Monday, October 9, 2017

Working through the list...

A few days ago, I finished a clone of the Estes Falcon Commander, which was one of the three items on my 2017 build list. Next up is a clone of the venerable Estes Gyroc, which is also celebrating (along with the Alpha) the 50th anniversary of its release this year. The Gene Street-designed helicopter recovery Gyroc had an unusual start - it did not officially appear as a stand-alone item in the Estes catalogs until 1969; the first availability in 1967 was as a free kit for those placing orders over $5. All you had to do was write "Free Gyroc" on the last line of the order form (see below). It's kinda of interesting that the Gyroc showed up just after a plan called the "Flip Flap" was published in the December 1966 Model Rocket News, as that design incorporates the elastic thread activation of flaps like in the Gyroc. However, it was probably too late to have been a factor in the Gyroc design, and besides, the "Flip Flap" looks clunky by comparison.

1st appearance of the Gyroc in the 1967 Estes catalog (Click to enlarge - still gonna be fuzzy).
Gyroc in the 1969 Estes catalog (Click to enlarge).
Several of the old Estes kits did not come with decals; the Gyroc was one of these, sporting a barbershop pole paint scheme in its 1967 and 1969 catalog spots. The 1970 catalog artwork has it adorned with an unknown streak decal, close (but not quite the same) to the one on the old partial Gyroc in the pic below. The 1971 catalog shows the kit in its "canonical" yellow decor, with decals from the various sources (Beta, D-13 sheet, etc). The Gyroc never had a set of decals included with the kit, so some scrounging was required if you wanted to put them on the model.

Old broken Gyroc with unknown decal (Click to enlarge).
The Gyroc in the 1971 catalog (Click to enlarge).
I have never possessed a Gyroc - always seemed to be too much work (many balsa pieces to cut out precisely) for too little reward. However, Balsa Machining Service is producing a Gyroc kit that features laser-cut parts, thereby eliminating a lot of the fussing and cussing. You have to download a set of the instructions and provide your own decals, but it is a faithful reproduction of the original, down to the elastic thread. This is what I am currently building, and so far it has gone reasonably smoothly. You need to be careful when sealing the thin 1/6" balsa, as the parts can warp if you apply too much water-based sealer - I only had trouble with one wing, and that was fixed by letting it dry under some books. The parts are now finished, and I have started gluing things together - you can see the current state of the build in the pic below. The fins are being held in place by one of the wondrous Qualman Rocketry fin alignment guides, and the model is supported by two of the Estes tube cutting guides (these too are wonderful when working with Estes tubes).

Current state of my Gyroc build (Click to enlarge).
I'm hoping to finish this model in time for the club Halloween launch on the 28th - it's about time I flew a Gyroc!