Quest - ReTracer {Kit}

Contributed by John Chapman

Manufacturer: Quest
(by John Chapman - 04/09/06) (MODS) Quest Tracer

When a Quest Tracer hangs in a tree for a year, the fin can is all that's left. This mod uses the Nemesis nose cone with the Tracer fin can to produce a stable X-15 looking standard rocket.

The first and most important step is to gently "age" the Tracer in a tree for one year, teaching your son the important lessons of wind evaluation and patience. Naturally, after a full winter, even the engine hook is rusted junk. The fin can, however, is sturdy and reusable.

Using the same instructions as one uses for an original tracer, you:

  1. Assemble a standard 18mm motor mount with engine hook (using aliphatic resin glue or epoxy).
  2. Assemble 24" Kevlar® cord tied around extra centering ring.
  3. Notch the extra centering ring and epoxy it in place about an inch ahead of where the forward end of the engine mount will end up.
  4. Assemble engine mount so bottom is flush with end of body tube and glue it with epoxy.
  5. Test friction fitting film can on end of body tube. Just as with Tracer, use varying length of masking tape wrap to achieve friction fit of fin can.
  6. Mask body tube so that final 2.5 inches are clear and paint with high gloss Krylon plastic paint.
  7. After drying, assemble fin can over body tube by sliding to end. Mask both ends of fin-can-integral launch rod guide to prevent binding.
  8. Mask cockpit of Nemesis nose cone.
  9. Using rubber band or dental floss, mask end of fin can and body tube/nose cone joint. Paint. Use black, so that overspray onto fin can is not a problem.
  10. Tie elastic strip to Kevlar® using figure of eight knot. Tie one split ring onto end of sewing elastic.
  11. Attach nose cone using split ring or fishing connector to shock cord. Pre-rig parachute with small split ring and ball-bearing fishing swivel. Use masking tape to achieve proper friction fit of nose cone into body tube.
  12. Try not to hang it up in the same tree next time you fly it.

The parts list:

  • 1 Nemesis nose cone
  • 1 Estes BT-50 body tube
  • 1 Quest Tracer fin can, aged in a poplar tree for 11 months
  • 1 12" purple Nylon parachute
  • 24" Kevlar® cord
  • Standard 18mm engine mount with hook, set up for BT-50
  • Two split rings and fishing ball bearing swivel plus one fishing two lobe connector
  • Extra centering ring, BT50 size
  • 18" 1/4 sewing elastic strip

PROs: Uses all stock parts with a minimum of cutting. Suitable for scratchbuild for your child.

CONs: Long build time due to tree aging process.

I used three As, one B (CATO fizzle), and two Cs. In calm air, the A8-3 is lots of small field fun. The C6-5 allowed me to demonstrate to my child that, indeed, I have a better idea how the wind works. The B fizzle melted one fin and warped it. I gently reheated it and flattened it inside a book while still soft. Voila! It is now straight and flat.

PROs: Strong fin can means small chute is a good option. Longer body tube makes for nicer flight. In a very stiff breeze, I launched it way out over the water with the wind drifting it back just about even with the launcher on a C6-5.

CONs: Embarrassment factor if I hang it in another tree and need to reincarnate it again.

I used about three 5-inch balls of crepe paper wadding with one fold-over envelope to protect the chute. Ejection has been uniformly perfect.

PROs: This was an easy, quick, and swoopy rebuild. The end product looks better and flies nicer than the Tracer. The added weight is modest and is a plus for ease of recovery. The long shock cord combo makes it look great during recovery. X-15 graphics will make this look fabulous.

CONs: The Quest Tracer is not being made any more. Soon, trees will be the only source of this film can.

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