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  #11  
Old 01-09-2012, 12:52 AM
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Well, let's see...

Put some white glue in the antenna can and glued it on the top of the capsule, aligning the seams on the antenna can and cap with the seams on the recovery section and bell section of the capsule (so all the seams will be "on back")...

Rubbed a layer of spot putty on the transition to fill it (I had already applied a layer of ultra-thin CA to it and sanded it down with 220 grit). After that dried, I sanded the spot putty down nearly to bare wood and taped the shoulders for priming, and taped the cone to a paint stick.

Four coats of primer later she's sitting on the washer to dry overnight...

The booster engine fairings were glued on to the balsa fairings... one didn't quite want to stay put despite using a double glue joint to help speed the setup time, so I had to clamp it... used a bamboo skewer on one side and a strip of thin balsa, bearing on the balsa fairings at the front and on the balsa "fingernail" inside the fairing at the rear, which is glued to the booster engine "spoof tube"-- this way the balsa keeps the clamp from over-squashing the paper fairing, and keeps everything in a straight line as the glue dries...

The finished fairings, after giving them a light filleting with white glue...

More later! OL JR
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  #12  
Old 01-09-2012, 12:56 AM
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Remember what I said earlier about having to "jump around" a bit... well, here we go... time to start on the TOWER!!!

Now, realize the capsule fits on a BT-50 tube... so this thing is SMALL... but it CAN be done, and if *I* can do it with my farmer's smashed-up, cut-up "twinky fingered" meathooks, then others can probably do a LOT better... BUT it does require you to screw up your patience level a bit (yeah I suffer from an appalling lack of patience as well...) and just bear down and git'er dun...

Dr. Zooch realizes in his infinite ant-wisdom (his ant-munificence is boundless so I'm told... er, wait, maybe that's the megalomaniacal space ant-villian Small O. Drax... can't recall ) that not EVERYBODY wants to practice hemorroid surgery on gnats to prepare for doing this tower, so he includes a cheap-n-dirty "squirming hatch blower" method using a printed paper wrap tower that can be glued on top of the rocket... if you want to take the easy way out...

For the rest of us "steely-eyed missile men" we get to go blind putting hair thin wires on matchsticks... Seriously, I've done one of these before, on the BT-50 "Freedom 7" Mercury Redstone, so it's not THAT big a deal...

SO, first grab the tower kitbag out of the box... it's a tiny dime bag ziplock with some "matchsticks", a bit of wood dowel, half a toothpick, and some hair-thin steel wires in it... Grab the matchsticks and dowel bit and keep 'em where you can find 'em... leave the rest in the bag back in the box.

The "matchsticks" start off square... now the Mercury escape tower didn't have square tubing legs, so you gotta start by rounding them off. Easiest way I've found is to hold one end, grab a bit of 220 grit (if you have one of those "sanding bows" that hold a strip of sandpaper between the ends sorta spring loaded like a miniature hacksaw blade, that's ideal-- I don't have this toy, so I simply hold a piece of 220 pinched between my fingers in such a way as to emulate this handy tool... which allows the sandpaper to "curl" over the stick while I sand it, emulating the 'spring loaded' sanding bow tool). Sand over each corner about half the length of the stick rounding the corners off, turning the stick between your fingers to the next corner once you've rounded off the last one. Once one half of the stick is round, flip it end for end and do the other half... GO EASY, LET THE PAPER DO THE WORK, and TAKE YOUR TIME... it won't take but about 5 minutes per stick to do and they'll come out virtually cylindrical when you're done. Once they're rounded over, you can lay the sandpaper down flat on the workbench and, putting a finger on either end of the stick, sand it in a rolling motion at an angle to the paper, to get them even rounder... they don't have to be TOTALLY round or PERFECTLY round-- don't try that or you'll make them TOO THIN and weak... just get rid of those gnarly corners so it looks right!!

After you've got your tower legs-to-be rounded off nicely, set them aside and grab the bit-o-dowel... it'll probably be cut off at a bit of an angle and not perfectly square on one or both ends... inspect it and then holding it upright on end, sand it in circular motions against the 220 grit your holding down on the workbench... flip and repeat as needed. Don't worry about getting it 100% spot on square-- "close enough" is close enough-- just make sure you sand it FLAT and don't round the thing over... I found that doing a little sanding around the circumference of the cylinder sides all the way around, and dressing the ends slightly, really improved the appearance...

Next, grab the wrap sheet and your steel ruler, and measure out a strip 3/32 inch wide by 6 inches long. Use your sharp hobby knife to cut this strip off the edge of the wrap sheet... it's not marked, you just cut a nice, straight, perfectly even (well, as perfect as you can get it) strip off the side of the cardstock. Cut the strip into (2) two inch long strips, and (2) one inch long strips. Apply a thin layer of white glue to the backs of these strips, one at a time, and roll them around the dowel. The two inch strips go on each end, one flush with the end (the upper one) and the other recessed about 1/16 inch from the end of the dowel on the bottom end. The 2 inch strips will overlap themselves and make a double-thick ring-- this is correct. The one inch strips get wrapped around the dowel about 1/3 of the way between the top and bottom ones, evenly spaced. The 1 inch ones do not overlap themselves, but the ends basically butt together. These are the thinner mid-rings on the launch escape rocket motor. Here's what the finished product should look like, standing upright.

Next, you'll see a TINY triangle printed on the wrap sheet... CAREFULLY cut it out and glue it to some of the balsa strip you've been cutting parts out of... This will be the "former" for the tower in later steps.

Later! OL JR
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2012, 10:06 PM
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SO, after cutting out the teeny tiny triangle and grabbing some wax paper from the kitchen, I started trying to do the tower legs per the instructions. A few minutes of foul-ups and cussing soon reminded me why I hate that teeny tiny triangle, as it gave me NO END of fits when I did the "Freedom 7 Mercury Redstone" in the same scale... it finally came together well, but it was a hard journey! The instructions call for you to cut the tiny triangle from the balsa, trim the corners off to make tiny flats, and then CA glue the thing upright to a pair of the matchstick tower legs at the points, setting the thing on wax paper to dry... problem is, the CA doesn't want to dry-- it wants to soak into the wood... then you put more CA, and it STILL doesn't want to dry-- it wants to puddle on the wax paper, and if and when it DOES dry it wants to leave crusty crap all over the tower legs... Once the two legs are cured to the triangle, the thing is to be flipped over and the last leg CA'd to the remaining flattened point of the triangle, then the whole 'tripod' assembly glued to the little dowel LES tower rocket motor...

SO, after a couple failed attempts with CA and the triangle, I started looking around for an alternative. Here's what I came up with. It's not like the instructions, and it's not been "evaluated or approved by Dr. Zooch Rockets, its parent company, or any of its affiliates" so I'm just throwing this out there because it worked for me and seems easier than the "teeny-tiny triangle" method in the instructions... so proceed at yer own risk! Took me a little experimentation to arrive at a method that would work, but it makes the whole process more accurate and easier IMHO...

First, after a quick search of the supplies box, I turned up a long piece of wood dowel the same diameter as the tiny escape rocket motor made from the bit-o-doweling and paper hatbands. This forms the basis of the "jig" that we'll make to hold the legs together temporarily while we glue them to the escape rocket motor. Start by cutting a piece about 1.5 inches long off the long dowel... this is plenty long for the jig... Then roll a strip of printer paper around the spare dowel, and mark the overlap.

Remove it and measure the circumference of the dowel, which in this case was 25 millimeters... divide that by 3 (8.33 mm) and measure out and mark the paper strip for three evenly spaced tower legs. Re-wrap the paper around the spare dowel, and mark the leg placement marks onto the dowel.

I used a foot of brass angle I picked up at the hobby shop for marking lines down the length of very small tubes (and dowels) and made the lines go the length of the doweling.

Next, using a small hobby file (or 220 grit folded in half if you don't have a small hobby file) sand a notch into the wood dowel at a slight angle, about 1/16 inch deep or so, tapering back to the surface of the dowel about halfway back... these notches allow the tower leg "matchsticks" to drop down into the jig dowel a bit, which serves two purposes: 1) it helps keep them aligned properly and evenly spaced in an equilateral triangle pattern, and 2) it points them slightly inward at the top ends, which allows them slightly clamp the back end of the escape rocket motor piece when we glue it together, ensuring everything stays put and gets a good, straight, solid bond.

Next, we measure each of the tower leg matchsticks and mark them at precisely 1 centimeter in length-- you can use any measurement, so long as they are ALL IDENTICAL... 1 cm works very well though.

More to come! OL JR
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2012, 10:10 PM
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Next, we'll apply a strip of gift wrapping tape to the tower legs, one by one... stay behind the 1 centimeter mark on the leg-- the legs will overhang the end of the jig by 1 centimeter. It's also helpful to give a couple or three wraps of transparent tape around the dowel about where the ends of the tower legs will contact the jig... this helps "shim them up" a bit so they ride down into the grooves we sanded into the jig earlier...

Now, take the legs with the strip of tape, press them gently into the slots in the jig, and MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALL EXACTLY 1 CENTIMETER from the leg ends to the jig dowel end... this will ensure that the legs are all at the same level, and therefore the escape rocket motor will be glued on straight.

Now, apply some wood glue to the ends of the legs, and to the escape rocket motor, and put it together. A quick check of "Rockets of the World" shows that one leg of the escape tower aligns with the window in the capsule, so with a little checking, you can align the seams of the escape rocket motor hatband so that they align with the seams in the capsule wraps so they are all "on the back" of the rocket and out of sight... Once the first layer of glue has dried, go ahead and 'fillet' the joints again and spread the glue around a bit... it's such a TINY amount of glue that a little extra strength never hurts... and of course it'll shrink down quite a bit as it dries...

The three hair-thin wires in the LES kitbag are clamped in hemostats and painted with Testor's Flat Red in preparation for their use in the build. Set them aside to dry.

Here's the dry tower legs, ready to cut the tape and free them from the jig, its job is now done... the clear tape cuts easily with the hobby knife and a little gentle work removes the tape from the legs, freeing the tower so it's ready to glue on the capsule...

Later! OL JR
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2012, 10:14 PM
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Here's the completed tower rocket motor and legs removed from the jig dowel... we'll get back to this part of the build in a minute...

Next, while the glue is drying on the tower legs, we can get the ribbed mylar from the kit to do the corrugated band around the booster section of the Atlas...

We cut two pieces from it 1-1/8 inches "tall" by the distance around the circumference of the main BT-60 body tube, between the two booster engine fairings on the sides of the rocket... the wrap has to be custom fitted for each side, holding the mylar in place and gently 'creasing' it with a fingernail or pencil to give a cutting line. Remove the mylar and cut it to the proper circumference, test fit it, and then cut the proper "slant" into it to make it trapezoidal shape, since the fairings are slightly conical...

Next apply a decent layer of white glue to the area where the corrugated mylar wraps will go, and put them in place, ensuring they're positioned properly... clean up any excess glue and make sure the wraps are firmly seated against the tube (but don't crush them!)

While the wraps dry on the booster, we can go back to work on the tower... Now, the instructions call for CA... I don't have much luck with CA and the stuff has a lot of drawbacks, ESPECIALLY because it tends to make paper transparent and do nasty things, which is NOT what you want to happen to your beautiful new Friendship 7 capsule! SO, I elected to use double-glue joints using white glue, since the wood is being bonded to the paper "antenna canister" on top of the capsule... Apply a thin, fairly broad (considering the size of the spot you're gluing is about maybe 1/8 inch in diameter!) spot on the antenna canister... put three of these glue spots on the canister evenly spaced around the canister... there are little red 'hash marks' to assist you in placing the tower legs on the antenna can, but of course I didn't think about them aligning the leg with the window (as on the real Mercury escape tower) when I glued the antenna can onto the capsule-- I instead focused on lining all the seams up so they're "on back" out of sight... No biggie-- the marks are off by half, so I just colored over them with a pencil to hide them (which is what you use to color all the exposed paper edges of the capsule build anyway) and then put the glue spots evenly spaced between them... Then I applied and spread a miniscule dob of glue to each tower leg, and let it dry... make sure it's evenly spread, and when it thickens up, invert the tower with the legs up in the air, so the glue "sags" toward the rocket motor just a tiny bit-- this will make a tighter fit since the antenna can is actually conical in shape and not cylindrical... Once this first part of the double-glue joint is dry, apply a second THIN layer of glue to the legs, and then carefully install the tower legs on the capsule... BE SURE you "clock" the tower properly with one leg aligned with the window, and that the seams on the motor can should align roughly with the capsule wrap seams and be hidden if you put everything together right... Keep the tower leg ends up about halfway up the sides of the antenna can, or perhaps just a touch less... DO NOT push the tower down until the legs are against the top of the capsule itself! (We'll install small inverted "V" leg ends in this spot later!) The double-glue joints REALLY help you with this step, because basically you can press the tower legs against the antenna can and hold them for about 30 seconds, and the tower will stay put... Turn the capsule slowly between your fingers with it resting on the tabletop, while watching the top of the tower-- it shouldn't wobble or look crooked... the glue is still soft enough for some gentle alignment. Once you're satisfied that it's straight, set it aside to dry. If you REALLY want precise alignment of the tower, once the glue had dried about five minutes, put the capsule in a piece of scrap BT-50 and roll it on the table-- any tower misalignment will be readily visible, and more 'gentle persuasion' can usually coax the tower into near-perfect alignment... (something you cannot do with CA once it 'locks up')...

Later! OL JR
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  #16  
Old 01-09-2012, 10:17 PM
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While the glue is drying on the tower, cut the three LES rocket nozzles from the wrap sheet, pre-curl them around the tip of a ballpoint pen, and then with a tiny daub of white glue, glue them up and clamp them to dry with smooth-jawed hemostats...

Once dry, remove the hemostats and roll the nozzles over the tip of a ballpoint pen to round them out nicely and set them aside...

Next cut the capsule top/tower base ring from the wrap sheet and gently pre-curl it over a sharpie, apply a tiny dot of white glue to the end, and glue it up, clamp it and set it aside to dry. It's probably easiest to color the back with a pencil before gluing it up to darken the underside so it's not so visible when glued to the top of the capsule, but I did it after it was dry-- either way works with sufficient care...

Round over the end of the oxygen line to emulate the bend going into the rocket body... flatten the other end on sandpaper. I cut mine a bit to a closer scale length (4-3/8 inch roughly) and once I was satisfied with the rounded end, set it aside for later...

Next, we cut the vernier nozzle mounts... These are sorta 'diamond shaped' protrusions centered between the booster engine fairings on the "front" and "back" of the rocket, just above the corrugated booster section... I preferred to cut them out of basswood since it whittles more smoothly and is much less noticeable grain... cut two 'blanks' a half inch long by 3/8 inch wide, then trim them down to the tiny "Dracula's coffin" shape as shown, then gently whittle them down with the hobby knife to make the elongated diamond shape. Set them aside for later...

Later! OL JR
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  #17  
Old 01-09-2012, 10:21 PM
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Here's the vernier mount on the "front" of the rocket-- beside the double-glue joint for the LOX line...

Here's the vernier on the 'back' of the rocket...

There's a short cable tunnel running from the 'back' vernier... made from a strip of cardstock cut from the edge of the wrap sheet...

There's a much longer cable tunnel that runs from the vernier on the 'front' of the rocket, so long in fact it continues up the conical forward section of the LOX tank (the balsa transition). Here's the section glued down to the rocket body tube itself...

Finally I installed the LOX line... the rounded end goes forward, and the flat end should be about halfway between the bottom of the corrugated booster section ending about halfway down the smooth section below it, but above the bottom of the rocket (in scale it should be about 27 inches or so below the bottom of the corrugations).

More later, but it'll probably be tomorrow night at the earliest... gotta check cows tomorrow!

Later! OL JR
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  #18  
Old 01-11-2012, 05:01 PM
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SO, back to work...

The next thing up is the capsule adapter... it's a slightly tapered (5 inches IRL) section that connects the top of the Atlas booster's conical upper LOX tank end to the Mercury capsule above it. It's made in the kit out of a short piece of BT-50 body tube, with some additions. From the wrap sheet, you'll find a long thin reddish stripe between the capsule wraps and the rest of the stuff on the sheet... using a straightedge and sharp hobby knife, cut this strip out. Apply a thin layer of white glue to the back of it, and wind it around the end of the tube, flush with the end, overlapping itself about three times or so... this will build up the "mating clamp ring" that connects the capsule to the adapter section. Next, using some of the leftover corrugated mylar used to make the corrugated booster section on the bottom of the rocket, cut a strip to size and test fit it on the adapter section. When you have a good fit, apply a decent layer of white glue to the outside of the adapter section and then carefully apply the corrugated mylar wrap. This re-creates the ribbed appearance of the actual adapter section... (historical note-- on one of the early unmanned Mercury-Atlas test flights, the rocket mysteriously blew up at max-Q... after a review it was discovered that this adapter section was not strong enough, and it collapsed in flight, allowing the capsule to impact the top of the LOX tank hard enough to rupture the "steel balloon" construction of the Atlas. The adapter section was strengthened and the problem was solved.)

Here's the conical upper LOX tank of the Atlas (balsa transition), the adapter section we just built, the Mercury capsule, and the still rather bare tower, test fitted together... starting to look like a Mercury Atlas!

Next, we cut a strip of balsa off the side of the balsa stock from the kit... it's basically a 3/32 inch wide strip (same as the thickness of the sheet) several inches long. (Thankfully I have a handy-dandy little "balsa stripper" tool that I picked up at the hobby shop-- it has and adjustable X-acto blade on the end of an adjustment arm controlled by a screw, and a fence that you simply slide along the edge of the balsa sheet, cutting a perfect strip- If you don't have this handy toy, you'll have to do it manually with a straightedge and carefully using your hobby knife). You have to CAREFULLY round this balsa strip into a "U" shape (rounded on top) to simulate the line fairing extending from the booster fairing to the adapter section below the capsule. This is fairly difficult to do, because of the softness and brittleness of the balsa and it being such a thin, slender piece. I found I couldn't reliably simply round the thing over on one side, since it tended to get uneven on me... so I simply "roll-sanded" it until it was basically ROUND... not exactly what you want, but you can always drag it across the balsa a time or two to flatten the bottom out enough to glue it to the Atlas... I'm sure some of yall can do this better than I can! Once you have your line fairing, take the Atlas, and carefully cut the point off the tip of the LONG (right hand) fairing... then using white glue, glue the strip vertically up the side of the rocket. Cut it off flush with the end of the tube.

Once it's dry and no danger of gluing the transition to the main body tube, install the balsa transition onto the top of the Atlas. Glue the next strip of line fairing up the side of the transition, keeping it perfectly vertical and inline with the fairing on the body tube. There's also a cable cover that's glued from the vernier fairing centered between the booster engine fairings, on the "front" side of the Atlas, that runs to the forward end of the tube. Go ahead and glue the remainder of the strip so that it extends up about 3/4 of the length of the transition. Ensure it's straight and in line with the rest of the fairing, and that the balsa fairing you just glued on it properly 'clocked' with it's other half on the body tube, and then apply a layer of white glue to the back of the paper strip and glue it to the transition.

Now it's time to start the HARD STUFF... LOL THE TOWER!!!
The tower legs should be securely bonded to the antenna can, and the escape rocket motor can above. Grab the red painted hair-thin wires, some nail clippers, and some tweezers or smooth jawed hemostats, and apply a big drop of yellow glue to some paper to dip the end of the wires into. Lay the wire across the tower about 1/3 of the way up, ensure it's the width of the legs, find the spot to snip it off, and then carefully snip a bit of wire off with the nail clippers. Make sure it can drop down onto the work surface and not get lost... grab it with tweezers or hemostat and dip the ends into the drop of glue and swish them around a bit to pick up a drop of glue, then carefully apply it to the tower legs. Ensure that the placement is about 1/3 the way up the tower, and that it's as close to level as you can reasonably get it. Repeat for the other cross-piece, then cut the angled pieces in the same manner and glue them all down. Using a toothpick, apply a tiny bit of wood glue over the ends of each and wet it out onto the tower leg sticks a bit to ensure a good bond. Here's the first side of the tower...

Later! OL JR
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  #19  
Old 01-12-2012, 11:02 PM
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SO, FINALLY, back at it again...

First off, we can now test fit the spacecraft adapter to the top of the conical LOX tank transition... Looks cool don't it! We glue the last tiny strip of tiny rounded over "U" shaped balsa cable fairing to the spacecraft adapter in line with the rest of the fairing on the transition... The end should be rounded over a bit.

Next we have the tower lattice pretty well finished on the first two sides... Now for the last side...

Now for the FlameFin tubes... this is "the last remaining tube in the box"-- a T-3 (smaller than the BT-5 "engine spoof tubes" they slide into). We bisect it into two equal halves, glue the centering rings on properly spaced per the instructions, and then using a handy small brass angle, put fin lines down the length of the tube, spaced 90 degrees apart... yes, the FlameFins use THREE fins spaced 90 degrees apart, like a FOUR FINNED rocket would, with one fin missing... I've seen some done with the three fins equally spaced and it looks weird, plus it probably makes the fins less effective by putting them into more 'disturbed air' in the wake of the rocket. I've even seen someone glue FOUR fins on each FlameFin unit and then wonder why the ones under the motor mount burned off... "is that SUPPOSED to happen??"

Next the tower, having gotten all three sides completed, get the tiny inverted "V" struts at the base of the tower legs, extending down to the top of the capsule... Do them one leg at a time and allow them to dry... it's hard enough getting the pair lined up and set... trying to do all the legs at once is asking to knock the previous pair all out of whack while you're working on the next ones...

While the glue is drying on the leg struts, it's back to the FlameFins... Here you can see the fins all lined up in the egg cup "clamps" with the first layer of glue applied to the root edges, drying down, with the FlameFin tubes in the background, held in spring clothespins (another tool that's EXTREMELY handy to have!) with the lines of glue applied to the fin lines, all set up to dry.

More later! OL JR
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:08 PM
luke strawwalker's Avatar
luke strawwalker luke strawwalker is offline
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Next up, we glue the finished capsule tower fairing ring around the top of the capsule just below the tower struts... be sure you install it NOW, BEFORE you do the LES rocket motor nozzles on the top of the tower, or it'll never fit! Apply a tiny bead of white glue around the top of the capsule with a bamboo skewer and then gently massage the fairing ring in place... make sure it's even with the top of the capsule all the way around, and align the seam in it with the seams of the capsule wrap for a neater build... Once it's dry, you can go over any "bright spots" where the white paper is showing through at the edges with a pencil, which will darken them right up and hide them very effectively...

Once the first layer of glue on the fins' root edges are mostly dry, and on the tubes, grab each fin one by one, put a THIN layer of yellow wood glue on each one over the first layer, spread it evenly, and then carefully align it with the fin line on the tube, (I start at the front, and then pivot the fin down into position on the line, ensuring proper alignment). Hold the fin firmly against the tube for about 15 seconds or so (30 seconds if you used a thicker layer of glue or the first layer of glue was still pretty damp and tacky). Check the alignment as you hold it, to ensure that the fin is straight on the line, and that it's 90 degrees to the tube centerline. Presto, the fins will be locked in place, and you're ready to do the next one... I do opposing pairs, and clamp a scrap piece of balsa to the trailing edges with clothespins to ensure that they stay perfectly straight and aligned to each other while the glue dries for a few minutes. Also, you can go ahead and apply a THIN line of wood glue to the fillet areas and smooth it down with your finger-- this will spread any glue droplets squeezed out from under the fin and make a thin structural fillet at the same time, and fill any voids where the glue might not have completely filled the gap, all at the same time. Basically by the time you get one set of fins done on the second FlameFin unit, you can switch back to the first one and remove the balsa strip and clothespins, and glue the upright fin on in the same manner-- now you can 'eyeball' the vertical alignment with good precision-- hold it 15-30 seconds, and presto it's done... apply the minifillets and smooth them down, and set it aside to dry. Go ahead and finish the second fin unit in an identical manner. I don't bother sanding, filling, or airfoiling FlameFins... the purpose is for them to look a little "textured" with the color applied... since they're not "really" supposed to be there, and I have yet to see fire from the rocket look sanded, filled, or airfoiled... LOL

Next, the launch lug... You won't find any mention of it in the instructions, but you'll need one, because tower-launching an Atlas would be pretty problematical methinks... plus it's just easier to put one on now rather than wait until you've done the complete paint job and have it ready to go, loaded up, walk out to the pad, and start to slide it down the launch rod and go "OH, S#!T!!!"... Don't blame me for this one slipping by the instructions-- I didn't beta-build this one! LOL The disclaimer says not to write the company griping about it, because Dr. Zooch has already printed a bazillion copies and it's already too late... Oh well, it'll be our little secret... LOL SO, take your REAL last remaining tube (small as it is it's still a tube) and glue it on the 'back' of the rocket out of sight... Now, if you've been "clocking" all your seams to be on the 'backside' of the rocket out of sight for a nicer cleaner looking build, then putting the launch lug in line with them just makes sense. Of course, there's a slight complication... A quick check of "Rockets of the World" shows the window on the Friendship 7 (and all the Mercury capsules with windows that flew on Atlas) aligned with the long booster engine fairing on the "right side" of the booster rocket. That puts the seams almost 180 degrees around near the small side fairing, off center a bit toward the 'back' of the rocket somewhat, but too close to the fairing to actually put the launch lug there. After a quick check, the best looking spot to put the lug is basically directly opposite the LOX line on the "front" of the rocket... about halfway between the short booster engine fairing and the vernier engine fairing (the Dracula coffin) which is glued on the centerline of the rocket directly 90 degrees between the two booster engine fairings... this puts the lugs on the 'back' of the rocket, out of sight, and makes them look somewhat like they "belong" on the rocket since they're opposite the LOX line fairing... or so my theory goes... that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! LOL SO, I gave the lug my standard treatment, cut it in half at a 45 degree angle, then trim the opposite ends so they're at a slight angle too, which does two things: 1) it really cuts drag from the launch lug, and 2) it really looks cool, and makes the lug look more like it "belongs there" instead of uglyfying everything up with a honkin' square-ended tube glued on the side... Again draw a vertical line on the rocket with your handy aluminum angle, and then glue the halves of the lug on the rocket where they look best, since there's no specific instructions to say otherwise... I put the bottom one just ahead of the mylar wrap on the bottom of the rocket, and the upper one about halfway to the top of the tube from the bottom one (which puts it about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way from the bottom). Turns out after a quick check I did my Zooch Atlas Agena the exact same way! How's that for consistency!!!

Next I worked on rounding the little LES escape rocket nozzles a bit by working them over the end of an ink pen... I decided to stiffen them up a bit by adding some white glue to the interior of them and allowing it to dry... to hold them, I grabbed an egg carton and poked holes in the bottom of the egg cups with a bamboo skewer I use to apply tiny amounts of glue (like on the tower legs) and then inserted the nozzles open end up into the holes, and put a drop of white glue in each one, and worked the glue around to the nozzle walls and the bottom of the nozzle itself with the pointy tip of the bamboo skewer... works like a champ... if there's too much glue in the nozzle, you can always "dipper" it out by wiping off the bamboo skewer tip, and sticking it back in and swishing it around, picking up more glue... do that a few times and you'll have a fairly thin layer in there-- enough to toughen the nozzles up a bit but not so much they end up full of glue... with them pointy-end down, the excess glue will run to the tip, helping strengthen it a bit, since you'll trim it down later and glue it to the escape motor can...

SO, after painting the capsule adapter black with Testor's bottle Flat Black paint, and trimming the aerospike down to a more realistic size and gluing it on with a daub of yellow wood glue, and following that up a bit later with a mini-fillet of yellow wood glue applied by the tip of the bamboo skewer all the way around, letting that dry, then meticulously painting the tower red from top to bottom (meticulous because you have to keep the red paint off the capsule's antenna canister that the tower is glued to, and paint the backsides of the legs, and the tiny inverted "V" struts at the bottom that mate up to the top of the capsule!) ANYWAY, time for test fit... see how the capsule window is aligned with the cable fairing running down the capsule adapter and conical LOX tank transition...

More later! OL JR
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