Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 2.63 inches
Length: 40.00 inches
Manufacturer: LOC/Precision
(by Mark Trotter) 

[Picture]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.


LOC - Graduator  - by Moira Jean Whitlock

[Rocket Pic]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

Other Reviews
  • LOC/Precision - Graduator {Kit} (PK-16) [1986-] By Todd Harrison

    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 ...

  • LOC/Precision - Graduator {Kit} (PK-16) [1986-] By John Hogan

    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 ...

Flights

Comments:

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D.H. (September 1, 1999)
My LOC Graduator is now 7 years old and still flying. It has flown on engines from D12-3 (frighteningly low altitude at ejection) to G40-7 (WOW!!!!). It has had its share of abuse from over 30 launches and is still going strong. The only change I would make is to have the fins go all the way to the motot mount. Easy to construct and fly. The perfect first mid power rocket.
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R.T. (November 1, 1999)
In short, the Graduator was my first big rocket, and still my favorite. The Rocket can really get up there, my best launches were on an F101T-5 and a G80T-10. I have put it up on a D12-3, and almost killed the LCO, or at least scared him! I have found that one can use a 12' chute for the G's and H's, but make sure the fins are very strong.
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J.C. (February 1, 2000)
Great kit. I had a good time building it. I added a motor Retention system, I set it up to handle the longest motor I had, (29mm Areotech RMS case). I also was too scared to use the wall mounted shock cord mount.(upon reflection I'm sure that the 6ft plus shock cord would absorb most anything, thus preventing any potential "zippering"). I made my own mount using the same 1/4" plywood that the fins are made of. I shaped it to fit, drilled holes in it and added an eye bolt. I do wish this kit had fins that went all the way to the motor mount tube. But they seem strong enough to me. I felt it was rather deceptive not to mention that the Loc/Precision kits don't come with decals. I made my own using colored self-adhesive sheets sold at hobby shops that sell model airplanes. They're great and come in all kinds of colors. Overall I'll give this kit a 3.5 rating out of 5. It would need several things to get a 5. 1.) motor retention system. 2.) Center-ring mounted shock cord. 3.)through the wall to engine tube fins. I will nevertheless still buy more of the Loc/Precision kits. If, however, let's say that Areotech made all the same rockets that Loc/Precision did, I'd buy the Areotech every time, even for a 25% price premium.
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G.B. (May 1, 2000)
Adding an engine block to the kit would limit your choice of motors. All you have to do is wrap 1/2-inch electrical tape (takes heat better than masking tape) on the aft end of the motor until it becomes slightly greater in diameter than the motor tube. That keeps it from kicking forward. A simple way to keep it from kicking aft upon ejection that I used is to install a pair of blind nuts (T-nuts) in the aft ring that take No. 6 screws. Wire is attached to one screw, wrapped around the engine nozzle, and secured to the other screw. Simple, cheap and effective. But you have to install the nuts before you install the engine mount into the body tube. And be sure to epoxy the nuts in place.
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K.W. (June 1, 2000)
I'll agree with the other posters that the Graduator is a great kit to get started with in mid power. I chose it myself based on some suggestions from other folks and I'm glad I did. Construction is straight forward. Luckily I had heard about Kaplow Klips before I started and incorporated them in the rear centering ring. I don't know why LOC doesn't include them in the kit or at least suggest their use. The parts are cheap enough and available at any hardware store. I also built in a parachute compartment in the forward end of the body tube so I wouldm't have to use wadding. This was a section of 1 3/4" diameter mailing tube, long enough to hold the supplied 18" chute and shock cord. I epoxied a spruce bulkhead at the rear and coated it with epoxy. I centered in the body tube with three strips of 3/16" thick spruce. The ends of the LOC shock cord mounting loop were epoxied into the spacer fillets and the whole assembly was epoxied into the body tube far enough in to let the nose cone slip inside. I flew it about 8 times (on E16s, F20s, F22s, F52s and a G33) like this until I had a bonus delay on an E16-4 and it lawn darted. I rebuilt it with a new section of LOC body tube and incorporated anti-zipper design into the coupler. (This concept was covered in Sport Rocketry a while back) This is essentially a tube coupler with a bulkhead on each end. There are holes drilled in the bulkheads so that the holes don't line up. It acts as an ejection baffle. I put an eyebolt in the top coupler and the chute goes in the forward section of tube. So far I've not had any recovery problems or chute damage. It's also survived a lake landing. It is now too heavy to fly on E's. My favorite motor for this bird is the F20 and F23 Econojets. I recommend this kit for a first mid power bird. It flies on a variety of motors and has the flexibility of a 29mm motor tube and an adapter that comes with the kit.
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J.S. (January 1, 2001)
Graduator is a great first rocket for mid-power. It's inexpensive, forgiving, and fairly stout. It would be nice if LOC would do something about motor retention, since a mid-power newbie tends to learn about such things the hard way. I do wish the fin tabs continued to the motor mount. Even with the TTW fin mounting, I knocked fins loose on two different occasions. The parachute choice seems to assume a small field. But you'd better not be in a small field if you launch your Graduator on a G motor! If anybody finds mine, please let me know. @#$%! trees.
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S.B. (January 1, 2001)
I agree with Mark. The Graduator is a simple kit to build, with enough room (barely) in the rear centering ring for a retention system. I didn't put one in and haven't had trouble with friction fitting motors. I even friction fit a H-128 for my level one flight when my cert 1 rocket died on it's test flight, and everything worked fine. A fun rocket to build and fly!
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M.R (January 1, 2001)
I really enjoyed building my Graduator. I agree that it's a good first rocket to get into mid-power rocketry. My kit went together really well, but I wish I would have thought about motor retention before assembling it. I retrofitted mine with something similar to a "Kaplow Klip" which works great for both single use and RMS motors. I used a sealer on the fins before painting, and didn't get any grain, but the appearance of the finish came out noticeably different from the body tube.  I finished mine with a uniform color of Pactra Candy Purple, and call it the "Purple Propellant Eater". I've flown F and G reloads, but I've found that the suggested 10 second delay is a little too long. All in all, the Graduator is a great rocket to build and fly!
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J.S. (August 1, 2001)
The rocket is very stable in flight. I used a H90 and flew great. The only thing that should be changed is the through the wall fin design. It should be all the way through to the motor mount, so it has more strength. One could also put dowels inside the airframe and epoxy them to the fins. This would be better than nothing.
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P.V. (December 15, 2001)
I bought this rocket from DiscountHobbyCenter.com and I got the new version with fins that go all the way to the motor mount. It was a very easy kit to build, it flies great too. My favorite motors for it are F23 and G38 BlackMax motors.
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G.B. (August 30, 2002)
Many posting opinions here on the Graduator have wished for through the wall to the motor mount fin tabs. According to the LOC Web site, the kit now includes that! It's refreshing to have a company respond to consumers' calls for improvement. Now if only Estes would do something about those lousy shock cords ...
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J.S. (April 26, 2003)
I highly recommend the Graduator. It's attractive, very stable, and reasonably easy to build. The parts are all of top quality. I made a few modifications to the kit: I added a thrust ring and a Bourne Again Rocketry Motor Anchor (since I'm uncomfortable with the idea of using tape to retain the motor in a rocket as large as this one). I also skipped the LOC shock cord mount and instead mounted the shock cord with a piece of Kevlar® attached to the forward centering ring. Another good motor for the Graduator is the F20-4 Econojet. Compared to those of an AeroTech or Estes kit, the instructions are terse and have few illustrations. If you are completely new to mid-power, it might be a good idea to build an AeroTech rocket or two before you try a LOC/Precision kit.
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(June 16, 2004)
To avoid being ripped off or scammed from DicountHobbyCenter.com, check the Better Business Bureau to see at least 15 COMPLAINTS against this firm. We are seeking legal action ourselves. Our research indicates disturbing findings. Check it out for yourself if you don't believe us. After we get through with this firm, there will not be any hobbies to buy from them and you can rest safe. Caveat Emptor Greetings to all.
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B.P (March 18, 2008)
This was my level 1 rocket, flew great on an H180 medium. has also flown on an H128, H97. H128 was probably my favorite not too high. The only problem was that the rocket would always land on one fin first. finally broke off edge. this would probably be a good place for some fiberglass reinforcement.

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