September 2016
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Gound Support Updated

Some of the aging & rusted launch pad hardware

“Old & Rusted”

I have been transitioning all of my hardware and ground support over to support hybrid rockets…  Not an easy or cheap task;  Hybrid ground support equipment (GSE) is getting hard to find, leaving many hybrid enthusiasts to learn and build their own equipment.  I managed to find someone to build a complete system (minus the tank and manifold) for me.  The tank I have, and Black Dog Rocketry supplied the manifold.  I will outline my hybrid support equipment on another post, as I actually own two completely different forms of hybrid GSE, and I would like to save this discussion for another time.  Today’s post  will show some of the simple, but costly, upgrades that I have made to my personal launch pad.  I built this pad myself, it is a launch pad that was inspired from John Coker’s Pro Rail Base Launch pad.   My interpretation of Mr. Coker’s ProRail Base was light strong, based on 1.5″ square Aluminum tubing.  When I originally built my pad, I used cost effective zinc coated hardware that I picked up from the local home improvement centers.  The pad has seen many launches, and has even received some ‘kudos’ from fliers who have enjoyed its simplicity to fly from.  However, many launches of corrosive gases have left the zinc hardware in pretty sad shape with various stages of rust on all surfaces.  The pad has sat for many years, until my daughter came to me and asked if we could build a rocket together.  This sudden interest from my daughter, also re-ignited a spark in me to get my equipment updated and in good working order again.  The first order of business is to get the zinc hardware replaced with stainless steel.  $65 to $70 later, I managed to replace all of the hardware with real nice stainless that I selected from the local home improvement center.  Along the way, I ran across a guy who made custom blast deflectors.  After all the years of flying, this pad has never had a proper blast deflector.   Now she does.  All told, I spent just north of $100 in upgrades for my launch pad, and she last for another 10 – 20 years.

Stainless Installed

Stainless Installed

New Blast Deflector

New Blast Deflector

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