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Contributed by Dick Stafford
I have been using a BlackSky Standard Rail for some time, mostly for mid-powered rockets. Although I used rail buttons them on a couple of modrocs, I quickly decided that they were overkill and just too costly for that application. Well, around a month ago I saw a post on r.m.r. from a fellow named Matt Stum. To promote the use of rails, he is producing, on a limited basis, nylon rail buttons that are compatible with the BlackSky rail system. The *really* good news is the price! At a quarter a piece, these buttons are now attractive for modroc applications.
Matt's buttons are composed of two washers and a spacer, and come with a zinc-plated steel screw. They come in black, white, red, and blue and the colors can be mixed and matched. I like the look of red, white, and blue buttons against the shiny surface of my Estes Mercury Atlas. The buttons' reflection on the mirror finish gives the illusion of additional tiers of washers, an effect that wasn't noticeable with a solid black color. (The attached pics show this reflection, but the look is much better in-person.) These buttons come in a plain zip lock bag with no paperwork. He provides instructions on his site and, if you have used any other rail buttons, they are pretty much self explanatory. Although the nylon is not as tough as delrin, I can't imagine this being an issue for model or mid powered rockets. They have certainly worked well for me, having used them on my Atlas and my Mean Machine. I have also installed a set of them on my Public Enemy 3" Ultra Fatboy. Hopefully, it won't be long before I give them a try on high power!
Based on their "bang-for-the-buck", I can't help but give them a rating of 5 points. Finally, I recommend you jump on these fast - who knows how long they will be available at this low a price?!? Here's the URL to Matt's site: http://www.railbuttons.com/rb/
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Since I wrote this review, Matt has expanded his product line. He added two new colors (yellow and green) to his line of nylon buttons. He also added Delrin buttons in both standard (1000 Series) and large sizes (1500 Series). The latter buttons are for the 1.5" 80/20 "1515" extrusion.
I have now added nylon buttons to many of my rockets, from low to high power, and have yet to have a problem. I also bought a few of the larger buttons to give me more flexibility on what pads I can use at the MDRA high power launches. I now commonly add both a launch lug and a set of buttons to my mid/high power rockets.
If you are interested in rails but think they are too expensive, make sure to check out his site (URL is above). He has plan for a DIY (do it yourself) 1" rail, and will be adding plans for a 1.5" rail. Oh, and is buttons are still dirt cheap, you should consider stocking up before he starts distributing through retailers and the prices jump.
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