How about ceramic floor tile as a blast deflector?

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Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2009
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I've been using the base of a clay flower pot (terra cotta ???) as a blast deflector for my launch rod setup (1/8" and 1/4") and have used it successfully for many BP and a number of E, F and G AP composites.

I'm building a new setup to use a rail for primarily my E, F and G composities and thought of using one of those ceramic floor tiles (8" square and 1/4" thick) as a blast deflector. Much like my rod setup, I'd place it at a 45 degree angle to the rail axis to help direct the blast laterally away. The tiles are cheap, I can pick up for about a buck at the local home reno type stores (1.49 Cdn at Rona). But I have no idea as to how they'd hold up to the heat and blast of G motors.

Any thoughts or experiences on this?

Thanks in advance.

... Bill
I use one on my midpower pad. Really cool to see the melted glass on the surface. No damage beyond that, though.

Hey, those tiles work great! I thought everybody knew about them! You can drill through one edge, and have most of the tile off to one side to be centered under the rocket exhaust. You can tilt them a little, to deflect most of the exhaust smoke away from observers at the launch control table (to get a better view of any problems that might occur on the launch pad). They are cheap. They are durable. They are available in many sizes. They are available at jillions of local hardware stores.

And they come in many pretty colors.
Thanks New2hpr and Powderburner...

I had a gut feeling that they would work. I did do a search for "tile" but didn't find anything.

Since I posted I have discovered the "Archive" and found lots of references there with many positive comments.

The idea I have is to cut a square hole (does that even make sense... maybe I should say square opening) in the tile and have my launch rail fit through. I understand that floor tile can be hard to cut; but with some tile bits and my dremel diamond cutting wheel I think I'll give it a try.

... Bill
That's what I've been using also. I grabbed whatever suitably sized tile was cheapest at Home Depot. My rail's attachment rod is long enough that I can fit it through a round hole in the tile and then into its attachment point. I drilled the hole with a masonry bit.
The BRB Launch racks use such tiles too. 6 x 6”.

Have had one break by dropping. And have had three break when an E9 or D12 blew its' nozzle and the resulting “road flare” caused such intense localized heating in one spot that the tile broke from the heat expansion. But exhaust from liftoff has never been an issue. Only when the motor blew the nozzle, the rocket sat there, and heated up one spot for several seconds

Have used them over a 4 season span. So at a loss of one a year and thousands of flights, that is not bad, particularly for a little over a buck each.

As rstaff3 wrote, use a masonry bit. I drilled from the bottom side (glossy side down). I did break one while drilling the hole because I had made the mistake of not having the tile supported FLAT underneath.

- George Gassaway

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Our club uses 6" x6" floor tiles as backup, they work fine as long as there are no catos or the tiles get dropped on something hard.
We've also use terra cotta flower pots up-side-down just as they are.
6" and 8" cutoff wheels work great too. Cost more than tiles (unless you get them used) but not fragile.
What if you glue the tile to an aluminum plate. I thing that would increase durability.
Quick question...

Does anybody make a ceramic floor tile about the size of a standard floor tile (say 4x4 inches) that's curved 90 degrees, like a corner tile?? I've seen edge tiles at the hardware store, but they're usually only 1x4 or so, and have a pretty sharp radius...

I'd LOVE to find some more gently radiused tiles like that to use as a curved blast deflector... put two back to back like the old 'split soup can' blast deflectors...

Later! OL JR :)
Ceramic floor tiles work great as blast deflectors. Ours have been in service for about 3 years now. The only down side is that they do crack over time, but if you glue them to a sturdy backer board the crack is merely cosmetic.

Here is a link to photos and plans: DIY HD Launch Pad

Mercury Engineering Co., LLC
Thanks for all the great responses....

While in this hobby there are some bad ideas of things you just don't do, Mercury1's posting to me just emphasizes that there are many ways of "doing it right". I'm always impressed by the ingenuity and creativity of folks.

My rail setup is being built around a "frame world" aluminum extrusion (looks like a copy of the 80/20 1010 aluminum extrusion) some 1 1/8" wooden dowel and a heavy duty camera tripod I have. I'm toying with a couple of ways of attaching an angled tile blast deflector. Simply just to cut a "square" hole to slide down over the rail or an angled "tile holder". The latter is a little more work initially, but facilitates replacing tiles easier because you just drop in another tile if need be.

It's a long weekend up here in Canada, and I should have some time this weekend to put it together. I'll post some pics when done.

Again, thanks to all.

... Bill