Building the Semroc Blue Bird Zero (part 3)

It was early September last year when I reported I’d finished putting together the Blue Bird Zero, primed it, sanded, and then put it aside due to grumpiness over the tube spirals and a bad launch lug fillet.

At the time I’d concluded my earlier optimism that the spirals were narrow and shallow enough that filler primer would take care of them was misplaced, and I’d have to fill them with wood filler. Which is about my least favorite part of rocket building, so I put it off until this summer, when I looked at it again, said, “you know what, I think the second coat of filler primer will take care of these just fine,” and proceeded to spray. (The launch lug fillet I just ignored.)

After priming and sanding and color painting the spirals are… visible, but only barely, in places, if you’re looking for them. Good enough.

I put the decals on. I put the eye screw into the nose cone after first, as I usually do with balsa nose cones, drilling a hole and gluing in a dowel pin.

And then came what was, if not the stupidest rocket problem I’ve ever inflicted on myself, then at least right up there in the top six hundred.

The shock cord was down in the middle of the body and I couldn’t shake it loose. So I taped a wire with a hooked end to a long dowel and went fishing for it. I caught it but couldn’t pull it out. I fished harder. I… okay, you’re way ahead of me, right? I got the hook so well caught on the shock cord that I couldn’t pull it loose. Or push it loose through the other end. The more I tried the more it got tangled.

Eventually I admitted to myself I was going to have to resort to surgery.

So I cut the rocket right at the paint line. Disentangled the hook and removed it. Straightened out the shock cord. Glued the body tube back together. I didn’t have any BT-55 couplers handy so I made one out of a chunk of BT-55. Didn’t bother with trying to fill the cut line or anything, it’s well enough hidden by the paint job.

I tied the shock cord to the nose cone, applied some Pledge Floor Care over the decals, and called it done.

The suggested color for the original Estes kit was dark blue. But the “BLUE BIRD ZERO” decal in the original Estes kit was white. In the Semroc kit it’s black (white decals, what can you do). It would’ve been invisible against a dark blue and I wasn’t too sure about a medium blue either… and I would’ve had to buy a medium blue, whereas I had the light blue already. So light blue it is. That’s pretty much what’s shown on the Semroc instruction sheet, by the way.

I’d had some trouble painting, too. The Rusto 2X Gloss White threatened to misbehave, as it often does, but I kept shaking it and spraying it on a test surface until it came out all right. But then while doing the blue, near the end of one long pass down the rocket, I think my trigger finger slipped and allowed the nozzle to partially close. Anyway, it spurted a mess onto the rocket. Had to let it dry, sand, and repaint.

Done though.



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