# Nose cone ballast. Plumber's putty?

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#### Senior Space Cadet

##### Well-Known Member
NAR safety guidelines say something about not using metal for nosecones. I would have thought that ruled out things like BBs, but that seems to be a commonly used weight. I've purchased nose cones that seem to be made so that BBs are the only weight that can be used because the hole in the endcap is only big enough for BBs.
Estes sells something they call "clay" nose cone weights. I have some on order, but haven't seen them yet.
I'm wondering if what Estes is using is plumber's putty?
If it is, you can buy a 14 oz. container, at Walmart, for cheap.
If it's not, well I'm running a test right now. I stuffed some up in a nose cone on a vertical rocket. I want to see if it stays there. The stuff does flow a little, but very slowly and it won't just keep flowing till it's pancake or runs on the floor. It needs to stay in place for the purpose intended. It's pretty sticky, so it sticks to what you put it on.
Anyone else use plumber's putty?

#### MikeyDSlagle

##### Well-Known Member
Estes clay weights are probably those small squares of clay that come with certain kits. You push them into the nose cone with a dowel or some such.. About like Play-Doh or maybe Sculpy, not sure if it air dries hard or not. Probably won't stay stuck on high G flights.

I usually use lead shot mixed with epoxy. Have also used sand mixed with epoxy.

Plumbers putty will probably work but I doubt it will stick very well, not sure about it's density. Plaster of Paris or plain ole cement will probably work just as well.

Generally it is a good idea to scuff/gouge up the interior of a nose cone to give the epoxy, or in this case the putty, something to stick to. Or use pins, rods, screws, etc to help hold the ballast mixture.

You know you can enlarge the hole on the nose cone? Or drill a hole in the side of the shoulder. Many folks, myself included, cut the end off altogether.

#### prfesser

##### Lifetime Supporter
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Yes, plumber's putty is sticky...at 1G, and for model rockets. At 10G, or more, I would be uncomfortable. What most do with BBs or lead shot is to drill sideways holes near the tip of the nose and insert dowels or nails or whatever. Pour in the shot, add epoxy, and when the adhesive has set, grind/sand off any dowel/nail that projects beyond the surface of the nose cone. Just to be safe.

Best -- Terry

#### dr wogz

##### Fly caster
How much weight, and what type of nosecone?

Most glues don't stick too well to most of the plastic (Styrene or poly-whatever) nosecones. Hence the need tor an additional mechanical "retainer" as P'fesser mentions. Also, you are trying to hold a mass in an upside down cone, so that is also working against you to hold said weight in place.

Wood NC allow you to drill a hole or two in them to add BBs, screws, bolts, etc. and it's wood, so glues tend to stick nicely. (But there is either evolve hate with wood / balsa NC..)

The 'butter pats' that Estes uses as NC weigh is a type of clay.. I've had only one fall out. And, you re allowed to cut the NC to get a bigger hole in it to pass said clay mass.

One or two have also has NCs tuned form heavy wood, like maple or walnut.. no need for weight if the NC is the extra 50g you need..

From your previous posts: if you design your rocket correctly, you won't need NC weight. Or plan to use 'functional weight': such as an altimeter or ..

#### Senior Space Cadet

##### Well-Known Member
The plumbers putty is heavy stuff. A fourteen ounce container is smaller than a pint of ice cream. In fact, I'd say about half a pint.
It's been in the nose cone for a few hours now and hasn't moved. Tapped the base of the nose cone on the table and the putty stayed there.
The label says not to use on plastic, but it doesn't say why. It says not to use on stone either, apparently because it will stain the stone. Non toxic, of course.
The advantage over epoxy and BBs or whatever, is the ability to easily adjust the weight (before you glue the end cap on). Put a little too much in, just take some out. Balance point is still too far back, just stick a little more in. I'm pretty much an expert with epoxy, after building a stich and glue boat. Non cured epoxy is not good for you. You can become sensitized to it. Large amounts get very hot. I used to mix batches of up to two pints. If you don't get it spread out quickly, the pot will get so hot it will start to smoke. The bigger the batch, the faster it hardens. I always used the double mix method. Mix in one pot, scape it all into another pot and mix again. Precisely measuring the resin and hardener and thorough mixing is the key to good epoxy. I always used System Three. There are a number of things you can add to epoxy to thicken it to make fillets, including sawdust.
I've been using Shattershot slingshot ammo. I glued one into the tip of a nosecone with super glue, but when I accidentally dropped the nose cone, the shot came loose. I like the dowel idea, but on a small nosecone, it would be more like a toothpick.

TRF Supporter

#### Senior Space Cadet

##### Well-Known Member
After, at least, ten hours. Plumbers putty hasn't sagged. I've done everything I can to get it to shake out. I've gripped the nose cone in one hand and pounded that fist into my other hand and it doesn't come out. Nothing mechanical holding it and I didn't even rough up the inside of the nose cone.
Paid about $2,22 for a 14 oz. container. Enough for dozens of small rockets or one really, really big one. If I roughed up the inside of the nose cone, with course sandpaper, I'd be pretty confident in this stuff. Is it as secure as epoxy with a dowel through it? No, I wouldn't say that, but safer and extremely easy to use. Is it a cheaper, better, substitute for Estes clay nose cone weight? I would say yes, but needs more testing. Can only be used in hollow nose cones with an open base. Probably works better in smaller nose cones. #### Senior Space Cadet ##### Well-Known Member Plasticine is the usual type of clay used (when clay is the nose weight of choice). You want the stuff that doesn't dry. I purchased some of this, which will last me forever: https://shop.crayola.com/modeling-compounds/modeling-clay---assorted-5704000002.html With balsa nose cones, clay doesn't work, so I attach washers to the nose cone shoulder, under the screw-eye. E.g.: View attachment 421786 You are smarter than me. I bought some balsa nose cones that came with a pre-drilled hole and a dowel that fit in the hole, so I glued the dowel in the hole. Funny thing is, if it hadn't come with the pre-drilled hole and dowel, I would have done exactly what you did. Funny how the mind works. It's hard to find nose cones of that shape that aren't balsa. #### beeblebrox ##### 8 C6-0, 12 D11-9, 20 D20-0, 20 E5-0, 3 Cinerocs Yes, plumber's putty is sticky...at 1G, and for model rockets. At 10G, or more, I would be uncomfortable. What most do with BBs or lead shot is to drill sideways holes near the tip of the nose and insert dowels or nails or whatever. Pour in the shot, add epoxy, and when the adhesive has set, grind/sand off any dowel/nail that projects beyond the surface of the nose cone. Just to be safe. Best -- Terry Here is a novel idea: Design your nose cone 3d printed with a bulge on the inside maybe 1" below the tip. this will lock in an epoxied in ballast. Lead shot is the best as you need less volume for the weight needed. Pour Epoxy first, then drop in the lead while the epoxy is still liquid. Seriously like the dowel idea though... #### jqavins ##### Joseph Avins TRF Supporter The little Estes squares seem to be almost the same as plasticine modeling clay, but it's a little crumbly when cold (room temperature). It becomes pliable when warmed by working in one's hand. It softens and even flows if heated more. Once I put a bunch into a hollow plastic nose cone by feeding little worms in through the little hole. Then I took a tall narrow glass, filled it with really hot water, and put the cone into it tip down. The clay got hot and flowed into the tip and left a really nice smooth surface. Plumber's putty stays pliable forever, and is only meant to stay in place on horizontal or nearly horizontal surfaces. Since your testing is giving good results I'd say go ahead, but personally I'll stick to plasticine for clay weight. On a tangent, when I did one with lead shot and epoxy, I made my own shot because I had found a source of really cheap lead fishing weights. I held a weight from on wire over a glass of water, and gently heated it with a Bernzo torch until it started to melt. Liquid lead goes drip, drip, drip into the water, and you've got "shot" suitable for nose weight (but not for shooting) in the bottom of the glass. Neil, how in the world did you get such perfectly sized washers? Their OD matches the shoulder and their ID is a good choice of screw eye size, almost like you'd made them yourself just for the purpose. (Put round stock in a lathe; turn the outside to the diameter of the shoulder; drill the desired ID; part off washers.) #### neil_w ##### Hunkered down and slowly going crazy TRF Supporter The little Estes squares seem to be almost the same as plasticine modeling clay, but it's a little crumbly when cold (room temperature). It becomes pliable when warmed by working in one's hand. It softens and even flows if heated more. Once I put a bunch into a hollow plastic nose cone by feeding little worms in through the little hole. Then I took a tall narrow glass, filled it with really hot water, and put the cone into it tip down. The clay got hot and flowed into the tip and left a really nice smooth surface. That's a great idea, didn't know you could do that. I usually spend a long time with the dowel making sure it's really tamped down good in there, never thought of warming it up. #### Senior Space Cadet ##### Well-Known Member For whatever reason, the plumbers putty, that I put in an Apogee plastic nose cone, is in there to stay. I've pounded the nose cone on a table, pretty forcefully, trying my best to get the putty to come out and it won't. Could it be that the reason they don't recommend using it on plastic is that it chemically bonds to the plastic? I would like someone else to test it too, so it isn't just my say so. Pretty cheap stuff. Won't cost you much if you already have a spare nose cone. A nose cone made from a different plastic might not work as well. A different brand of putty might not work as well. Mine is Oatey, purchased at Walmart. Hot or cold temperatures might have a dramatic affect. Probably won't grip as well on parabolic nose cones. But right now, it looks pretty promising to me. No, I wouldn't suggest using it on your supersonic rocket. I'd feel pretty bad if it finally came loose at mach 1.5. #### rharshberger ##### Well-Known Member For whatever reason, the plumbers putty, that I put in an Apogee plastic nose cone, is in there to stay. I've pounded the nose cone on a table, pretty forcefully, trying my best to get the putty to come out and it won't. Could it be that the reason they don't recommend using it on plastic is that it chemically bonds to the plastic? I would like someone else to test it too, so it isn't just my say so. Pretty cheap stuff. Won't cost you much if you already have a spare nose cone. A nose cone made from a different plastic might not work as well. A different brand of putty might not work as well. Mine is Oatey, purchased at Walmart. Hot or cold temperatures might have a dramatic affect. Probably won't grip as well on parabolic nose cones. But right now, it looks pretty promising to me. No, I wouldn't suggest using it on your supersonic rocket. I'd feel pretty bad if it finally came loose at mach 1.5. Plumbers putty can be made of a number of different formulas, but historically thevmain components are clay and linseed oil, so it can eventually dry out, which may allow it to become less sticky (it may take many years). Plasticine is what Estes uses and I have been using the same block for many years ( more than 10) and its remained nice and pliable, I have also removed and replaced food disposals and sink strainers that were more than 15 years old and the plumbers putty was still pliable, though the areas exposed directly to air had hardened. #### kuririn ##### BARGeezer TRF Supporter Doesn't plumber's putty dry out, harden and crack over time? #### jqavins ##### Joseph Avins TRF Supporter That's a great idea, didn't know you could do that. I usually spend a long time with the dowel making sure it's really tamped down good in there, never thought of warming it up. I had tried with a dowel - a small one to fit through the small hole - and the clay kept cracking around it. Necessity proved, once again, the mother of invention. #### neil_w ##### Hunkered down and slowly going crazy TRF Supporter Doesn't plumber's putty dry out, harden and crack over time? I'm just reading about it out of curiosity, that does seem to be the case. I wouldn't use it here. Plasticine works well and is very cheap. #### Donnager ##### Well-Known Member Plasticine works well and is very cheap. I'd definitely go to the plasticine before the plumber's putty. Putty tends to dry out over time. #### Back_at_it ##### Well-Known Member NAR safety guidelines say something about not using metal for nosecones. I would have thought that ruled out things like BBs, but that seems to be a commonly used weight. I've purchased nose cones that seem to be made so that BBs are the only weight that can be used because the hole in the endcap is only big enough for BBs. Estes sells something they call "clay" nose cone weights. I have some on order, but haven't seen them yet. I'm wondering if what Estes is using is plumber's putty? If it is, you can buy a 14 oz. container, at Walmart, for cheap. If it's not, well I'm running a test right now. I stuffed some up in a nose cone on a vertical rocket. I want to see if it stays there. The stuff does flow a little, but very slowly and it won't just keep flowing till it's pancake or runs on the floor. It needs to stay in place for the purpose intended. It's pretty sticky, so it sticks to what you put it on. Anyone else use plumber's putty? I've gotten away from using the clay that comes with Estes kits. Living here in Chicago, I have had opportunities to head out and fly during the winter. On more than one occasion I've had the clay come loose when flying in cold weather. One afternoon we headed out and the temps were in the upper teens but nice and sunny. The clay from my Bull Pup and my old Fox Fire came loose on the same day. The Bull Pup flew ok but Fox Fire was very erratic and only made it up about 50 ft. I didn't think that 1.5in difference in nose location would have that dramatic of effect but it did. After that I switched to BB’s held in place with 2 part epoxy. Never had an issue after that. #### Rocks&Rockets ##### Member I needed a little added weight to balance a tail heavy camera platform- and the shock coard attachment rings on plastic nosecones are a joke. So. . . I turned a soft wood plug to the BT-55 nosecone i.d. Some expanding poly-fill foam forward of the plug is the glue that really sticks! Drilled and slotted the plug to fit a FlightSketch mini. Flies perfectly! #### Attachments • 74.8 KB Views: 15 • 46.3 KB Views: 14 • 67.9 KB Views: 14 • 65 KB Views: 15 • 115.1 KB Views: 14 #### jqavins ##### Joseph Avins TRF Supporter Putty tends to dry out over time. Glazer's putty, yes. And some other things that are called putty. Plumber's putty is made expressly not to harden. It goes under a faucet assembly on top of a sink, behind an escutcheon, or places like that, where you want an unpressurized water tight seal but the thing might move a little when bumped, and you don't want the putty cracking. So it's made to stay pliable. #### kuririn ##### BARGeezer TRF Supporter Some expanding poly-fill foam forward of the plug is the glue that really sticks! +1. I use plasticine or Estes clay pats and lock them in place with original Gorilla glue (the honey colored one, not the wood glue). Add a few drops of water and the PU glue foams up and expands, filling the cavity. Even if the clay comes loose it is still locked in place by the foam, which dries hard. Much better than the expanding foam in spray cans, which can clog after only one or two uses. Plumber's putty is made expressly not to harden. I've replaced shower escutcheons and flanges where the plumber's putty has dried rock hard and crumbly. Also replaced faucets where the ring of putty put around the faucet base gasket has dried hard. #### hcmbanjo ##### Well-Known Member Deleted post - #### cerving ##### Owner, Eggtimer Rocketry TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter Long ago I had a Centuri X-24 lifting body kit, for the considerable amount of weight that was required to properly balance it they gave you a bunch of clay that you flattened out, then encapsulated with white glue to hold it on. Never had it come off... flew almost exclusively with C6's. #### jqavins ##### Joseph Avins TRF Supporter I've replaced shower escutcheons and flanges where the plumber's putty has dried rock hard and crumbly. Also replaced faucets where the ring of putty put around the faucet base gasket has dried hard. Who installed them? I wonder if it was proper plumber's putty, as I've done the same and always found it a little pliable. Less so than when it was fresh, but never hard or crumbly. If you know who did it (you, perhaps?) and what was used then that would be a different story. Maybe it varies by brand? #### kuririn ##### BARGeezer TRF Supporter Maybe it varies by brand? Age dries everything up. I'm reminded of that every day when I look in the mirror. #### kuririn ##### BARGeezer TRF Supporter Here's what 10 years lying in a garage will do to plumber's putty: "Will not harden, crack, crumble or stain". Ha! #### Donnager ##### Well-Known Member I've replaced shower escutcheons and flanges where the plumber's putty has dried rock hard and crumbly. Also replaced faucets where the ring of putty put around the faucet base gasket has dried hard. My experience as well. Although, most plumbing fixtures I have pulled are much older than my current rockets. Plumbers putty may last for a while, but I believe plasticine is moldable due to petroleum jelly. Plasticine will (eventually) dry out as well, but it takes a very long time. Age dries everything up. I'm reminded of that every day when I look in the mirror. Also my experience.... In any case, whatever you use, secure it if it's going to go fast. Urethane glue, PML foam, Epoxy all work. Dowels/pins help. #### rklapp ##### NAR# 291223 In a pinch, I've used Silly Putty. #### Alan R ##### Well-Known Member Dont know why people pay so much. I bought this package of clay at the$1 store - where I shop first . Yes probably the plasticene stuff, but it molds nice into plastic nose cones and has stayed stuck so far.
Each stick is about 17 grams. (200/12). Another nice thing to consider. You can easily guesstimate how much you're using. 1/2 stick ~8 grams, etc.

#### jqavins

##### Joseph Avins
TRF Supporter
If I used nose weight for LP scratch builds with any real frequency, that's what I'd use. Since I only rarely need any that doesn't come with a kit, it's easier to use the epoxy and whatever heavy stuff I have on hand. When I melted that fishing weight it was because I needed quite a bit of weight. When I needed weight in Office Supplies I was (self) restricted to stuff one expects to find in an office, which does not include clay or epoxy. (I used cut up paper clips and white glue, but I digress.) Yeah, otherwise that's the stuff.

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