The Cherokee-D

I've recreated a Cherokee-D from plans and parts, after locating the correct nose cone in a loose parts box at the local hobby shop. I obtained a copy of the plans from Dave Davis, the local Tripoli prefect, redrew the fin patterns, centering rings, and fin marking guide in order to have precise, clean originals to work from, and started cutting balsa and cardboard. Several hours' work later, over the space of several weeks, I had a rocket ready for paint.

 Given that this rocket was a labor of love (I remember the Cherokee-D as one of the coolest rockets going when I was flying rockets in grade school -- I couldn't afford D motors, so I never owned one, and I was quite disappointed to find it had been discontinued while I was out of the hobby), I wanted everything to be right, so I applied a couple coats of primer, and started sanding. Everything was fine on the nose cone; I sanded through the primer in a couple places, but that was easily corrected with more primer -- after six coats total, the last three red oxide, while the first three were gray, a light sanding left me with a fully primed and very smooth surface, ready to paint.

 The body, by contrast, gave me a little trouble -- when I was wet sanding the first coat of gray primer, I got it a little too thin and raised a number of little bumps on the body tube, due to water swelling the paper. These in turn caused me to sand entirely through the primer in those locations, leaving craters once the paper dried and the swelling want away. After a quick Q&A session on rec.models.rockets, I learned that most people avoid wet sanding paper body tubes, but one person (I've forgotten who -- whoever you are, you talked about using Krylon paint as primer, and finishing with the rocket looking like molded plastic before the final color coat) gave me useful information on his methods. I modified those to fit my techniques, and applied six more coats of primer before sanding another stroke -- the first coat gray, and remaining coats white, to match the color to be applied. Now, when I sanded, I was able to wet sand without the tube getting wet, and when I sprayed the color coats, both the nose cone and body came out with finishes I'd be proud to have on my car.

 This rocket is awaiting only some method of reproducing the original decals (likely in hand), and installation of a recovery system, to fly. It will likely make many of its flights with my 18mm-24mm adapter in place, allowing it to fly on C6, B6, and even A8 motors (this model is, after all, lighter and of smaller diameter than a Big Bertha, and ought to fly higher on a given motor despite the 24mm motor mount). I hope to have it ready for first flight by March 2, 1997. My only departure from exact reproduction of the original Estes design has been to install dual launch lugs in order to allow flight from either 1/8" or 3/16" rods. 

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