Semroc SLS Lil' Hustler

Semroc - SLS Lil' Hustler {Kit} (KV-57)

Contributed by Bill Eichelberger

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 1.84 inches
Length: 29.80 inches
Manufacturer: Semroc
Skill Level: 2
Style: Payload, Sport

Semroc Lil HustlerBrief:

Anyone with an appreciation for model rocket history should love this kit, which is a slight upscale of a late 60's/early 70's Centuri payload bird with large engine capability. In updating the kit, Semroc has added through-the-wall fins of laser-cut basswood and a Kevlar shock cord. Everything else remains pretty much the same, as well it should.

The parts list:

  • BC-17567 balsa nose cone
  • LT-125150 main body tube
  • LT-17560 payload tube
  • BR-125-175 balsa reducer
  • LT-11555 inner tube ;-)
  • FV-57 laser cut basswood fins
  • SCK-24 Kevlar shock cord
  • EC-236 elastic shock cord
  • SE-12 screw eye
  • LL-310 launch lugs
  • FV-575 launch lug standoffs
  • TR-115 thrust ring
  • EM-9115 24mm engine mount
  • PN-18 parachute
  • 24mm engine mount
  • Basswood fins
  • Screw eye
  • Kevlar shock cord
  • Elastic shock cord
  • 18" Nylon parachute
  • Decal

As is typical of Semroc kits, the Lil' Hustler comes with a booklet that explains the construction process clearly. That said, once I looked over the separate instruction sheet for the motor mount, the rest of the build was done while I watched football and talked rockets online. The instructions just stood by looking pretty and reminding me what the finished product would look like. While it is a nice size rocket, it's a very familiar build, and the only thing I really had to concentrate on was keeping the fins lined up as the glue set. The fins were slotted and needed a pass or two over a piece of sandpaper to slip into the body tube slots, but with a little wood glue in the right spots and the right amount of pressure, they pretty much set themselves. (Ah, the miracle of lasers.) The finished product looks great even before paint and feels incredibly solid.

I wanted to stick close to the original paint scheme, while at the same time clearly identifying the rocket as one of mine. I sprayed the entire rocket with Valspar primer when assembly was finished then two coats of thinned Elmer's Fill 'n' Finish killed off the body tube spirals, basswood grain, and balsa grain. There was a picture in Launch magazine of Bruce, Carl, and Lee Piester examining a Hustler at the NARAM 49, and I liked the looks of that paint scheme but wanted something that popped a little more. I sprayed three fins and the payload section with fluorescent orange while the remaining fin, nose cone and reducer were sprayed with Valspar gloss black. I then masked off the fins and sprayed the entire lower half of the rocket with Valspar gloss white. Decals are minimal, but they were in this rockets heyday also. Once all was done I sprayed the whole rocket with several light coats of Valspar satin to keep it looking as great as it did when I was done. Not too shiny but enough to protect the paint and decal.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Over the past few years I've found that rockets of this size are perfect candidates for the Estes E9-6, and to date, that's the only engine I've flown it on. While the Lil' Hustler was ready to fly for a couple of months before the first flight, the weather wouldn't cooperate except on non-launch weekends. Finally, after a seemingly endless series of rain and wind cancellations, we got a weekend with wind predictions under our limit. I carted a whole van-load of rockets to the VOA, but the Lil' Hustler was the one that I was most looking forward to flying.

Loaded with an E9-6, the Lil' Hustler left the pad slowly but obviously not struggling, arcing well out over the field due to some windcocking. 1150' was claimed by Semroc on the E9-6, and based on my observations, it made that easily. The nylon parachute looked small when I loaded it but brought the Lil' Hustler down plenty slowly but not slow enough that it drifted out of the park. I followed it down in the general direction of the dog park but found it within ten feet of a soccer field where a game was being played (despite an agreement by the soccer teams not to use the park on this particular weekend). The girls who were playing didn't notice a middle-aged rocket geek or his rocket, but the middle age referee in the yellow shirt and black socks gave me a bit of stink eye. I lived.

Flight #2 took place at the AMA Field in Muncie, Indiana, during the National Sport Launch. If there was ever a time and place for me to be tempted to put the Lil' Hustler up on an E15 this would have been it, however, I opted for the E9 again. (The weekend had already been expensive enough.) Once again the E9 in the Lil' Hustler proved to be a great combination with another flight that easily topped 1000'. The steady breeze that again caused some fairly major windcocking again made the recovery walk an adventure and the rocket was eventually recovered in the soybeans well out from the launch area.

Although the combination of elastic and Kevlar provided for the shock cord would seem to easily be long enough, I had a fairly serious gash in the nose cone due to it rebounding into the fins, which also bore a mark from the collision.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

PROs: Vintage looks, solid feel.

CONs: Could use a little extra in the shock cord department.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Semroc SLS Lil' Hustler By Chan Stevens (May 3, 2007)

    Depending on how you look at it, this is either a downscale to the upscale SLS Huster or an upscale to the downscaled Centuri KF-8 Lil' Hustler. Either way you're gonna want to look at it, as it's a beautiful mid-sized rocket and at $35, it won't hit you quite as aggressively in the wallet as some of the other SLS series kits. The components for this are top notch quality and include some ...


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