Estes - Monarch {Kit} (2172) [2001-2004]

Contributed by Bryan Chuck

Construction Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Manufacturer: Estes

Rocket PicBrief:
The Estes Monarch is a single-staged skill level 1 rocket that uses 18mm motors, parachute recovery, and sports an unusual fin pattern. The rocket stands in a 17.25", and flies well, unique fins and all.

Construction:
The components for the Monarch are what you might expect of a skill level 1 Estes rocket: die-cut balsa fins, a section of BT50 airframe tubing, plastic nosecone, a motor mount with retaining hook, a 12" parachute, and elastic shock cord. The kit even comes with a couple of peel and stick decals.

The instructions for this kit are easy to follow, and the illustrations are clear and comprehendible. Like many skill level 1 rockets, no fancy tools are needed for this kit. I used Elmer's Carpenter's Glue for the whole assembly, with the exception of the nose, which mandated plastic cement.

You might think that 2 pieces of balsa are joined to form each fin on this rocket. From my experience, that is true, though not by design. In actuality, each fin should be one piece, but 2 of the 3 from my kit were broken across the shortest span before I even freed them from the balsa sheet. I ended up adhering the pieces back together, sandwiched the fins in wax paper and placed a college dictionary on top of them for good measure.

After the fins were repaired, I sanded them as evenly as I could. Sanding all the edges was tricky in those tough to reach narrow areas of the span. I used an emery board at one point.

The fins are surface mounted, which is fine for a rocket of this size. To ensure a better glue joint, I roughed up the airframe with 220 grit sandpaper and poked a series of holes down each line where the fin root would attach. I did this so the glue would seep inside the airframe and form "rivets." I have found this technique works well for surfaced mounted fins.

The last heads-up for the construction of this rocket is the shock cord. The mount itself is the basic Estes paper fold glued inside the airframe, which I feel is fine for this light rocket. The shock cord was too short for my liking, so I threw it out and replaced it with 3 feet of sewing elastic.

Regarding construction, pros are:

  • Easy to follow instructions & illustrations.

Cons:

  • Fragile fins that are difficult to sand.
  • Insufficient shock cord length.

Finishing:
Before I glued anything to the airframe, I filled and sanded the tube spirals with Elmer's Fill and Finish. I did the same for the grain on the fins and paid close attention to the repaired spots.

I gave the rocket a shot of white Krylon primer, sanded lightly, and then gave it two coats of Krylon Gloss Teal. The decals are plain (black and white), but I added them on a whim anyway. Lastly, I coated the rocket with Krylon Clear.

Were I to rate this rocket on the construction alone, I would give it a 2 simply because I believe the fins are difficult to work with, if not waiting to break in the package.

Construction Rating: 2 out of 5

Flight:
Flight preparation of the Monarch is easy enough: a bit of wadding, fold the chute and pack it all in the airframe. The motor is held in by the retainer clip, so one need not fuss with friction fitting.

The first motor I used in this rocket was an A8-3, which proved a modest yet pleasant flight. The next launch was on a B6-4, which is also seemed like a good motor for this rocket. In either case, the rocket flew incredibly straight, ejected without incident, and was recovered without any damage.

Recovery:
As for flight recovery pros and cons, they are:

Pros:

  • Stock 12" chute seems adequate for this rocket.
  • Easy to prepare for flying.

Cons:

  • None, assuming the stock shock cord is replaced with an ample amount.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
The Monarch certainly does have a unique appearance. At the same time, the fins that provide that are incredibly fragile and difficult to sand on some of the edges. Before I bought the kit, I tried to verify that the balsa stock was undamaged, but it was virtually impossible to see through the packaging. The sheet was undeniably flat, but still 2 of 3 fins were broken. I would speculate that this isn't uncommon for this rocket. I ultimately think Estes would be better off having each fin consist of 2 pieces. It seems breakage would be minimized and one could effectively sand each piece before putting them together.

On the other hand the rocket flies great.

Overall from my experience with this rocket I rate this rocket at a 3 1/2 simply because of the trouble I had with the fins.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes - Monarch {Kit} (2172) [2001-2004] By Bill Brogan

    Brief: The Monarch features a unique fin configuration and parachute recovery. Construction: This kit comes with a plastic nose cone, one body tube, three die-cut balsa fins, cardboard motor mount tube with two centering rings and a metal retainer clip, an 18-inch flat elastic shock cord, and a 12-inch parachute. The nose cone has minimal flash and mold lines. The fin balsa is good ...

Flights

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