New member and Thanks for the help!
I just joined, but I have been poking around your message archive for days getting ready for our pack's space derby. I also had to get the pack's track rig in shape for the event, after being stored in a barn for three and a half years. But I got it working, and best of all, my son won the event!
Here are a couple of things that I did that may have helped, just some ideas. First, after dealing with balsa wood for years building rockets, I have found that its much lighter to seal the wood with sanding sealer and sand it smooth before you paint. Balsa wood soaks up paint like a sponge, and on a light frame such as these, a few coats of paint can make a difference. We sealed ours, and two light coats of spray paint later we looked great.
Weight is definitely the key with these things, all the rockets that made it to the final rounds were very light. I worked the finish line, taking the rockets off, sending the shuttles back and resetting the electric line judge and such. I handled every scout's rocket at least twice, and My son's rocket was one of if not the lightest one in the pack.
Last but not least, the instructions call for "rubber lubricant" for the bands, didn't really come up with anything for that. Internet suggested Caster Oil, couldn't find any of that. Out of desperation I looked around the house the night of the race and found "Remmlube", its a silicone spray lubricant made by Remington arms for lubricating firearms. It worked great. We didn't bust one rubber band all night, and our plane was beating other fast planes by a couple of feet. I'm sure other silicone spray lubes would work, but this stuff worked great and I will definitely be using it again.
Thanks again for the help!