Spray painting long rockets - any tips

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Bill S

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I've got an Estes Vapor that I am working on. I normally use spray paints to prime/paint my rockets. Normally this isn't a problem; I put a wand into the engine mount and spray from one end to the other, turning a bit for each pass (usually 6-7 passes on wider rockets), then do the fins. However, I am not used to working on such a long rocket as the Vapor. I am not sure if that is going to be the best method, given how long it is and how hard to go from end to end without stopping or screwing up. Are there any tips you veteran rocketeers can offer to help? Thanks.

The only other way I can think of to paint it would be to support the rocket on each end like a rotisserie, and turn it as I go along, but I don't know to pull that off unfortunately.
 

neil_w

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You have to support it somehow. Hand-holding a long rocket is very difficult in my experience.

I have a PVC contraption that will hold the paint want, only from one end, and I rotisserie that way. Search for "Paint stand" on this forum and you should find some pictures. I think some folks hang them vertically, and some put them on a stand vertically. Horizontal is ideal if you can swing it.
 

Bill S

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Neil, I would think that horizontal would be less prone to the paint running.
 

David Schwantz

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i use several workmate stands witha dowel in the jaws. One in each end of rocket. put a screw in the hole for the rail button to use as a handle.
 

o1d_dude

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I have a pair of PVC supports that I use.

I run a long metal tube through the motor mount out through the top of the body tube and each support holds an end of the metal tube.

Did my Mean Machine this way.

As you can see, it’s adjustable to your needs...and it’s a quick and easy project to make.

F8D47A31-043B-4233-92AA-1F72EDA672C2.jpeg


53110697-0B63-4259-8519-BADB72AAB899.jpeg
 

Bill S

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Old_dude, that looks like a good setup. Being as the rod that goes inside the rocket body is smaller than the tube, how do you rotate the rocket? I would think that a rod that fits snugly inside the body tube (or motor mount) would allow easier turning of the rocket as you paint. Still, your idea looks like the easiest to implement so far.

Though, I think I would put a sacrificial sheet under it to keep grass/bugs/etc from being kicked up while I paint. If a piece of debris is going to land on a freshly painted rocket, its gonna happen to me. :(
 

o1d_dude

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Old_dude, that looks like a good setup. Being as the rod that goes inside the rocket body is smaller than the tube, how do you rotate the rocket? I would think that a rod that fits snugly inside the body tube (or motor mount) would allow easier turning of the rocket as you paint. Still, your idea looks like the easiest to implement so far.

Though, I think I would put a sacrificial sheet under it to keep grass/bugs/etc from being kicked up while I paint. If a piece of debris is going to land on a freshly painted rocket, its gonna happen to me. :(
I normally paint on an outdoor workbench / table that’s exposed to the elements year round so the bench top is basically sacrificial.

A day before I paint, I use the leaf blower to clear the top. I’ve never tried wetting down the surface but that might also help.

Rotating the rocket while painting is done by fingers INSIDE the tube. If the area where the retainer will be attached is masked off, that’s another great spot to rotate the rocket. If the rocket is partially masked for a second color, again the masking taped area is a good choice. Harder to describe than actually doing it.

Certain sized rockets will benefit from using a properly sized wooden dowel as the spindle. Just tape the motor mount to the dowel and rotate the dowel as you paint. Find a dowel long enough may become an issue as they’re usually sold in 3-4’lengths.
 

Bill S

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I finally got around to building a paint stand, out of 3/4" PVC. Nothing fancy, the bottom is set up in 1 foot pieces so I can remove/add them to change the length. I used some expended motor casings on the rod end, and in the rocket motor mount to align everything.
DSC02156.JPG
 

AdAstraPerAspera

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I run a rope through mine, and tie it off tight to two points on my fence, one either side of an inside corner. Two trees or anything else would work just as well. I have an enormous flattened cardboard box I use to protect the fence. Then I rotate with fingers inside the tube. Granted, I fly high power, so must of my stuff is 2-4" diameter, and fairly heavy.
 

Funkworks

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The only other way I can think of to paint it would be to support the rocket on each end like a rotisserie, and turn it as I go along, but I don't know to pull that off unfortunately.
I've done this:
  1. I prepare the rocket by masking the nose cone and sticking a dowel in the motor tube.
  2. I prepare a 2-part rocket stand by bagging each part.
  3. I prepare the lawn by covering it with a tarp held down by stones.
I then drop all of this on the ground in the logical order and shake the spray can.
 

Joshua F Thomas

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I finally got around to building a paint stand, out of 3/4" PVC. Nothing fancy, the bottom is set up in 1 foot pieces so I can remove/add them to change the length. I used some expended motor casings on the rod end, and in the rocket motor mount to align everything.
This is a nice setup and I'm totally going to steal this setup. Did you glue the vertical sections or are those just free-standing?
 

Bill S

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This is a nice setup and I'm totally going to steal this setup. Did you glue the vertical sections or are those just free-standing?
Everything is just friction fitted so far. I plan to glue the vertical pieces and side legs, but leave the crosspieces with couplers unglued so I can adjust the length. I used T sections on the bottom of the sides because I wasn't sure if I would need to add some side leg extensions or not. I'm going to leave that option open in case I ever do a heavier rocket that causes the stand to wobble a bit.

I may fiddle with something on each end to smooth up the turning, especially on the front end of the tube where it kind of wobbles back and forth as I turn the rod - it's probably not really necessary, and I'm not sure if its worth the effort to do in any event.
 

neil_w

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This is a nice setup and I'm totally going to steal this setup. Did you glue the vertical sections or are those just free-standing?
For better or worse, I never glue my PVC contraptions. Makes them flexible and modifiable. On the other hand, you must re-tighten periodically.
 

AfterBurners

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When I paint long rockets, I hang them up.
I always paint vertical as well. This way you can stand up and use the full length of your height to paint. For me its easier than rotating the rocket when you can just walk around it. I use Duplicolor where it allows you to adjust the fan of the spray to accommodate vertical rockets.
 

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