Grenade (I have done a LOT of sanding this weekend), I gave some thought to this year's 4th special. What would it be? I considered the Estes Big Yank, but it is just a longer Yankee, and there was the entendre behind the name that bothered me. Custom Rockets has their Liberty, but I hate the peel and cuss stickers that come with those kits. However, I gave it serious consideration, figuring I could laser print some nice water slide decals to substitute for the stickers. Then I realized I had been staring at the answer all along - for years in fact.

The Centuri Screaming Eagle's first appearance in the 1973 catalog. I recently
acquired a Powr Pad from Ebay; can't wait to launch my Eagle from it!
First appearing in 1973, the Centuri Screaming Eagle was part of that company's line up for 10 years, right up to Centuri's end in 1983. It was a perfect rocket for impatient youths like myself, featuring a plastic fin can which enabled the rocket to be assembled in about 20 minutes. I owned several, and can testify that you could be flying less than an hour after opening the bag. The red, white, and blue decor and chrome decals were quite distinctive; no paint was required to get a fairly nice looking rocket. All you had to do was get the stickers on straight - which I often didn't. The rocket was practically indestructible; even a catastrophic no parachute lawn dart still meant you would be able to salvage the plastic nose cone and fin can. Glue on another body tube, and you were ready to fly once more. That indestructibility provided the answer to this year's 4th of July conundrum, as there was a 35 year old Screaming Eagle fin can sitting on the corner of my work table.

A couple of hours soaking in warm water got rid of the decomposing decals still on the fin can. However, nothing I tried could remove the old, rock-hard glue at the top of the unit. This put the kibosh on using the fin can in my clone; hopefully someone can provide a technique that will remove the glue for a future build. During a break to watch some 1950's science fiction B movies ("At World's End", "From the Earth to the Moon"), I realized that it would not be too difficult to clone the fin can using Semroc tubes and 1/16" basswood for the fins. The fin pattern was available on Jimz's web site, though I could have easily created one by simply measuring the dimensions of those on my unit. I set to work, assembling the motor mount and cutting out the fins. The pic below shows where things stand at present - I am about to glue on the fins while I watch "Munster Go Home" on Svengoolie.

Old Screaming Eagle fin can at right; basswood fins and lower tube/motor mount to its
left. Hen Grenade nose cone and payload section parts are in the background.
Shouldn't take too long to finish this one. It will be nice to have a Screaming Eagle back in the fleet!

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