old, old engines

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Jan 22, 2004
Reaction score
I went to my mom's house the other day and found a box of some of my old unused Estes rocket engines (mostly A's and B's) - FROM 30 YEARS AGO!!!

They have been in a box, not exposed to the elements.

Think they're still good? What's the worst that might happen? My guess is that they just wouldn't light. They shouldn't explode.

they could work, I would test one. I have used older motors that worked perfectly. They will still light and if they do anything wrong they will probably burst because the propellant could have cracked.

If they have been in a box unexposed and not dropped or moved to much, they should be fine though
if your motors were kept in a controlled environment, without a bunch of large temp/humidity swings (Heat cycled) like if they were stored in an attic or outdoor shed. but were kept in a box or something in your room closet they should be just fine.
We were talking about this very subject in another thread recently in one of this forums section, I regularly fly old motors. a lot are booster but a good amount of B14 and B8 motors as well as old 1/2A6-0s and 1/2A6-4s 18mm motors.
If stored in a controlled environment, with near constant temp/humidity there is NO reason for the BP motors not to work perfectly. I would scribe an X in the clay cap that covers the ejection charge if the motors have clay caps as the Clay drys so hard the ejection charge sometime can't break thru, exhausting out the nozzle instead. Other than that I've had no problem flying about 100 or so old motors I've had since the mid 60's:D
I think I still have 2 or 3 cased of A3-0t boosters, several more A10-ot's and on and on....
test fire a couple .if one or both explode...
I would be wary of lighting any more
If you are not comfortable with firing hese old motors...
Do NOT throw them away.

Sell them as collector's items on ROL.

I collect old motors, and although I will never tell someone not to launch them, it is a shame to just throw them away...

ROL auctions are free, and for rocketeers by rocketeers.

There are several vintage motors for sale right now.

here is the link:

The BP in the motor should be just fine, there are reports all the time of people purchasing antique muzzleloading rifles(some that date back even to the reveloutionary war!) that have been loaded and stored for more than 100 years and the new owner just sliding on a percussion cap or putting a little powder in the priming pan(depending on if it's a percussion or flint lock rifle), pulling the trigger and having the gun fire just as if it were freshly loaded..... unfortunately there has also been an accident or two related with this..... "I didn't know it was loaded" kind of accidents. :(
I flew a bunch of old motors from the early '70s that had been in an unheated garage. They all flew fine. I did not think of the temp cycles- -20 to 100f from summer to winter, If I had I probably would not have launched them. It just shows what a good product Estes produces.

APCP does deflagrate. BP can explode. We're talking BP motors at the moment.