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Old 10-13-2018, 08:07 PM
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Default NARAM-60 The Estes Tour

NARAM-60 was a full week of events and goings-on that didn't look like it would ever slow down let alone stop.

One special event was an opportunity to take a tour of the Estes facility in Penrose.

I have been surprised by the limited coverage of this tour on websites and forums so I have decided to discuss this event in greater detail.

There is actually quite a bit of information and history that was seen during the tour so it will be a slow, steady process to present it.

As such it is my observations, interpretations and analysis that will be posted. These are only my own and not representative of anyone associated with Estes Industries, LLC.

In addition, I will ask that no-one post to this thread. Any posts other than my own will be deleted.

Soooo, let's get started.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:40 PM
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Getting ready for a NARAM, especially one that I can load up the car and drive to it, really opens up the possibilities.

I can bring more rockets, carry the rocket motors I need and carry extra stuff.

Trip Barber was organizing the Old Rocketeer Reunion (ORR) (And he did an excellent job of it, too).
Trip would occasionally send out e-mail updates about the status of the ORR to people who had paid and registered for the event.

Trip's update for Saturday, July 21st, had an interesting item listed:

"Estes Industries in Penrose is welcoming a limited number of guests to participate in a tour of the "Model Rocket Capital of the World" during NARAM-60. Tours will be held on Monday, August 6th, 2018 at 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM and will be led by Estes President, Ellis Langford. Estes is extending this invitation to Rocketeer Reunion participants before making it available to the general public. If you are interested in touring the Estes facilities, please visit their Sign Up Genius link to reserve a guest slot for your preferred tour time. Registration will close at the end of the day on July 27, 2018.

Please note that adults will be required to present a driver's license or identification card to enter the Estes facility."

Oh heck yeah!

I couldn't type my keyboard fast enough.

The question for me was: Which tour time do I want to sign up?

I decided to go with the 10:00 AM morning tour. That way I could still go rocket flying in the afternoon.

I received confirmation that I had been registered for the tour.
The next step was that I had to send a copy of my Driver's License for review as Estes is a "homeland security regulated facility".

That done I went back to packing.

A few days later I received a confirmation e-mail from Estes that they had received the copy of my ID.

Back to packing.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:00 PM
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Monday, August 6th, dawned as a nice sunny day.

After cleaning up and having breakfast I walked three minutes to the 'other' Marriott hotel down the street where many of the NARAM-60 participants were also staying.

I met up with Turbofireball (Who graciously volunteered to drive) and Tony P., both fellow SoCal rocketeers.

I called 'shotgun' and we loaded up in Turbo's rental minivan and headed off to Penrose.

It was an easy drive up I-25 North to US-50W to Canon City.

As we drove out civilization became less and less as we got closer to the Estes plant.

When one gets to the Estes plant there isn't really an off-ramp or exit lane. One just sort of drives off the road into the lot.

The staff parked to the right of the building on a paved lot. The Visitor's lot was gravel.
Drive time was about 30 minutes.

There were already several cars in the parking lot as we got out of the van. I checked over my camera one more time.

Upon looking at the building one could see that the paint was faded and worn. This was to be expected of something that experienced such weather extremes.

We walked around the front of the building and met up with the rest of the folks who would be taking the tour.
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Old 10-14-2018, 12:42 AM
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Moving from west to east across the front of the building the three of us ended up in mixing with the crowd outside the Estes building.

Each tour was limited to a maximum of forty people with all of us milling around outside one of the entrance doors.

As we waited for the tour to begin, each of us had to check-in and show ID to match the pre-registration list. This duty was handled by Chandra Serfoss who had just recently been hired by Estes. Her background was that of a school art teacher but she had been surrounded by hobby rocketry all her life.

You see, her mother is Mary Roberts.

As one checked-in, I had to review a disclaimer form (Attached) and sign off after reading the form.

The tour was starting late. We were told that a special VIP tour had started before we arrived and they were still on-site.

The VIPs consisted of the Stine and Estes families along with Lee and Betty Piester.

As we waited Turbo and I took turns taking pictures of each other in front of the building.

It was getting hot waiting outside so the Estes folks provided bottled water to anyone who wanted some. Chandra began asking the group questions about Estes to test our knowledge.

One question asked was when Estes stopped having public tours. Bonnie Johnson called out the date. How did Bonnie know this? There was a sign visible through the front that tours had been suspended as of a date in 1994.

Shortly thereafter the front door was unlocked and we were all invited inside.
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:04 PM
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The tour group entered through the East side entrance door.
There are 2-3 steps down and one ends up on a 'landing' about eight feet by four feet.

We then turned right (North), went down a few more steps and entered into the lobby.
Flanking these steps are two glass cases on either side containing an assortment of model rockets.

Upon entering the 'lobby' (For lack of a better term) you are face a coffee table with a padded bench behind it.
To the left (West) is a counter. Behind the counter is a wall with a doorway. Above the doorway was a sign "The Witch is in".
(I think I will stay away from that side of the room).
Also, along the back wall, there is a stairway that leads to the upper level and offices.
On the right side of the back wall are two doors which lead to a conference room.

It is not a very big area an getting forty people in there is a little bit tight.

Here's a picture I took while I was back at the conference room doors looking out towards the entryway.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:13 AM
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So, what's on the right/East side of the lobby?

Well, if you continue to turn right after getting off the stairs you will run into a medium-sized free-standing copy machine.

If you continue to the wall one will find the beginning of the offices.

The first office (Going from front to the rear along the wall) belongs to Mary Roberts.

Next comes Chandra Serfoss' office.

The third office I forgot who it was.

I think the fourth office was Mike Fritz.

The offices after that were unoccupied, several of which appeared to used for storage.

During the tour the staff stood in the doorway of their office to talk with folks (And probably to keep anyone from getting a good look inside. ).

This picture was taken along the 'right' side of the lobby. Roy Green's expression pretty much sums it up.
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Old 11-17-2018, 06:04 PM
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Before I proceed further I wanted to mention the architectural style seen in the lobby area.

It is a 'western/ranch' style look. Common out west decades ago, not so much now.

An interesting item of note is that the walkway walls around the upper floor above the lobby had paintings of the cover of many past Estes catalogs.
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