# Fly Away rail guides?

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#### Eric

##### Well-Known Member
Are Fly away rail guides worth the investment?

Have you ever lost them in the grass after the launch?

At $22 to$49 per set for the sizes I might use. Would I be better off building a tower? I can weld the aluminum or steel parts at home, and have a good amount of attachment hardware. I would just need to buy some nice rail material.

I ask myself how often I would use the tower vs. setup time. Only 2 of my rockets currently don't have lugs or buttons. But if I had a tower, I would design more rockets without drag inducers.

What are some thoughts on the subject?

#### Wayco

##### Desert Rat Rocketeer
I've had mixed success with them. Off the top of my head, six flights, no losses, but two were broken on the flight. High velocity off the rod might cause them to impact fins. Not sure what did it, but they were broke.
The big downside on the tower is transportation. We have a big toy hauler trailer, but even with that, they take up a good bit of room.

#### Steve Shannon

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I've had mixed success with them. Off the top of my head, six flights, no losses, but two were broken on the flight. High velocity off the rod might cause them to impact fins. Not sure what did it, but they were broke.
The big downside on the tower is transportation. We have a big toy hauler trailer, but even with that, they take up a good bit of room.
That's the same result a friend of mine has had. His have all been on high acceleration flights and I think almost every one has broken. The vendor has been perfect, replacing each one immediately and without question.

#### manixFan

##### Not a rocket scientist
While the design seems to be very good, the quality of the part produced by the 3D printer is the problem. At BALLS last year all my flights were going to use the Fly-Away guides. One of the guides was broken when I got there and the other one broke on the first flight. I had several more flights that were going to use the guides. I would have been SOL if hadn't been able to borrow a tower for the rest of the flights.

Of course a tower can be damaged by a CATO and be rendered unusable. But at the cost of the guides I had hoped they would be more durable. The vendor did replace them but that does no good if one breaks at a launch and you wanted to use it for additional flights. I finally broke down and built a tower that is *somewhat* easy to take down for transport. But I do plan on trying to use a couple of the FA guides at Airfest.

The other big issue is they have to be fitted correctly. Really they need to have a non-slip interior surface. There are several reported instances where on ignition the rocket slipped enough up into the guide that the fins pushed it open enough to cause significant drag along the rail. So if not used correctly they can cause the very thing they are trying to avoid, a loss of performance. In fact there is one video where the rocket bound on the rail and caused the entire pad to tip over and it was thought the FA guide might have bound enough to prevent the rocket from moving.

So I'm only using them for long burning motors or others that don't have a huge kick off the pad. Otherwise carefully work through how the rocket, rail, and guide fit together. It seems none of my rockets are exactly the same O.D. so I have to adjust the fit of the guide for each rocket. The one I bought for my 3" rocket would not close enough to freely slide along the rail without a lot of fitting.

Just my observations, your mileage may vary.

Tony

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#### Eric

##### Well-Known Member
Thank for the info. That gives a lot to think about. I wouldn't mind trying out the 38mm set. But I'll be looking into tower guide materials.

#### mpitfield

##### Moderator
Staff member
Global Mod
I have the 38 and 54mm fly away rail guides. I have yet to use the 38mm guide but will next month. The 54mm I have used 3 times now with no issues and all three flights have been in the high velocity off the rail range. So far I have had no issues at all, except that I typically forget to go back to the pad to pick them up. Luckily they have always found their way back to me. This past URRF I tried Wilman's 54mm version of the fly away rail guide, again no issue and the rocket was a 54mm MD on a Loki L1400.

#### blackjack2564

##### Crazy Jim's Gone Banana's
TRF Supporter
Just a few tips on using the guides:

There have been a few updates on the actual guides, the newest version uses a very different high temp plastic which has solved the breakage problem on larger units [75-98mm]. Along with re-design of hinges and method used for the elastic bands.

First how a simple addition of a rubber band to one [or both sides] of clamshell gives you a better fit and 'grip' on your airframe.
Note this is the "old style" ,but shows how you add a band that will grip airframe and prevent loose fit and sliding under thrust. New style uses rail buttons, not tabs shown.

The 75-98's now have a much thicker and buttressed hinge. Instead of running the bands full length shown here on version 2. [shown 38-54-75]

You attach like this...much simpler and better ''spring'' to them. [Version 3 latest] Note the longer thicker hinge, than above red one.

For these I use liquid gasket or silicone caulk and run several beads on clams, imbed sections of rubber band to act as grippers. Then fit to my airframe. No 2 airframes are exactly alike depending on how many coats of paint etc.
This lets you remove some bands till you get a nice firm grip & the buttons slide nicely in rail.

I have been using them on minimum diameter 75 M-flights with perfect results. Along with several others. The 98's have been used with great results also this way.

My 75 with a 6xl CTI green, hit pretty hard, Mach 2.3 and no issues with guides hitting fins. The guides are actually about 2 inches above fins....not resting on them.

So yes...if you're doing extreme flights, ya have to futz with them bit to get proper fit. But results are worth it for me. No more lugging tower.
I have my name on mine, and so far they have been returned after every flight.

You can use either 1010 or 1515 on the larger units. The buttons are held in place by machine screw and nuts embedded in the plastic. Both screw/nut can be removed/replaced for maintenance. The nuts slides in/out of a pocket.

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#### manixFan

##### Not a rocket scientist
I also used liquid gasket material and rubber bands for the same reason Jim describes. It's good to hear that they have been refined and updated to help solve the breakage issues. Unfortunately my 75mm version is the older design and materials.

As Jim points out they can be used successfully. I hope I have the same experience at Airfest in a few weeks, I'll try and report back how it worked out. I'm probably not flying my 3" rocket so I'll only use the 38mm and 54mm versions.

Tony

#### GrouchoDuke

##### Well-Known Member
I really love the idea of a fly-away rail guide. They're easy to use, for sure. Not having to lug a tower around is a huge win.

That said, I used a 29mm one on my last record attempt flight with mixed results. It was about a 70G launch & the fly-away rail guide stayed on the rocket well after launch. It eventually fell off, but it broke when it hit the ground. It staying on the rocket cost me some altitude.

Even the smallest rubber band I could find was too thick to go between my rocket & the guide, so I used a couple strips of masking tape (with the sticky side facing the guide, of course). That may have caused the separation issue, but I'm not sure. I'd like to try one again, but for future record attempts (or other really high-G launches) I plan on using a tower instead.

#### Eric

##### Well-Known Member
Looks like I will have to pick up a set of 38mm and try them. I do see the burden of lugging a tower around. I might end up with both... lol... You can never have to much rocket stuff.

#### crossfire

Does the weight of the guide effect anything? I have a 54mm I would like to use the FARGs on

#### Buckeye

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Has anybody tried to tether the FARG to the launch pad to prevent loss? I have 2 successful 38mm flights. The FARG landed right next to the pad on the first, but the second one took a few minutes to find in the dirt/crops.

#### Steve Shannon

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Has anybody tried to tether the FARG to the launch pad to prevent loss? I have 2 successful 38mm flights. The FARG landed right next to the pad on the first, but the second one took a few minutes to find in the dirt/crops.
If it were tethered instead of flying completely free there would be a chance it could deflect the rocket. I wouldn't recommend it. Maybe connect a beeper to the FARG?

Steve Shannon

#### ksaves2

I also used liquid gasket material and rubber bands for the same reason Jim describes. It's good to hear that they have been refined and updated to help solve the breakage issues. Unfortunately my 75mm version is the older design and materials.

As Jim points out they can be used successfully. I hope I have the same experience at Airfest in a few weeks, I'll try and report back how it worked out. I'm probably not flying my 3" rocket so I'll only use the 38mm and 54mm versions.

Tony
Thing about liquid gasket is you can peel it off by rubbing it with your fingers if you want to. I cut and fit rubber band pieces in liquid gasket a very laborious endeavor. I like Jim's first picture in post #7 above.
Also, you have to be absolutely certain there is no binding on the rail. I had a cardboard/plywood finned 38mm diameter rocket blow through and destroy a set of rail guides when there was
a 'bit" of binding on the rail. The 1/3rd, 2/3rds and full span fiberglassing of the 1/8" 5 ply plywood (12 pieces of 2 oz glass for four fins!) proved their mettle as there was only a bit of paint
chipping on the fins. Rocket still went 8500', Mach 1 and in spite of blasting "through" the quides went up arrow straight on the J350. I didn't know it until I got back from the 1.6 mile recovery (EggFinder TRS and main chute cutter)
when the RSO handed me the pieces. Rocket will fly again though. Kurt

#### wighty44

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I've used the smaller diameter guide twice - both times with a rubber band to help grip the rocket (AGM-33 Mini). the first flight went well. The second time the guide adhered to the rocket after leaving the rail. I suspect the tackiness of the rubber bands may have been the problem.

#### plugger

##### Well-Known Member
So I thought I'd take the opportunity to post in this thread as I'd like to get into the Fly Away Rail Guide (from here on FARG) game. There are numerous reasons for this with the foremost being I'm starting to build 4 fin MD rockets and I don't want to have to source a 4 fin tower. I also believe from an RF/Comms perspective using FARGs will be wholly superior when compared to the all metal 3 fin capable adjustable tower my club has at our disposal (Cheers Joe!).

So, onto the questions. Firstly, which manufacturer? I see Mayhem Rocketry as the OG of the commercial FARG hardware but the Additive Aerospace offering looks quite nice too. Initially I'm after 29-54mm MD sets but will also most likely grab a 75 before April of next year. Secondly, any vendor recommendations for the Mayhem Rocketry FARGs? AMW has them online but their stock is depleted other than 29mm and 98mm units.

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#### Viperfixr

##### Born Again Rocketeer
Is there a particular brand that's had better success than the other? Six and one half?

Staff member
TRF Supporter
Global Mod

#### dhbarr

##### Amateur Professional
In 29mm it's AMW/Mayhem only.

#### captbk

##### Well-Known Member
I have used both and my AMW's got about 3 flights before breaking and I have one flight on the Wildman/Additive one and it has held up fine so far.
I have to say that Additves seem to be much sturdier with the aluminum rods rather than being all plastic. I have 38mm and plan on getting the 54's soon.

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#### cerving

##### Owner, Eggtimer Rocketry
TRF Supporter
I have flown the 29, 38, & 54mm's from Mayhem, and I have the 54 from Additive but haven't flown it yet. The Mayhem 29 & 38 seem to work fine, but my 54 Mayhem disintegrated into a zillion pieces the first time I flew it (in a GLR Firestorm on a K1103X). The Additive looks a LOT sturdier... I'll know when I get a chance to fly it, I have a K2045 that's itching to go.

#### Eric

##### Well-Known Member
I ended up getting some Mayhem 29, 38 and 98. Have flown the 38mm a few times with good results. But haven't flown them with super high thrust motors yet. If I get the 54mm and 75mm I would try the Additive's.

#### plugger

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks for sharing everyone, much appreciated. Looks like I've got another Wildman order on the cards!

#### Landru

So far my guides have held up pretty well, with only one broken guide of the production version. I have since increased the strength even more with better printing parameters.

The end aluminum rods in my guides are not 'permanently' attached. They are clamped in the plastic pieces, and when something bad happens (fin strike, hard landing, etc) they can 'slip' a little bit which absorbs some of the energy. Just may need to loosen a screw and re-seat the rods.

As always, anyone with an issue can email me and I will ship a replacement part asap.

~Andrew

#### Eric

##### Well-Known Member
Deal... I'll buy them... I'll send you a message.

#### BrendanH69

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I've had a little bit of experience with commercially bought 54mm FARG for my PML Calisto. Good quality product at first sight, but broke first flight. First rate service responses from the vendor and the OEM re-supplying me with replacement parts. Experience after that was very mixed with it breaking permanently about 4 launches later.
All my flights with it were all about 400ft to 500ft lower peak altitude versus the sim results and I can't help but think that the FARG was responsible, as after all it has to be accelerated by the work of the motor at launch too. Whether the reduced drag in the coasting flight phase from having no rail buttons/guides is worth the loss of energy imparted to throw the FARG about 100ft in the air......hmmm.... I'm not convinced it is for my current type of flying (3000ft to 5000ft). I'm moving to conformal and low profile rail guides next.

#### Nick Hutton

##### Well-Known Member
Brendan, I’m printing some as we speak to try on Sunday with a bit of luck. Will be interesting to see if the Thingiverse design I found is any better than the ones you and Dave were using

#### cerving

##### Owner, Eggtimer Rocketry
TRF Supporter
I hope they are... I've given up on them, every one I've ever purchased has broken, regardless of the design. And it's not just high-G flights... I had a 38mm FARG break last Summer with a MPR rocket on a G38.

#### Rocket501

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I have the additive 54mm one and like it quite a bit.

#### Nick Hutton

##### Well-Known Member
Will be at least another month before I can report back - this weekends launch just got canned due to a COVID Lockdown!!