Friday, July 20, 2018

What to do on muggy summer days...

Midsummer is a frustrating time - the days are hot and muggy, with humidities 60% and higher - lately, MUCH higher. One cannot paint in such conditions, as the paint will "blush", causing the finish to appear blotchy. So my models patiently sit in primer, awaiting drier days. Which is not good, as I have a policy that no more than two rockets can be in primer at the same time, to avoid the overbuilding problems of the past. However, one cannot stay idle, so what am I to do? The answer came to me this past weekend - build some of the almost ready to fly (ARTF) or E2X kits in my collection. They are pre-painted and assemble in under an hour, so no adding to the backlog.  A perfect task for stormy summer afternoons.

ARTF or E2X kits are built using most of the standard build set - ruler, scissors, tape, hobby knife, and white glue. You don't need sand paper, and Plastic Weld is used to glue the plastic parts together and CA gel to join plastic components like fin cans to the body tube. Construction is quick and easy, and I put the models together while watching old movies ("Captain Blood", "When Worlds Collide"). Last weekend's builds were the MPC Duck Dodgers X-2 Invader and Cadet Cruiser, the Estes Banshee and Alpha VI, and an Estes-made Space Center Houston payload rocket.

MPC X-2 Invader and Cadet Cruiser (Click to enlarge).
I rather liked building the MPC kits - the body wraps are nice, with the X-2 Invader featuring Marvin the Martian, and the Cadet Cruiser sporting Porky the Pig's mug. The plastic parts are of good quality and fit well, with the only negatives being the flimsy motor tube, motor hook, and the hard plastic launch lugs, which seem to keep falling off the body tube no matter what glue is used (I finally fixed the issue with 5 minute epoxy). The shock cords were also way, way too short and had to be replaced.

The Estes Banshee build was straightforward - the only problems I encountered were getting the fins to adhere to the body tube with Plastic Weld (CA gel fixed this) and the fact that the orange stickers are too translucent for the black body tube. The Space Center Houston rocket went together with absolutely no problems, though I do not like the off-white payload section base - should be glossy like the body tube or blue like the nose.

Estes Space Center Houston Payloader, Alpha VI, and Banshee (Click to enlarge).
The Estes Alpha VI is the company's 60th anniversary model, sporting a candy apple red fin can and nose cone, along with a very prominent anniversary logo. However, the preprinted body tube was so flimsy that it had already begun to unwrap while still in the package, so I cut a matching length of BT-50, which I primed and painted gloss white. Consequently, this build took longer than 30 minutes, but if you discount the time I spent in readying a new body tube, it went super fast - the model was assembled in less than 15 minutes. 5 rockets finished in a weekend - not bad, and it definitely beats doing nothing rocket-wise.

Unfortunately the weather forecast indicates many more days of the same muggy weather - and I am getting low on ARTF/E2X kits to build...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill,
    Be sure to check the stability on the MPC Cadet Cruiser. I couldn't get mine to fly straight no matter what engine. Nose weight didn't help me either. The X-2 Invader does well and the MPC Red Giant is my only favorite ARTF.
    Remember, every MPC rocket will only reach 230 feet!