Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Diameter: 2.26 inches
Length: 29.50 inches
Manufacturer: LOC/Precision
Style: Sport

LOC/Precision Lil Nuke

Brief:
A stylish yet standard three fins and a nose cone rocket for 29mm and smaller motors. Heavy body tube and rakish plywood fins make for a tough and fun to fly rocket.

Construction:
The kit was neatly packaged in the standard clear plastic bag, with the motor tube floating around in the airframe tube, and a nylon chute, pre-cut plywood fins, rings, and launch lug inside a zip-lock bag. The fins are excellent quality, well cut, warp free, and the sharp ends taped to prevent damaging other parts of the kit. The instructions are clear but limited to a single 8 1/2 by 11-inch page. It's a simple kit and elaborate instructions are unnecessary. The other side of the page serves as the package facing and some advertisements for other kits. The recommended motor list includes the D12-3. Since just the parts stacked on the scale weigh in at over 10 ounces and since epoxy is recommended throughout, I seriously question success with a D12. My first guess at finished weight, sans motor, is in the 13 ounce range, which puts it over the recommended weight for a D12-3.

Construction is pretty simple: glue the rings to the motor tube, glue the motor tube into the airframe, glue the recovery loop into the airframe, glue on the fins and lug, and voila!

LOC/Precision Lil Nuke The kit makes no provision for motor retention nor does it provide a motor block. The instructions explain that a mount with no motor block is very versatile allowing any motor to be used and describes how to provide a thrust ring using 1/2-inch masking tape. No arguments there! They also explain friction fitting the motor to prevent it kicking. I have some misgivings about friction fitting motor casings, especially expensive reloadables, so I added a pair of holes and blind nuts in the aft ring to provide positive motor retention. A couple of bucks at the local hardware store will buy a pair of blind nuts (or T-nuts), a pair of knurled-knob screws, and a pair of cast aluminum screen retainers, which combine nicely to make a tool-less motor retainer.

The body tube is pre-marked for fin and launch lug locations. All that is required then is gluing up! I deviated from the instructions slightly by gluing a fin onto the airframe tube while gluing the rings onto the motor tube. The tube was then turned over and fillets added to the other side of the rings; I added the second fin at the same time. The third fin was added and the blind nuts were glued into the aft ring. The mount was glued in at this stage and fillets added per the instructions. A dot of masking tape was used to keep the epoxy out of the nut threads. The shock cord mount and launch lugs were added next at the same time as one of set of fillets was added to the fin roots. The remaining fins were filleted to finish. This deviation in order is simply to save on time and limit epoxy waste.

LOC/Precision Lil Nuke From long experience with launch rods, I've learned that a single long launch lug can be problematic especially on much used rods. Any crud or even slight bends in the rod can cause the lug to bind producing all sorts of undesirable things including (but not limited to) rod whip. Because of that, I cut the 4-inch long lug down to 1-inch sections, extended the reference line, and placed one section at the bottom and another near the CG. The remainder was tossed into the scraps box and will no doubt find its way onto another project. I also added a set of rail buttons, carefully mounting the buttons over the centering rings.

The fins are surface mount and I was a little disappointed with that. This is a pretty stout kit with a heavy wall airframe and plywood centering rings and fins, and I feel that through the wall construction would make this rocket complete. I even considered cutting new fins with tabs. In the end, I decided that it wouldn't be seeing that much action and went with the kit's stock fins after rounding the leading and trailing edges with the belt sander. It would also have been a shame to waste the packaged ones anyway.

I was also a little disappointed with the shock cord mount. While sound in idea (a loop of nylon fixed to the inside of the airframe in a pool of epoxy), the material is short of expectation. Even the Quest kits come with a Kevlarcord and I would prefer that over nylon. I had a bit of trouble with the anchor, as the knots were a bit hard to get fully covered with epoxy to produce the smooth bump necessary to prevent the recovery system from snagging on it as it exits. I've heard some remarks about the elastic shock cord, but I can find no fault with it. This one is good quality and sufficient size that it should last a good while providing enough wadding is used. It's also easily replaceable by simply untying it from the anchor loop and nose and tying in another. One could also easily swap it for a more typical tubular nylon or Kevlarcord.

The parachute is very nice and made of nylon with heavy nylon cord for shrouds..

I also made a 24mm adapter from scratch parts. LOC indicates that a kit can be had from them if desired. A home rolled one is easy to do, a six inch section was cut from BT-50H from Totally Tubular stock, a six inch section of 29mm cut from stock (from the same source) and 3/8-inch ring also cut from 29mm stock. A 4mm slice was taken out lengthwise of the six inch long 29mm tube and was glued using yellow glue to the 24mm stock. The ring was then glued onto one end, allowing an 1/8-inch to hang over (to allow for the thrust ring on 24mm reloads), and finally a motor block was glued into the 24mm tube at the correct location for E9 and F21 motors. A 1-inch piece cut off a spent motor is used for a spacer when using short D and E motors.

Finishing:
The only thing in the kit that even suggests a color scheme is on the label.. There are no decals. The builder is left to his or her own devices and imagination for finishing.

The spirals are minimal, so I went directly to primer after sandpapering the nose cone with coarse sandpaper, the body with medium grit, and the fins with very fine sandpaper. The nose looked pretty bad after the first layer of primer with scratches and "hairs" sticking out everywhere. This was expected and is done on purpose to get the primer coat to stick to well to the plastic. It was sanded again, with a bit finer paper this time and primed again. The whole thing was sanded again, the imperfections and finger prints were worked on until smooth and then another layer of primer was applied. The whole rocket was sanded until very smooth with 400 grit paper. I wanted this to have a cool finish, so I popped for a kit of Duplicolor Mirage color changing paint. It goes on in three steps: several coats of primer, then a dozen or so thin coats of color coat (the more layers, the more effect), and finally three layers of clear protector coat. This is a lacquer and the coats are quite thin but there are many of them so it comes out fairly heavy as paint goes. It's also very shiny and has a deep looking finish due to the number of layers. I added some pinstriping on the sides and fins and my usual construction date, motor list, etc., on the side near the lug before the final coats of clear.

One could go a bit wild here, sand it with 800 or finer grit paper, wax, polish, etc. I stopped at gloss mode on this rocket...it won't be used to break any records or anything and it looks fast just laying there anyway!

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
It was flown on February 21st at the club's launch on an AT E18-4. Fast, loud, straight, and cool flight! That pretty much says it all. All future flights will be made by my nephew.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
The flight performance makes up for everything I've been whining about!

PROs:

  • Nice parachute!
  • Love the simplicity.
  • Love how tough it is despite surface mount fins!
  • The rakish fin design gives it a fast look even when it's just laying there.

CONs:

  • Through-the-wall fins would make this an A+ kit. They take a little more work but are worth the effort.
  • I'm less than thrilled with the nylon shock cord anchor.
  • No decals or anything to dress it up

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • LOC/Precision - Lil' Nuke {Kit} (PK-4) [1988-] By Bill Eichelberger (October 7, 2012)

    The Lil' Nuke is a sleek, 3fnc rocket that is one of the more popular entry level rockets for mid-power rocketry.  When I got back into the hobby in 2001, my brother-in-law bought me a Lil' Nuke so that I'd have something other than my Estes fleet to fly at NARAM 43.  Tony and I had gotten back into the hobby in 1994, but he had spent the next seven years working his way up ...

  • LOC/Precision - Lil' Nuke {Kit} (PK-4) [1988-] By Paul Gray

    The Lil' Nuke is a mid-power rocket part of LOC/Precision's Novice Kit series. It is single staged with a 29mm motor mount. The instructions of this kit were rather explicit. The assembly order was logical, but as far as I can remember, they did not have any illustrations. The kit came with all of the parts including an enormously thick paper body tube with lines pre-drawn to mark the fin ...

Flights

Comments:

avatar
R.P. (November 1, 2000)
I assembled this rocket with 5 min epoxy, no holes under the fins, and it held together fine, at least on the F52-8 engine. It was last seen disappearing against the clouds of a G64-10. I don't recommend G power unless you have VERY good tracking eyes.
avatar
B.C. (November 1, 2000)
IMO, the Lil Nuke is a fantastic rocket, especially given that it is reasonably priced. Granted, the tube does require spiral fills, if one is so inclined. I've flown mine numerous times on E SU and reloads, as well as F24-7 reloads without any problems. There's even room for Kaplow-style motor retention. For good measure, I drilled a series of 1/32 holes on the lines for fin placement. This will allow the epoxy on the root edge of the fin to seep inside the airframe and form little "rivets" to better anchor each fin in place. I used 15 minute epoxy for fin mounting, and 30 minute for fillets. I have yet to have a fin break off as of yet.
avatar
E.C. (January 1, 2001)
Rocket Flies very nicely and to my ideal height with average F motors. I've used as small as an F14, which isn't a very authoritative launch, but does work. When you install a G motor in it, it'll be semi-hard to track, because you get a lot of altitude.
avatar
B.W. (January 1, 2001)
This is a very cool rocket, I launched it on a North Coast engine, and it looks very nice in flight. The problem, I used weak glue (first high impulse without through the wall) and the fins came off sometime during the flight. Couldn't find them, but amazingly, it still went up perfectly straight and high! I made custom fins that looked kind of neat, they were forward swept, but it flew away during recovery on that flight. I loved that rocket.
avatar
T.B. (February 1, 2001)
I really love my Lil' Nuke - I used 5 min epoxy and also drilled small holes in the body tube for the epoxy to seep into and make epoxy rivets. I've launched mine on D12-3 and Aerotech E15-4 motors. No extra weight added to the nose and it flew straight and true Although, with the D12-3's it was a slow liftoff and didn't go more than a couple of hundred feet. This makes for a nice demo launch for school-yards or small parks. Next launch will be with a "F" motor. Can't wait.
avatar
R.Z. (May 1, 2001)
Matt Lemons of AHPRA built a Lil' Nuke several years ago...'glassed the fins on, cut the bottom off the nosecone, did NOT put any motor mount in it, and flew in on a K1100 AT motor...unfortunately, the delay was a bit short, and it separated, BUT he did find the airframe and motor casing...it survived!
avatar
J.R. (August 1, 2001)
I have built 2 of these kits and I like it very much, a well designed, well produced and well priced kit flow on everything from Estes D's to Aerotech G125's with no problems. One of my favorites.
avatar
T.P. (August 1, 2001)
The Lil' Nuke is one of the toughest, most indestructible rockets I know. If you build it with 30min or longer epoxy and stick a streamer in it you can take it supersonic repeatedly. I've personally flown a Nuke on E30, F40, G40, and H238 motors (all on the same day). The H238 easily tops 4000 feet. I've seen a Lil' Nuke built properly fly and recover over and over on H220, H270, and I385 motors. All of these were either transonic or supersonic flights. No fiberglass or anything fancy is required.
avatar
B.E. (September 1, 2001)
A great kit for the step up into mid-power. Being my first non-model rocket, I was all nerves when building the Lil' Nuke, not because it was difficult, but because I was afraid I was going to screw something up and CATO the poor thing. As it turned out, I need not have worried. It turned out fine, even without the benefit of TTW fins. No big deal. I used 90 minute epoxy (overkill) and as a result, it would take a heck of a hit to loosen those fins. The only problem I had was with the shock cord installation. I followed the instructions, but neglected to test the nose cone for fit before I epoxied the cord mount in. The nose cone has a deep set shoulder and bumped up against the mount when I first tried to install it. A little sanding around the bottom of the nose cone shoulder and I was back in business. Just measure the nose cone for clearance before you glue and you shouldn't have a problem.
avatar
J.T.E. (December 11, 2001)
I would just like to add a couple of comments about this rocket and LOC's Novice series in general. First the shock cord mount -- My first reaction was -- do what !! I tried it anyway -- Guess what it works - We have used it in my son's Onyx, a scratch built 2.6" rocket weighing about 2 lbs, and a VB38. None of the mounts have failed. In all 3 rockets I used NHP (National Hobbies Products) 5 minute Epoxy and it works great. The 2.6" rocket made about 10 flights on G80's and H 180's. Final flight was on the small Cesaroni J. Coupler was on too loose -- drag separation at burnout - pieces of rocket went everywhere -- shock cord mounts stayed intact. Secondly - the fin mounting - I have not tried the "epoxy rivets" method. Sounds good and I am going to try it on the Lil Nuke. I have used "dado slots" instead. This involves cutting slots about half way through the tube and tacking the fins on with medium CA and filleting with epoxy. I have used this method on the VB38, the PML Nimbus, and the Onyx. No fins lost yet despite some hard landings.
avatar
DMVL (January 25, 2002)
After rev?ing up my skills on model rockets, I wanted something which would take me to the door of Level 1 certification. After looking over this kit, I felt it looked like a good fit for my needs. It was easy to assemble with 10 minute epoxy. There are only two small diagrams in the instructions, but the instructions are on the back of the package front, which has a good enough picture for me. I have a standard paint scheme, so didn't worry about following the pictures I've seen. I tried epoxy putty for the first time for the fin fillets. Wow, great stuff and it can be easily sanded. I'm sure you'd break the fins before getting the fin roots to break. I going to practice a little before I use it again because the final fillet was much better than the first. As a cautious launcher, I stepped the rocket up one engine size at a time, starting at a D12-3 and ending at a G40-10. I have no doubt that this guy would be comfortable at much higher power. My favorite is the included fluorescent pink parachute, which is visible at apogee with the G40-10, even though the rest of the rocket is virtually impossible to see. It looks like a bright pink dot.
avatar
Y.L. (January 29, 2002)
This is a great little rocket. I've had two (both lost to rocket eating trees), and I've never had a complaint. If you use epoxy rivets (drilling a little line of holes down the line where the root edge of the fins will sit so that the epoxy will flow into the holes and create "rivets"), the rocket will be rock solid. If you don't beat up on it too much, the rocket should last a long time. I've flown mine on E15, E30s and an FSI E60 and it's a great flyer. I've heard people fly a Little Nuke on very big motors stock, so it's a tough little flyer. The only improvement I could see with the kit would be to add positive motor retention and perhaps use fiberglass strips at the fin roots, going from fin to fin to build up a "fin canister". Oh yeah, I have a kit for #3 in my appartment somewhere ;-)
avatar
S.B.P. (February 4, 2002)
Great rocket, very robust. I used sixty minute epoxy thickened with kevlar pulp and the epoxy rivets. There is no way these fins are coming off the paper tube will rip or tear first. It will fly on a large range of motors and delays. When I lose this one or it dies I will be getting another one.
avatar
D.R. (February 16, 2002)
The review didn't really make sense to me- I had the complete opposite experience. This was my first mid-power rocket kit, and I built it very simply, according to the instructions. No special glues or anything, just straight 5 minute with 30 minute fin fillets. I've punished it on everything up to an H220T and it has survived great. My favorite motor is the AT F40-7W reload- great flight to ~2000 feet (although the H238T is fun also). This rocket has separated and come in ballistic to have cracked a fin- no problems with the shock cord mount. A little 5 minute epoxy and it flew again the same day. Overall, this is an excellent kit for anyone venturing into high power or for those of us tired of flying K, L, and M motors.
avatar
D.W. (June 13, 2006)
Had this kit built for nearly 2 years, and just got to fly it last weekend (UKRA06). Lost my AP virginity to it, and loved every minute of it. First flight on a F25-6W, which was superb; second flight on a G40-10W, which flew out of sight, then drifted 2 miles before landing (the winds were VERY strong). Got it back both times unscathed. A FANTASTIC 1st AP rocket .... solid and as easy to build as an Estes kit .... highly recomended!

comment Post a Comment