Building the Semroc Blue Bird Zero (part 1)

This is the last of the kits I bought at NARCON last year to be started. I’ve always liked the Blue Bird Zero’s looks and decided, standing there in eRockets, I should have one. I’ve since thought of a couple possible kitbash ideas, so maybe I should have several, but I don’t and I’ll build this one straight.

This is what’s in the kit:
And a tube coupler, not seen here because I overlooked it inside one of the tubes.

The fins are chunky, a full ⅛” thick. The instructions have you round the leading edges, leave the tips and roots square, and optionally taper the trailing edges. Tapering seemed a good idea to me given the thickness.
This balsa was soft. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen balsa yield so quickly to sanding. That being the case I felt papering rather than filling was the way to go here. I decided to use label paper, because I have plenty and it’s been working reasonably well for me. On the Too Square I didn’t bother to use CA on the fin edges; the paper edges seemed to be adhering well (I’d pressed the paper flat with a weight, not that I’m sure that does anything with label paper, but it can’t hurt, I guess) and I felt the fine grained plywood didn’t really need filling. Here, the balsa needed filling, and due to the tapering I could not completely press the paper with a weight; also, a couple of my edges were a little sloppy and will need sanding. So they got the CA.The recommended motors for this rocket are B6-4, C6-5, and D12-5, which confused me until I realized it comes with a 24 mm motor mount and an 18mm to 24mm adaptor. There’s a discrepancy between the instructions and the kit parts. The instructions describe and show building a short 24 mm mount, but the parts in the kit are for a 9″ long one. I feel sad for any novice builders who try to make sense of this, but it’s a routine task for those of us who’ve built a few mid size rockets before.
I glued the body tube sections together with the coupler, with shock cord attached. The drawback to anchoring the Kevlar there is it’s not long enough to feed out the back through the motor mount to tie on the elastic, so the elastic had to be tied on at this point and will be difficult to replace if needed.

I glued in the motor mount and stood the tube up at the back of the bench to dry while I applied a coat of Elmer’s glue to the balsa nose cone.


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