Hi, and welcome to my online diary on
the construction of an upscaled Quest Intruder, I've named "The
SkyPirate". This was my first custom project and things didn't
always go as quickly or easily as planned. Experienced High Powered
Rocketeers probably won't find anything new or miraculous here.
Newbies and rocketeers embarking on their first custom project may
learn from my experience. One word of warning, this page will be
under heavy construction. History may periodically be revised to
improve accuracy or to give credit where credit is due.
Fire in Las Vegas
Aerotech, the major supplier of high powered rocket motors, factory
burns to the ground. This left just about everyone wondering what
would happen to the hobby. Almost every source of existing motors
was quickly exhausted.
Would you like that super-sized?
I thought it might be a good idea to focus on some small scale projects
and picked up a Quest Intruder from the local MJDesigns. I fell
in love with the design, but I just felt like it needed to be bigger.
So I upscaled it to a BT-56 bodytube and a D motor mount (I also
downscaled it to a BT-20). Well, the BT-56 upscale fueled the fires
of inspiration and the desire to build some absurd scale version
of the Intruder was born. My initial focus was on a 4 inch upscale,
but I didn't think the wingspan would fit in the back of my car
and I figured the fins would cost too much. I considered 3, 2.6
and 2 inch diameter versions and decided on the 3 inch.
Meanwhile, I'd never actually flown any of my other Intruders and
I'd read some reviews citing unpredictable stability.
December 11, 2001
Anybody done this before?
I posted a thread on RMR asking if anyone had done an upscaled Quest
Intruder. No responses, but my SPAM increased significantly.
December 13, 2001
Your ambition will create your obstacles
At the heart of the Intruder, is an exotic fin design. The position
and alignment of the six fins was just as unusual, not conforming
to a traditional hexagonal layout. For years, I'd seen several companies
advertise that they offered custom G10 fin cutting services, but
none them seemed at all enthusiastic about taking on this project.
Jim Turner, owner of Trailing
Edge Technologies, had never cut G10, but volunteered to try.
I had heard a lot of stories about G10 ruining blades, machinery
and health and I valued his friendship too much to accept his offer
until I did a little more research.
December 30, 2001
Is a Confederate Flag the answer?
Well, no. But that was my first thought when Google provided a link
to a Rebel Rocketry. As the Rebel
Rocketry site came up, I realized this company wasn't in America.
Vivid, stunning European landscapes with rockets in the foreground
painted up on the screen. Rebel Rocketry ended up being based in
the Netherlands. Frank DeBrouwer, the owner, was enthusiastic and
the price was right. One minor issue would be the metric widths
of the G10 fin stock. One major hurdle overcome.
||An all Dutch Project? There was something
kind of cool about an "International" project and a trivial
triple coincidence. My Dutch heritage, Jacob Vandergriff was captain
of the Dutch trading ship Swol that settled in America in the
1600's. Add a Dutch rocket company and paint scheme based on the Red
Baron's Fokker Triplane (while the Red Baron was German, airplane
designer Anthony Fokker was Dutch).
|January 3, 2002
Bomber Nose Art
If I was going to build the grandiose rocket that more closely resembled
a plane, I wanted some cheesecake on the nose cone. My first thought
was of Dave
Stevens "Rainbow" from DNAgents, but this probably wasn't
going to be a financially practical option, so I started surfing the
net. Surfing and surfing and...
Photo courtesy of Bill Gee.
January 19, 2002
One less thing to worry about
I finally flew the 1.346" diameter Intruder on an Estes D12-5.
A very stable and rather dramatic looking flight.
However, the red paint looked a little toyish. So the larger version
would definitely have an all metallic finish.
That's no optical illusion, the wingspan of the upscaled Intruder
is greater than the length of the original model.
February 20, 2002
The fins and body tube arrive
The fins were clean and remarkably precise. Frank had done an excellent
I had spent a lot time in front of the computer screen designing
it and setting yard sticks out trying to visualize it. But having
the fins in hand, brought the dream one step closer to reality.
I put together orders for both Public
Missiles and Giant
Leap Rocketry for the other parts.
February 22, 2002
Finally, an artist!
After six weeks of searching, I found a great artist to create the
female mascot for "The SkyPirate". Gary
Ham seemed intrigued by the project and agreed to take it on.
February 23, 2002
High power rockets can reach very high altitudes in a short
amount of time. The resulting decrease in air pressure at these
altitudes can actually cause a nose cone to pop off earlier than
expected. The results are not pretty.
A pair of 1/8 inch vent holes were drilled in both the payload
and booster sections of the rocket.
March 9, 2002
Pre-assembly roll call
The majority of the rocket's individual pieces had arrived and it
was time for a group photo.
From the back row forward:
Motor mount, centering rings and phenolic motor tube.
Booster airframe, PML Quantum Tube.
Payload section and nose cone.
Fins made of 2mm G10 fiber glass.
Sanding the fins
The goal of sanding the fiberglass fins is to provide a surface
area that epoxy and paint can hold on to.
With the Intruder, there was more surface area and pieces than
any rocket I had previously built. I went to Home Depot to pick
up a couple of grades of sandpaper for my power sander. They had
sold out of the coarse grade, so I settled for 100 grit. I also
picked up some breathing masks and goggles. Fiberglass dust is not
something you want in your eyes or lungs. I also wear latex gloves
An hour and a half later, the flat areas of the fins were sanded,
beveling the fins could wait a day.
Later that evening while watching TV, I sanded the outer surfaces
of the PML Quantum tube using a 3M foam sanding pad.
March 10, 2002
Beveling and scoring the fins
Using the hand held power sander just wasn't going to produce anywhere
near even bevels. My solution was to use an aluminum right angle
and 80 grit adhesive sandpaper strips. Folding 80 grit sand paper
didn't create a very crisp corner, so I resorted to butting two
strips up to the corner. This worked much better. Both sides of
the fin get sanded simultaneously and evenly. About an hour and
half for the ten pieces.
To enhance the surface area the epoxy will wick into, I scored
the tang at forty-five degree angles to the root edge. Then I drilled
1/8 inch divots half way into the tang, spaced about an inch apart.