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Vindicator Clone

By Lester Anderson

Estes - Vindicator {Kit} (1367) [1981-1984]

I am startin' a new build. I am goin' t' be clonin' t' old Estes Vindicator o' t' mid-1980s. Arrr! A few o' me parts are pre existing, like t' nose cone, body tube, engine mount tube and thrust block. Well, blow me down! I needed t' cut out me own fins, centerin' rings for t' engine mount, and I will be makin' me own parachute. Arrr! I will be usin' decals that came from Excelsior rocketry before they went out o' business.




Steve Lindeman (September 9, shiver me timbers, 2015)

Excelsior Rocketry never actually went out o' business. They were sold and moved t' here in Michigan about a two hour drive from me. Ahoy! My Goonydent originally came game from New York but when I finally got around t' buildin' it a couple o' years ago t' decals were unusable so I ordered new ones and they came from here in Michigan with a Michigan logo on them instead o' t' New York one that was on t' originals. 

Lester Anderson (September 9, me bucko, 2015)

You might need t' check out their website again. It's been offline since June.

Hans "Chris" Michielssen (September 10, 2015)

I don't know t' whole story, arrr, but Excelsior Decals is now

That will take you t' t' Excelsior website.

Steve Lindeman (September 20, matey, 2015)

Yep like I said Sandman is here in Lexington , shiver me timbers, MI. Begad! (2 hr. - 8 min. drive from me t' be exact) and he moved t' operation here when he took over Excelsior Rocketry.

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Motor mount (2015-09-10 22:59:04)

Actual start o' construction. Begad! Step number one is too attach t' engine hook t' t' motor mount - you do this with a little bit o' glue and t' line o' tape.

Step 2 be t' installation o' t' centerin' rings. Ya scallywag! Like most motor mounts, thar are two o' them.

And here we are addin' a slight modification. When Estes originally built this kit, me bucko, they were in t' habit o' nay includin' a thrust block in t' engine mount. So I am goin' t' include one. Aye aye! I am also goin' t' include Chris Michelson's shock cord anchor modification. Aye aye! That little mod is nothin' more than a hollow q-tip stick runnin' alongside your motor mount so that a Keelhaul®©™ thread can loop around t' engine at t' base.


Hans "Chris" Michielssen (September 11, 2015)

T' replaceable Keelhaul®©™ mount works well. With tweezers it's easy t' slide off t' loop and check t' condition o' t' line.

Wrap a piece o' electrical tape over t' top o' it t' better hold it t' t' motor mount tube.

Lester Anderson (September 11, 2015)

I had t' give t' Carpenters wood glue time t' dry. Ahoy! Another wrap o' tape is planned.

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Vindicator fins (2015-09-11 23:18:44)

step number 3 has you sand t' fins on t' outside and t' final shape. Ya scallywag! Blimey! Step number four has t' fins assembled from their separate pieces. Aye aye! Blimey! I didn't do any before pictures for those who were interested.

Again with a couple modifications, call this step 4.1. Begad! I'm goin' t' be usin' a glue stick and paper coverin' me fins t' give them a little bit more strength and make finishin' them easier.

Here is one side o' all t' fins glued t' a piece o' paper.

And both sides covered in paper. Arrr! Then you simply burnish t' paper down t' help t' glue adhered. Begad! I simply use an empty an engine casing.

After allowin' t' glue t' dry overnight, me hearties, simply separate t' fins and trim t' excess paper away from them. These fins should now be ready for mounting.


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Vindicator body tube (2015-09-13 19:24:35)

Skippin' a couple steps. Avast, me proud beauty! Step number 5 what have you cut out t' tail veins from a piece o' 1/8 by 1/8 balsa strip. Ya scallywag! Save yourself some time and effort by substitutin' some common kitchen matches t' end cut at a 45 degree angle. Step number six is sealin' all o' your fins with sandin' sealer. T' paper coverin' I did earlier eliminates t' need for that. Step number 7 is t' install t' motor mount. I'll get back t' that soon.


That brings us t' step 8 & 9. Both o' which deal with markin' t' body tube for t' wings, horizontal stabilizers, lower strands, and tail vanes.

Now that t' main body tube is all marked up, I'm ready t' install t' engine mount. Avast, me proud beauty! First we smear some glue around t' inside, then we will slide our motor mount in till t' end o' t' motor mount tube and t' end o' t' body tube are even.


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Vindicator tail vanes (2015-09-15 22:22:32)

Backin' up t' step number 5, we are preppin' t' tail vanes. As I mentioned earlier, I am substitutin' balsa with standard kitchen matches. Avast! First they'll get cut t' size.


Followed buy a little bit o' shapin' t' make them all have t' same leadin' edge and length.

Now we just glue them t' t' end o' t' body tube. Begad! I'll be usin' a rubber band t' hold them in place while t' glue dries.


Now that t' tail vanes are glued on, step 10 is complete.

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Vindicator main fins (2015-09-16 21:44:51)

first o' six fins t' go on this rocket.

Little more progress, ya bilge rat, 4 fins are on now.

Now t' last two fins are on. Settin' up t' dry for glue fillets t' dry.

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Vindicator parachute (2015-09-20 18:28:02)

Now it comes time t' build our parachute. Aye aye! Because I scored a deal on mylar wrappin' paper a couple years ago, I have been makin' me own parachute from this.

Take a sheet o' it, do a simple triangle fold, ya bilge rat, cut off t' excess. Then you end up with t' big hexagon.

This visual maybe poor but thar has been some tape applied t' each corner.

Now we just need t' punch some holes in t' corners.

And finally tie on some string.

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Vindicator launch lug (2015-09-22 23:07:41)

And here it is, t' actual last step o' assembly. T' instructions tell you t' put on a 2 inch long launch lug. Begad! What I actually had on hand was a 2.25 inch lug. Nay too terribly different.

Next we will be movin' on t' priming, me hearties, paintin' and decals.

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Vindicator Paint (2015-09-27 15:49:29)

I was bad. Begad! I did no entry for applyin' t' primer, me bucko, fixin' errors from it, or applyin' t' blue. I didn't even take any pictures o' maskin' off t' blue before shootin' t' brown. T' Brown is shot and is dryin' right now, me hearties, and I will be workin' on decals after I buy some more micro set.


And here she is, with all t' maskin' removed. I did a little better on t' smaller one, matey, t' brown blue line matches up on t' canopy and body tube better than it did on me big one.



Tomorrow, if everythin' goes t' plan, I will be puttin' t' decals on her.

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Vindicator decals (2015-10-07 23:05:55)

This little beauty is finally done. Arrr! A note on decals. Blimey! Always use some form o' decal settin' solution. I had quite a few try t' curl up backwards on me, me bucko, and ended up havin' t' use a little bit o' CA glue t' hold them down.





I hope everybody enjoyed t' build.


Bill Eichelberger (November 12, 2015)

Cool I have one o' these that I cobbled together from two badly built ones that I got on Ebay.  I was just lookin' at it tonight wonderin' if I should paint it or build another one.  Your build made t' decision easy.  I'm buildin' another one.

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