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Rocket Repair

  • Frank DeAngelo
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4 months 2 weeks ago #9015 by Frank DeAngelo
At yesterday's launch in Berwick three of my kits were damaged. Two repairs were simple and one was more extensive. The body tube came apart along the spiral. I ended up using couplers and spare body tube to bring the kit back to flight worthy status. Over the years I have accumulated a number of rocket parts that I can use for fixing broken rockets. I find that as long as the fin section is in tack there is a good chance that a rocket can be repaired. I would be curios to hear some of your rocket repair stories.

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  • John P. Petrakis
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4 months 2 weeks ago #9017 by John P. Petrakis
I was there also... and my shiny new Goblin clone and my Estes Phoenix popped one of the lower fins. I swear the nature of the damage was nothing less than astonishing. The fin popped and pulled the outer tubing layer away. I've had hard landings "back in the day" and cracked fillets etc. but I've never had a (even in my now very lost old Phoenix) fin pop like these did. It was as if the tube had de-laminated. The Goblin repair was done at home. As Berwick was a rather long drive, I wanted to fly the Phoenix again so I did a field repair. While it flew well on an Aerotech E30, and it landed on the grass... the chute dragged it across the dirt road by the time I got to it. If I hadn't used coating epoxy on the fins, the damage would have been far worse. The lower fin on the Phoenix I field repaired is now not quite as straight out and in line with the upper fin as it used to be. I think the moral of the story is to either not be so crazy about alignment or, cut the fin completely away and THEN do your repair. In the case of the Phoenix, I thought since the fin was still fairly strongly held to the tube, a careful application of cyano would ensure alignment... well that'd be true, if you were not too worried about gluing your fingers together which I almost did!.

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  • Frank DeAngelo
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4 months 2 weeks ago #9018 by Frank DeAngelo
I had a Phoenix that constantly broke. It got to the point where is was a total wreck. I did salvage the nose cone for a scratch build. It is a beautiful kit. Sometimes it's a tough call whether to do a field repair or take it back to the shop. Linda opted for a shop repair of her Hy Flier XL. I'll tell you more about the Executioner repair at the next launch.

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4 months 2 days ago - 4 months 2 days ago #9033 by Daniel Tyszka
Most of my repairs over the years have been limited to detached and/or cracked balsa fins. I've gotten pretty good at gluing them back on / together with wood glue. The trick is to get the finish to look good after the repair. I've found that keeping the original paint spray cans, spraying some paint into a cup lined with foil (to avoid melted wax in the paint!), and touching-up with a small brush over the glue line usually yields satisfactory results. Can't really tell the fins were repaired from a few feet away at a launch.

Recently I've had to repair a couple of rockets (my Deuces Wild, and my Photon Distruptor) which lawn-darted, resulting in mashed / bulged / shattered balsa nosecones, and buckled or split upper body tubes. Have gotten good at using wood filler and hand sanding to the original shape to fix the nosecones. And have used couplers to splice on sections of replacement tubing, filling the seam between the tube and sanding, then masking-off all except the area around the repair and spray prisming and painting with the original color. Aside from a nearly invisible paint line at the masking tape edge, these repairs are also almost invisible. And the rockets fly great.

My most ambitious repair over the past couple of years was for a ~3" long zipper in the upper body tube of my NCR SA-14 Archer, due to a long-delay G40-7 motor, and a non-conventional Kevlar & elastic shock cord. Luckily, the zipper was between the strakes on the upper body tube. I ended up pulling the zippered parts of the tube together best I could with needlenose pliers, and glued the seam together with gap-filling gel CA. Then I bought some fiberglass joint tape mesh at the Home Depot and overlayed on the outside with some 15 minute epoxy. Then sanded smooth (inside the tube and out), masked just outside the repaired area, and repainted (by hand.) I also replaced the shock cord with a nylon harness and made an "anti-zipper device" out of some foam pipe insulation and duct tape to spread-out the contact area between harness and body tube and prevent future zippers. Plus I now fly that rocket with shorter delay motors. Rocket looks and flies great.

My latest repair project is for a CATO on my Hi-Flier XL, detailed in my 6/20 post "Seeking Advice on Best Way to Repair Rocket After Recent CATO." Would appreciate folks thoughts on how best to fix the motor mount forward stop which was blown-out.

Next time we're at a launch together, I'd be happy to show you my repairs. You'll probably have a tough time noticing that the rockets were ever damaged!
Last Edit: 4 months 2 days ago by Daniel Tyszka. Reason: typo correction

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  • Frank DeAngelo
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4 months 2 days ago #9034 by Frank DeAngelo
Sounds like you can start your own rocket repair shop. You have done some extensive repair jobs. I learned a lot about repairing rockets from Robert DeHate years ago when my Executioner had it's first engine CATO. If ever there was a rocket MD it is Robert. Then again you have done some amazing stuff. Jim Flis once told me that parachutes are highly over rated. He explained that you can always fix a rocket that had a hard landing as opposed to one stuck in a tree.

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3 months 4 weeks ago - 3 months 4 weeks ago #9042 by Daniel Tyszka
Speaking of Flisdom...Here's another one:

I remember the first time my son and I were at a CMASS launch in Amesbury, and we lost sight of our 2-stage Estes CC Express flying on double D-12's. I was asking around if anyone had happened to see the rocket after we lost sight of it. As I lamented to Jim Flis, "Yeah, we saw it go up just fine, but it just never came down..."

Mr. Flis sagely replied: "Oh, they ALWAYS come down."

(BTW, we did end up finding both stages of that rocket :-) And it has lived on to launch many many more times and is still in our active fleet!)

Just had an idea for a new thread...Post your favorite "Flis-ism"...Maybe have Ken Blade read some of them off at the final Flis Kits Anniversary Launch this fall, whenever someone launches a Flis Kit rocket, as a daylong tribute
Last Edit: 3 months 4 weeks ago by Daniel Tyszka. Reason: skipped a word

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