(07/20/98) The Custom
Serval was the second rocket that I put together, the first
being Rogue's Hex Courier. The
Serval is a single-stage, 18mm-powered rocket.
The rocket is 23.25" tall and 1.325" in diameter. It
uses a hollow, plastic nose cone and, of course, tube fins (seven of them). An
elastic shock cord and a 2"x36" metallic mylar streamer make up the
recovery system. There is also a small water-transfer decal page with a couple
of strips and the name Serval in black.
my Tube-Fin Rocket Comparison Page
There are four pages of
construction instructions, including an inventory page, 15 steps of illustrated
construction details and 3 steps of illustrated flying preparation tasks. The
instructions are in logical order, including 2 steps on spray painting and
applying the decals. The kit is rated skill level 2.
Assembly of Serval was, for the most part,
without any complications. The motor mount is a standard tube, hook, and two
centering rings. This kit uses 1/32" paper centering rings. Also like the
other Custom kits I've looked at before, it uses the same thin motor hook. The
thin (1/16") motor hook does it's job, however, it seems to get out of
shape easier than the wider (1/8") motor hooks from other
There was also a decision that had to be made on the
motor mount assembly by comparing the illustrations to the instructions. The
instructions, in step 3, read, "Insert the motor mount until both tubes
ends are flush." However, the color illustration on the packaging and 6
other illustrations throughout the instructions show the motor mount sticking
out approximately 1/2". The latter is how it was assembled.
The kit comes with a "fin placement template"
used for marking all seven tube-fins and the launch lug. This template seemed
slightly bigger than the body tube so care must be taken in marking the body
tube, especially the launch lug position. The positioning is supposed to allow
the guide rod to pass through a gap in two of the tube-fins and then straight
through the launch lug.
I used Quick Grab glue for attaching the tube-fins and
have found this glue to work very well on this task. (additional
comments about Quick Grab glue)
The recovery system is a standard 3-fold paper mount for the
elastic shock cord which is then tied to an eye-screw that is screwed into the
nose cone. There is one 6" shroud line that is attached to the mylar
streamer using a round sticker. This shroud line is then tied to the
Plasti-Kote primer to fill the tube
spirals and to make the entire rocket smooth. Then, I used Walmart's enamel
primer for the final coat. While still wet, I dropped the rocket. This required
more priming and smoothing. I then painted the entire rocket bright red with a
black nose cone using Walmart enamel. (additional
comments about Walmart paint) The sample paint scheme on
the packaging shows the rocket in light gray and the nose cone black, but I
like the red better. Lastly, the three black decals were placed onto the rocket
Overall, for CONSTRUCTION I would rate this kit
While preparing the Serval for
flight, I removed the nose cone and shook the line to let the streamer uncurl.
The streamer dropped off the shroud line because the sticker didn't hold it.
This being the second Custom kit using a sticker-to-shroud line approach, which
failed, made me change it right away. I punched a small hole through the top of
the streamer, about 1/2" in, tied the shroud line to it and then put the
sticker back on.
I choose to follow Custom's recommended motor list on the
Serval, using an A8-3 for it's first flight. It's first flight was over
quickly because the A8 barely got this kit off of the pad. It probably only
went 70 feet off of the ground, ejected and the streamer barely got fully
deployed before it landed 10 feet from the pad.
The second flight was on a B6-4 which proved to be a
nice, lower altitude flight. The Serval flew very straight. Repeated
perfect flights twice more on C6-5's which demonstrated that this tube-finned
flyer was worth it's price.
Although I didn't get a chance to fly my
Serval at NARAM-40, I enjoyed watching someone's fly on a "D"
motor. Straight as an arrow. It looked like it was converted to a 24mm motor
mount. I am ready to fly mine on an Apogee D3-7 for it's next
For FLIGHT/RECOVERY, I would rate this kit
points, losing a point primarily due to the recovery system. The kit
flies straight and true and looks good while doing it. The metallic mylar
streamer also adds to its looks.
Overall, the ServalOverall, the
Serval is a nice performing tube-fin rocket. I give the kit an OVERALL