Want to do experimental motors but am NAR.

Tractionengines

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Aug 29, 2020
Messages
698
Reaction score
590
Location
Northeast Ohio
I am going to make 1 post in this thread, to offer my situation.... as an engineer I would love to take commercial propellant grains and then run the simulations and design requirements to make a customized thrust / burn profile. Cutting and coring the grains, sizing the nozzle geometry etc. is work in "making" a motor. This would allow me to fly a research motor, designed around a specific rocket or flight profile. Also, as a "materials" person, I like looking into if non- standard materials can allow expanded properties. ie. if I make a liner from (xxxx) can I make and end burner with very long thrust time.

Currently I have 0 chance of actually manufacturing propellant grains. Lots of reasons. ( young kids, I am not a chemist I am a mechanical engineer, against my homeowners insurance policy, against codified ordinances in my community, etc.)

I for one definitely hope this allowance for a research motor to be one where "standard propellant grains" are used to research "other" aspects of rocket motors is allowed to continue.

[ One note: profit/loss if review by ANY outside jurisdiction is NOT going to look at sales of individual parts. They will review EVERYTHING. So having large profit on one part and a small loss on another, gets combined, and will be explained to the authority having jurisdiction as making an overall profit. ]
 

Sandy H.

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
1,935
Reaction score
1,340
Thanks, but I don’t deserve much credit. if you read Terry’s (@prfesser) first paragraph in post #8, I think it says the same thing.
Where this got confusing was that many of the questions listed two different components: An EMK, and propellant grains. Neither by itself is against the rules as long as DOT rules are followed. If sold simultaneously the intention is suspicious and the optics are terrible. If sold as a single item, intention is clear and no longer legally defensible.
My problem with threads like this became is that it’s like going to the police and asking what where the loopholes are so they can exploit them. Someone’s always trying to see how close to the line they can skate, without any consideration for how it makes the hobby look. What I really want to say is “don’t be stupid!”

I guess its the 'optics' are what is somewhat confusing to the end user (at least me, a potential end user and never-ever wanting to be a manufacturer/in commerce etc.). If you are literally saying that combining 10 various items into 1 order vs. ordering 5 items in one order and 5 items in a later order, then that seems odd. I thought the end user would have to drill the nozzle, create a core in the rod of propellant and determine what lengths to cut the propellant.

When we were kids, they sold chemistry sets (assuming for a profit) and the contents of those sets were sometimes dangerous by themselves and definitely at times dangerous if combined in an inappropriate way. It seems to me that when people bought those sets and followed the instructions to gain a better understanding that was then the foundation for doing additional experiments.

It seems pretty similar to me that buying the mechanical hardware and propellant, but having to determine lengths, hole sizes etc and then performing those steps to assemble a motor could be the next logical step for someone who has been only building certified kits in the past. I agree they would still be research motors (i.e. not certified, as the end user might have made a mistake in the hole sizes etc.), but if they were just trying to duplicate a known configuration to make sure they were doing things properly, that would be OK, right? Still research and not allowable at a NAR launch, but one of the baby steps on the way to making their own combinations of grains, core geometry and possibly even mixing their own propellant.

Sandy.
 

ksaves2

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
671
Location
Central Illinois
Every thread I have found on this subject always seems to degenerate into an imagination of some clown selling untested products from his garage who is willingly trying to circumvent any / all regulations regarding DOT / ATF / NAR / Tripoli. Can we look at it from another angle and get some input?

Can someone (who is following proper zoning, purchase requirements, manufacturing processes, business practices) Sell EMKs on the open market for use in Tripoli Launches? If not, How can RCS do so?

Why is this not a "yes" or "no" question?
That is the deal. Want to be a propellant manufacturer? One has to jump through the legal AND CERTIFICATION hoops to do so. I don't have a problem with that. AT and even Estes did it many years ago when it likely wasn't "as difficult" but motor grains need to be tested for consistency. Though as I recall Estes BP motors were classified as "Class C" fireworks for a time but were being sold in "said" states that outlawed Class C stuff (so called fireworks). Kids and parents flew BP rockets without problem or molestation by authorities In these "said" states. I know as I am in Illinois and flew with the Glen Ellyn Rocketry Society in the 60's and had no problem buying BP Estes motors as a "kid" at the local hobby shop (Al's in Elmhurst and Glen Ellyn Toy and Card Shop) and by mail. Did flying at the club field at North Park in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Got older and concentrated on studies to get into college and post graduate training. Technically, class C stuff was/is outlawed in Illinois except for certain "permitted" people. Stumbled into a Tripoli launch when I was older and got hooked again. Am on hiatus for now but will get back. (O.K. once I clean the garbage out of my two little home shops and get'em arranged.)
Kurt
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
8,169
Reaction score
6,259
Location
Butte, Montana
I am going to make 1 post in this thread, to offer my situation.... as an engineer I would love to take commercial propellant grains and then run the simulations and design requirements to make a customized thrust / burn profile. Cutting and coring the grains, sizing the nozzle geometry etc. is work in "making" a motor. This would allow me to fly a research motor, designed around a specific rocket or flight profile. Also, as a "materials" person, I like looking into if non- standard materials can allow expanded properties. ie. if I make a liner from (xxxx) can I make and end burner with very long thrust time.

Currently I have 0 chance of actually manufacturing propellant grains. Lots of reasons. ( young kids, I am not a chemist I am a mechanical engineer, against my homeowners insurance policy, against codified ordinances in my community, etc.)

I for one definitely hope this allowance for a research motor to be one where "standard propellant grains" are used to research "other" aspects of rocket motors is allowed to continue.

[ One note: profit/loss if review by ANY outside jurisdiction is NOT going to look at sales of individual parts. They will review EVERYTHING. So having large profit on one part and a small loss on another, gets combined, and will be explained to the authority having jurisdiction as making an overall profit. ]
All that you describe can be done by purchasing a commercial reload and modifying it.
However, I am also not in favor of changing our rules to prohibit flying motors made using pre-made grains manufactured by companies who have the necessary DOT status. Like you I think there are other forms of research activities besides propellant making. I understand my friend John DeMar’s viewpoint and I think he’s probably correct that propellants were the original reason for our research rules.
 

ksaves2

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
671
Location
Central Illinois
I don’t know of any reason why not.

No
Agreed unless the member was a dual member NAR and Tripoli. If I remember correctly if one is NAR only, they CANNOT fly a Research motor at a Tripoli launch even if it was a Research sanctioned launch. I believe a lot of TRA launches allow both commercial and research motors unless the sponsoring club dictates otherwise. The sponsering TRA club has the last say. Commercial-only or what have you. If a NAR only member shows up at a Tripoli sanctioned launch that allows Research and Commercial motors, they can only fly Commercial PERIOD! That is unless they join Tripoli. If one wants to mix, they need to join Tripoli. Plenty of dual NAR/Tripoli members out there. NAR even looked back and gave me my membership number I had when I was 12 years old back in the late 60's. #11583 when I signed up again in the late 80's. I don't think they do that anymore. Was over 20 to 25 years I was out. Gotta a relatively low TRA #10583 so close to my NAR number.
In the "olden" days a Tripoli Prefecture had to notify HQ they were going to hold a Research (AKA "Ex" in the bygone era parlance) launch. I think in the very early stages, if it was an Ex launch, all motors had to be "Ex". That was nixed pretty quickly to allow both "Ex/Research" and certified motors to fly without issue at the same time. If a NAR guy showed up with certified motors, they couldn't fly at an Ex/Research launch back in the day. They could not fly a Research motor with their name on the launch card unless they were in Tripoli. Tripoli shortly later allowed Research and commercial motors to fly at the same launch and all was better. NAR folks could show up with their commercial motors and be welcomed to fly.
That short time where "Ex/Research" only launches were on the Tripoli plate, I complained vehemently to the hierarchy until more level heads prevailed to allow "Commercial" motors to fly with the Research ones. Took awhile and I was told by the powers that be to "calm down" as it was coming. I did and it did came and I am a happy camper now! Oh those "bad old days!"

Kurt
 

prfesser

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
May 7, 2017
Messages
2,983
Reaction score
3,941
Location
Murray, KY
Apparently I didn't Ignore this thread yet. Okay, one last input and I'm done. Honest.

TRA and NAR are rather small organizations and are consequently very, very good at self policing. There is a notable individual who attempted to sidevent the rules; among other acts (such as using another's legal DOT numbers for the individual's own propellant/motors), the person shipped uncertified motors and reloads to users, labeling them as "model aircraft parts." Said individual was slapped with a $42,000 DOT fine. I don't know whether that fine has ever been paid...

(I had the opportunity to meet this individual at an LDRS I attended as a BoD member. I made every effort not to be anywhere around him/her. When it comes to rocketry I don't like crap artists. Got enough of them in the Kentucky legislature... :))

From other actions the individual was given the opportunity to make things at least somewhat right, in a meeting of the TRA BoD. Individual refused to admit any kind of wrongdoing. Had he done so it might have been a sticky situation but some on the BoD apparently knew the person well enough to realize that s/he would admit nothing.

Anyway:
---Can someone without BATFE license make propellant and sell it, along with RMKs? That someone could try. But the BoD is vigilant, and said someone is likely not only to find few/no customers, but also to open their front door to humorless people in suits, carrying badges and bearing firearms, and with inconvenient questions. And possibly with papers absolutely guaranteed to make one unhappy.

--Can someone without BATFE license buy propellant grains elsewhere and sell them along with the parts for RMKs? Again, one might try. But I strongly suspect that propellant manufacturers are not foolish enough to sell a few hundred propellant grains, even to a TRA L2/L3 member, without some interesting questions. And the business model for such an operation...buying propellant grains and selling them along with parts for RMKs at prices HIGHER than AT charges--because Gary or Scott or whomever ain't about to sell a few hundred propellant grains at a discount to someone whose purposes might be a bit sketchy.

--Can someone WITH BATFE license make propellant grains and sell them along with parts for RMKs? Probably. The $10,000 (or more?) cost PER PROPELLANT for DOT approval is likely to be a trifle difficult, unless one is buying someone else's operation. And there aren't all that many people making research motors for TRA launches. A few hundred; maybe a thousand. Most of whom make their own propellant. Again, not the best business model.

Final note: Those who haven't been in the hobby for long may not know that a few decades ago, some people from Ireland attempted to get high-power certified so they could buy big motors. I have no idea why they might want such motors ;) but they were identified and my understanding is that they now reside in substandard housing at the state's expense.

Self-policing has worked pretty well.

Hope y'all enjoyed this foray into the past.

Best,
Terry
PS: I know, I shouldn't have had that third scotch. I wax garrulous.
 

tsmith1315

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
2,618
Reaction score
2,610
Location
Doerun, GA
I think in the very early stages, if it was an Ex launch, all motors had to be "Ex"

Yes. Commercial motors were not allowed at an EX launch, neither were spectators. Typical fashion was a 2 or 3-day launch, with the last day reserved for EX flyers only.
 

jsdemar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
3,105
Reaction score
1,336
With Steve Shannon's post and Terry's post, I think it's time the thread was closed. 👍
 

ksaves2

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
671
Location
Central Illinois
Yes. Commercial motors were not allowed at an EX launch, neither were spectators. Typical fashion was a 2 or 3-day launch, with the last day reserved for EX flyers only.
Ahhhhh, Thanks for reminding me on that point. Since I was out in the boondocks and most fliers wanted to fly EX, (and to be quite frank all attended the same mixing session) just had to coordinate that the NAR wasn't planning on flying that day.
I think wives, girlfriends and kids could hangout around their cars as long as the kids weren't running around like maniacs. Parking was well out of range so I don't think the rules were violated.
With Steve Shannon's post and Terry's post, I think it's time the thread was closed. 👍
Agreed,
Except ignore my stuff about wives and girlfriends though it did happen. No harm done as those "limited spectators" stayed by or in their cars and let the rocket folk/guys and a few gals mind you, launch their "Ex/Research" rockets. They were way out of range of a trajectory and mainly uninterested as I recall.
I don't remember kids at a "stark raving core" Ex/Research launch back in the day except for a few very well behaved and intelligent youngsters. No doubt the core of future HPR now.:clapping:
Kurt
 

ksaves2

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
671
Location
Central Illinois
If it were regulated explosives, yes. All forms of transportation and possession get complicated. If one were mailing the grains, the hazardous item shipping rules apply, but those would apply in commerce or not. With APCP being deregulated by the ATF, is it still under DOT shipping rules for placards and weight when in commerce?
DO YOU FEEL LUCKY PUNK! GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY!!!

Really are you willing to test the "gubbermint" on this. If so, be my guest and if you don't have a pile of money for lawyers to defend you, go ahead and take your chance at being bankrupted by said "gubbermint".
See my leading line above. Don't, I repeat don't make motor grains for sale to the public unless one is in compliance with the current laws good or bad. One can bitch about them but if one is stupid enough to cross the line without dotting their I"s" and T"s" I guarantee you will be toast if someone reports you and no one in this group is going to start a "Go Fund Me" site for your defense. Done and Period.
Kurt
 

NateB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2012
Messages
2,845
Reaction score
3,464
Location
NE Indiana
Don't, I repeat don't make motor grains for sale to the public unless one is in compliance with the current laws good or bad.
You don't need to worry about that with me. I have no intention on selling grains. Balancing Federal, State, local, and transportion laws is tricky.
 

ksaves2

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
671
Location
Central Illinois
You don't need to worry about that with me. I have no intention on selling grains. Balancing Federal, State, local, and transportion laws is tricky.
Yup, me neither. If I find a good mix formula I might dink with it. Gotta get out and mix up something new.
Doing stuff in AT type hardware with the erosive phenolic nozzles is VooDoo whereas using snap ring casings with graphite is a bit different and a bit better for Burnsim to make predictions as the graphite doesn't erode like phenolic. No way I would go into marketing. It's all for personal pleasure. If I stumble into something funky cool, I'd share with other "mixers" with all the stats and case parameters. Haven't got there yet mind you.
If I'm doing Research/Ex in an AT case I do a pile of simulations to make sure I'm likely not going to exceed case pressure ranges and am not afraid to "step" drill the grains. If one doesn't know what this means, petition to get into the restricted Research thread. I do recommend to get into a local group of fliers who are already established to do research motors. A lot to learn there and if they need hands to pack propellant at a group mix, one can pick up a lot of knowledge from established members. If there is not a group where you are located, stick to commercial only loads until you can find a group or someone to teach you the art. Going at it willy-nilly is dangerous.
Remember erosive AT phenolic versus non-erosive graphite nozzles are a big difference.
Erosive nozzles are much harder to predict with Ex-propellant. (Cut out this "Research Political B.S. as Ex is Ex and is easier to write.) We need to go back to our root designations and effff the politicians.
Best to sim and determine a nozzle throat to open up a "little" bit wider for a ground test with an errosive, phenolic nozzle. Videotape the test at the highest frame rate speed on your camera and study it. Some will chuff/spit no matter how much was planned and simulated. Some will be "on edge" and you'll know you gotta back off of the narrow phenolic nozzle throat you chose and some of your casings will "blow" no matter how carefully planned one did for the test. Live with it. If you can't, stick with commercial loads and some of them will blow your cases too eventually though not at the rate as Ex loads do.
Some cases blow in novel ways. I had a machined long-necked 24 mm snap ring case I did a ground test with Ex propellant and I didn't have the forward snap ring fully seated. Pushed the button and WHUMP the forward closure blew out and the case blew up 100 feet in the air. I had to burn one grain in the burn pile but the rest I recycled for the next test as they didn't have burn marks on them. It worked fine but when I did the next in a flight in a long necked rocket, motor melted out the side and trashed the rocket. At least the DD electronics worked and I got back the remains to recycle into other rockets.
I gave up on 24mm long necked machined motor cases and stick to the commercial ones and reloads now in 24mm. I think my case was 10 or 12 inches long that is not like anything commercially available at that time. Retrospectively, the propellant was too aggressive and I was too stupid to realize that no matter what Burnsim said. Not worth burning up a rocket with an immaculate paint job. I learned that the hard way. If experimenting, don't paint or paint in a really S#itty fashion. If it burns up, no loss there. Do the immaculate paint job on the next rocket when the Ex motor has been refined. Kurt
 

Latest posts

Top