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REV 2.4 - Sun Oct 24 00:02:04 2010

Custom Rockets
P.O. Box 1865
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405
(800) 394-4114
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SPECS: 12.75" x .976" - .8 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: MISSING - please submit here
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: 1/2A6-2, A8-3, B4-4, B6-4, C6-5, C6-7

(Contributed - by Kevin Johnson)

Rocket PicBrief:
Futuristic transport design for 18mm motors and parachute recovery.

The kit includes 1 body tube, 1 motor mount, 4 die cut balsa pieces, a plastic nose cone and a 12 inch parachute kit. It also had a 1/8" launch lug and elastic shock cord.

I bought this kit to have something to build while the glue dried on one of my other projects. As I put it together though, I couldn't wait to get it finished and fly it!

The instructions are typical for Custom kits, well laid out and with good illustrations for each step. One of the things I like about the Custom instructions is they provide a template for fin alignment in the instructions that you don't have to cut out and tape around the BT like in Estes kits. You drop the tube onto the drawing and mark the fin locations from that. Then run the line down the length you need with a door jamb. Easy and quick.

Take care when cutting the die cut fins from the balsa blank.. there are some small 90 degree cuts that you want to make sure stay together. The balsa in my kit was a little dry and the die cutting wasn't as sharp as I've seen in other models. You will most likely need to fill the joint of the wings and the tips to get a nice smooth, flat surface. I kinda cheated here and used the decals to cover up the joint.

The suggested paint scheme is pretty slick. The water-slide decals included with the kit are great and add a lot to the design.

Construction Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

I can only give you the info from one flight due to the efforts of one large, rocket-eating tree. For the first flight I used an A8-3 because the flying field was kinda small. I folded the plastic chute, used three squares of wadding and loaded it all up. The boost was straight and much higher than I thought it would be. Nothing like a small light rocket on an A engine. The recommended motors go up to a C6-5, but if you use one, you better have some sharp-eyed folks and a charge of tracking powder to help you find it.

The 'chute came out fine and the rocket started to drift downrange.. right into the top of a 75' tall tree. DRAT! I would have liked to have gotten this one back because it is such a neat looking and high flying rocket.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

PRO's: Slick looks and ease of construction. A great flyer. CON's: The die cutting was a little rough in my kit. Since I'll have to get another one.. I'll compare and post a follow up.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

(Contributed - by Bill Eichelberger [Who's Who Page])

The TriStar is a single stage rocket with a futuristic passenger rocket design using parachute recovery. I built this rocket for my nephew to fly at a recent family launch, but my nephew crushed it before it got the chance to see it's first flight. I repaired it as well as I could, didn't care for the results, and set it aside for two months. I found it sitting looking dejected today and decided to put it up. Judging from the flight performance, I'm glad I did.

TriStar building components include a length of BT-50 equivalent body tube, a plastic nose cone, an 18mm engine mount and a 12" parachute. Fin stock is of average quality. Custom has unfortunately seen fit to go the Estes route with the shock cord. Cheap elastic and not much of it.

This would be a great first rocket for a beginner. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The die cut fins needed a little sanding, but that's to be expected. The only thing that remotely resembles a "gotcha" is the fit of the nose cone. It was a little loose in my kit, but a little bit of masking tape corrected this problem.

Once construction was finished, I used three coats of thinned Elmer's Fill'n'Finish as a sanding sealer, sanding between each coat. I then primed the rocket with Krylon Primer, sanded it once more and then put on a coat of Krylon Gloss White. This is as far as I got in the finishing because my nephew killed it before I could get the blue paint and decals on. The decals are water slide, a nice surprise considering that Estes seems to have gone to "sticker" type decals almost exclusively. I can't say for sure, but it might wind up being a bit of a problem matching the blue in the decal with blue paint. If anyone has built one and figured out a match, I'd appreciate a heads up.

Construction Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Two months after what appeared to be it's tragic demise, I finally flew the TriStar. Turns out it was well worth the wait. I used three sheets of Estes wadding, just because I have a box full and wanted to get rid of some. I used an Estes A8-3 as recommended and was rewarded with a straight, fairly high flight for a comparatively low powered engine. I agree with the other reviewer. A's and B's will put this one up to more than respectable heights. If you want to go with C's, have some friends with strong vision and the will to walk, because this rocket will go places.

Slight problem here. The parachute is on par with Estes quality-wise (making it light years ahead of the more expensive Quest products) and looks great to boot. The only problem was with the shock cord. Too short and of marginal quality. Because I stuck with the stock cord the rocket received a Custom Dent upon ejection. Replace the shock cord with one at least twice as long or more and you should be in business.

Flight Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Pro's: Great styling, flight performance and price make this one a must for beginners. Con's: Shock cord too short. Nose cone a little loose. These are both very minor concerns and easily corrected.

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

06/09 - "My fins required a lot of blade work to free them from the sheet and a bit of sanding to get both fins of each set the same size. The nosecone was very loose but a couple of wraps of masking tape fixed that. It is a good tip to test fit the motor mount as I had to sand the centering rings down to get a nice fit. Apart from these setbacks, the model built up well, and at the end of the day it looks pretty good. It would have been good if the fins were laser cut, but all in all I like this kit." (P.L.)

05/08 - "I think the review was accurate. The fins/wings are die cut balsa and require a little cutting to free them from the sheet. However, this is not a big deal and takes no longer than a few minutes. The nose cone fits way to loose. To fix that I just primed and painted the entire nose cone to build up the shoulder. Overall it's a nice kit, nice price, and well worth your time. Makes a very sharp rocket thatís more than a normal fin nose cone look." (J.B.)

09/02 - "The review is about what I had encountered. I built the kit per the instructions, and used Dupli-Color acrylic primer as a filler. I then sprayed the entire rocket Testors #2943 Bright White. I sprayed the nose cone a Testors Acryl Engine Blue and it did not match the decals. I later found that Testors #1211 matches the blue decals. My first flight was with an A8-3. The rocket looked great in flight, and ejected the parachute at apogee. The 2nd flight was with a B6-4 and went about 400 ft. At apogee, the nose cone and parachute came apart from the body. The body came down first and actually glides! I caught it and also was lucky to recover the nose cone a little later." (J.W.)

07/01 - "I agree with this reviewer. The nose cones are a horrible fit, and the shock cord was taken straight from Estes' play book. This was the second rocket my son had ever built, and the fins sheared off at apogee. Don't know why. This rocket will really boogie on a B motor, but he is afraid to fly it again because of the fin problem. So, I'll just have to get one for myself, strengthen the fins and fatten the nose cone, and see what a D21 will do!" (K.R.J.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

10/10 - "There are at least two different 'editions' of the Tristar, and each has decal sets with different shades of blue. I purchased two kits and found one kit's decal sheet featured a deeper, darker blue rather like Midnight blue and the other kit's sheet used a lighter shade of blue similar to sky blue. Be sure to take your decal set out shopping with you if you need to buy paint for the project. Also, Custom Rockets just reported to me that Tristar is now OOP." (R.O.M. )

01/04 - "When building this kit, be sure to test-fit the parts of the engine mount before gluing. I found both engine mount rings to be an extremely tight fit onto the engine tube (especially once the engine retaining clip is in place). A little sanding on the inside of the rings might be in order. This issue was complicated by the engine tube itself being a little on the flimsy side, and thus being very susceptible to being bent when trying to slide on those too-tight rings." (M.J.M. )

06/02 - "I made some fairly obvious changes to this kit in order to prolong its life: (a) Substituted cotton package cord for the shock cord included in the kit. (b) Wicked CA into the body tube at the nose cone end to stiffen it up and make zippering less likely. (c) Wicked CA into the motor mount tube at the nozzle end to stiffen it up. (d) Folded back the dangling end of the engine hook, clipped off the excess, and filed off any sharp edges. (e) I painted the nose cone end of the body tube (about 1/4") with the same blue spray paint that I used for the nose cone. Good thing too, because the decal didn't wrap all the way around the body tube and I would have had a 3/16" gap glaring obvious if I hadn't decided to paint the front end of the tube. (I always try to avoid putting a decal right up against the front edge of a body tube -- it very often gets dinged up if it's butt-up against the front edge of the body tube.) While I liked the fact that the kit had water-slide decals, I found the decals in my kit were printed "fuzzy" ... the blue outlines weren't crisp. The decals had also cracked and I didn't notice this until I was trying to apply the blue decal at the front end of the body tube. I will be more careful of this with Custom kits in the future and give the decals an overcoat of Microscale Decal film if needed. I think the decals would have laid down nicer if I'd have done this, too. The "windscreen" decal would have laid down better if I'd put some slits in it where the "posts" are before laying the decal down on the nose cone. Note that there's some decals that look like a "double flap" or "double spoiler" that the kit insert and directions don't give a location for. I just put them on the undersides of the "wings", opposite their equivalent number on the tops of the "wings". I used Testor Bright Blue spray (#1210) and found it a fairly close match to the decal blue. My friend Jim Hupalar used Krylon True Blue and also found it a fairly close match. I used a base coat of Krylon Glossy White, and a final gloss coat of Krylon clear on the model to seal down the decals. John Joseph NAR 32435 Hawthorne, CA" (J.L.J. )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Wind Notes
10-07-2000 William Beggs Est SU B6-4 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood, CO
- Great flight and recovery.
01-06-2001 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: North
- Great flight and recovery.
06-01-2003 William Beggs Est SU B6-4 Apogee - Perfect Calm - Great flight and recovery.
08-07-2004 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood, CO
- Great flight and recovery.
04-16-2007 William Beggs Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: Mile-High Mayhem
- Perfect flight and recovery.
01-18-2004 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Nice first flight. Very quick boost to about 300-400 feet and it took awhile to come down on the provided chute. Recovered close to pad. No damage.
10-08-2004 Donald Besaw Est SU A8-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Wind test, nice flight. Long walk for recovery. No damage.
06-24-2001 Bill Eichelberger Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - This was the rocket that my nephew crushed several months back. I just wanted to see if it would hold together after being repaired. Very impressive. Guess I have to build another one.
07-02-2001 Bill Eichelberger Est SU B4-4 Apogee - NC Up 0-5 mph winds - Another great flight for the rocket I once almost junked. It will be it's last, though. Floated off and we never saw it again. I've already bought it's replacement.
04-03-2005 Andrew Grippo Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds - Very straight flight and good recovery. Nice altitude with this small motor. Short walk to recover. This rocket begs to be upscaled.
11-03-2005 Andrew Grippo Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Low and slow flight with close recovery. No damage to rocket.
01-07-2006 Andrew Grippo Est SU B4-4 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Good straight flight that didn't get much height but still fun to watch. Recovered without damage.
06-02-2007 Andrew Grippo Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Monthly Launch
- Good flight and recovery.
02-23-2008 Andrew Grippo Est SU B4-4 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Monthly Launch
- Nominal Flight
01-27-2001 Kenneth Johnson Est SU B6-4 Very Early 5-10 mph winds - Ouch! Maiden voyage was hampered by a trademark Custom loose nose cone! Wobbled loose on the way up, zippered, but recovered all the pieces to rebuild.
05-10-2003 Gary,Jacob Letcher Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Still goes high, even on the smaller motor, Wanted to be sure we'd have no problem finding it this time, but next time back up to B's
04-20-2003 Gary Letcher Est SU B6-4 Didn't See 10+ mph winds - Shouldn't launch this in the wind. It will drift a long way. Found mine in a trailor park 1/2 mile away. Out of sight and fast,,,Fun Rocket. Very lucky to find it
05-26-2004 Mike Mistele Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Flew nicely into a breeze, slowly spinning as she went up. Good recovery deployment, landed safely. A snapped parachute shroud line, but that's easily repairable.
05-06-2006 Mike Mistele Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds - Nice flight. Parachute didn't fully deploy (looks like the shroud lines got a bit melted), but landed softly anyway.
07-13-2006 Mike Mistele Est SU A8-3 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds - Nice flight, but shock cord and parachute shrouds got tangled up with one of the fins, and it fluttered down. Looked like a soft landing, but it cracked a fin.
08-15-2006 Mike Mistele Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Weathercocked a bit. Mylar chute partially melted, and didn't fully deploy, but still landed softly. Repaired fin from last time held up nicely.
08-20-2010 Mike Mistele Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Up 10+ mph winds RIP - Good flight, but parachute never unfolded, and it landed hard. Snapped one of the fins in the middle. Doesn't look to be salvageable. Status: Not Repairable
10-00-2002 Ian Nelson Qst SU A6-4 None - Nose Cone Stuck Calm - WOAH This motor rocks with this rocket. no ejection... so what?No damage
04-02-2006 Andy Turits Est SU A8-3 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Fast off the pad and straight to about 500 feet. Chute failed to open. My bad..I forgot the Powder. Broke fin assembly on landing. Nice flyer.
05-13-2006 Andy Turits Est SU A8-3 Apogee - NC Up Calm - Nice straight boost for model with recently re-attached fin. Went about 450 feet up. Uneventful recovery about 150 feet from pad.
10-15-2006 Andy Turits Est SU B6-4 None - CATO Light winds RIP - sadly, the Tristar which has been plagued with fin failures shredded itsself to bits today...It looked kinda cool vaporizing and the nose cone can be repurposed. Status: Not Repairable
10-14-2000 Larry Zeilmann Est SU B6-0/Est SU B6-6 None - Staging Failure Didn't Record -

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