This is a review of the NEW Estes Solar Warrior (3225) and not the original one (0895) [1991-1995]. This NEW bird is nothing like its predecessor in looks or power. Whereas the original was a 13mm powered rocket, the new one is built for 24mm motors. Its also lean and mean at 27" in length and capable of altitudes above 900'. I scored this one direct from Estes for $6.49 on one of there huge discount sales along with two other rockets. Regular price is $21.99 and at the time of this writing it was still on sale.
NEW Estes Solar Warrior (3225)
Original Estes Solar Warrior (0895) [1991-1995]
The parts list for the Solar Warrior is a bit long and all laid out in typical Estes style. I have two Cons: right off the bat. The balsa wood that these Chinese made kits have is not up to the standards it used to be. The old kits had all parts cut from a single sheet of good grade balsa whereas the new kits seem to feature different blocks and grades of balsa glued together and then cut into sheets and laser cut. If you look closely at the photos you can see the different grades. Also you may be able to see the slight laser burns across the wood which is my other complaint. I've noticed this in the last three kits that I have built, something I wish Estes would address.
All parts in good condition
NOTE different grades of balsa and laser burns
Here will be the only two changes that I make in this build. The MM tube provided is long enough for an E engine so I cemented the engine block even with the end of the tube and then replaced the D engine hook with an E hook. I then notched the top centering ring and tied the last of my 300# Kevlar (about 8.5' which will be shortened to 24") around the MM and threaded it through the notch and used wood glue to attach centering rings. Needless to say I'm not using the standard Estes rubber band and tri-fold mount for recovery.
MM modified for "E" engine and kevlar added for recovery
A bit behind due to Labor Day weekend and family commitments. Two days ago I did the work on the fins by gluing the two pieces together for all four main fins. I then took all balsa parts and gave them my paper treatment to strengthen and make finishing easier. I'm trying something new here to see how well it works. I normally use a thin layer of white glue to attach the paper with but this time I used a glue stick. I tried it on a piece of scrap balsa first and waited an hour and tried to take the paper off and couldn't. I then glued the end caps together with white glue and glued them onto the ends of the fins using the included jig guide and wood glue again. All was then left to dry overnight. Yesterday I got all fins glued on by using carpenter's wood glue on the root edges and again using the guide to align everything. Lastly the launch lug was glued on.
All balsa paper coated and fin end caps glued together
End caps glued on
Fins & Launch Lug Glued On
Today the motor mount was installed by taking the Kevlar and stuffing it down the middle of the motor mount to prevent getting glue on it and then applying a bead of wood glue around the inside bottom end of the body tube four inches in using a foot long 1/4" dowel that I previously marked. I then slid the motor mount in using the tail piece to properly adjust depth. Body tube was then whipped back and forth several times by arm to help spread glue around top of motor mount. Rocket was then left to dry overnight and I moved on to the plastic parts.
A note here: There is no mention of when to separate the plastic parts. Then is only a small 3/4" x 2 1/4" diagram on the front page of the instructions that shows you where to separate these pieces using a hobby knife. This being a skill level 2 kit they assume you know how to do this. After cutting them apart I then sanded all edges smooth.
I can't believe I forgot to take the MM photo
Body tube and fins were given two coats of Rust-Oleum 2x white primer with light sanding in between coats. After that the bottom of rocket was masked off and motor mount was sprayed with Krylon Fusion Hammered Finished Dark Grey. After allowing a couple of hours of drying time, MM was masked off and lower half of rocket got two coats of Krylon Fusion Gloss White. After an hour drying time all masking was removed. Rocket body was then left to dry overnight and I switch over to painting the nose cone and tail piece. Tailpiece was masked off and painted with the same Krylon Fusion Hammered Finished Dark Grey and after masking off nose cone it was sprayed with Rust-Oleum 2x Gloss Deep Blue. Everything was then set aside to air dry overnight.
Forgot again to take photos of primed rocket (chalk it up to old age and memory loss)
The next day main body was again masked off and top half was painted with the Rust-Oleum 2x Gloss Deep Blue. After allowing an hour to dry all paper was again removed and main body left to air dry overnight.
Rocket with two tone paint
I'm so behind again. Did more work than photos so here's the wrap up. Once the main coats of paint were dry I went to install the tailpiece but discovered that when in place I had forgotten to paint the protruding MM the same color (it was still white). I tried to shoot a little gray paint in the end of the tube without masking but should have know better (losing my mind again). After letting gray dry a couple hours I masked off the MM and re-primed the bottoms of the fins followed by re-doing the Gloss White and setting it outside in the sun to air dry again.
That evening when I brought it in I attached 7' of 1/4" elastic sewing cord to the nose cone and the loop in the end of the Kevlar. I also added a piece of tape near the end of the Kevlar to help prevent zippering. I then cut a 4" spill hole in parachute and attached it to the shock cord with a swivel snap. After that I applied the decals which went on without any problems and then left it overnight to finish drying.
Tape on Kevlar
Ready for decals
Decals applied (no clear coat yet) but ready for maiden flight
The next morning (which was actually Saturday the 12th) I loaded her up with about 15 other rockets and headed for M.I.S.(Michigan International Speedway) in Brooklyn, MI. for a day of flying with the J.M.R.C. folks. I took my Dupli-Color Clear Effex paint along hoping maybe to finish clear coating it at the field before flying it but gave that idea up once I got there. Winds were 10-15 and a storm front was moving in. By the time I got the rocket out the wind was so bad that it grabbed the parachute as I was trying to pack it and it ended up bouncing the NC several times on top of the car before I could reel it in. Fortunately no damage to NC. But after that I packed up and went home without flying anything. This as it turned out may have been a good thing. The piece of tape that I put on the Kevlar to help prevent zippering ended up getting tangled up with the parachute lines and would not have deployed properly anyway. Have now removed the tape but will have to watch for zippering when I get her out to fly again which may not be until next spring.
Today it got up to 81 so I was able to get out and put the final clear coat on. As I mentioned earlier this was done with Dupli-Color Clear Effex paint in three light coats. Gives it a nice rainbow effect when the sun hits it. Rocket if now completed.
Finished Solar Warrior
(I wish this camera could catch the full effect of this paint job)
On 10-09-15 I loaded the Solar Warrior up with a D12-5. I then added the dog barf to the BT, powered the parachute, and packed her up along with about a dozen other rockets for a day of flying on Saturday the 10th with the J.M.R.C. club at Graves Farm Campgrounds near the south end of Michigan International Speedway. Winds were 8-10 and sky was mostly clear. Temp. was about 62.
Solar Surfer (3225) on a D12-5
Note: Original Solar Warrior (0895) on immediate left
Maiden flight was perfect. Rocket leaned into the wind as it rose and climbed straight up to probably 900'. Parachute was deployed just as rocket turned over and she came down in front of but almost landing on one of the High Power pads. They were getting ready to launch HP's when I recovered mine so didn't take time for a recovery photo as I had asked them to hold for a couple of minutes so I could get the parachute and rocket away from one of the blast shields. No damage on inspection after recovery.