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Some Things We Learned Along The Way
These are things that have worked for me. I hope that these ideas will be of some benefit to you. You should read and become real familiar with the NAR Safety Code, which is available on the NAR web site at

1. Building Tips:
   A. Find a good place to build your rockets. Something that is perfectly flat to
        build on is a must. I cover my work area with wax paper to keep from
        gluing the rocket or parts to the board.
   B. Lengthen the shock cord. On small rockets, I lengthen it to at least the
        length of the rocket. (Two to three times the length of the rocket if it will fit
        into the body tube.) For heavier rockets, I use 1/4" wide shock cords
        instead of the one that comes with the kit. I use sewing elastic for this.
        There are several types available. I have heard mixed reviews on using this,
        but I have had no problems due to the shock cord burning in half.
   C. Use epoxy on plastic to plastic or plastic to paper/cardboard joints. It will be
        much stronger than plastic cement.
   D. Buy a fin jig. They make attaching the fins to your rockets much easier.
       They have been discontinued, however there are a few still out there to be
   E. Save the instructions that came with your rocket. You may need them later.
       You could also photocopy them and use the copy to make the rocket with
       and save the original instructions for later. I keep most of my instructions in
       a binder for later use. (The ones that haven't been lost in moves from state
       to state.)
   F. Trace your fin patterns onto a journal or something that you are going to
       keep. This will make replacing broken ones a lot easier.
   G. Fillet in the joints to your rockets fins. A small fillet of about 1/8" wide will
       make the rocket more aerodynamic.
   H. On parachute and shock cord knots add a small dab of glue.
     I.  I carefully cut the bag that the rocket comes in open at one end. Then I put
        the rocket in the bag and tape it off when it is time for painting. This is
        used when I paint the rocket different colors.
    J. When painting your rocket different colors, paint the first color then allow
        the paint to dry for at least two days. Next, mask that section off with
        masking tape and paint a coat or two of clear coat around the tape to seal it
        off. Let the clear coat completely dry and then paint the next color. It
        took me a long time to learn this, and now my rockets look a lot better.
    K. Before building your rocket, measure everything that comes with the kit. If
        you need to replace something or decide to build another rocket like that
        one you will have the information you need.
    L. I run a thin layer of glue on the inside of my body tubes from the end of the
        tube down to as far as I can reach. This should strengthen the rocket and
        help prevent zippering.
    M. When gluing your fins to the rocket, run a thin layer of glue on the fin and
        rocket where the fin will attach. Let it dry and then run a bead of glue on
        the fin and attach it to the rocket. This will fill in the pores in the rocket
        and body tube and make the joint a lot stronger.

2. Flying Tips:
   A. Find a flying site that is large enough to fly the engines that you are planning
        to use. It should also be far away from houses, power lines, and rocket
        eating trees.
   B. I always fly a small rocket or two just to get a good feel for what the wind
        is doing. Sometimes it is blowing a lot harder at higher altitudes than it is at
        ground level.
   C. Use a little baby powder on your streamers and parachutes. This will help
        ensure that they open, and will provide a "cloud" when the 'chute opens
        allowing you to see it better. You can also do this on windy days to help
        weight the rocket down, so it doesn't go as high, thus reducing the chance
        the rocket will drift away.
   D. On rockets with plastic fin units, use an expended engine to lift the rocket
        off the launch pad a little. This will help prevent your fins from melting.
        You could also use a clothes pin for this. This is a must for the Estes
   E. Use something to anchor your launch pad down for large rockets or in
       windy conditions. I use coat hangers that I cut to about 10" long and fold
       them into a straight-lined "u" shape.
    F. Take your time when trimming your gliders. It is best to trim them in a field
       that has fairly tall grass, just in case the glider crashes it won't break, or if it
       does break it won't be as bad. It is better to trim them this way than to find
       out when they are a few hundred feet in the air that they need trimming.
       Also, it is better to trim gliders early in the morning or late in the evening
       when the wind is not blowing as hard.
   G. Do not become too attached to your rockets. They have a way of ending up
       broken or at the top of the tallest tree around.
    H. I always use a piece of recovery wadding to wrap the parachute in. After I
       stuff several sheets of wadding into the rocket, I take one last sheet and
       wrap it around the 'chute to help protect it from the hot gases.
    I. If you have a rocket like the SpitFire SSI that has a nose cone that is not
      typical and it does not fly straight up you can try rotating the nose cone to
      different positions to see if it will help. NOTE: This tip was sent to me
      through this page to help me with a problem I was having. It worked for me.
    J. Make a list of the rockets that you own and what engine(s) they fly on to
      keep in your field box. This might save you from flying your rockets with
      the wrong engine and may prevent you from ruining your rocket, due to too
      long of a delay charge or too powerful of an engine.
    K. Things to take with you to the flying field besides your rockets, launch pad,
      and controller: an extra parachute or two, some extra streamers, extra
      batteries for the controller, scissors, an X-acto knife, baby powder for the
      parachutes and streamers, a quick drying glue to make on-the-spot repairs, a
      pen/pencil and paper to take notes on, tape, string for your
      parachutes/streamers, a list of what engines your rockets fly on, A couple of
      spare keys for your launch controller, recovery wadding, extra igniters,
      needle nose pliers (they can be handy for removing used engines from your
      rockets), a wire brush for cleaning the clips on your controller, and if you
      have rockets that use rubber bands or anything special, you should take
      spares just in case you need them. NOTE: This list may not have everything
      you may need on it, or it may have things you don't necessarily need to have
      for a fun day of flying model rockets. It does have most of the basic items
      you will need if you are going to fly a few rockets and don't want to have to
      quit for the day because of something relatively simple to fix.
L. Other items that I take with me to the field, just in case: A wooden spoon to
      help insert the recovery wadding, a ruler, putty to help balance gliders or to
      add to a nose cone to help stabilize a rocket, a small paintbrush to clean the
      lens of my AstroCam when I am flying it, the instructions for two-stage
      rockets, my AstroCam, and trimming instructions for gliders. two extra
      controllers, the clothes hangers that I bend into stakes to hold the launch pad
      down, as mentioned in step E above, paper reinforcements for my
      parachutes/streamers, swivels, used engines to help prop rockets with plastic
      fin units up above the blast deflector to help keep them from melting,
      extra shock cord, and a timer to time how long my flights are. All of this fits
      neatly into a small tackle box and a medium sized parts container, both of
      which have carrying handles and are easy to carry into and out of a field. I
      almost forgot three other things, I have a 10' pole with a hook on the end of
      it to help me get rockets out of trees, a fire extinguisher, just in case, and I
      have a wagon to load everything up in to make walking into a field a whole
      lot easier.

3. Tips for repairing your rockets:
   A. Coming Soon!