Estes - Gauchito {Kit}

Contributed by Donald Besaw Jr

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Diameter: 1.00 inches
Length: 8.60 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Scale
Estes Gauchito

Brief:
The Estes X-Prize Gauchito is a 1:55 scale model of Pablo de Leon and Associates' Ansari X-Prize entry. This model flies on 13mm motors up to 300 feet, recovers on a 12 inch parachute and has a removable display nozzle assembly.

Construction:
The kit came packaged in a plastic bag with header card and included the body tube, motor mount tube, motor retention hook, motor block, retaining ring, centering rings, shock cord, 12 inch pre-assembled plastic parachute, launch lug, laser cut balsa fin sheet, 1 plastic part set that included the capsule and insert, display base and nozzles and decals.

The instructions were typical Estes material containing lots of illustrations and text and included the fin marking guide and shock cord mount.

This is a skill level 1 Beta Series kit. I found it very easy to build with no issues. I started construction by assembling the motor mount assembly as instructed. I then sanded the fin sheet and cut out the fins. This laser cut balsa was very easy and great to work with as the fins practically fell out of the sheet with very minimal cutting. I stack sanded the fins to even up all edges. I cut out the fin marking guide and I slightly scuffed up the surface of the body tube and marked all fin and launch lug lines. I installed the motor mount inside the body tube at this time. After it dried, I attached the fins one at a time. While the fins were drying, I assembled the shock cord mount. After the fins dried, I mounted it into the open end of the body tube. I also assembled the capsule at this time. I then applied fillets to the fins and launch lug to finish the assembly. I now prepped the model for finishing.

PROs: Easy and quick assembly.

CONs: None.

Finishing:
I started by sanding the model smooth and sprayed the model with Ace brand white primer and sanded between coats. I then sprayed the body and display nozzle base with gloss white enamel, the capsule with Testor's copper enamel, and the display nozzles with Testor's silver enamel. I found it much easier to paint the nozzles by using loops of masking tape to tape them to a balsa stick than using a paint pen to paint them in place on the nozzle base as the instructions suggested. After the white dried, I chipped off some of the white on the nozzle base and then glued the nozzles into place on the nozzle base. An optional step was to spray the model with clear enamel but I decided to pass on this step. I then applied the peel and stick decals to finish the model. Overall, the model looked rather cute and surprisingly realistic.

PROs: Easy to finish, no difficult masking required to achieve the stock paint scheme.

CONs: None.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:
The recommended motors for this kit is the 1/2A3-2T, A3-4T, A10-3T--all 13mm mini motors. This rocket does require the use of recovery wadding and the motor hook holds the motor in place during flight, however, the display nozzle unit must be removed to fly this model.

I prepped the model by removing the nozzle unit to expose the motor mount, prepped a 1/2A-2T motor for this flight, added about 4 sheets of recovery wadding, and packed the chute into place.

The model took off slowly but straight and went maybe 75-100 feet up under the 1/2A, deployed the chute, and recovered safely.

The next flight was on an A10-3T. This is the motor I'd stick with for this rocket. The rocket took off straight and quick and went maybe 250-300 feet up, deployed the chute, and returned safely. Upon recovery, I noticed that the capsule had separated from the insert. Luckily, I was able to find it. You might want to use CA for this step during construction to keep this from happening to you.

PROs: Very nice and low (100-300 feet) flights.

CONs: None.

Recovery:
This rocket uses a 12 inch parachute which is sized about right for it and there is a marking for a spill hole on the chute if you feel that you need the model to descend faster. The rubber shock cord held up very well. Even after two flights, I did not notice any scorching on it.

PROs: Recovers nicely under the stock chute.

CONs: None.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
I really liked building and flying this nice scale rocket. I found it very easy to build and fly and I was impressed with the scale detail on it also. I thought the display nozzle unit on it was a great idea and it made for a nice touch. I would highly recommend this kit. I'm sure you could also use a lot of the parts to clone a Little Joe II as some folks on The Rocketry Forum have mentioned. At about $5.79, I felt it was a great value.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

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Flights

Comments:

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B.A. (March 8, 2006)
This is a neat little rocket that flies well, especially on the mini motors. I almost always launch this one first, to give me an idea of how the winds are up off the ground. I was really surprised at how nice it is.
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G.O.D. (May 27, 2008)
The "Gauchito" is a very accurate reproduction of the concept-rocket designed by DeLeon Technologies for the XPrize contest.- It?s a legacy design, derived from the battered "Little Joe", the rocket designed to test the escape systems for Mercury and Apollo projects.- I have this model, (as a gift from the designer, Mr. Pablo DeLeon) and I'm very proud of it!!!
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R.J.K. (October 2, 2008)
I bought the Gauchito since it looked rather interesting, a bit like a Little Joe. After purchasing it I also had a contest I was running in Florida for Future Sport Scale, an event where you model and fly a real rocket design that has yet to actually be built and flown. I needed a quick entry for the event so built the Gauchito as my entry. The model was a straight forward build and relatively simple. But since I was going to use it in the contest and it was to be judged for static points I modified the plug in engine nozzles to be permanent in the rocket. This primarily required that I cut away a bit of each nozzle where they would interfere with the mini-engine used to fly it. It did make for a rather tight engine fit but added some points for static judging. It flew fine, as a simple rocket like this should, in the contest. A couple of years later I also used it in a contest in Orlando for spot landing. Being small but low powered it was ideal for such an event, provided the spot was not too far away. It actually took first at the contest!
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D.S. (January 9, 2009)
Anyone have any idea what size body tube this is? It's between BT-56 and BT-60. Could it be BT-58, as sized here?

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