On this page I will post my opinions on various topics related to model and high-power rocketry. Sometimes I might go on at length, other times I may just use one sentence. Either way, these are what I think, your opinion may vary. Take it for what it is, exercising my First Amendment right.
My take on the current fight with the BATF is it is just the federal government overstepping it's bounds, AGAIN! 'Nuff said.
Lack of low-power engine variety
Recently, I sent a letter to Estes industries about the
discontinuation over the years of various engine types. Rather than give
you a summary, I will just reprint the letter here:
January 27, 2000 Estes Industries To Whom It May Concern: I am writing in complaint to the discontinuation of several
viable engine types. I recently received a 1998 catalog, and was appalled to
notice that there seem to be fewer engine types available from what I saw in the
1996 catalog. The 1996 catalog surprised me in that there were a few engine
classes missing from when I first started into model rocketry 21 years ago.
Unfortunately, I didnít continue with the hobby, but about 5 years ago decided
it would be worthwhile to pursue again. When I was a teenager and building model rocket kits hand
over fist, there were quite a few engine selections to chose from. Below is a
chart of the engines as I remember them from that time manufactured by Estes,
minus the mini engines as I did not use mini engines (engines marked in italics
are the discontinued types, those with a question mark Iím not sure existed,
but think they might have).
January 27, 2000
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in complaint to the discontinuation of several viable engine types. I recently received a 1998 catalog, and was appalled to notice that there seem to be fewer engine types available from what I saw in the 1996 catalog. The 1996 catalog surprised me in that there were a few engine classes missing from when I first started into model rocketry 21 years ago. Unfortunately, I didnít continue with the hobby, but about 5 years ago decided it would be worthwhile to pursue again.
When I was a teenager and building model rocket kits hand over fist, there were quite a few engine selections to chose from. Below is a chart of the engines as I remember them from that time manufactured by Estes, minus the mini engines as I did not use mini engines (engines marked in italics are the discontinued types, those with a question mark Iím not sure existed, but think they might have).
I left off the C5-3, as Estes did not manufacture that engine when I was flying in the early Ď80s, (Centuri was the manufacturer), so I left it off. It used to be that I had a wide selection of engines to choose from, to fit any particular flight pattern I needed. Perhaps I can understand why the Ĺ A6-0 was discontinued; all of your multistage models are far too heavy to lift of the pad with that as the first stage. However, consider your Comanche-3 kit. It uses a D12-0 as itís first stage (flying in a three-stage configuration). I have yet to fly mine, but itís first flight will be on B6-0 and A8-5 combination (I had bought some A8-5ís some time ago). However, considering the weight of the model and the power of a D engine, I would just as soon not lose the rocket on its first three-stage flight. In this instance, since the D12-0 is powerful for a rocket of itís class, I would like to use the A8-0 in the second stage and A8-5 or even a Ĺ A6-4 in the upper stage. The A8-0 makes a great booster in this case and the A8-5 and Ĺ A6-4 is a viable engine in many models.
I also am mystified as to why the B8-x series was discontinued. Those were great engines that gave a little extra "kick" to the rocket over a B6-x. In fact, I would have loved to see a B8-3 type engine. Again, there is a distinct lack of variety in engines.
Which brings me to a second point. Years ago, single stage models that weighed under 1 oz. always had recommended engines in the upper-stage class (i.e., longer delays), for the reason that they needed the longer delay time so as not to be traveling too fast when the ejection charge blew the chute or streamer out and rip it apart. I know this from experience, since a friend of mine loaded a C6-5 in an older Corkscrew (I donít know if this was the name, you had to glue the fins on at an angle, the kit is now discontinued, unfortunately) and it trashed the rocket. The streamer was ripped from the shock cord and the rocket crashed and was unflyable from that point on.
The point is, this is the recommended engine list for my Yankee kit that I built about 4 years ago, as it was listed on the package: Ĺ A6-2, A8-3, A8-5, B4-4, B4-6, B6-4, B6-6, B8-5, C6-5, C6-7. The engines marked in italics are what I consider to be a big mistake, as the delay is not long enough. The Ĺ A6-2 might be ok, since it isnít that powerful, but a 4-second delay would be better. The others, however, just wonít cut it. Again, lack of engine variety forces me to go with engines I might not otherwise choose and wreck my model.
I realize that the kits Estes offers now are heavier and some of those engines wouldnít work. Well, how about expanding the Beta, Explorer and especially the Challenge series with more kits that are light enough to use them, including but not limited to lighter multi-staged kits? Donít expand the ready-to-fly line, the amount you have is enough. Half the fun of model rocketry is building your kit and taking pride in the craftsmanship you put into the model. I enjoy the challenge of skill level 3 and 4 kits, of which you currently only have three or four in the challenge series and TWO in the masterís series. This is pathetic. I would like to see kits that challenge my modeling abilities.
Another problem comes into play with my own scratch built models as well. If itís a light model, I want to use lower power engines to get a feel for how it flies. If some marketing wizard decided it was a good idea to discontinue these engines, in my opinion they were dead wrong.
In conclusion, I would like to see Estes bring back those discontinued engines (excepting the E class) and expand the skill level 2 to 4 kits. I would like to think Iím not alone. The people I have spoken to about this also agree with me that having more engines to chose from opens up many possible options and can only be good for the model rocket community at large. Thank you.
I recently visited a site where a gentleman has scanned copies of Estes catalogs dating clear back into the sixties. I looked through them to find out when various engines were discontinued and discovered that 1/2A6-0 and B4-0 didn't exist. At least back to 1979 when I was seriously into the hobby prior to the present time. But the fact remains that so many engine types have been discontinued, and this gives rocketeers today far less choice and variety of engine selections with which to launch our models. Another striking fact is the increase of ready-to-fly kits and a decrease in the more challenging models. Although I am currently moving into mid and high-power rocketry, I still like building those low-power kits and flying them. Where is the challenge in just assembling the 'chute and stuffing it the body tube? I take pride in my craftsmanship and love the building as much as the flying.
If have similar feelings, I encourage you to grab a copy of this letter and send it to Estes, but with your name attached to the bottom. Feel free to add comments as you see fit. I have the original file in three formats:
Perhaps if Estes receives enough of these letters, they might just heed our desires. And pass along this page to as many other rocketeers as possible, the more the merrier.
This page last modified on July 23, 2002 10:37 PM .