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REV 2.4 - Tue Aug 17 09:25:39 2010

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Thrustline Aerospace
Pumpkin Head
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SPECS: 17" x 1.6" - 2.4 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: C11-5, D12-5

Rating
(Contributed - by Ron Wirth [Who's Who Page] - 08/22/06) Thrustline Aerospace Pumpkin Head

Brief:
When it comes to picking out a kit to purchase, there are several things I look for in a rocket. Naturally the looks and performance are taken into consideration but another factor for me is the name. So when I was looking for a kit to purchase and found myself browsing the selections on the Thrustline website, how could I pass on a rocket called Pumpkin Head? There are number of different options when ordering the kit with a choice of motor mount (18mm or 24mm) and parachute type (mylar or rip-stop nylon). I selected the 24mm motor with the Orange rip-stop chute (like there should be any other color option for a rocket called Pumpkin Head) and placed my order.

Construction:
This kit along with three others ordered at the same time was delivered to my home by the USPS within a week. I was slightly worried when opening the package since the box was mangled at one end. All the contents however, were undamaged.

The kit contains:

  • 1 Body tube
  • 1 Balsa nose cone
  • 1 Engine tube
  • 1 Engine hook
  • 1 Engine trust ring
  • 1 Engine clip retaining collar
  • 2 Fiber centering rings
  • 1 Kevlar shock cord and elastic shock cord
  • 1 Launch lug
  • 1 Steel eyelet
  • 1 Balsa sheet for fins
  • 1 Decal sheet
  • 1 Rip-Stop chute with swivel (option upgrade)
  • 1 Instructions
Thrustline Aerospace Pumpkin Head

There are 15 steps listed on the instruction sheets with a B&W photo for nearly each step. The kit assembles by starting with the motor mount and this is where I ran into a problem. The centering rings that were packed in the kit were the wrong size. When I emailed John at Thrustline, I promptly received a reply within 10 minutes and the proper parts were in the mail the next morning. Once the rings arrived, I continued with construction. The motor mount steps are common to most rockets:

  • Insert and glue engine thrust ring
  • Attach engine clip and retaining collar
  • Slide on and glue the centering rings

During the assembly of the motor mount, you are required to notch the lower ring for the engine clip. The Pumpkin Head instructions do not indicate how but in the Mighty Mick instructions (being built while waiting for my new rings) have a nice picture of a paper hole punch doing this. You will also need to drill a hole in the upper ring to be able to pass the Kevlar cord through after attaching it around the motor mount to anchor the recovery system.

Thrustline Aerospace Pumpkin Head Once the motor mount is dry, it is glued into the body tube. Then you are instructed to mark the body tube for fin and lug placement using the provided fin guide. There were no problems encountered during these steps. You then proceed to start working on the fins. The fins are cut from the sheet of balsa after being marked from the fin pattern guide. I would have favored cardstock for this guide instead of the paper one that is supplied. The balsa is good quality and there is plenty of it just in case you make a mistake. I had no issues cutting the fins. You are instructed to apply a balsa sealer and sand before gluing. I skipped the sealer and just sanded them. The fin leading edge is supposed to be straight by the pattern but I sanded them with a slight concave curve to give the Pumpkin Head some more character.

Thrustline Aerospace Pumpkin Head After the fins are glued, the launch lug is trimmed with a 45 degree angle on each end and glued to the body tube. Once dry, the instructions require you to recoat all the joints with glue and let dry. As a side note, the entire rocket was glued using the Thrustline Rocket Glue in the "awesome twist applicator bottle that's self cleaning every time you close it" and I am very satisfied with the glue and bottle.

Before you finish the rocket you are required to glue and screw the eyelet to the nose cone, then to attach the elastic shock cord to the Kevlar cord and tie to the eyelet. The instructions do not detail this process very well. With other Thrustline instructions, it is explained to string the Kevlar cord through the rear of the motor tube prior to it being glued. After the mount is glued, you then make a loop for a place to tie the elastic shock. When the cords are strung into the body tube, the Kevlar loop is located below the front of the body tube to help prevent zippering during the flight. This was what I did for this rocket.

Lastly, I assembled the rip-stop nylon chute (90% done already) and attached it to the nose cone.

Finishing:
The instructions provide you with finishing techniques and suggestions for colors and decal placement. My process is as follows:

  • Apply water thinned coat of Elmer's Carpenters Wood Filler to fins, nose cone, and tube spiral.
  • Sand and apply coat of gray auto primer
  • Sand about 90% of primer off and apply two coats of white primer sanding in between coats
  • Mask and apply two coats enamel paint (main body color: orange)
  • Mask and apply two coats enamel paint (accent color: black)
  • Apply decals
  • Apply a coat of Future Floor wax with foam brush

Construction Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Flight:
Now comes the fun part: flying the newly built work of art. Recommended engines for this bird are C11-5 and D12-5. For the first flight, it is recommended to use the C11-5, which I did. The rocket burst off the launch pad to at least 700 feet. It was straight and true even with a slight wind. I had planned to launch the second flight with a D12-5, but after seeing the height and recovery from first flight, I will need to go to a bigger field. I had launched about 15 rockets during this launch and I can truly say that the Pumpkin Head was my favorite for the day.

Recovery:
To flight prep the rocket I packed the body tube with a 4"x 4" Nomex heat shield and the nylon chute. The 12' chute floats the rocket gently back to earth. The bright orange chute dangling the rocket high in the air is an awesome sight. The rocket landed about 150 yards from the launch pad due to wind gusts.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
If you are looking for a very affordable 3FNC, this kit is what you want. It is a real winner. If you are looking something else, forget it and get this kit because it is a real winner! I thoroughly enjoyed building the rocket and it is a real treat to fly. Even though I received a wrong or missing part I would follow the advice of the company's motto, "Make Mine.....A Thrustline!" I suggest you do the same. You will not regret it when it happens to be the Pumpkin Head. Did I mention the how cool the name is?

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

GUEST's OPINION:
03/07 - "An excellent review and right on the money. I used this review to aid me in the construction of my own Pumpkin Head and as such was invaluable. The Pumpkin Head's components are top-quality as supplied by Thrustline and the rocket itself is very robust when fully completed. I had awesome flights with my Pumpkin Head on C11-5s (see my flight logs below) till the day I lost it on a D12-5 which I have since put down to a slightly crooked fin during construction." (P.D.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
04/07 - "Actually with any Thrustline you need to coat the decals before using. I know someone else who had the same thing happen." (L.H.S. )

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
03/07 - "Before applying the decals to the Pumpkin Head, be sure to seal them with Microscale Liquid Decal Film. I overlooked this step with my Pumpkin Head and the colors on the decals promptly dissolved when I dipped them in water for application." (P.D. )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Altitude
Wind Notes
12-31-2006 Peter Davidson Est SU C6-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: End Of 2006
- Maiden launch, rocket slightly unstable in flight possibly due to the CG moved backwards by my using an expended D12-3 casing to hold the C6-3. Rocket landed 75 metres away on gravel, slight paint chipping on the fins and major chipping on the nosecone.
12-31-2006 Peter Davidson Est SU C11-5 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds Event: End Of 2006
- AWESOME LAUNCH!!! No CG issues with this launch, rocket reached at least 700ft. Rocket drifted 100 metres to land in the nearby tennis courts. More chipping to the fins and nosecone, will fix.
01-13-2007 Peter Davidson Est SU C11-5 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Awesome lightning-fast flight with slight weathercocking, easily in excess of 750ft. Recovered nicely with a 12' Semroc parachute, no damage. This rocket really ROCKETS!!!
02-08-2007 Peter Davidson Est SU C11-5 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Rocket took off very fast with awesome boost, flight straight and true. Rocket recovered nicely with only a short walk required, no damage.
03-02-2007 Peter Davidson Est SU C11-5 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Great flight, awesome lightning-fast liftoff!!! No recovery dramas, rocket retrieved after a short walk.
03-02-2007 Peter Davidson Est SU D12-5 Didn't See 0-5 mph winds RIP - Rocket immediately became unstable upon launching, veered and took off at an angle after leaving the launch rod all the while skywriting into the evening sky. Lost sight of it as it arced over the nearby freeway at around 1000ft. Status: Lost
07-18-2009 Keith Hamel Est SU C6-5 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Nice flight. Perfect recovery under a mylar streamer, not a sctatch.
04-28-2007 Ron Wirth Est SU D12-5 Didn't See Gusty - Elastic shock cord burnt apart. Lost nose cone and parachute. Recovered rocket body with no damage. I will replace the NC and fly this rocket again.
   

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