The Estes Interceptor has got to be one of the top designs that Estes have put out. As a kid and to this day I love it's sleekness and it often reminds me of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (my all time favorite Jet plane).
A while back I decided to clone this wonderful rocket kit. This was before Estes came out with their new release of this classic kit.
Before I start I'd like to thank Mike Schmidt from Moldin' Oldies for the great casting parts!
Also thanks to David aka "Scigs30" for providing me the balsa templates and original centering rings and marking guide (TA-50). Much appreciated!
Decals are from Excelsior Rocketry. They rock!
All items except the plastic parts, decals and the balsa sheet are made by Estes.
First thing was to prepare building the engine mount. I did a small modification by adding struts inside the engine mount to add strength and to keep the engine hook in place.
While waiting for the struts to dry I marked the body tube (step 4). Afterwards I checked the symmetry by marking one side and then turning the marking guide around to check the other side. Markings were perfect.
Here the completed engine mount (step 3) ready for installation into the body tube.
Engine mount glued into the body tube (step 6).
By using David's templates I cut out all the balsa parts from a 1/8" balsa sheet. I then sanded all parts to an airfoil shape as recommended in the Estes instructions. Only exception were the ventral fins. I made 100% sure that all parts turn out symmetrically.
I then prepared to glue the main wings to the body tube. I used some tiles so that I could easily slide the fins against the body tube. This made for straight aligned fins.
After the glue set I added 2 more glue fillets which I do to every rocket kit I build.
Now the ventral fins were in line (step 8). I only sanded the edges round instead of giving them an airfoil shape.
Tip: Use some thin liquid CA glue the strengthen the tips because the rocket will often sit on the fins. This should protect a little from possible dings in the balsa.
Below are the completed rudder fins ready to be glued to the body tube. As with all balsa parts I build, these are completely symmetrical and turned out great, me thinks.
I then proceeded in gluing the rudder fins to the body tube, again giving the joints 3 glue fillets.
Here the complete assembly ready for wood sealer.
Now came the tough part, gluing the pods to the main wings. First I made a jig to hold the pod in place. I used plastic cement glue to attach the pods to the end of the wings. After all was dry I gave the assembly a glue fillet using 5 min epoxy glue.
After the epoxy was hard I proceeded to sand the fillets. Here some pictures of the final assembly:
I was very satisfied with the result. After taking the above pictures I headed back to the house holding the rocket in one hand and the camera in the other. Then it happened, I dropped the rocket. It came down hard on the concrete pavement, bouncing around with both pods braking off. I was angry at myself to say the least.
I decided to strengthen the joint by using toothpicks to hold the pod more securely. 2 holes were drilled in the wing and the toothpicks glued in place. The pods got 2 holes accordingly.
The picture shows the toothpicks in place and holding the pod before final assembly.
The pods are attached to the wings with 2 compound epoxy glue. This time around the assembly will hold a lot better than on my first try.
It is now May 2011 and time to finish this project!
A couple of weeks ago I had to fix one of the pods. It was "L" shaped when I got it from Moldin' Oldies. What I had done back in 2008 was to use a hair dyer to soften the plastic.
That worked great but after several weeks the pod would return to it's original shape. I did this several times but to no avail.
I then decided to cut the pod in half and sand it so it would go on straight. I epoxied a small coupler in one end and then glued it to the other pod half.
Then I gave the whole rocket the paint workout by first priming it, sanding, priming, sanding ....
After that was completed it got a coat of flat white and then a coat of glossy white.
Today May 29, 2011 I applied the decals.
The "Deutschceptor" is a set of decals I got from Excelsior Rocketry to beta test and are designed to fit the Estes series Interceptor kit.
It took me a whopping 8 1/2 hours to cut out and apply the decals to the rocket! It was grueling but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Here are some detailed pictures taken in the evening:
I hope you like it as much as I do.