Saturday, September 12, 2009

Water Rocket Launcher Construction Tutorial: Part 14

We're back again this week with another in our launcher design tutorials. We thank you for all the positive emails and encourage you to comment below so that everyone can share in your interesting suggestions! This will be a quick update, as we have been spending a lot of time on the new rockets and training a new team member since the beginning of the month. We apologize for the delay in the updates but we should be back on course now.

Where we left off in our tutorial, we had just painted our wooden launcher base. This has really improved the look and feel of the base and it really turned out well. After we buffed the paint and waxed it with regular auto polish and wax, it really popped! Take a look at the surface in the photo below! Incredible, isn't it?

We've gotten very adept at painting and smoothing out these pieces and the skills will come in handy when we have to make another batch of nosecones or fins. We will also attempt to get our rockets as smooth and shiny as that because we have some test evidence which suggests that there is a performance gain in reducing the small imperfections and seams in our rockets. We have done some testing using a synthetic wax similar to beeswax that can fill seams and voids where our rocket parts join together (such as the joint where the nose separates).
Once we had our finished launcher base buffed out, the only step left would be to put the pieces back together and call it a day. So, we began assembling the parts and mounting the hardware. The rubber feet were installed first, so that the rocket launcher base could be set down without scratching the fresh paint. Paint of this type can take several weeks to fully cure, so be careful with the finish until it has hardened completely.

The next step is to mount the launch tube on the base with the U-Bolts. Be careful not to tighten the u-bolts too much at this point because we just reminded you that the paint takes a long time to cure. You don't want to ruin the paint by tightening too much just yet. Just snug up the nuts and you will have a functional launcher. You can return later and torque them more after the paint cures, if you wish.
The last step of our assembly would be to replace the cable-tie hardware, but we have a problem. It's not a show stopper, and we could have finished the build here by putting the rest of the parts together, but the PVC launcher looks a bit shabby in comparison.

But don't worry, we have a way to really make that hardware sparkle, and we will bring that to you in our next launcher update!

See you all next time!