(Contributed - by Gregg Discenza - 08/21/10)
The Custom Rockets S.L.V. is a futuristic rocket kit with three different sizes of ,
two different card stock tube transitions, and six small fins. The manufacturer lists it as a Skill Level 3, and I feel
that it is more of a 2, with a few tricky spots.
- 1 plastic with base
- 1 BT50 2.75"
- 2 BT20 9"
- 1 BT20
- 1 BT60 3"
- 1 for BT20
- 4 Centering rings BT20 to BT50
- 6 Centering rings BT20 to BT60 (Cardstock
- 2 Sheets of fins (die-cut, but with sharp dies)
- 2 1/8" dowels 6" long
- Sewing elastic 16" x 1/4"
- 12" plastic bag
- Pre-printed card stock for shrouds
- Self- decals
- Tri-fold shock cord mount
Opening the bag, I laid out the parts and took inventory. The first thing that I noticed was the lack of any motor
retention. Oh, joy, my first friction-fit rocket kit.
The instructions were printed on both sides of a single sheet of legal-sized paper, folded into a pamphlet.
Reading through the build details, I realized that this was a dressed-up minimum-diameter rocket, and as such, I had no
separate motor mount to tie my Kevlar®
to. That was gotcha #2.
I followed the
instructions, and soon found gotcha #3, the measurements for the spacing of the aft centering rings are just shy of
1/8" off, and as such, the 3" BT-60 did not cover all the centering rings like it was supposed to. With some
creativity concerning the mounting of the lower shroud, I avoided a complete mess.
Once the gotchas were past, the rest of the build was fairly easy, sand the fins, double-glue the fins with
Titebond, assemble the upper half with the card stock shroud and the smaller centering rings, and join the 2 halves
with the BT-20 coupler. I had fillets on the fins and drying before bedtime, and the next day after work, I
was ready for .
I brushed thinned Elmer's Wood onto the fins, sanded them when dry, and painted with 2
coats of and 2 coats of Rustoleum Painters Touch gloss white. After 48 hours of drying, I masked off everything
but the fins and added 2 coats of Painters Touch gloss black to the fins. Testors gloss black (tiny glass bottles) was
brushed onto the small dowel details, and I was ready for the stickers. I was surprised to see that the shroud details
were printed on a sheet of vinyl, rather than the cheaper paper stickers, and that there were no pre-cut edges, so that
they could be tailored to the exact shrouds installed on the model. The rest of the decals were ordinary peel and
stick, and they went on fairly easily. Two more coats of clearcoat, and I was ready for launch. The only trouble I had
was the adhesive on the upper shroud decal was a bit weak, and I needed to add a drop of to keep the decal in place.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
I flew this little missile three times at the NOVAAR August monthly launch, and aside from
some recovery annoyances, and the fact that I don't trust friction-fit motor retention, all three launches were picture
perfect. On a C6-5 each time, boosts were almost straight up, with a slight spin from most likely a slightly crooked
fin. With a rocket this small and light, the C6-5 sent it high enough that it was tough for me to track, but I saw the
ejection event each time, and each time it was right at . The only negative about flight that I can think of is
the launch lug is a bit tight on the smallest launch rods we have. Otherwise, the SLV is a solid little performer, and
I would not hesitate to launch on anything from an A motor up to a C motor.
This is a small rocket, with minimal internal space, so I went with the trifold shock cord
mount, rather than trying to rig up an extended Kevlar®
cord attachment. On the plus side, the shock cord was fairly long and made of sewing elastic which should outlast any
similar sized rubber-band shock cord. The drawback to the recovery system is the "coil the shroud under the
sticker on the corner of the parachute" which never fails to lose grip on one or more during descent.
If there were space, I would replace it with a nylon 'chute, but as it is, if I choose to continue flying this one, I
will substitute a mylar parachute. Stuffing into the thin center tube from either end provides a damage-free
recovery, even with the loose shroud lines making it more of a than a parachute. After three launches, the
only damage to the rocket is the shroud lines that won't stick.
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
This rocket kit is a nice change from the mass-produced kits from the dominant firm in the
industry. The parts are all good quality materials, and the instructions are mostly straightforward. It is a good
flier, and rugged enough to streamer down if half of the shroud lines decide to let go. The only changes to the kit I
would make are a longer upper tube, and a small nylon parachute to fit in there.
Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5
Overall, the low price and high quality puts this near the top of my "buy" advisory
list, once someone is ready to graduate to the skill level 2 kits.