Friday, August 7, 2020

New fleet additions and some organization...

I find myself getting less tolerant of clutter as I get older - less tolerant of a lot of things, actually. So I have designated 2020 as the year to get my life much more organized and reduce my footprint down to a reasonable size (i.e., toss out a bunch of junk that has accumulated over the decades). This has had the unfortunate consequence of placing my builds on hold, as I have little time to sand, seal, and paint. However, I do find small bits of downtime here and there, enough to assemble quick build kits. So here are my latest fleet additions, assemblies that are so fast and easy I hardly call them builds.

Estes Zombie (Click to enlarge).
Estes Wacky Wiggler (Click to enlarge).

The Estes Zombie and Wacky Wiggler are usually available only in starter sets, but eRockets has a limited number of them as single kits (much cheaper!). The Zombie is a 5 minute assembly, being nothing more than a 3 fin rocket with a preprinted zombie pattern on the body tube. Normally I wouldn't even think about getting it, but it adds to my Halloween collection, and you can never have too many Halloween-themed rockets. The Wacky Wiggler takes a bit longer to build, as it consists of short segments of body tube joined together by a long string. The segments separate at ejection and the whole thing just flutters down to earth. Unlike the Zombie, it has been around for a while, first making an appearance in the 2003 Estes catalog. I am looking forward to seeing it in flight.

Estes Alpha IV face card (Click to enlarge).

The last new fleet member is something I have been trying to acquire for quite a while - the Estes Alpha IV. Released in 1998 to mark the 40th anniversary of Estes Industries, it sports a metallic red body tube, black fins and nose cone, and gold 40th anniversary stickers. I have been looking for a reasonably priced model for many moons, and one finally popped up on eBay last week. I built it in about 30 minutes this afternoon, and it now joins the other Alphas on my shelves. 

My Alpha IV (Click to enlarge).

Speaking of shelves, I have put a lot of those together lately, for displaying my rockets. I am happy to state that most of them are now off the floor and proudly line a few of my walls. With the clutter reduced, entropy has been decreased somewhat, and I am much more content. It's kinda nice to be able to look around and see your models.


  1. Back in 2001 we went to visit my in laws in Akron. My brother in law had invited us to visit on a weekend when his club had a Sunday launch, so I tried to get my 1994 fleet together to fly something at the launch. Unfortunately, the years and storage area had not been kind to the rockets. The Estes Super Vega was the one closest to finished when my wife put them in the storage area, but a shelf had collapsed on it and had done some fin damage that I couldn't see myself fixing quickly. The Estes Hornet was still in the bag and I couldn't fin the Estes Greyhawk, although that would later become a staple of my early QUARK meets later in the summer. I arrived empty handed and Tony and I began talking rockets over a few beers. I was talking about wanting to figure out a way to build an Estes Condor, which was one of my favorites as a kid. This led to an internet search and Jim Z's site. The next morning we left bright and early for a tour of the local hobby shops so I could buy something to build. I wound up with an Estes Rattler 7 for my son, an Alpha IV for myself and a pack of motors to split between us. (I also found a nose cone that I was convinced was the correct one for a Condor clone, a section of BT-50 and some balsa with which I would eventually build the Condor.) Sam and I flew our rockets in the frigid cornfield the next day along with Tony and my niece. We were flying right alongside an interstate and the Alpha IV seemed determined to reach it after popping the chute. Easily one of the coldest walks of my life despite the heavy hat and gloves we'd scored from K-Mart the previous night. The Rattler 7 ejected the upper body tube and nose cone on its flight, so we decided to just watch a few of the big ones for the rest of the day. We sat in the van with the heater on full until someone walked to the pad with something to fly, then got out and watched. I believe the last big one we saw was on a J motor. Straight up, straight down. The flightline scattered as it whistled in and rekitted itself on the frozen ground. I felt horrible for the guy, but realized that everyone else was needling him and even he was laughing it off because it had landed without doing damage to anything but itself. Tony and I walked over to the crash site with Sam and Mara, and all of us were amazed to see that the plastic cone had actually managed to penetrate the frozen ground. Not by much, but a few inches. The rest of the rocket was in souvenir sized pieces. The damage was incredible. I was hooked. I flew the Alpha IV and the repaired Rattler 7 for several years after that day, only stopping when the prismatic covering started to peel and the Rattler 7 started looking its age. I flew the Rattler earlier this spring and the Alpha IV is on a short list of rockets I need to fly again. B6-4 Field, here I come?

  2. You should send a pic of your Zeta to JimZ. I sent the Loadlifter and Long John Silver yesterday and he has already incorporated them into the plans.