How far can you take this hobby?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by JeffTaylor, Feb 20, 2020.

Help Support The Rocketry Forum by donating:

  1. Feb 28, 2020 #61

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    It was sometime in 2003 that Loki Research became involved with the JAMSTAR project. Engineering students at the Florida Institute of Technology designed a boosted dart rocket and Darren Wright and I made a 152mm P motor for them. The rocket launched from a tomato field in Florida City, FL. There was, if I remember correctly, and unlimited FAA waiver, but the launch window was 2am-3am. Night launches are very cool until burnout, after that not so much. I don’t remember if the dart was recovered, but probably not, as the flight was over alligator infested marsh. One of the other advisor/assistants on the JAMSTAR project was a man named Chris Holland. Chris was the general counsel for United Space Alliance in Cape Canaveral and while we were there in Florida, Chris took us on an amazing tour of Kennedy Space Center. This was nothing like riding the tourist bus, we walked through most every building and got to climb on stuff, etc. At the time they were prepping for a shuttle launch. The Discovery orbiter was in the hangar getting new heat shield tiles and the SRB/tank stack was being readied in the VAB. We were able to climb around all of it, but I wasn’t allowed to photograph the orbiter.

    JAMSTAR Preview

    JAMSTAR Launch


    SRB Stack being readied in the VAB (vehicle assembly building)
    KSC4.png

    We walked out to pad 39, where the shuttles fly from
    KSC1.png

    Checking out the flame diverter trench, which will be under the pad when the pad arrives
    KSC5.png

    Then we climbed to the top
    KSC3.png

    And thought about what it would be like to walk down this gantry and into the shuttle
    KSC2.png

    I'll always be in debt to Chris for showing us around Kennedy Space Center.
     
    neil_w, SeanW78, dhbarr and 2 others like this.
  2. Feb 28, 2020 #62

    Blast it Tom!

    Blast it Tom!

    Blast it Tom!

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2019
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    31
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Oh, GLORY! You lucky ones. As a electric motor/generator guy, I was fortunate to get on with a very well-respected consulting firm. We uprated the huge motors for NASA's Unitary Wind Tunnel at Moffet Field, we custom-designed a motor for the Vertical Motion Simulator (Shuttle), and other sorts of such tasks. Then one day our NASA guy calls us and says, "Tom, you're going to love this one. We want you guys to do the re-powering study for the crawler." Man did I light up! I was really hoping to get in on that - the crawler(s) that had taken all the Apollos, all the Shuttles, and now was going to be repowered for the Space Launch System, was being re-rated to carry the Space Launch System.

    But my boss did the whole thing. Got to crawl all over it, got the cook's tour of the place as you did, and I sat in Pittsburgh... I figured he'd need a hand, he was 74 then. He's 85 now and still comes in a couple of days a week.

    Now back to your normally scheduled thread. :popcorn:
     
  3. Feb 28, 2020 #63

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2020
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    2
    One day, I'll be an aerospace engineer at Nasa, doing something with the SLS or something.
     
  4. Feb 28, 2020 #64

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    SmallTownOhioRockets

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2020
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'm more of an Estes guy, so this is not really something I'd usually read, but it sounded like a good story, so...
     
  5. Feb 28, 2020 #65

    Blast it Tom!

    Blast it Tom!

    Blast it Tom!

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2019
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    31
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Well, if you're intending on working on the SLS, learning a lot about the types of propellants that Loki, Aerotech and others use could be very helpful. And I mean "learning" in the scholastic as well as practical aspects. We have great people here that can really help a lot in all aspects.

    As an (old) mechanical engineer myself I have grown more and more appreciative of my scholastic education on the one hand, and the fact that I'm not half-bad with tools on the other hand (but I do have a measure of envy for welders. machinists, etc!). I've seen my firm hire mechanical engineers who had no feel at all for what they were performing calculations on - telling me to use 1200 ft-lb torque on a 1/2" bolt, stuff like that. Many who've never changed a tire or built a go-cart or flown a model rocket!

    Like Jeff said, learn all you can about it, then go professional and ruin your hobby! ;)
     
  6. Feb 28, 2020 #66

    neil_w

    neil_w

    neil_w

    Hunkered down TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Wow, inside the VAB? All the way up on the launch tower? Awesome.
     
  7. Feb 28, 2020 #67

    Steven

    Steven

    Steven

    Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    225
    I have taken this hobby further than the Bologna Virus.
     
  8. Feb 28, 2020 #68

    AfterBurners

    AfterBurners

    AfterBurners

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    7,124
    Likes Received:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Dallas Texas
    how big is your wallet?
     
  9. Feb 29, 2020 #69

    Sooner Boomer

    Sooner Boomer

    Sooner Boomer

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    457
    No, it's "How big is your credit card(s)". :p
     
    AfterBurners likes this.
  10. Feb 29, 2020 #70

    Bobfly

    Bobfly

    Bobfly

    Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    29
    Thanks for sharing your stories and pictures. I’ve been pretty much just flying Loki motors. It’s nice to hear how the company got started.

    All the best,
    Bob
     
  11. Mar 1, 2020 #71

    AfterBurners

    AfterBurners

    AfterBurners

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    7,124
    Likes Received:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Dallas Texas
    LOL that too!
     
  12. Mar 10, 2020 #72

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    Sorry for the pause, I was traveling last week.

    You guys joking about your wallets are missing the point. My wallet wasn't large. If it had been, rocketry might have remained a hobby for me and I never would have gone as far down this road as I did. It was the lack of funds that drove the whole thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
    SeanW78, DRAGON64 and dhbarr like this.
  13. Mar 14, 2020 #73

    ATGaric

    ATGaric

    ATGaric

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2019
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Glad I found this thread. I spent most of my day reading about Tripoli history, nar history, ldrs history balls history ect... Some amazing story's involved in this hobby.
     
  14. Mar 15, 2020 #74

    THarrison

    THarrison

    THarrison

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    7
    I was around for some of this stuff and would love to hear your thoughts on these stories...

    1) I think a lot of times when we're pushing motor design limits we're unsure what will work and what won't until they fly. What projects were you surprised worked? What failures were unexpected? Were you guys confident going into the early Rancor and Cow P flights?

    2) When you called colored propellant "knob" motors on RMR. Do you still hate effects propellant? Was the expansion of the Loki line into colors purely a business decision or did they grow on you?

    3) Did you have any close calls at Loki that made you change your manufacturing processes? What about close calls at launches?

    4) I remember you telling a story about developing engines that were used to fly some type of brush through industrial pipes or something and clean them out. Can you talk more about Loki's involvement in other atypical commercial applications for rocket engines?

    4) At peak, how many pounds of propellant was Loki making per week? How many days a week were you actually mixing vs. cutting/packing/shipping?

    5) What historical flights from the hobby are burned into your memory? For me, the screaming sound of Derek Deville's Freedom Phiter on 3 Kosdon M3200s is still one of my favorites.

    6) You can relive any launch that you attended. Which launch and what made it so awesome?

    7) You can have dinner with 5 living or dead rocketry people - Who do you pick?

    8) What're you doing these days instead of flying rockets?

    Todd Harrison
     
    Speaknoevil likes this.
  15. Mar 15, 2020 #75

    Speaknoevil

    Speaknoevil

    Speaknoevil

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2018
    Messages:
    787
    Likes Received:
    310
    OMG, blast from the past Todd!!!
     
  16. Mar 15, 2020 #76

    Yukon@K-9 Rocket Tech

    Yukon@K-9 Rocket Tech

    Yukon@K-9 Rocket Tech

    Just a teen who likes building rockets

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2019
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    65
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Sir you literally hold a history book of information on the early days of rocketry. Much respect! Please write a book, I'm hungry for more on this history!
     
    Zertyme likes this.
  17. Mar 15, 2020 #77

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    I certified Level 3 at that LDRS! I'd love to know if anyone has a copy of the Earl Cagle video that has my Mega Nuk launch.
     
  18. Mar 15, 2020 #78

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    Hey Todd! Good to hear from you, it's been a long while. Thanks for the many questions to jog my memory. Each one of these will take a post or three to answer. Here we go...

    In general, I did not take "fliers." New Loki Research designs were always static tested extensively and by the time a new motor made its first flight I had a lot reason to believe it would work. I had plenty of test stand failures, but I wouldn't say any of them were completely unexpected. However, the two rockets you mention, "RancOr" and "The Cow," used motors that had not been tested because I made the hardware and someone else, in a different location, made the propellant.

    I met Neil McGilvray for the first time in 1997 or 1998. At the time I was living in North Carolina and flying rockets from a cow pasture in Whitakers, NC. Whitakers was a great spot, we had a big waiver for the east coast (10K or 12K feet IIRC) and a dedicated group that turned out to fly every month. Neil had heard of the crazy motor guy from Tennessee (Jim Mitchell) and came down to Whitakers one month to meet Jim. I remember that Saturday the wind was howling about 40mph and nobody flew anything, except Neil. Neil had come a long way to fly and a little wind wasn't going to stop him, so he launched his rocket on a Mitchell L-somethingorother which went real high and landed probably three counties away. Now at this time I had just started making motor hardware and Loki Research didn't yet exist. One of my first customers was someone named Darren Wright who flew at the Higgs farm in Maryland, also Neil's home field. Chatting with Darren via email (I had not met him in person yet) we cooked up a plan to make an O class motor. I would make the hardware, Darren would make the propellant, and Neil would build the rocket. This became the "RancOr" project. A month later I arrived at the Higgs farm field with the motor hardware and met Darren for the first time. Neil took all day to prep the rocket and the sun was low when he finally had it ready on the pad.

    Time out for a PSA:
    Rocketry has inherent dangers and ejection charges are one of the biggest. In my years of flying rockets, I saw many injuries from ejection charges, more than any other cause. Be really careful with them. The worst rocket-related injury I ever suffered was from one of RancOr's ejection charges.​

    RancOr was ready to fly and Neil climbed the tower to arm his altimeter. When he powered it up, it instantly fired the apogee ejection charge. This knocked Neil off the tower and sent the upper section of the rocket into the air. Both Neil and the upper section landed with a thud in the corn stalks and we all ran forward from the flight line to assist. Neil wasn't badly hurt, but while we were standing around as he dusted himself the main ejection charge fired! At this point the upper section of the rocket was lying horizontally on the ground and when the charge fired, the nose cone propelled forward like a cannon ball and hit me in the right foot. It tore the nail off my big toe and severely bruised my ankle. Ouch! Amazingly, the rocket wasn't damaged at all, and while it took Neil about 6 hours to prep it the first time, he had it reloaded and ready to fly in about 1/2 an hour. In the last light of the day RancOr launched. The O motor Darren and I made worked well and so did Neil's recovery. I limped home with a smile and a couple of new friends.

    So, was I confident? Surprised/not surprised? It was a group project, so that helps spread the responsibility. I was confident that the motor hardware I made would work as it should, the rest wasn't up to me but I had confidence in the other guys.

    The three of us got together again a short time later when Neil built a much larger rocket he painted like a cow and called Udder Madness (or some other cow pun, Neil liked those). This time it was to be a 6" P motor. Darren and I hauled the Cow rocket, P motor, and lots of others to LDRS 22 in Argonia, KS in a trailer also painted like a cow. Unfortunately, this one did not go as well. During motor assembly Darren discovered that some of his propellant had not fully cured as it should. A couple of the large 152mm propellant grains were unusable and we had to cancel the flight....or did we? Darren ran around the LDRS crowd and managed to beg or borrow everything he needed to make replacement propellant. This appeared to work well enough that Neil green-lighted the launch the next day. Were we confident? Um... not exactly, but Neil said, "the launch will be "cool" if it works or "really cool" if it doesn't." It was "really cool," the motor CATOed and destroyed the Cow. Oh well, pushed it too far....

    That was 2003.
     
    DRAGON64 likes this.
  19. Mar 15, 2020 #79

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    Argh! I never hated any rocket motors. My "knob motor" comment was an RMR troll post I made, and something I regretted for a long time. I was just bored one day and decided to "stir the RMR pot". I wrote that effects motors were stupid and low performance, thus not worthy of our time (or words to that effect). Many people rightly took offense and I spent years back-peddling that one. (For the younger folks out there "RMR" stands for "rec.models.rockets," which was an old USENET discussion group in the days before web forums.)

    It's important to remember though that in the formative days of the model rocket hobby it was a huge battle to differentiate our model rockets from fireworks. Fireworks had a really bad stigma, people knew fireworks were dangerous and they were outlawed and banned in many places. The NAR had to fight the fireworks stigma for decades and my TRA level 2 exam contained this question:

    Q: When may a high power rocket motor be used for spectacular displays of color, light and/or sound?
    A: They may not be used for this application.
    (copied verbatim from my 1996 level 2 exam guide book)

    In my troll post I took the side of those who were worried about crossing the line from rocketry to fireworks. Thankfully, this did not become a big regulatory problem for the hobby, but at the time it was something to worry about.
     
    DRAGON64 likes this.
  20. Mar 15, 2020 #80

    tfish

    tfish

    tfish

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    2,448
    Likes Received:
    399


    Tony
     
  21. Mar 15, 2020 #81

    rfjustin

    rfjustin

    rfjustin

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,075
    Likes Received:
    261
    Location:
    Franklin, WI

    I likely have a copy, want me to dig for it?
     
  22. Mar 15, 2020 #82

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm proud to say that we never had any close calls at the Loki Research factory (that I know of, often the one that gets you gave no warning). A safety first policy and a healthy dose of fear kept us diligent. This wasn't just lip service either. I have books devoted to accidents in propellant manufacturing, and I studied hard. In the propellant business I worked knowing that there are fates worse than death. The man that burned, lived in unimaginable agony for several days, and then died, from the Aerotech fire was often on my mind. TRA member Mark Clark summed it up this way: Mark worked with energetic compounds professionally and told me about a job he did loading some explosive mixture into small containers. Basically, he sat at a table spooning highly sensitive explosive from large container into smaller cartridges. The company provided a lexan blast shield for him to reach around as he worked but he told me he never used it. "Why would you not use the safety gear provided?" I asked. He replied, "I don't want to live the rest of my life with no arms." The fear of someday slipping up is one of the reasons I got out when I did.

    Close calls at launches are another story. Launches are dangerous, no way completely around that, and at large launches it becomes impossible to be aware of everything going on around you. Objects falling from the sky are the major risk and I saw plenty of vehicles damage by falling rockets over the years. Once I brought a motor out to the away cell to fire on my test stand. Nearby another rocket was being set up on its launch pad. When those guys had their rocket ready, they backed off and thinking the cell was clear, the LCO launched it while I was still wiring up my test stand 20 feet away. The rocket lifted off on its experimental L motor, got about 50 up and CATOed in spectacular fashion sending flaming debris crashing down all around me. I just about **** my pants it was so loud and unexpected. Fortunately, nothing actually hit me and no real harm was done, other than to my nerves.
     
    DRAGON64 likes this.
  23. Mar 15, 2020 #83

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    For several years the biggest revenue generator for Loki Research were propellant cartridges that we manufactured for use in the oil and gas industry. I teamed up with an oil tool company that manufactured a "High Energy Gas Fracturing Gun," a device holds a large propellant charge and is lowered into oil wells. When the charge is fired the pulse of high pressure gas fractures the rock allowing oil to flow into the well bore. Working in the petroleum industry was very different and very lucrative. Price was never an issue to the customer, it was all about how fast can you get the product on site. "We don't care what it costs, but we need it yesterday!" It was highly stressful work. Making the cartridges was easy, easier than rocket motors, but shipping them was a nightmare. I reluctantly became a hazmat shipping expert. For a while there, if you needed 200kg of explosives sent to Venezuela by Thursday, I was your guy. With the big dollars came big pressures and it really wasn't fun. I bought a new house and a BMW off those cartridges, but I wasn't that sorry to see them go (sales tapered off as other fracking methods took over).
     
    DRAGON64 likes this.
  24. Mar 15, 2020 #84

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    The highest production I can remember was when we used up 2 tons of AP in one month, but that wasn't typical. About 60Kg a week was typical for hobby motors. Monday was for phone calls, collating orders, and whatever bullshit had collected in my inbox over the weekend. Tuesday was mixing day. We could mix and cast about three 20kg batches in a day. Wed-Fri were taken up with processing, packaging, and shipping.
     
    DRAGON64 likes this.
  25. Mar 15, 2020 #85

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    Do a pig love slop? YES! Please!
     
  26. Mar 15, 2020 #86

    rfjustin

    rfjustin

    rfjustin

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,075
    Likes Received:
    261
    Location:
    Franklin, WI
    No promises, I'll see what I can do. :)
     
  27. Mar 15, 2020 #87

    johnclifton

    johnclifton

    johnclifton

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    5
    Jeff,
    Love the recount. I've been around since 2000 and remember all this. I also remember that it was always DR. Jeff Taylor, have you mellowed?
     
  28. Mar 16, 2020 #88

    3stoogesrocketry

    3stoogesrocketry

    3stoogesrocketry

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,191
    Likes Received:
    81
    Kosdon M1130?
     
  29. Mar 16, 2020 #89

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    John Kemker

    Forum Supporter TRF Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    227
    Gender:
    Male
    TBH, it was a "Kosdon East" at the time and it was a 75mm 36" long motor. I *think* it was an M1130, but not 100% sure of the correct designation. It's been 20 years and a divorce since then. Don't have much documentation on it.

    EDIT: Looking through what I can find on the web, it might have been the AMW M1350. Still not 100% sure. Since I've got an over 10 year lapse in TRA membership, I'm having to do it all over again. Not worried about trying to claim that I'm still certified with a particular motor. Working on starting from scratch.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2020
  30. Mar 16, 2020 #90

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    JeffTaylor

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    Derek could have named that rocket "Stalin's Organ" for the sound it made!

    There are many notable flights in my memory.

    Shortly after the demise of the Cow rocket, I received a call from some nut out in California who said he was building a scale model of a Black Brant II and could I make a motor for him? "Well sir, what scale do you mean?" I asked. "100%" was the reply. The man's name was Wedge Oldham.

    It turned out that Wedge was not a nut and in fact was building a really impressive project. Even 16 years later, Wedge's website documenting the build is still up and you can read about it here.

    Not wanting to repeat the Cow debacle, Darren came up to the Loki Factory to make the propellant and we static fired one of the motors to get an accurate thrust curve for Wedge to model the flight.



    These are photos I took out at Black Rock.
    BB2.jpg
    Those hands installing the three P motors that we built belong to Neil McGilvray and Bob Utley. These guys had their hands in a lot of big projects :)

    BB3.jpg
    One of my all time favorite hobby rocket photos.
    BB6.jpg
    Left to right, Jeff, Wedge, and Darren
    BB5.jpg
    The hydraulic launch pad was as impressive as the rocket.
    BB1.jpg
    Wedge climbs the tower to power up the onboard systems.
    BB4.jpg
    Away she flies!

    Gary Rosenfield of Aerotech was standing next to me on the flight line during the launch and paid me a nice compliment on the motors. It was super way to introduce Loki White propellant to the world!
     

Share This Page

Group Builder