The Bunny and I go back a long way. Back in the day, the Cloudhopper was the only original Goony that I owned, that one being a $0.79 close-out table rescue back in 1977. That rocket had an unfortunate solitary flight into the underside of the eaves of our house. (I had a heck of a time painting over the "Rocket Red" smear that the rocket left without my parents knowing what I was up to.) I still have one of the fins. Many years later I turned an Estes Fat Boy into a Star Snoop upscale with very impressive results. As a result of that success, I decided to revisit the Cloudhopper for my second upscale, the results being quite a bit less satisfying.
The parts list:
At the time of construction I decided to do the project using materials that I had on hand. Because of the immediacy of the project, I decided to make my own centering rings out of cardboard, something that I'd never before tried. (They weren't much to look at, but they worked fine.) Because the Star Snoop always seemed underpowered, I'd decided to go with a 24mm motor mount over the 18mm that had come with the Fat Boy, so the motor tube was made with a section of BT-50. To my great surprise, the results were quite acceptable, and the entire motor mount was obviously solid. I should add that the Kevlar® was knotted behind the uppermost centering ring and glued into place with wood glue.
Fin mounting was another story. I didn't do such a great job in lining up the fins when I mounted them, resulting in the bunny looking like it was standing on its tip-toes. I chalked it up to the different angles of the upscale, but I should have ripped them off and started over. They caused a wobbly first flight, the conclusion of which resulted in one of the rudders being shattered. The bunny was retired to a dusty corner of the shop for a while.
Four years later I got Goony fever. I not only built 1:1 versions of each Goony but also completed all six as upscale birds. After looking over the wrecked Cloudhopper, I decided that not only would resurrection of the project involve finishing the paint and decals but also in the reorientation of the wings. I ripped the wings off and moved each about 1/2 inch toward the stabilizer. The results weren't aesthetically pleasing due to the rather obvious scars from removal, but the new fin orientation made a huge difference in flight stability.
Since my original Cloudhopper was built around the time I made my bulk buy of "Rocket Red" bargain spray paint find, I had a "Rocket Red" bunny. Surprisingly, "Rocket Red" spray paint is not available these days, which probably explains my bargain find, forcing me to go with a more generic fluorescent red. The first flight came during the red phase, but when I decided to build the whole Goony fleet, I decided to go with the more traditional yellow color, spraying Valspar Bumblebee Gloss directly over the flat red. This gave the bunny an orange tint that was somewhat more in keeping with the original color.
The original decals for this rocket were stickers, but my past experience with trying to make my own met with lousy results. Because of this I just went with an upscaled decal printed on Bel Decal white decal paper. It looked and worked great.
Flight and Recovery:
The first flight of the big bunny was back in 2003 on a D12-5. I wasn't entirely pleased with the looks of the finished product at that time, so this flight would be done in primer, albeit fluorescent primer. Flight #1 was something less than completely successful. From the moment it left the rod it wiggled and seemed to have trouble getting up to actual flying speed. The D12-5 was a good choice, lifting the rocket to a respectable height and ejecting just as the rocket had begun to arc over. At this point what happened was just a combination of the mass of the rear fins and a reefed 18" chute. Had the rocket hit the ground with anything other than the large upper fin structure, it might have survived the flight with no damage. Unfortunately it landed directly on one of the rudders, which shattered. So much for three flights for the review.
Four years later, after a near complete rebuild, the bunny took to the skies again. Since the stability of the first flight had been questionable, I went with a C11-5 for the second flight. From the moment of liftoff it was obvious that the rebuild had greatly helped the stability of the rocket, and the entire flight was notable for the lack of wiggle. Everything looked great at ejection. The rocket was on the way down under the reefed chute, heading for a soft landing in the weeds when suddenly the body dropped to the ground. The chute and nose cone kept on drifting into the weeds, but the body crashed to the ground, landing hard on the previously undamaged rudder. So much for previous undamage. A second hit caused the previously damaged rudder to loosen. The score so far: two flights, both of which caused major damage. This bunny seems cursed. (As was the original.) Postmortem examination of the parts seems to point to the sewing elastic shock cord snapping due to dry rot over the four year layoff. The Kevlar® showed no unusual wear, and with a new piece of heavier duty sewing elastic, the whole oft-rebuilt mess will fly again someday soon.
PROs: It's big. It's a Goony. It's big and Goony.
CONs: The basswood makes it heavy, and with the fin setup, all of the weight is massed at the rear of the rocket. If I had to do it over again I'd do it with balsa and a longer piece of Kevlar®. I also wouldn't let it sit for five years between flights.