Recovering the Estes Quark

This is a bit of musing about modifying the Estes Quark excerpted from my
rocket blog
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. I'm hoping to get some
insight from this group concerning my thoughts on modification.
The first rocket my son and I built was an Estes Quark. After it left the
launch pad, we never saw it again. Trail of smoke, puff of ejection
charge, and we never saw it come down. Apparently, this is a very common
occurrence, if the log entries on EMRR are any indication.
I've been thinking a lot about the frequent "lawn dart" and "lost" entries
and what might be done to improve chances of recovery and increase safety.
Even if Estes thinks this kit isn't dangerous, I'd sure hate to be hit in
the head by that pointy nose cone. If it can bury the nose in the ground,
I'm sure it'll at least give me a headache.
So, what can be done? Posts on RMR from ages past indicate that the Quark
used to come with little weights to attach to the ends of the long fins.
When the motor ejects, the center of gravity shifts to the back and the
rocket becomes unstable... instead of nose-diving in, it tumbles, which
slows its fall. This sounds like a good plan, and it may be the solution
I go with, but I also want to work on visibility. One poster recommended
putting reflective stickers on the fins. Again, sounds like a good idea,
but I'm thinking along other lines.
What I'd really like is a nice metallic red streamer. Problem is, the
standard Quark has its nose cone glued in and the motor is ejected to
reduce recovery weight. And the motor butts right up against the nose
cone. The NC is hollow, so there's room for a streamer in there, and I
suppose that one could manage to rig a standard separation recovery
system, though there's precious little area to attach a shock cord to the
body tube. I'd like to keep the basic construction "stock," which means
gluing the NC in place.
One RMR poster said he'd tried anchoring a streamer into the NC and taping
the other end to the motor. I'd already thought of that, and his did
exactly what I predicted... the ejection charge melted the tape and the
streamer didn't deploy. This idea may still have some merit, if the
streamer can be anchored to the motor in a more solid manner. This would
result in both the rocket and motor coming down together on the streamer,
which is a good thing in my book. No motors dropping out of the sky on
their own that way.
Say I inserted a pin through the back end of the motor housing to clip the
streamer to. Will a Mylar streamer survive a direct blast from the
ejection charge? While being heat-resistant, I'm afraid it probably won't
fair too well, and there's just not much room for anything like a baffle
or whatever. But I might try this anyway, just to see what happens.
The other, probably more viable alternative I've been thinking of is to
mount a thin tube, like a drinking straw, to the outside of the Quark.
Close one end and streamline the thing with epoxy. Roll up the streamer
and stuff it in the tube, tying it to the outside of the engine housing.
I think this would probably be a lot more reliable, but it's going to
create more wind resistance and interfere with the Quark's nifty high
flights. It might unbalance things... twin tubes and streamers would fix
that, but at the expense of an even larger profile. But it could be a
very neat little rocket that way anyway. Might have to try this one as
Carl D Cravens (
Wichita, Kansas, US -- Read my model rocketry journal at
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Reply to
Carl D Cravens
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I don't know how well it would work for what you're trying to do but I've seen references to using Teflon pipe thread sealing tape as heat-resistant material for mini streamers.
-dave w
Reply to
David Weinshenker
Interesting... while I knew pipe thread tape was Teflon, I guess I never thought about it being heat-resistant. I might have to try that out. Not as cool as a metallic Mylar streamer, but it might be better than nothing.
-- Carl D Cravens ( Wichita, Kansas, US -- Read my model rocketry journal at
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Reply to
Carl D Cravens
Here's my take. It's an interesting exercise in engineering to think about the various ways of doing this. But keep in mind they almost all significantly increase the complexity. The easiest things to do are (1) make the rocket longer or (2) use a shorter motor.
With an extra inch or two of airframe, a recovery system can be accomodated in a fairly straightforward manner.
Or, you can use MicroMaxx motors which will allow the needed space. (Or you could saw off the empty end of a 1/4A or 1/2A motor (not to be flown at club launches).
The weights mentioned is where I'd spend my engineering energy. Figure out how much fin tip weight is needed to make it unstable after ejecting the motor but stable with the motor. As I understand it, that's how the old Streak was supposed to work, but all my motor spitters (Quark, Mosquito, Streak) lawn-dart in, and that's heck on the Streak's balsa nosecone.
The big challenge would be to find the right fin and weight combo that minimizes the sensitivity to changes. IOW, it will maintain the stability/instability relationship needed for true tumble recovery while tolerating most of the variations encountered from builder to builder such as heavy paint, over sanded fins, etc. It may not be possible, but that added insensitivity is what will make a design really stand out.
My two cents.
Reply to
Doug Sams
My primary reason for doing it. If rocketry was just assembling a model and shooting it into the air, it wouldn't be quite so interesting.
True, though I'd ideally like to find a solution that:
* doesn't alter the visual appearance of the rocket (fin weights would be less obvious than a longer BT) * doesn't require very complex preparation before launch (cutting down each motor, etc)
This is an interesting solution. I don't have any experience with these, though I'm surprised to find that there's a market for rocket motors that fit inside a Bic pen. Of course, using a MM motor would solve the problem without adding a recovery system because the rocket would never get out of visual range. :)
This is where I think I'm settling. It's the most challenging and changes the rocket's appearance the least.
Hm. I hadn't thought about reproduceability. Thanks for pointing that out... a solution that works well for others would be ideal.
And they were much appreciated, thanks.
-- Carl D Cravens ( Wichita, Kansas, US -- Read my model rocketry journal at
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Reply to
Carl D Cravens
Yeah, but then you'd have to reliably attach the motor to some sort of a retention for each and every launch. It would work, though, Kevlar attached to the NC, and to the motor with a big wad of teflon plumbers tape in the middle-ish, which would deploy on motor ejection.
I might try the Micromax route, *with* ejection.
Reply to
Safety pin with the main clip cut off and the spring rebent and sharpened as follows:
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The tips stick inside the rear of the motor reliably. I used it in the 70's for winning altitude events.
Pardon the tech post and original published content.
> It would work, though, Kevlar > attached to the NC, and to the motor with a big wad of teflon plumbers > tape in the middle-ish, which would deploy on motor ejection. > > I might try the Micromax route, *with* ejection. > > tah > > -- > > Tod A. Hilty > Hilty Information Systems > > Do not look in the direction of the flash... > Curl up in a ball as you hit the ground... > > CAUTION: The Mass of This Product Contains the Energy Equivalent > of 85 Million Tons of TNT per Net Ounce of Weight > > Please replace weinerboy dot org with adelphia dot net for reply.
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
Very interesting idea, Jerry, and definitely worth a try... I'd be concerned, though, with 1) the relatively small area of pressurization in the tube (read extremely high velocity exit), and 2) the usually "over-energetic" ejection charge of the 1/2, and 1/4 A's...
It'd be neat if the contraption could somehow be cantilevered in the middle, such that the greater the ejection force pulling on the kevlar, the more force applied to driving the "hooks" into the casing.
Something like minature reverse ice tongs, maybe...
OK, I'll let it slide... just this once...
Reply to
Rockets with high speed parachute deployments have shock lines that are zigzagged and taped to act as a staged dampener. That could be done on a rear ejection line. I never bothered.
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
Point. But, the major design consideration is, in this case, cramming it all into the limited "forward storage area" of a Quark (or Mosquito, in my case)...
I'm wondering if the "pin spring" could be bent enough, maybe with the addition of a little heat, to "reverse" the direction of the pull.
Building a little set of "reverse ice tongs", if you will...
Reply to
Maybe fill the nosecone with red chalkdust/talcum powder? give you ared streak all the way down to impact maybe.
I think you'd have to cut a hole in the side of the body tube, that will be blocked by the motor. the hole would help agitate the powder to keep it frombeing vacuum locked in the nose.
Reply to
Tater Schuld

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