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HOW TO BUILD MODEL ROCKETS
 
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Sample model rocket instructions:

This page will walk through the building of a sample level 1 model rocket kit. A level one rocket is considered a beginner kit that should require 2-3 hours to assemble and only minimal tools.

Before you start:

  • Read through all the instructions steps before starting work on the model.
  • Use the exploded view diagram and parts list included with the kit on to verify that you have all the parts.
  • Collect the tools and supplies (listed below) that you will need to assemble and finish your model.

As you build:

  • Read and understand each step before cutting, assembling, and gluing parts.
  • Test fit parts before applying glue.
  • If necessary, sand or build up parts to ensure a precise fit.
  • Check off each step as you complete it.

Tools you will need to build your model:

Optional supplies you will need
to complete your project:

  • Wood glue.
  • Scissors.
  • Hobby knife.
  • Pencil.
  • Scotch tape.
  • Masking tape.
Construction Supplies
  • Spray paint.
  • Paint brush.
  • Balsa fillercoat or sanding sealer.
  • Sandpaper (320 to 600 grit).
Optional Supplies

Step 1: Assemble the Engine Mount.

Step 1-A:
  • Locate centering rings, engine block, engine tube, engine hook, and Kevlar cord.
Step 1-B:
  • Mark the engine tube 1/4” from one end of the engine tube for the engine hook slit.
  • Make a  second mark 3/4” from the opposite end for the aft centering mount.
Image 1A
Image 1B

Step 1-C:
  • Cut a 1/8” slit in the engine tube for the engine hook.
  • Insert one end of the engine hook into the slit.

Step 1-D:
  • Use a hobby knife to make a notch on the outside of one of the centering rings (this will be the forward centering ring).
  • Make a notch, large enough for the engine hook, on the inside of the other centering ring (this will be the aft centering ring).
Image 1C  
Image 1D


Step 1-E:
  • Place a ring of glue on the inside of the forward end of the engine tube and slide the engine block into the tube until it is flush with the top of the tube.
  • Place a ring of glue on the outside of the forward end of the engine tube and slide on the forward centering ring until it, too, is flush with the top of the tube.
  • Place a ring of glue around the engine tube just below the aft centering ring mark and slide on the aft centering ring, aligning the notch in the ring with the engine hook.

Step 1-F:
  • Loop the cord around the tube and tie a knot to secure it snug to the tube.
  • Pull the string to bring the knot up close to the notch in the ring.
  • Coat the knot with a little glue to make the bond permanent.

Image 1E

Image 1F

Step 2: Mark the Body Tube.

Step 2-A:
  • Locate and cut out the fin alignment guide and the body tube.
Step 2-B:
  • Slide the guide close to one end of the body tube.
  • Mark on the body tube the location of each fin and the launch lug at both ends of the guide.

Image 2A


Image 2B

Step 2-C:
  • Tightly wrap the alignment guide around the body tube to bring edge A and edge B together.
  • Secure the guide with a small piece of tape.

Step 2-D:
  • Use a straight edge to connect the marks, and extending the fin alignment lines and the launch lug line all the way up the body tube.
Image 2C
Image 2D


Step 3: Install the Engine Mount.

Step 3-A:
  • Feed the Kevlar cord through the engine tube to keep it out of the way as you install the engine mount.
Step 3-B:
  • Mark a toothpick 1-1/4” from one end.
  • Use the toothpick to place a bead of glue on the inside of the body tube, using the mark as a guide to locate the ring of glue approx. 1-1/4” into the body tube.
  • Slide the engine mount part way into the body tube.
  • Apply another bead of glue close to the end of the inside of the body tube.
  • Slide the engine mount into the body tube until the end of the engine mount extends 1/4” from the end of the body tube.

Image 3A



Image 3B

Step 4: Attaching the fins and launch lug to the body tube.

Step 4-A:
  • Remove the fins from the laser cut fin sheet by carefully cutting through the small tabs holding the fins to the sheet.
  • Remove any excess tab from the fin by sanding it flat.
  • Set fins aside for later use.

Note: be careful not to over-sand and change the profile of the fin.

Step 4-B:
  • Apply a bead of glue to the root edge of the fin.
  • Press and hold the fin in place, aligning the root edge with the fin guide marked on the body tube and standing perpendicular to the tube.
  • Let dry completely.
  • Apply a bead of glue to the root edge of the fin extension.
  • Press and hold the fin in place, aligning the root edge with the fin guide marked on the body tube and standing perpendicular to the tube.
  • Let dry completely.
Image 4A
Image 4B

Step 4-C:
  • Mark a point on the launch lug guide line 2” up from the aft end of the body tube.
  • Place a bead of glue along the length of the launch lug and align the launch lug to the body tube using the guideline.

Step 4-D:
  • Feed the Kevlar cord back through the engine mount and out the forward end of the body tube.
Image 4C  
Image 4D


Step 4-E:
  • Repeat previous procedure to affix the remaining two fins and fin extensions.

Step 4-F:
  • Apply a glue fillet to each side of the fins, fin extensions, and launch lug where they contact the body tube.

Image 1E
Image 4F


Step 5: Final Assembly.

Step 5-A:
  • Screw the screw-eye into the center of the nose cone.
  • Remove the screw-eye and put a little glue into the screw hole.
  • Re-thread the screw-eye into the hole.
Step 5-B:
  • Test fit the nose cone into the body tube.
  • If needed lightly sand or add Scotch tape to the recessed portion of the nose cone to create a snug, but not tight, fit into the body tube.
  • Tie the Kevlar cord to the screw-eye.
  • Coat the knot with a little glue to make the bond permanent.
  • Trim excess Kevlar cord.


Image 5A

Image 5B

Step 5-C:
  • Tape the Kevlar cord to open recovery streamer.
  • Fold the streamer over the cord and tape it closed.
 

Image 5C
 


Step 6: Finishing the Rocket.

Step 6-A:
  • Apply a coat of sanding sealer or balsa fillercoat primer (such as the Aerogloss products) to all wood surfaces of the model.
  • When sealer is dry, lightly sand each surface.

Note: Sanding sealer works well on the harder base wood fins and the dowels, while the nose cone is best coated with the balsa fillercoat.

Step 6-B:
  • Use a handle inserted into the engine mount tube to hold the rocket while you spray it.
  • Spray the entire model with a sandable automotive type primer, using the instructions on the can for the best results.
  • Lightly sand with 300 grit sandpaper and recoat.
  • Repeat the sanding and painting process until you are satisfied with the smoothness of the surface.

Note: We recommend this step in order to produce the smoothest, highest quality finish.


Image 6A



Image 6B
 
 
   
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