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Black Star Voyager

By Jim Hodge

Estes - Black Star Voyager {Kit} (7222) [2012-]

I've decided to do a skill level 5 kit from Estes. Apparently there must be someone at Estes that builds balsa planes who designed this very exotic rocket.

 Instructions are skimpy as always for a skill level 5 but they are complete sans tips.

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Beginning. (2013-06-08 23:33:38)

I'm not going to cover the motor mount and the J1-3 tube assembly as that is fairly straightforward. How's that for a level 5 build review? The real challenge on this baby is the fin assembly. First up is an initial coating of aero gloss filler on these sheets. This was probably premature as there are plenty of chances later to fill and seal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lower fin assembly (2013-06-08 23:46:43)

If you think you are going to put this kit together over the weekend think again. This rocket needs to be crafted and will take time and patience to complete properly. This step starts with taping the two sides of the lower fin together with a brace. TIP: Use clear scotch tape. It gives a nice snappy action to close the fins on the brace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lower fin assemly Part 2. (2013-06-08 23:54:07)

There is a middle brace for the upcoming pieces that needs to be beveled and glued in. The bevels in this kit can be very slight or absurdly extreme. Test fitting reveals which one you need. The braces here need a very slight bevel if at all.

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Lower fin assemly Part 3 (2013-06-09 00:02:12)

This step involves placing upper sides to the fin assembly and are probably crucial to the flight stabilty of this craft. While it is not specified in the instructions I employed the scotch tape procedure on these pieces as well with excellent results.

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Lower fin assemly Part 4 (2013-06-09 00:08:06)

OK all done. It looks kind of goofy but there is much sanding, filling and sealing to be done.

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Upper fin assembly (2013-06-09 00:13:39)

This step is the same as the lower fin assembly but easier. Two sides and the middle brace. Scotch tape again makes it easy.

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Sanding and filling fin assemblies (2013-06-09 00:18:12)

These fin assemblies are crazy looking. Brushed on Aero Gloss filler 3X sanded and finished with Aero Gloss sanding sealer 1X

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Sanding the fin assemblies to the tube. (2013-06-09 00:31:21)

This is where you can really screw this thing up if you are not paying attention. This step requires you to sand the fin assemblies against the body tube upon which you have taped sandpaper. (i used 220) Keep it straight.....forward and backward. Finally and most importantly check the angle of the fin when test fitting it on the tube. Measure the distance from the tube to the bottom end of the support. All three lower fins should be the same. Two of mine were 4 1/2". If they are different you are going to have problems later.

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Fin Assembly. (2013-06-09 00:47:28)

The lower and upper fins need to be mated in the next step.Yeah....too steep an angle so I resanded and got it to fit.

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Fin assembly prefinishing. (2013-06-09 00:55:31)

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The card stock fins. (2013-06-09 01:06:17)

There are 27 fins from card stock to be installed as well as the main fin assemblies. The awesome "G" part helps with alignment.

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Launch lugs (2013-06-10 18:41:09)

The kit is supplied with 3/16" launch lugs. I opted for 1/4" since this thing is kind of a monster.

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Upper body detail. (2013-06-10 20:46:21)

There are 9 strips of 1/8" balsa that needs to be cut at each end to 45 degree angle and then shaped to a point. They are then mounted on the upper body tube.

 

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Preparing the tube coupler. (2013-06-10 20:58:34)

Drilled 1/8" holes in the top of the coupler and then thought better of it as it didn't seem to let much air through. So I widened them to 3/16. Then it was glued to the upper body tube.

      

 

 

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Ready for the paint job. (2013-06-11 10:15:03)

Now the fun part begins.

Comments:

Lester Anderson (June 18, 2013)

When are you gonna start adding in that paint work pictures?

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Primer coats. (2013-06-18 23:17:40)

Get out your sanding sticks with this one. Lots of nooks and crannies. I can't imagine how much fun this would be with balsa fins instead of the 27 cardstock ones.

First some white.   Then some really dark gray.

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Ready for the top coats. (2013-06-30 00:05:14)

  No grain visible.

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Color. (2013-07-25 23:58:26)

Painted with black lacquer after the humidity finally dropped. I am going to attempt a mid-coat when the humidity drops again. 9.3 oz. right now.

 

 

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Mid coat (2013-08-03 22:41:43)

I decided to put a prism metallic mid coat clear on it because it was just begging for it. It's very subtle until the light hits it. 9.6 oz. right now

          

Comments:

Thomas R (November 11, 2013)

AWESOME build! Cool Where did you get the prism clear coat (guessing auto parts store), and what brand? Love the look! In the process of a Mini Fat Boy, B&W, (metallic black) and the prism would make the white jump perfectly with the black!

 

Jim Hodge (November 23, 2013)

These paints are looked down upon by some auto painters but for rockets they are awesome. Humidity can be real problem when applying these. It's really got to be 50% or less. I believe you can get the Duplicolor prism effect from a rattle can too if you are not set up for a paint gun. Lacquers are beautiful,slick, and very light but they are prone to cracking under stress.

Steve Lindeman (February 22, 2014)

Dupli-color Clear EFFEX paint can be purchased at Auto Zone for $9.99 a can if you don't mind using rattle cans. This has been my goto paint for about four years now for finishing all my builds. It really makes the rockets pop and is eazy to use with stunning results. I've even used it on some of my older builds to give them new life.

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Decals (2013-08-03 23:32:54)

The decals are pretty tough. I had no real problems other than truly thinking this thing out. The finish is a bit flat awaiting the final clear coats. 9.65 oz. now.

     

Comments:

Lester Anderson (October 8, 2013)

Wayyy cool. Love the "prismatic" in the black. It sets off the "Star" in the Black Star name just right.

Jim Hodge (October 12, 2013)

Thanks Lester. I'm in the process of cutting and polishing the finish now. It's been a looong trip. I hope to post pics and final comments soon.

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Final coat. Finally. (2013-11-23 01:35:15)

Applied 6 coats of clear lacquer. I then sanded and polished most of it down to a nice glossy finish. I used an acrylic floor finish on the 27 cardboard fins which not only provided a good clear but strengthened their structure.

              

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I'm so done. (2013-11-23 02:03:16)

The finish on this beast was originally an idea I had for a guitar project. I thought I would try it out on this rocket first. The finish looks very deep and it is almost impossible to photograph. The guitar will be a walk in the park now. The transition was seamless until I began wet sanding upon which both joints broke. I was testing some glues at the time I put this together and I used Loctite's Go2 glue for the transition. Well the Go2 can Go2 the round file. The Black Star Voyager is a great kit from Estes. I had my doubts but I have increased my skills to a much greater degree after doing this project. How does it fly? Heck if I know. It would be like launching a violin in some respects. I will build another in flat black and report back.

                                         

Comments:

Steve Lindeman (February 22, 2014)

Absolutly beautiful Jim. I know how hard it is to photoghaph the finish as I've had the same trouble. Never looks as good as it does in real life. Don't be afraid to fly it. I've found the paint holds up really well and that rocket will be a real attention getter at the field.

Jim Hodge (June 7, 2014)

Thanks Steve. I think I WILL launch it. Stay tuned.

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