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Old 01-08-2019, 04:49 AM
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blackshire blackshire is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Default Estes SpaceLoft improvements

Hello All,

For Christmas, I bought myself a few Estes UP Aerospace SpaceLoft kits (see: and ). I was pleasantly surprised to find that several improvements have been made to this kit since I built a few of them and wrote an EMRR review on it over seven years ago.

The instructions have been changed to a tri-lingual type (English, French, and Spanish), and they no longer call for using a white pencil to mark the black body tube for measuring where the motor clip and shock cord feed-through slits are to be cut; instead, they simply specify a regular pencil. (I had pointed out to Estes that a regular black pencil line was perfectly visible against the body tube, due to it being more shiny than the glassine coating on the tube). Also:

The body tube has been shortened, from 10.25" on the earlier kits to 9" on the new ones. This has slightly shortened the model from 12.5" to 11.1". It also made it possible to simplify the measurements and marks (for cutting the motor clip and shock cord feed-through slits) that are needed on the pencil line. Instead of measuring and making short, transverse penciled hash marks 1-1/2" (38 mm) and 8-3/4" (222 mm) from the chosen rear end of the tube, it is now only necessary to measure and mark 1-1/2" (38 mm) from each end of the body tube, and:

The motor clip has been modified, such that it can no longer act as an unintended asymmetrical jet vane (this was a complaint with other BT-5 size, minimum-diameter 13 mm motor Estes kits, too). Comparing examples of both motor clip types side-by-side, the finger tab is now only about half as long as the finger tab on the earlier Estes 13 mm motor clips, and it is bent at a slightly shallower angle. (The very end of the finger tab is bent upwards, which prevents potential poking--which is a very good thing!). The right-angle portion of the motor clip's rear "tang," which engages and holds the rear edge of the rocket motor, is about 1.5 mm shallower than that portion of the old motor clip--this ensures positive motor retention while keeping the finger tab well clear of the motor's nozzle (plus, being straight rather than curved forward, as that portion of the old motor clip was, also promotes positive motor retention). The shorter finger tab also looks neater on a finished rocket, because it doesn't protrude downward nearly as much as the old ones did. As well:

The shock cord is no longer "comically short" (as Kenneth Johnson, who reviewed the Estes Yankee kit during the Tunick era, aptly characterized it: ). I measured two of the new SpaceLoft kits' rubber shock cords, and they are a full 13" - 13.25" long. Their streamers, too, are longer (and perhaps slightly wider as well):

They are slightly longer than the optimum 10:1 length/width ratio (for maximum fluttering, and thus drag), being 30 mm (about 1-3/16") wide and 305 mm (12" long). The slight extra length enables the streamer to be taped to the shock cord (using a small rectangular piece of masking tape, as shown in the instructions [I instead fold over 1/2" of clear plastic packing tape on one end, punch a hole there, and then slide the streamer over the shock cord]); both methods leave about a "10:1 ratio's worth" of free streamer material to flutter in the air. The new streamers also look slightly wider than the old ones (which were 1-1/8" wide, if memory serves), being exactly 30 mm wide (close to 1-3/16" wide). In addition:

The plastic parts--the fin unit and the forward ring that serves as the shock cord anchor (and has a molded-in forward launch luglet; the fin unit has the rear launch luglet molded-in)--seem to fit slightly more tightly than the same parts in the old kits (the parts are also a deeper blue color). I think building the new kits "stock"--gluing these plastic parts in place using tube-type plastic cement--as directed in the instructions (*not* applying one wrap of self-adhesive label paper to build up the body tube diameter where the plastic parts are cemented in place, as I did with the old ones) should work fine. (One thing not mentioned in the instructions, which I always do, and would recommend in all such cases, is to sand the plastic and paper surfaces that are to be bonded together, to give the glue more to "grab onto," and to ensure that the glue will penetrate into the surface of the body tube better.)

I hope this information will be helpful.
Black Shire--Draft horse in human form, model rocketeer, occasional mystic, and writer, see:
All of my book proceeds go to the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre
NAR #54895 SR

Last edited by blackshire : 01-08-2019 at 05:14 AM.
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