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rec.models.rockets FAQ Part 04 - Born Again Rocketeers

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Archive-name: model-rockets/BAR
Rec-models-rockets-archive-name: rockets-faq/part04
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1998 December 29

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Rec.Models.Rockets Frequently Asked Questions: PART 4 OF 14

4.1   What the heck is a 'Born Again Rocketeer'?

    A Born Again Rocketeer (BAR) is a person who started out in model 
    rocketry in their 'younger' days, dropped out of the hobby for some 
    number of years, and then came to their senses and got back into it. 
    BARs are noted for re-entering the hobby with extreme enthusiasm and 
    much deeper pockets than they had during their first encounter with 
    the hobby. Actually, the length of time spent away from the hobby is not as
    important as the extreme enthusiasm that BARs have when getting back into
    rocketry.  It's like, we have to make up for lost time or something.
    The editor of this FAQ is a BAR (and proud of it  :-). 
    Paul Wolaver <> wrote this BAR observation:
      Be prepared for the BAR phenomenon.  Open your wallet.  Write off your
      weekends.  Set aside a room in your house to build rockets.
      Buy epoxy.
    An informal survey of 49 Born-Again Rocketeers on r.m.r. yielded the
    following information:
       - average number of years away from the hobby - 18.6
       - Why did you get back into rocketry?
         The answers varied greatly, but these three were at the top:
              1.  Involvement with children (33%)
              2.  'discovered' rec.models.rockets (12%)
              3.  wanted to get into HPR after seeing how much the hobby has
                   changed. (8%)
       - current 'mode' of flying rockets
              1.  model rocketry (49%)
              2.  high power (20%)
              3.  high power 'lite' (10%)
       - what did you fly first?
            Seems like everyone did something different.  Estes kits were the 
            overwhelming majority, with the Big Bertha, Alpha, Alpha III, and
            Phoenix all being mentioned more than once or twice.
       - what were your old favorites, way back when?
            Again, everyone liked something different, and everyone had more
            than one single favorite kit.  Estes kits figured prominently in  
            the memories of the surveyed.  The Big Bertha, Mars Lander, and
            Orbital Transport kits were most popular.  A few folks were Centuri
            fans, with the Orion kit getting the most votes (2).  A few
            eschewed the kit scene completely, and someone recalled fond
            memories of building ZnS rockets.
4.2    I have been out of model rockets for many (i.e. <nn>+) years now.
          What been happening in the hobby over the past couple of decades?
          What's new? What's gone?

4.2.1    Who's Left, Who's Not & Who's New

    To sum it up...

    Gone:              Centuri/Enerjet
                       Rocket Development Corporation
                       Space Age Industries
                       MPC rocket kits
                       'S' Series (short) 18mm motors
                       Competition Model Rockets (CMR)
                       AVI motors
                       Flight Systems

    Still here:        National Association of Rocketry (NAR)

    New:               High Power Rocketry, with *BIG* rockets
                       Tripoli Rocketry Association
                       MANY new companies
                       Composite rocket motors are commonplace
                       Reloadable solid rocket motors
                       Hybrid rocket motors
                       Phenolic and fiberglass rocket components
                       Electronic altimeters, flight computers,....
                       Much improved rocketry simulation software
                       And a whole lot more.....

    Basically, it's all pretty much the same, or totally different,
    depending on your interests.  Estes is still Estes.  Most of their kits
    are still the same materials, etc.  The trend for the last 10 years has
    been for Estes to sell simpler and simpler kits.  There are lots of
    plastic nose cones and fin units (already around when you were active
    before).  There are now kits with pre-slotted body tubes and plastic
    fins (as in the Estes E2X series).  Lot's of good stuff for beginners
    and kids.  Estes now makes engines in the 1/2A - D range, all black
    powder. Estes has some Large Model Rocket offerings ready, as well.
    Read below for details.

    Flight Systems (FSI), another motor and kit manufacturer that got its 
    start in the late 60's, was reported in 1995 to have ceased its 
    model rocketry operations. They restarted production in 1996, but 
    within less than a year, Flight Systems appears to be no longer in

    Centuri, sadly, 'went away' in 1980.  Damon Industries bought both Estes
    and Centuri in the 1970's.  They operated both companies as independent
    units for several years.  Finally, Centuri was dissolved and its products
    absorbed into Estes.  Every now and then an old Centuri kit surfaces
    under the Estes banner. An interesting piece of trivia is that the tax
    and incorporation laws were more favorable in Arizona (home of Centuri)
    than Colorado (home of Estes). So, Damon, on paper, had Centuri acquire
    Estes, even though it was Centuri's operations that were eventually shut
    down. Damon sold off Estes to a group of investors in the early 90's.

    Now for 'who is new'.  First, in model rocketry there is a new kid
    on the block: Quest.  This is Bill Stine, some ex-Centuri people
    and others.  They are a direct competitor to Estes.  They have a line
    of kits and engines (A-C).  Good quality.  Less expensive than Estes.
    There are many other smaller companies making and selling model rocket
    kits.  See Part 02 of the FAQ for addresses.  Custom Rockets is another
    company with rocket kits similar to those offered by Estes and Quest.
    Custom offers quality paper tube/balsa finned kits in the A-D power

    Aerotech, LOC/Precision, Rocket R&D, Public Missiles, and North Coast
    Rocketry are some new names in the business.  These companies cater to both
    larger model rocket and high power rocket markets.  Estes bought manufacturing 
    rights to all NCR products in 1995. Estes has announced a line of F/G 
    rockets (based on NCR designs) to be released in 1996. Estes
    may also release a small line of F and G composite motors by 1997. A
    newer outfit, Rocket R&D, bought out THOY and another smaller HPR
    manufacturer, Cluster R.
    Aerotech manufactures both single-use and reloadable composite rocket
    motors ranging from C to M total impulse classes.  They also offer a few
    kits designed for E to G engines.

    A couple of outfits make kits using newer technology materials, including 
    phenolics, fiberglass, and composites.  These include Public Missiles (PML),
    Rocketman and Dynacom. Be prepared to pay more dollars for the more 
    advanced materials. A $60-75, 4" diameter, heavy paper tube based kit,
    such as manufactured by LOC, might cost $100-125 in a phenolic based
    kit, such as produced by PML. A Dynacom fiberglass kit of the same
    size might cost closer to $350.

    If you were into rocketry in the early 1980's then you probably remember
    AAA Model Aviation Fuels.  They're still here, with a line of HPR and
    Large Model Rocket kits.

    If you were into competing you might have been familiar with Competition
    Model Rockets (CMR).  They are now defunct but there are constant rumors
    of a rebirth 'sometime in the near future'.  Other companies have stepped
    in to fill the space left by the exit of CMR.  See the section
    'Competition' for some names and addresses.  Three new companies are
    Apogee Components, Qualified Competition Rockets, and Eclipse Components.
    Apogee was started by long-time rocketeer Ed LaCroix. QCR was started by 
    another long-time rocketeer, Kenneth Brown. Ed has now joined the Aerotech 
    team and Apogee is now run by Timothy Van Milligan.  A new company, 
    Eclipse Components, has picked up some of the Apogee Components line, except 
    for the motors.  Apogee is still selling those, as well as a new line of kits.
    Pratt Hobbies has picked up some of the old CMR product line, and has already
    made the CMR egg capsules and nose cones available again.

    A lot of the 'neat' Estes kits of the 60's and 70's are no longer
    available.  However, Estes is bringing them back (one by one) in so-
    called, 'limited run collector series'.  The original 'Mars Snooper' and
    'Maxi Honest John' kits have been re-issued, so far, along with the 
    Star Trek and Star Wars kits.  More releases are supposed to be 
    forthcoming.  WARNING:  Be prepared to pay a much higher
    price for these re-released kits.  Remember that inflation has led to
    some items having much higher prices now than in the mid 60's and 70's.  No
    doubt Estes will take advantage of the demand for the re-released kits,
    as well, and charge an additional premium.

4.2.2   Changes in Motor Technology

    The big changes have come in motors.  Expendable composite fuel motors
    are now available in B-G range for model rockets. These motors
    use ammonium perchlorate for oxidizer and rubber as the fuel, similar to 
    the rocket boosters on the space shuttle, allowing them to pack two to 
    three times the power in the same space as a black powder motor. The B
    motors from Apogee are the same size as Estes mini-motors (13x45mm).  
    The C motors (also from Apogee) are 18x50mm, while the D motors are the same
    size as Estes A-C motors (18x70mm).  The D is a full D (rated at 20 
    Newton-seconds versus the Estes 24x70mm D of about 17 N-s).  E motors range 
    in size from 18x70mm to 29x124mm.  All of the motors give Estes kits an incredible
    ride, if the models hold together.  These kits require stronger construction 
    methods and materials than typical model rockets. Put an Aerotech D21  
    in your old Big Bertha at your own risk!!  You're might end up with a 
    model with no fins (i.e., a complete 'shred').

    Another new trend is 'reloadable' motor technology.  With reloadables
    you have a metal motor casing that you manually reload with solid fuel
    pellets, delay and ejection charge for each flight.  The casing is
    reusable.  Reloadable motors are available in everything from 18x70 mm
    (with D - E power), 24x70mm, (with D - F power), 29mm, 38mm, and much
    larger.  Again, you can get all the way up to 40,000+ Newton-seconds of
    total impulse.

    The latest technology to hit the High Power rocket scene is the hybrid 
    rocket motor. Hybrid motors use components from both liquid and solid
    ful rocket motors. Two companies have currently certified hybrid motors
    with Tripoli, Aerotech and Hypertek. The advantage of hybrid motors is
    that they use totally inert fuel grains, such as a cast polymer plastic
    or compressed paper pulp, which do not have any DOT or ATF restrictions.
    With both motors, nitrous oxide is used for the oxidizer.
4.2.3   Competition

    One notable difference between the time I left the hobby (late 1970s) and
    today is that competition rocketry is not as popular as it once was.  It
    used to be that one would see 30 or more people at an NAR regional, but
    today it sometimes seems like you are lucky if you get enough people to show
    up.  Because I got back in to the hobby to fly competition, I am concerned
    about the apparent loss of interest in competition rocketry.
    Still, competition is NOT dead, no way.  Yearly NARAMs are still held,
    and are well-attended.  About half of the NAR sections still host meets,
    or have members that fly competition.  The rest fly sport and/or high power
    rocketry only.

4.2.3   High Power Rocketry

    Now there is also HIGH power rocketry (HPR).  These are rockets with
    motors up to type O (with greater than 40,000 Newton seconds of impulse).
    There has been a lot of discussion about high power recently.  You have to
    be a member of either the NAR or Tripoli to fly rockets with H motors or
    above.  To fly with H or above both organizations require that you be
    'certified' by safely demonstrating a successful flight with a high power
    model in the presence of one or more 'qualified' members of the
    organization.  There is now a HPR safety code as well as the original
    model rocketry safety code.  There are expendable and reloadable
    (discussed below) HPR motors available.  They are increasingly
    expensive as the power goes up ( $13 for a G up to hundreds of dollars
    for a really big (O) motor).  High power rockets start where model
    rockets leave off (i.e., > 1500 grams).  High power models weighing
    more than 50 pounds are not uncommon. The record weight for a high 
    power flight is over 1000 pounds.

    Oh, yes, HPR requires a duly authorized, signed-in-blood (in triplicate,
    etc.) FAA waiver for each day you wish to fly.  It is ILLEGAL to fly
    high power rockets without a proper waiver. See Part 10 of this FAQ for more
    information on FAA waivers.

    You will also need to get a Federal Low Explosives Users Permit from the 
    BATF.  More on this below, and a lot more in Part 1 of this FAQ.

4.2.4   Electronics Advancements

    Advances in electronics technology have created many opportunities for
    new ideas in consumer rocketry.  Electronic ignition of upper stages of
    multi-staged rockets is now common.  Several altimeters more recording
    maximum altitude are available.  Electronic deployment of recovery
    devices, as well as deployment based on altitude, is now practical.
    The FAQ section on High Power Rocketry has more to say about this.
    See Part 02 of this FAQ for addresses of some companies selling
    rocketry electronics.

4.2.5   Regulations, Regulations, Regulations

    There is some good news and some bad news concerning rules and
    regulations relating to consumer rocketry.  On the positive side, you
    can now buy up to G power motors in most states.  Also, some states, such
    as New Jersey, have recently relaxed restrictions on model rockets.
    California still has some of the most restrictive regulations in the country.
    The BATF and DOT have both become quite interested in high power rocketry and
    have begun enforcing shipping and explosives regulations. Read the current
    regulatory summary in Part 1 of this FAQ.
4.3   Are my old rocket kits worth anything today?

    With all of the BARs coming back into rocketry, many wanting to rebuild
    their favorite kits from the days of their youth, models rockets
    have become 'collectable'. In fact, the demand for some classic kits has 
    gotten quite high. The explosive growth of the internet has helped 
    fuel several recent 'classic kit' auctions. Model rocket kits from the
    late 60's and early 70's can still be found, but be prepared to pay 
    quite a premium. It isn't unusual to see what was a $5 kit from the early
    70's going for $50 or more in an auction. Remember the 1/70 scale Estes
    Estes Saturn 1B? It cost $11 in 1970, $15 in 1977. If you bought one 
    today at a model rocket auction, it is doubtful that $200 would get it.
    How about the Maxi Brute Pershing 1A, which sold for $17 in 1977?
    That kit, in good condition, might bring over $150 today.
    Old kits that are still in their unopened, original packaging, might be
    worth something.  Once you open the package, the value drops.  Missing or
    partially constructed pieces lower the value even further.  
    So, all you BARs with old kits up in the attic might want to think
    twice before ripping open the boxes and finally building that 
    Orbital Transport you got on your 12th birthday.

    Opinions about the collectibility of old kits varies on r.m.r.  Some frown 
    on collecting kits, and feel the rocket should be built and flown for 
    maximum enjoyment.  Some would consider building the old kit a great loss.  
    Others take a middle road, and "clone" the kit - produce a duplicate, and 
    keep the original.  Still others create scaled-up versions of old kits for 
    HPR flying fun.  Regardless of what you do with it, old kits can be a lot 
    of fun, and there is even a magazine devoted to collecting old kits 
    (see Part 2 of this FAQ under books and magazines).
    Those interested in cloning an old kit should check out JimZ's website:
    Plans for old kits not in this archive are out there, usually just for
    the asking.  Post a request  Chances are someone has plans for that 
    favorite oldie.
4.4   Where can I find plans of old kits?


     Plans of old kits are available.  The r.m.r. sunsite archive has a few
     old kit plans, and hopefully, there will be more in the future.
     Old kit plans available on the sunsite archive are:
     	Estes Avenger (2 stage model)
     	Estes Cherokee-D (first D motor kit for many)
     	Estes Cobra (3 engine cluster)
     	Estes Drifter (competition parachute duration model)
     	Estes Farside (big 3 stage model)
     	Estes Gyroc (gyro-recovery model)
     	Estes Mark  (classic model, essentially the same as a Mark II)
     	Estes Nighthawk (canard boost glider)
     	Estes Pegasus (scale-up plans)
     	Estes Ranger (3 engine cluster version of a Big Bertha)
     	Estes Scout (classic, one of Estes first models)
     	Estes Sprite (ring tail, mini-model)
     	Estes Starlight (unique design)
     	Estes Trident (old timer favorite)
     	Estes X-Ray (classic payloader)
     	Centuri Payloader II  (classic beginners kit)
     	To get to the r.m.r. plans archive, try:

   Other sources:
    Doug Holverson scanned the paper shrouds of:
        Centuri Vulcan
        Centuri X-24 Bug
        You can find them on his web site:
    Estes Mars Lander plans online:
      Richard Pitzeruse <> tells us:
        OK folks, I FINALLY got the Mars Lander plans on my webpage.  
        They are scanned in at 300 dpi, 1 bit/pixel.  They are saved as 
        tiff files (uncompressed) and then zipped into 2 different files. 
        Feed back is welcome and encouraged!
        To get directly there, point your browser at...

    List of every Estes kit ever made:
      Tom McAtee <> wrote:
        OK!  I uploaded it to Sunsite...
        The file is called ekdir.txt (for Estes Kit Directory)...
    Jim Zalewski's site:
    Estes Andromeda plans online:
      Lemeul E. Bryant <> scanned the Andromeda decal sheet:
        A scan of the Decal sheet for the Estes Andromeda is available at

        It's not best scan in the world but it is better then nothing.
        The decal sheet measures about 3 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches.
        The colors are red and white with a yellow background.

    Estes Bomarc (Citation Series) plans online:
      Ed Bertschy <> put plans for the Bomarc online:
        Complete full size templates of the Citation BOMARC wings, fins, 
        pods, ramjets, and re-engineered spine will be posted on my site 
        in .dxf and .bmp format for downloading. These measurements and plans 
        were drawn up from xeroxes of all the original parts. A color scan of 
        the decal sheet will be posted as well.  You will find them at:

Copyright (c) 1996, 1997, 1998, 199, 2000 Wolfram von Kiparski, editor. 
Refer to Part 00 for the full copyright notice. 

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