My L1 - The Chronicle on Construction

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Nov 9, 2010
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Well - Here goes.

I have been back in to rocketry for about 9 months now, and have 90% of the parts for my L1 rocket on hand. I have decided to log the construction and certification flight on TRF.

Not only is this my level 1 rocket, it is also my first scratch built rocket. I decided to go scratch built with all of my cert flights, based on the fact that I think that I will learn more, compared to using a kit.

As an overview this is going to be a simple 4FNC rocket. The airframe is 4" PML phenolic tubing, 4" PML nose cone and .250" aircraft birch ply fins (not ordered or stock). overall lenght is 53.25" and an approximate weight of 61 oz (3.8 ponds).

I have decided on using a piston ejection system and a 66" military chute. the harness between the airframe and piston will be 9/16" TN about 7 feet long. The harness from the piston to the nose cone will also be 9/16" TN and about 15 feet long with the chute mounted at the 2/3 mark (5' from the nose cone.

The paint scheme is all silver with black lettering and graphics, and is a tribute to someone which i will disclose after they are informed (keeping it a suprise).

I will be posting pictures as the construction and finishing progresses, and look forward to everyone's feedback. the first pics should be posted with in 2 weeks.
Roy, welcome to TRF!

Keep us posted on the bird and take lots of pics when you build it!

Scott McNeely
Originally posted by rdbones
I decided to go scratch built with all of my cert flights, based on the fact that I think that I will learn more, compared to using a kit.
If/when I cert, I plan on doing the scratchbuilt method. Not that there's not a myriad of excellent kits to fly out there, it's just the way I want to go about it when it comes to certing.
Are you going to glass the phenolic tubing? I highly recommend it. A layer of 6oz will help a lot in prolonging a rockets life. Any more added is even better, but if weight is an issue, one layer will be fine.

Enjoy the build and take your time. That's half the fun right there!
I hope all goes well!:cool: :)
That 66" chute should make for a nice and sloooow decent. Should be fun to watch. Welcome to TRF and please feel free to post some pics!
At this point in time I am not planning on glassing the tube. I have fiberglassed one item (and it turned out usable - and I'll leave it at that). I am planning on glassing airframes in the future.

As far as the chute goes, I fly in the desert southwest and figured on a slow descent due to the hard playa. I would rather walk a little farther than deal with hard landings, plus it gives me more time to snap pictures :)

As far as the pics go, as soon as I get back from vacation I will start posting pics of the construction.

Thanks for the warm welcome
Count me in for wanting to see your bird as it progresses. The only thing to think about, since you are using such a large chute, is the dragging that invariably happens once it is on the ground if there is a wind.

Keeping it lite helps, but sometimes you can get cracks in the pheonolic or the fins can get ground down.

Have fun building and flying it.
Well I am all rested up from vacation and am ready to begin construction of my L1 rocket. As I said this is a tribute to some one who's name I am not going to reveal yet ! The rocket will be called "A Hope And A Prayer" (Hope & Prayer for short). The fins will be ready for pictures on Monday, and the chutes are in the mail, and should be here any day.

Since pictures are always welcome here are a few to get you started. The homepage is under repair so if it tells you it is down forgive me. I am trying to reduce some of the images so i can put them right in to the text.

Design #1 on the board

A Rocsim of the almost final design
I say almost because nothing is ever final until it is built :)

Most of the parts

A Dry Fit of the MMT (w/ an AT 29/40-120 motor shown for size)

I will be posting more pics, and trying to incorporate them into the text as I go.

Hope to have more soon
Looks good

so now we know you have it in RocSim, what kind of altitudes/motors you lookin at?

Scott McNeely
Thanks Scott -

I am using the free V5 trial download (waiting to get the $$$ for V7).

As far as the motors and altitudes go I am not 100% on which combination I am going to use (it changes from day to day) but I have simmed it with the following results:

Motor - Alt. - Max Velocity - Max Acceleration
H123W - 1473.4' - 302.7 fps - 274.5 fps
H242T - 1663.7' - 401.0 fps - 1184.3 fps
H330SS - 1573.7' - 438.1 fps - 2771.7 fps
I211W - 2942.0' - 628.1 fps - 3340.8 fps
I435T - 3357.3' - 828.4 fps - 54785.1 fps

I will most likely cert on one of the first 3 motors listed . However I am building it to take the I435 and even the J350 which sims out at 3984' (my home field has a 4,500' waiver).
if you dont have any real criteria for a motor, other than somethin to make it go, id suggest the SS, they are really cool motors, and it seems the WL motors have been over done for cert's...

Scott McNeely
Originally posted by scm86
if you dont have any real criteria for a motor, other than somethin to make it go, id suggest the SS, they are really cool motors, and it seems the WL motors have been over done for cert's...

Scott McNeely

Or, use a redline! I love the Redline motors...
Yes Redlines are cool but I am leaning towards the Smokey Sam load. Should be easier to track than the White Lightening load, especially on a nice blue sky day. I will more likely than not wind up using a multitued of loads once I am certed :D

The biggest question is going to be if I buy the case or borrow one for the cert flight. I am still checking $ for both (pros and cons - thats another thread). And will have made up my mind right after i launch it.
I think the H330SS you're referring to is one of the old black powder Rocketflite Silver Streak motors, which are out of production. V5 has a fairly old motor list that still includes some of these motors. If the thrust curve is incredibly progressive with a short burn time, then that's probably the case. But the H143SS is definitely a cool motor from Cesaroni! The project looks to be progressing along nicely. Good luck on L1!

Thanks, I think your right about the H330SS and I know your correct on the 143SS. I checked on and that motor has a strong contention for the flight.

The fins will be done tommrow and a few more pics taken, then I will dryfit everything for a pic or two and then start construction -- keep checking back.
Well the fins have been cut and it is time for a few Pics.

The Fin Set

The fins will be sealed with at least 2 coats of sanding sealer and sanded with 220 grit between coats. Then primed with at least 2 coats - wet sanded with 320 grit. There is a possibility that i will glass the fins with 2oz glass instead of sanding sealer, but I am not yet sure. I should know later tonight or tommrow for sure, it is going to depend on a couple of factors.

The Parts Dry Fit Together

The spirals will be dealt with during priming. I am planing on no less than 4 coats of primer wet sanded with 320 or 400 grit paper between coats.

I should be able to start the MMT tommrow !
Construction has begun in earnest. I have epoxied the two forward centering rings to the MMT, and the MMT into the airframe. I decided to take a minute to update the threar while the epoxy sets up and I move to the next step.

I decided to seal and sand the fins and then glass tip to tip for reinforcement. I will put the first coat of sealer on the fins today, and by the end of the weekend they will be ready to install. I have also decided to foam the fincan with PML 2-part foam to really lock everything in palce. Remember I land on the hard desert playa.

Well here are a couple of pics to hold you over.
Why would you seal the fins if you're gonna glass over them anyway?
Not sure why I said that - I was not going to glass them at all and just seal them, then I changed my mind and decided to go tip to tip with the glass. I must not have gone back and editede the post before I hit enter.

So the answer to that question is ... Good question lol.
A Wonderful Person Revealed

Well as I said, A Hope And A Prayer is being dedicated to a very special person. I have spoken to her and she has given my permission to discuss her medical condition.

Joanna Woerner (TRA # 8023 L3) as been diagnosed with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer and the treatments are not going well. I spoke with Andy Woerner today, and he said that the chemotherapy was not working. For those of you who might not know Andy and Joanna are instrumental in PlasterBlaster. Andy is also the owner of Whats Up Hobbies.

I first met Joanna at a Plaster City (California) Launch in March of this year. Once you meet her you realize that she is NOT just the wife of a rocket nut and hobby store owner. Joanna is L-3 certified and full of knowledge. Being a B.A.R. I had a ton of questions regarding HPR, and as Andy was running the store at the launch site Joanna was answering all of my questions. After a good day of launching she joined right in around the camp fire and made sure I was treated like a part of the gang. I drove for 5 hours to make the launch and it was well worth it.

It was at this launch that I learned of Joanna’s medical condition, and realized what a toll it was taking on her. I was bummed out for her and the hobby. I spent the next day thinking about what I might be able to due and since she had answered so many questions for me regarding my L1 bird I decided that it was going to be my way to draw attention to a disease that many people don’t think about.

I had already planned on a date that I was going to certify L1, and it is September 19 at my local club launch, but A Hope And A Prayer will fly each day of Plaster Blaster 3 as a tribute to Joanna. For more information regarding Colorectal Cancer go to WebM.D..

For more information you can also go to

Joanna you have touched more people than you may ever know, and my Hopes and Prayers are with you daily

Roy, thats very cool of you to dedicate your bird to her, and Im sorry to hear of her condition, I hope she gets better.

the bird is lookin good

Scott McNeely
Well the first fin is now epoxied in place - only three more to go !

Verticle Fin


Aft View

Well back to building - more updates as they come available

Please continue to pray for Joanna.

O.K. since I am getting yelled at here it is:

the Fins are in place and the fin can foamed. I have already installed the third centering ring, which locks the fins in place and put a 1/8" layer of 15 minute epoxy over the entire ring (it is not going anywhere).

Hopefully I have tommrow afternoon off (at least that is what the schedule say's ;) ) I will begin the tip to tip glassing at that time, right after i build a stand for that purpose. I am thinking that 1/2" thick wall pvc might be strong enough, and will check into that tonight. I have to go to Home Depot in the morning so if I need something stronger I can pick it up then.

If all goes well, I should have pics of the tip to tip fiberglassing up by Saturday night (as long as I dont get called into work).

Well here are a couple of pics to hold you over.
Well I have learned some things today:

#1) Have twice as much expoy as you think you will need.

#2) Fiberglassing is not as hard as I though it was, but it is a little tricky

Today I planned on glassing the fins tip to tip, so I gathered everything up and headed out to my back patio, loaded up A Hope And A Prayer on my newly built glassing stand / three rocket holder and set everything up so I could go to work.

After trimming the 2oz glass to a managable size, i began the glassing. I quickly learned that this is a slow process (if you work to fast you will frustrate yourself). I was able to get two of the fins done tip to tip, and realized that I needed more 20 minute finish cure epoxy.

Well I am off to the store tommrow to get some more, in the mean time here are some pictures to hold you over.

On the stand and ready to go

hey even I can do this

The first one is curing

Half way there

Well Since I messed up and did not have eough epoxy to finish the job, my plan is to go get some more tommrow. I will then trim the glass that is in place and then tip to tip the remaining two fins. Once the last two are done I am going to glass the laeding and trailing edges of all four fins with strips about 2" wide.

I will be posting more pics soon, in the mean time keep Praying for Joanna !:)
Way to go, man, and welcome to the composites club! :) That looks GREAT... you shoulda seen MY first glassing attempt... ;)

The way you're building her, she should be able to hold up to a J570W!
Well work sux...

I got called in on Saturday and it pushed things back regarding the rocket (I should have been born independently wealthy - it would fit me better).

But anyways -- I will finish the tip to tip glassing today, and trim everything tommrow and then I will add the 2" strip down the leading edge of each fin. I should have more picuters up by Wednesday, in the mean time keep Praying for Joanna !

P.S. thanks for the welcome in to the "composites club". I only hope I can carry on teir proud tradidtion :D
Well not a lot of work has been done on a Hope And A Prayer, because God has worked his meracles again. On July 1, 2004 at 2:07 Arizona time my first Grandson was born. Calvin Jr.

at 6 pounds 3 oz and 19" long with all the blessing of God he entered this world as a healty future rocketeer !!!

Pics will be posted soon, and starting tommrow it's back to the Rocket !