Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 0.74 inches
Length: 15.37 inches
Manufacturer: Custom Rockets
Skill Level: 2
Style: Contest, Payload

Rocket PicNow this is an egg lofter! Custom has trimmed the weight and size of its new Elite down to the bare essentials required to get an egg as high into the air as possible. The light-weight payload section with its power series nose cone (often mistakenly called "parabolic") is its most prominent feature and is reminiscent of the old Nova Egg Cone once found on Apogee's Hydra. The minimum diameter body tube and hard balsa fins further cut weight, and the sparing water slide decals keep surface finish smooth while adding just the right touch of class. The Elite could be painted just about any decent color (red springs to mind as a good choice), but the suggested basic gloss black touted on the bag art makes for a serious-looking bird. Performance is terrific for a kit egg lofter; on a C6 engine, the Elite shames my Estes Omloid by over 100 feet! Her pre-cut 18" diameter mylar 'chute makes for some good duration, too.

The fin material is the hardest I've ever seen in a model rocket kit, and the launch lug standoffs are made from tough, laser cut plywood, also very unusual for a kit under $10. The die cutting on the fins was superb, they practically fell out of their stock. Parts count is minimal, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. A goodly amount of technique is discussed, but a few steps (and parts) need work.

There is no wrap-around fin alignment guide, and the stand-up one does not provide a location mark for the launch lug stand-offs. Separating the payload sections is done after the model is pained, and without careful handling, the paint can chip or scratch. The payload section has a lot of flash, and though it can be removed fairly easily, a lot of sanding is required to get a good finish after paint. The fit to the body tube was very loose, requiring two wraps of masking tape to come right. (Granted, its probably supposed to be a little loose so the engine core is retained, but it was really loose, folks.)

The shock cord and 'chute mounting hole in the transition is way too small; I cut another though the interior taper and used that to attach an 18" length of 1/8" shock cord, the included length being way too short. The mylar 'chute uses the old tape disk method for attaching the shroud lines (which are very thin and tough to work with), notoriously unreliable, especially for a payload-carrying rocket. I punched holes in the disks and tied the lines on a la the current Estes system.

Rocket Pic

Painting the plastic parts was a bit of a challenge; the interior of the payload section jointing ring must be masked to prevent over-spray. The payload section must be sanded thoroughly for the paint to get a good grip. Not much chance of keeping it in its clear state. (NOTE: Later production Elites have black payload sections.) The water slide decals have a lot of clear border, and required a bit of trimming to look right on the model. No mention is made in the instruction for airfoiling the fins (the unusual semi-ellipse form would have made this tough to do, anyway), and the blunt edges make for a rough appearance. If I had this bird to do over, I'd design and attach my own fins.

Why are the good looking ones always such pains to build? I'd rate the Elite a 2½ on the Essence scale, needs some improvement.

As I said, this bird is a real go-getter! A quick check in VCP told me that she wasn't stable enough to fly empty, so for her first flight I loaded her with an egg and an Estes B6-2. Empty she only weighs about an ounce, so the addition of a two ounce egg doesn't hurt her performance that much. My C6-3 flight with a grade AA egg more than doubled the altitude of her B6 effort, and it sure was impressive! The Elite isn't going to beat the one-off or high-end birds you see at meets, but she'll take anybody's Scrambler or Omloid at your club shoot, and quite convincingly, too. (If the manufacturer can be believed, she'll beat (no pun intended) Aerospace Speciality Products' 18 mm Eggstravaganza, too.)

Just a couple very minor complaints about operations; packing foam isn't included, I had to scare up some old open cell stuff to cushion the egg. I was also disappointed that she wouldn't fly empty and with the absence of a motor retaining clip.

If you're looking to get into egg lofting on a budget, the Elite is the only way to go. I'd rate her a 4½ on the Essence scale for flight, as close as you can get to perfect for $7.95 (MSRP).

Custom needs to improve the build of this kit, but they've got a solid handle on looks and performance here; I'd rate the Elite a 4 overall on the Essence scale, above average.


 

Flights

Comments:

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D.K. (August 1, 2000)
I thought this kit was an easy, straight-forward build. I always use the Estes Fin Alignment Guide, so I would have thrown out the body wrap guide anyway. I sanded the fins to an airfoil, and colored the whole thing black to match the black egg capsule that came with my kit. I skipped the decals. I used packaging tape to attach the shroud lines, and I haven't had any problem with seperation. The only snag I ran into was the ring that joins the capsule halves-- it won't go over the front end of the bottom of the capsule the way the directions say. I had to slide it on from the back. I'd recommend this kit to anyone. It is my first egg lofter, and I've already won C eggloft duration at two local meets with it.
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L.S. (November 1, 2000)
I just bought this kit and I would like to point out that mine came with a 12" plastic parachute which seems to me a bit small for an egglofter.
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KRE (June 9, 2003)
I hate to be the sole negative here but I downright despise this rocket! Construction was easy but the balsa was very, very low grade. Custom: Please add to the directions that this rocket is NOT stable without a payload! Overall this rocket is the typical maybe-fly, maybe-not product that Custom seems to foster. (Like the Custom Twister, a rocket that should helicopter recover but does not, this kit needs more thought.)Also, for an egg lofter to have a minimum diameter body tube and to consistently beg disaster with a scrunched up, too tight chute; well, this too is unacceptable in my book. This is my last Custom kit. Hello Quest!
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T.T. (September 24, 2009)
This was my first Non-Estes rocket that I ever built. As such it was an interesting experience. For the most part it went together the same as any rocket I’d ever built but there were some notable differences due to its function. First off the quality of the kit was mixed. The body tube was the same. The Fins were die cut out of a very lightweight but somewhat flimsy balsa. Had to use the Xacto to get them out but they worked fine and even survived the tragedies that were to follow, so aside from higher surface roughness (even after sanding) they worked fine. The nosecone was the most interesting part of the rocket. It separates in the middle and is held together by a mylar ring. You put the “cargo” in the nose and then put the top on and clamp them together via the ring. One strike is that the hole your supposed to put the shock cord through is WAY too small. It had to bore it out and really work it to get the cord through. The cord itself is more like elastic than rubber band. The body tube seems pretty standard. Though its very narrow (18mm inside diameter). This was to keep the weight down but it is also the source of many of the rockets problems. The chute seemed sturdy but you do have to assemble it. You cut it out of a square and then stick the little hole reinforcement stickers on it. Then poke holes in them and tie the cord. They provided two lengths of cord from which to cut 3 lengths of chute. Your supposed to cut the cord in half and use it I guess. I did and the length of the cord seemed a bit on the short side. I was also skeptical of the chute being big enough to land an egg safely. The launch lug gets set on an offset piece of balsa to account for the wide nosecone. The narrow body tube proved problematic when fitting the engine block. This rocket has no engine hook and is thus a friction fit. The only thing keeping your engine from shooting up the tube is that engine block. The only thing keeping it from shooting out the back is the friction between the engine and the tube. Getting the friction right is a challenge, too much and you can’t get the engine in, too little and you have problems. Masking tape is your main tool. After it was assembled we went out to launch it. According to the instructions your supposed to put your egg in a plastic bag in case of disaster, but where’s the fun in that. So we got an egg that was just the right size, mounted it up and secured it with the mylar ring. The launch was without event, I was surprised at how high the rocket went given its payload. However at ejection things went terribly wrong. There were two issues. The body tube is so narrow compared to chute size that its packed in their very tight. That combined with the fact that it’s a friction fit caused it to eject the engine and NOT deploy the chute. But the real fun was what happened to the nosecone. The shock of the ejection was more than the mylar ring could handle and the nosecone separated ejecting the egg!. So nose cone parts, egg and rocket come streaming down. The egg was a gonner with a classic splat, the rocket sunk into some mud about an inch but was unharmed. http://sixgun.smugmug.com/Adventures/2009/Rockets/9353309_yMcSp#652905592_x8GJn We decided to fly it again without an egg using an A8-3 to see what would happen. Made sure that there was plenty of friction between the engine and body tube. The launch did not go as expected. The rocket only got 30-40 feet into the air and started to tumble over (later learned it is not stable without cargo), then the ejection charge fired and it blew up. I got the friction right but the chute was packed too tight in that little body and the force had nowhere to go so it blew the back half of the rocket apart. The nosecone also separated again. This rocket was a gonner. If I were to do it again I’d have to carefully mange the chute and the friction as well as using tape (not the mylar ring) to secure the nosecone together. I had pretty much written this rocket design off until I realized that actually this rocket is unique and can be used for things that no other rocket can. The fact that it can launch and then on ejection safely eject its cargo into freefall is unique to my knowledge. What else can send an egg up a couple of hundred feet in style and then have it come down with a satisfying Splat. You could load those little green army men with parachutes into the nose cone and have an airborne assault on your park. You can experiment with all sorts of cargo and recovery methods that you could not do with your cargo trapped in the rocket. I very well may buy this rocket again just for this purpose. If I do I will make one modification though, instead of the supplied parachute I’ll switch it to a streamer recovery that doesn’t have to be packed so tight. Tempted to try and fit an engine hook on it as well.

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