Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fixing a broken bunny...

Every rocket suffers battle scars during its lifetime; dings, nicks, chipped paint, and torn decals are the proud badges of many flights. Most of these are easily touched up with a dab of paint or the judicious use of markers, but sometimes the damage is more than a slight nick on a fin - sometimes it is severe enough to warrant considering scrapping the model. Such was the case with two of mine, which were damaged so badly that they sat in the repair box for years, dolefully waiting for me to decide their fate.

The first of these was my clone of the Centuri MX-774. Its first - and only - flight was at a Manchester launch about 5 years ago. The rocket achieved a decent altitude on a A8-3, but was unlucky enough to land on a gravel area near the barn. The wind caught the streamer, dragging the model a considerable distance across the ground. Gravel and balsa, like asphalt and balsa, don't mix very well - the MX-774's nose cone was badly dinged and scraped, and a huge chunk was ripped out of one fin. Upon my return home, I deposited the model in the repair box, fully intending to build another. However, the years wore on, and my skills advanced to the point where I thought I may be able to repair the rocket.

My MX-774 clone before its ill-fated flight
(Click to enlarge).
So I sanded down the nose, applied Fill N Finish to the damaged areas and repainted. This repair of the nose cone was the easy part; I still had to deal with the torn fin. I used my hobby knife to carve the missing section into a small rectangle, into which I glued a piece of sealed and primered balsa. It worked better than I expected - a little sanding with sandpaper glued to a popsicle stick and some black paint resulted in a very decent repair. The nicked decals were touched up with a marker, et voila! Repair done, rocket returned to the fleet.

The pieces of my Cloud Hopper clone (Click to enlarge).
My Estes Cloud Hopper clone was next. It had suffered damage at the hands of some enthusiastic youngsters at Horizon Elementary School back in April of 2014 - being over eager to recover the model, they accidentally shattered one of the top wings and the winglet. My poor bunny rocket lay in the repair box for 3 years until I finally glued various pieces back together, applied Fill N Finish to the seams, did a bit of sanding, and repainted. It also turned out pretty well; the Cloud Hopper is once again ready to leap off the pad.

The repaired MX-774 and Cloud Hopper (Click to enlarge).

Been doing a lot of work travel this month, so I haven't had much time for the hobby. Still, I managed to finish an Estes Alpha (1970's decor) and a clone of the MRC Firefighter. I also have gathered all the parts needed to build a clone of the Estes Falcon Commander, which I hope to start this weekend. The build pace may have slowed, but it hasn't stopped.

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