Estes CC Express

Estes - CC Express {Kit} (1302)

Contributed by Jason Vennard

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.33 inches
Length: 28.40 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 2
Style: Multi-Stage

Rocket PicBrief:
This is a new 2002 kit by Estes. It's a four finned, two stage rocket designed and named for the new 24mm Estes C motors. Flies on either the C or D motors with a maximum altitude of 1,700 feet.

The kit consists of two body tubes, one for the sustainer section, and a shorter tube for the booster section. Both of these seem to be of better quality, and are stiffer than the other 40 or so Estes kits I've built. 8 balsa wood fins, 4 for the booster and again 4 for the sustainer. Nose cone was typical plastic, plastic parachute, paper centering rings, motor blocks, and shock chord mount.

The motor mount is the typical Estes friction design. Consisting of an engine block, and two centering rings for the upper motor, and again an engine block and two centering rings for the booster section. Motors are then installed using masking tape for a friction fit. Each tube gets 4 balsa fins, a little care needs to be taken when mounting the fins to insure alignment throughout. The nose cone was in good condition and required little work to prepare it for finishing. I did deviate from the directions on the shock chord attachment. I installed a length of Pratt Hobbies Kevlar safety chord, wrapped around the motor mount and underneath the upper centering ring, long enough to extend out the top of the body tube, here I attached the Estes shock chord. The other end was attached to the nose cone, with a snap swivel installed a couple inches below the nose cone for attaching parachutes. (kit comes with an 18" chute, although I typically switch these out in favor of nylon chutes) Assembly was fairly simple and I felt the Skill level two designation was appropriate. Overall the directions and illustrations were excellent, on par with the typical Estes directions.

I liked the rockets stock paint scheme and decided to duplicate it when finishing mine. I applied 2 coats of Krylon gray primer to the entire rocket, sanding between coats. This was enough to fill in the spirals on the body tube. The upper body tube was painted dark red, the lower body tube black. Upper body tube fins were then painted black, and the lower body tube fins painted red. The nose cone is finished in black. All painting was done with Krylon paints. With this stock paint scheme, masking off fins and other sections is fairly simple, yet gives a very nice looking finish. Decals are of the peel and stick variety so a little care needs to be taken when applying them. I liked the decals, as there weren't too many to make it busy, but enough to give it a little contrast. After decals are applied you have a Red and Black rocket with Yellow highlights.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

The recommended motors on this kit are the C11-5 and D12-5 for single staged flights. Two stage flights take a C11-0 or D12-0 for the booster, followed by a C11-5, C11-7, or D12-7 for the sustainer. On our first flight we deviated from the recommended, as I thought this bird just looked fast, we went with a little longer delay and loaded it up with a D12-7. Motor's are a friction fit, and require a wrap of masking tape to fit them into the motor tube. This was easily accomplished on this rocket. We launched the rocket and got a very quick, and straight liftoff, and the rocket screamed up, we lost sight of it for a moment but regained sight when we heard the parachute pop open. For the maiden flight I did use the stock plastic 18" chute. After waiting what seemed like 5 minutes she finally touched down with no damage. Overall a great flight, fortunately we had light winds or it could have been a long recovery. Some other option may need to be explored for the parachute. Our second flight, again single stage, D12-7 went the same as the first, only this time the Estes 7 second delay occurred in about 1 second, after a violent deployment, the rocket drifted down and we inspected it. A very, very slight 1/8" zipper in the top of the body tube was the only damage, I believe this was in part a result of the stiffer body tubes that came with this kit. We hope to soon get it up under full power with two stages, but don't foresee any problems.

The second flight, with a bad (short) delay did cause an 1/8" zipper in the upper body tube, I did deviate from stock by using the Kevlar safety line and this did extend out the top of the tube. With the stock elastic shock chord I don't believe there would have been any zippering at all.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

Pro's: Relatively easy construction, great looking finish, and what seemed to be better quality body tubes. Great flight, and strong enough to take a violent recovery system deployment. Con's: None.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5




L.S. (October 14, 2002)
My son built one of these and flew it for the first time at a recent club launch. He planned to fly this as both his dual stage and D engine flight for NARTEK bronze. After a great, straight test flight on a C11-5, he went for the dual stage flight on a C11-0 and a C11-5. This resulted in the best dual stage flight I've ever seen--straight off the pad with flawless separation straight up! I had volunteered to spot the booster and was surprised to see it actually in a steep glide--right into some briars. Anyone seen this behavior before in this kit? The rocket landed within 100ft of the pad and I retrieved the booster, about 150 feet away and at the expense of some painful scratches. The D12 flight was next on a D12-5. Another awesome straight liftoff, but this time it seemed like he'd load a D12-ininity... Lawndarted into a freshly sodded field. Only damage was the nosecone shoved 1/2 inch into the body tube. We think he got a little careless and packed the chute too tight. Time to teach the boy some repair techniques and his CC Express will fly again. Overall a great rocket--I may have to get one myself!
S.E.J. (April 23, 2003)
My CC Express busted a booster fin on its first flight. It managed to smack into the launch rack on the way down. While I repaired the booster, I decided to make a sturdier one, using through-the-wall basswood fins with edges reinforced with epoxy-soaked silk-span. I also made the booster shorter. The motor projects from the motor tube by 1/4" at each end. The rear of the motor tube projects from the rear of the booster by 1/4" as well. This will let me tape the booster motor to the booster airframe.
S.K. (November 7, 2003)
I built a CC-Express for a Science Day project I was doing for my kids' school. The other rockets I launched were all low-fliers, but their science teacher kept asking to see one go "Really High"! Since the field was small, I figured I'd lose anything that went "Really High", so inexpensive, and quick to build, was a must. Boy did this rocket fit the bill! The review is accurate. Very easy construction, straightforward directions, and the quality of the balsa on this kit was particularly nice. This is a very impressive looking rocket, which I covered with a wrap of pictures of the kids' principal and a logo for a fictional "Principal In Space" project. For the launch I used a D12-0 to D12-7 combination, added a tablespoon of white chalk-line chalk above the wadding for easier spotting (it really helped), and used a 48" rod for a little added safety. The launch was as impressive as I'd hoped. My kids' principal launched it (which he loved because he'd launched a lot of rockets as a kid) and the D-engine two stage flight was arrow straight to about 1800 feet. Ejection, with a nice white puff, was at apogee, and hang-time, in no wind was > 5 minutes. Although the total altitude is roughly the same as for a Sizzler or StarDart, the staged D-engines make for a way more impressive launch. The bigger rocket also made tracking much easier for the kids. My alternative had been the Mongoose (which I've also flown and lost) but I'm glad I chose this. As expected, we lost the rocket to the woods just beyond the school but I can't complain. This is an easy-to-build, beautiful looking, beautiful flying, priced-right, rocket. If you want to show people what $15 worth of parts and motor can do, with a little knowledge and effort, this is the ticket! As for teaching the kids (and their teachers) why I think science is cool, the CC-Express did all the talking necessary. As an unmentioned (by Estes) added bonus, RockSim suggests the CC-Express is still very stable with a D12-0 to E9 combination, which adds another 600' of altitude. Maximum speed only increases by about 30mph, so the fins shouldn't be a problem (I used Apogee's fillet-clay), and launch rod speed is still good even on a 36" rod. I've already bought another CC-Express for next year, and plan to "step it up a notch."

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