|Manufacturer:||Aerospace Specialty Products|
This rocket is an "upscale" of the Estes Mean Machine, taking the long skinny BT-60 bird concept a bit over the top. It can be flown in any of four length configurations with the longest topping out at a testosterone-heavy 10-1/2 feet tall. For more altitude, the short version is about 34" and you can add add/remove sections to fly in between these extremes. Very serious WOW factor on the pads with this bird, and very easy to build.
When the 40" cardboard box arrived in the mail, I started to figure that this kit was going to be a bit unusual compared to my standard modroc fleet. Opening the package, I found all parts were accounted for and of top quality. The kit consists of four BT-60 tubes (white, with very light spirals), each about 30" long, a nice balsa nose cone and laser-cut fin sheet, balsa bulkhead (all of which look like BMS products), 24mm motor mount, laser cut centering rings, plenty of Kevlar and elastic shock cord, tube couplers, and two heavy-duty 15" mylar chutes.
This kit was a very quick and simple build, taking only about 4 hours on a Saturday morning (excluding grain filling/paint/finishing). The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The most challenging part of the construction is probably the three-piece fin assembly which has to be glued together and then pressed flat to dry absolutely straight. I decided since the construction looked like it was going to be much simpler than I thought that I'd put extra care into sealing the balsa fins and filling the grain. So I applied a couple of coats of Elmers Fill N Finish and sanded them down to a glass-like finish with small airfoils to improve flight performance.
One modification I'd consider for this in construction, though, would be to skip the engine block, and replace the 3" motor mount tube with something long enough to accommodate Estes E9s or Aerotech single-use motors. The engine block prevents E9s from fitting and can interfere with the caps if using 24mm reloads.
In my opinion, the very clever approach to the design and construction of this rocket is a big plus. Anyone who has built a standard Mean Machine has inevitably run into the post-construction problem of "NOW what do I do with this?" unless you've got a large vehicle and plenty of room in your basement/storage area. The Tall Boy, though, is extremely portable and can be toted around in four sections no longer than 34" each. More on this in the flight report.
Due to the length of this rocket, be prepared to drop at least half a can of paint into this project (more likely a full can unless you do a thorough priming). As mentioned, filling in the tube spirals was fairly easily accomplished with a coat of Plasti-Cote primer sanded down to the spirals then a base coat of regular Krylon primer. I followed up with a blue metallic Rustoleum that is an absolutely beautiful finish for this rocket. Fins and nose cone were trimmed with a gold metallic finish and this is a great-looking color scheme. I'd love to have seen some decals with this, maybe for each tube to highlight the length, but can't complain about the overall value for this kit.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
On flight day, I decided to start small, and eventually build to all four configurations of this. The last page of the instructions clearly describes how to prep the rocket for each configuration and which motors to use. It is very important to read this closely as I found the delays to be perfect, and, had I guessed on my own or tried the same motors for each version, I would have definitely had deployment problems.
To configure the short version, I attached the nose cone to the shock cord (swivel) on the main body tube, packed in a 15" over-the-top mylar chute, and loaded a D12-5. Winds for the day were a steady 10mph, gusting to an occasional 12-15. The first flight weathercocked slightly, but arced over and deployed right at the top, very close to the predicted 775 feet. After a bit of a hike, I recovered without damage and prepped for flight #2.
The medium length version is prepped by friction-fitting the nose cone into the body tube with a balsa bulkhead, which also has a 15" chute attached to it. This then becomes a normal 2-piece rocket, and flies on a D12-5. The flight was perfectly straight, deployment just a tad late, though a three-second delay would have been too early and fast. After another hike, I found both pieces and was ready for flight #3.
To configure the three-tube version, which is now breaking past Mean Machine at about 8 feet, the nose cone is moved from tube #2 to one of the other two tubes, which have standard tube couplers. This tube is then joined to the tube with a balsa bulkhead to form an upper body that's over five feet long. At this point, the recommended delay drops down to three seconds, and, sure enough, the three-second delay resulted in perfect deployment. At an estimated 300 foot apogee, the hikes were getting considerably shorter.
The four-tube version is accomplished by inserting the last tube between tube #2 and the tube with the nose cone resulting in an eye-popping 122+ inch length. I felt silly loading a D12-3 in it, but I wanted to stick with Ds for consistency. In the heavy winds, the rocket was pointed straight up, but was drifting sideways pretty significantly, and was hard-pressed to reach 200 feet (estimated apogee=225'). The rocket never managed to arc over, but the chutes deployed when it had stopped going up. I don't think Ds pack enough "oomph" to turn this monster over. Recovery was fine, and I can't wait to fly this on Es or maybe an Econojet F20-4.
By the way, the guy in the picture (top) for flight #4 (me) is 6' 1" tall and looks like a midget next to this rocket.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
This is an excellent kit, and the versatility is amazing. With configurations from 34" to over 10 feet tall, you can fly this on just about any field in any conditions.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
This is a 10 foot 4 inch tall rocket that is the same diameter as the Estes Mean Machine. It was one of the first I had seen available on eBay and it arrived in about a week. It was well packaged and complete. The components included were of overall high quality. Four 30" BT-60 airframes, 4" couplers, balsa bulkhead, D size 24mm engine tube, fiber centering rings, two 15" silver mylar ...
G.H.G. (April 2, 2006)