This is a great kit to get you into the more advanced, mid-power rocket kits, but I would still recommend getting a novice kit first. The Graduator has the great feature of through-the-wall tubing which decreases the time and effort for you. It also comes with the LOC MMA-1 motor adapter to fly it on 24mm motors. The only problem, there is no type of "motor block" in the mount. It's still a great kit to build and fly. Since the kit has thru-the-wall tubing all that needs to be done, once the fins have be n epoxied in place, is to apply an epoxy fillet. Also, I did not put a sealer on the fins like the instructions suggested, but it turns out that I really needed to, as the grain on the plywood shows. Make sure you sand the entire rocket before painting as well. [Editors Note] Before gluing the motor mount into place a positive motor retention system could be installed. Friction fitting, with tape, is a practiced method, but is a little scary with those expensive RMS casings.
Brief: Single staged, three-finned rocket for 29mm engines. I think that it is meant as a first rocket for middle power. It turned out to be mine as well.
Construction: Everything was there, nothing defective or broken. The nose cone and body tube are standard LOC parts, with the nose being hollow sturdy plastic, and the body tube spiral wound kraft paper glassined on the surface. It was also pre-slotted to allow the plywood precut fins which came with tabs that matched these slots to fit in. Two centering rings, plywood, were provided, and can be placed to meet the fin tabs and reinforce the joint. And these rings center the spiral wound paper 29mm motor mount tube. The kit came with a red, 18 inch nylon chute with 8 nylon cord shroud lines. The shock cord is 5 feet of flat white elastic 1/4 inch wide, mounted to a tough possibly nylon/Kevlar® 6-inch cord that is made into a loop and is anchored to the folded paper shock cord mount inside the body tube. For this model, I glassed over the affixed mount with epoxy. So far, no zippering has occurred. The launch lug is spiral wound paper, and is 6 inches long and accepts 3/8 inch rods.
Finishing: There weren't decals, so after I spray painted the entire rocket with matte fluorescent orange sign paint, I wrote the name, "Graduator" in blue up the body tube in fabric paint. Surprisingly, it has stayed on perfectly. In the middle of the body tube, I put a 4-inch wide band of adhesive silver mylar to enhance visibility. I also put a similar band of orange mylar at the top of the body tube to prevent paint chipping at the top, which happens a lot when I fly rockets as often as this one.
I used Micro Fill model filler to fill the spirals. It's white putty that is spreadable with fingertips and dries in a few hours at room temperature. And it's sandable. And it's sandable. Maybe I should have roughened it up a little to let the primer adhere better and so the main coat would have held better. This stuff does fill cracks and transitions and makes a surface more aerodynamic.
Construction Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
Flight: It's recommended to use 29mm G Aerotech motors. So far, I have tried the G35, G40, and G80, all with a 7 second delay. All work great. This battered rocket has lived two years and has flown easily 16 times. It's easy to prep, with five papers being enough wadding, or enough worm bed wadding to fill the tube to one inch. The chute is unscorched and unfrayed, but I put it in a red rocket for color matching and made this one a similar sized one from blaze orange rip stop nylon to match its color scheme. The only wear the rocket has is its paint. Since this rocket was one of my first in higher power, I used putty to smoothen the fin to body joints, but since this stuff can flex, the paint over it has chipped and has required redoing. Maybe next time I'll use primer and automotive paint.
I read that other reviewers would have wanted an engine block. I have mixed feelings here. First, I'll tell an embarrassing story. When I didn't tape my G80 in well enough, it kicked up and out and left the rocket behind. This was in front of a lot of guys whom I would prefer to have impressed. An engine block cured that, but will prevent my later use of longer motors. I'll just have to buy another Graduator for that!
Recovery: Just right, no fin loss, no scorches on the chute. The rocket is a little battered, but intact and still flying.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary: Easy to build, reliable. Easy to build, reliable. Durable. Very possibly modifiable for H power if fiberglassed. I just might do that.
Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
LOC Graduator review is provided courtesy of: This rocket is a popular LOC kit for people new to composite motors. I liked the looks of the rocket and was in need for a new kit in that power range (D-G). The Graduator came promptly and packed well, however, the shipping company had still managed to kink the body tube. I contacted Barry, the new owner of LOC, and he shipped out another tube ...
Brief The Graduator is an excellent rocket for those wishing to get into mid/high powered flight Construction The tubing, fins and everything were of excellent quality. The instructions were brief (few illustrations), but adequate. The preslotted tubing made fin installation straightforward, and all parts fit together nicely. I highly recommend reinforcing the fins so that they are ...