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