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Old 04-14-2009, 02:28 PM
MDorffler MDorffler is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Canon City, CO
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Default Ask Mike

My name is Mike Dorffler. Some of you know me, or know of me. I have been a model rocket kit designer with Estes Industries for nearly 40 years. I have over these years developed three camera systems, several launch controllers and launch pads, over 250 produced model rocket kits, several rocket motors, and several rocket related electronic items, all for this hobby we collectively enjoy. I have had lunch with Buzz Aldrin, Scott Carpenter, Joe Johnson and John Dyksta, Grant McQuen, and even Lee Van Cleef and Charlie Bronson, during the course of Estes business. I have made motors for movie special affects such as Firefox, aided in FBI criminal investigations, and even designed the model rocket launch system now in use at Space Camp.

I first started at Estes when the main plant at Penrose had just been completed and the parking area was still gravel. I worked with and helped build the company with Vern and Gleda, Bill Simon, Ed Brown, Gene Street, Wayne Kellner, Bill See and several other wonderful people and close friends. Over the years I have witnessed the many changes of management and ownership, and lived through the periods of company success and those of struggle.

As the time is approaching for me to exchange my modeling knives and body tubes for a fishing rod, I felt it might be worthwhile to offer to share my many experiences and rocketry knowledge base with the YORF forum members. With this post today I am opening the ďAsk MikeĒ forum for the purpose of offering you the opportunity to ask me anything you like related to Estes model rocketry history, model rocket kit development, kit designers, Estes personalities, or what happened when. Iíll share what we found worked and what didnít, why certain black powder types work for motors and why others donít, or even what manufacturing tolerances that must absolutely be maintained for certain components.

And then there is so much to tell about the intensity and incredible work ethic of the many people who I have had the pleasure of working with at Estes. These people are the ones responsible for bringing all of you the hobby of model rocketry in a way none of you have any concept of. Many are gone now but you should know about them. And then there are the antics of the R&D guys who purposely and shamefully tested the patience of Emma, our beloved custodian.

There is much Estes history to tell and for the YORF members to learn. This forum is therefore for you, the forum members to enjoy, and I hope all members eventually gravitate to it. Because I want our exchanges to generally be light in nature, I must request the following;

This forum is for the purpose of sharing information, not for bashing Estes Industries. If you want to vent your distain or anger at Estes Industries for any reason, donít do it on my forum as I will refuse to answer. I will not answer any questions regarding any aspect of the financial operation of Estes Industries. If you want to vent your anger at the government, write a letter to your local newspaper editor, donít post it on my forum. Be civil. You will get far more information from me that way.

Okay, who has a question?

Last edited by MDorffler : 04-14-2009 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 04-14-2009, 02:38 PM
A Fish Named Wallyum's Avatar
A Fish Named Wallyum A Fish Named Wallyum is offline
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We're Not Worthy!!! :d
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Bill Eichelberger
NAR 79563

http://wallyum.blogspot.com/

I was SAM 0058

On the build floor: Centuri Stellar Hercules, Semroc SLS Scorpion, Semroc Squire, RDC V-Max

Ready to fly: Canaroc Green Hornet, Estes Astron Farside X, FSI Eos, FRW Magnum Spartan, Centuri Stellar StarLifter, Estes World Federation Star Probe, Estes Astron Apogee
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Old 04-14-2009, 02:41 PM
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A Fish Named Wallyum A Fish Named Wallyum is offline
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Antics. We're all about antics. How about a story or twenty?
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Bill Eichelberger
NAR 79563

http://wallyum.blogspot.com/

I was SAM 0058

On the build floor: Centuri Stellar Hercules, Semroc SLS Scorpion, Semroc Squire, RDC V-Max

Ready to fly: Canaroc Green Hornet, Estes Astron Farside X, FSI Eos, FRW Magnum Spartan, Centuri Stellar StarLifter, Estes World Federation Star Probe, Estes Astron Apogee
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:49 PM
MDorffler MDorffler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Fish Named Wallyum
Antics. We're all about antics. How about a story or twenty?


Bill - I'll probably write the longer replies later in the evenenings - I don't leave Penrose until late in the day. Be patient and I'll be sure to tell a few cool tales.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:18 PM
MDorffler MDorffler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Fish Named Wallyum
Antics. We're all about antics. How about a story or twenty?


Okay, how about this......

Wayne Kellner, is in my opinion the premium model rocket designer of all time, was a Monty Python and MAD magazine fanatic. I always wondered why he didn't try to write a skit or two for MP.

Wayne relieved stress by suddenly dropping what he was doing and going into a spontanios 'Monty Python' skit, then when it was over would just go sit down again like nothing had happened.

He always had all kinds of different stuff on top of one of his file cabinets, one of them being a plastic DC-3 that none of the parts were glued together. He would hold it up in one hand, vibrate his throut with the other (severe flight vibration) and then would say something like;

Suh!, the left engine is on fire...
No it's not..it's just something in your eye that's blurring your vision...
But Suh, the flames are getting bigger.....
(he shakes one of the wings off)
Suh, the left wing has fallen off.....
No Smedley, that can't happen...this plane was built in the USA!
Stupid Americans, now the other wing has fallen off...

And Wayne would go though this until all the parts were on the floor. He would pick them up, stick them back together, put the DC-3 bck on the file cabinet and go sit down.

Some of you who have copies of some of the Model Rocket News with front pages that Wayne did. I'll go into that later as well.
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:43 PM
MDorffler MDorffler is offline
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Of course you are, Bill. Keep posting.
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2009, 02:39 PM
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Leo Leo is offline
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Mike, welcome aboard.

I must say it is great seeing you here. I look forward to many threads relating to Estes rocketry, from the past to the present
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My rocket fleet and more @ Leo's Leisure Site and on YouTube - My latest project: ALTDuino
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:46 PM
MDorffler MDorffler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo
Mike, welcome aboard.

I must say it is great seeing you here. I look forward to many threads relating to Estes rocketry, from the past to the present


Thnks, Leo. I'm looking forward to hearing from rocketeers everywhere.
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2009, 02:52 PM
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SEL SEL is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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Mike,

Thanks for joining the forum and giving us this opportunity to pick your brain.

Being a motor junky, I would love to see photos and hear about motors that you've designed
and tested, what propellants were used, what worked and what didn't, and why the ones that worked and weren't produced weren't produced.

Thanks,

Sean
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2009, 03:02 PM
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mycrofte mycrofte is offline
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I would like to know why R&D takes so long. Kinda makes it hard to jump on some things doesn't it?!?

P.S. When you do trade it all in for the fishing pole, can I have your job?
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