Rocket Science – 2015

Another day another rocket.  We’ve lost count of how many prototypes and previous versions we have made, but with each new model we are improving.  Come along on a photographic journey through the process of building our most recent rocket.

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The first step began several months ago, when Greg, a friend of ours, charted out the specifications based on measurements from our previous rocket.  To improve the authenticity of the truck we needed to have a rocket that matched the cartoonish proportions of the film, so this rocket would be substantially larger.  The minimum length of the fuselage would be the entire length of the previous rocket from tip to tail.

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First, the fins were cut out.

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From there the rings of plywood that made up the nosecone were cut and glued together.

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The superstructure was roughly assembled so we would have a sense of the final size and shape.

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As you can see it’s quite the larger than previous versions.

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We returned to the shop, bored out some wood to cut down on weight, and locked the support rings into place.

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Shortly after the tail fins were glued into place.

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We then moved on to the balsa wood outer shell.

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Assembled with pride with plenty of push pins and wood glue.

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Since each piece was hand cut there were minor design deviations made.  In other words, we gained intimate knowledge of trapezoids to complete the outer shell.

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Wood filler was used to smooth out any spaces in the shell.

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The next step in our process is to coat the rocket in a thin layer of fiberglass, a material we’ve never worked with before.  However, we were able to get in touch with Rich, who has provided incalculable advice regarding rocket construction.  He gave us a crash course in quick drying glassing techniques.

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With one third of the rocket covered, we were on a roll.  Or were we?

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Over the next few days we learned the wrong way and the right way to go about glassing the fuselage.  We got ahead of ourselves at one point and glassed the fins only to find that ten hours later they had still not cured.  We pulled the fiberglass cloth off, wiped the fins with acetone to remove extra resin, cut our losses, licked our wounds and moved on.  We soon got the hang of glassing and finished the initial coat.  We returned to the shop to sand and paint.

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At this point we were working with little time for error, so photos are few.

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We ended up spot painting and applying the decal to the rocket shortly after we parked the truck on the show floor at the Anaheim Convention Center for D23 EXPO

Special thanks goes to David who worked constantly to ensure that the rocket was ready for the Expo.

Although planning began many months ago, from first cut to final paint drops the process only took a month and a week to complete.

But we aren’t finished yet…

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