The Solar Express is a retro styled kit reminiscent of the Binder Design Galaxy. It is styled to look like a futuristic (as was envisioned in the 1950's) spaceliner.
The materials include:
All materials were of the absolute best quality and made for an excellent value from a parts point of view. The 2.6" balsa nose cone was really impressive as were the included Nomex® flame shield and nylon parachute. This kit was a early production/prototype.
The instructions were on a par with those produced by Estes and were very easy to follow. Basic mid-power skills are all that are needed to craft this rocket. The recovery harness is mounted to the MMT with a Kevlar® leader and extended by a elastic cord. An interesting design feature is the way a coupler tube is used to create a nose weight compartment instead of the usual drilling a hole in the balsa cone or attaching washers to the base of the cone.
During the assembly of my kit, I did find that the coupler tube used to extend the nose cone was too large for the body tube. I spoke via email to Mike Stoop, owner of MadCow who checked stock and promised to correct the situation. I fixed it by peeling a layer off the tube. Having done so, the tube was a little weak so I chose to fill it with 2-part foam.
The balance of the assembly was straightforward mid-power assembly and I would easily recommend this as a first MPR kit.
The nose cone required a bit of filling to look right and I used oil based balsa sealer. The fins were a basic sanding job and I simply broke off the sharp edges with medium grit sandpaper. The tube spirals are minimal so a coat of Kilz spray took care of them. After sanding I used gold tone Hammered Metal by Rustoleum to maintain the old world look. The waterslide decals are of the best quality however I did not use them. I liked the way it looked without them.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
The Solar Express flies flawlessly on a wide range of low end composite motors. A mid delay is appropriate. I have so far used tape and friction retention. I suggested the possibility of including some sort of retention with the kit to round out a almost stunning kit.
The shock cord is mounted PML-style to the MMT with a length of Kevlar® line and then extended to the chute by a length of elastic. Given the quality of everything else, I would prefer to see a thin piece of braided or tubular nylon instead of the elastic. The parachute is a perfect size.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
This is an absolutely stunning kit and the best thing about it is I can fly something that reminds me of my BD Galaxy (which is my absolute favorite) at our summer field which is limited to G power.
Mike is talking about producing a 38mm version and I am all atwitter just thinking about it.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Brief: The Solar express from Madcow Rocketry is a mid-power rocket kit that flies on 29mm F and G motors. It's a great addition to an established mid-power fleet, and will fly on a wide range of mid-power motors (or probably even some Hs if you're willing to try it). The quality of the kit is superb, and it's a quick, enjoyable build. Construction: The kit conatins... 1 - ...