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Space Derby RocketsPack 495, Renton WA Scouts are looking forward to the 2016 Space Derby rocket event, which is expected to be an amazing event for the Scouts and their families. As we get closer to this exciting event, the Scouts will be working hard to build their Space Derby rockets to showcase their skills and workmanship.

I would like to ensure that everyone has the knowledge needed to build their Space Derby rocket and identify those Scouts that would like some extra help. Keep in mind that this is a Scout building activity so work with your Scout but do not do all of the work for them. They should be learning how to shape the balsa wood body and put the propeller assembly together. Try to encourage your Scout to make the rocket as round and light and smooth as possible. Don’t forget that there are also Craftsmanship Awards and there is a new category  for this event: Best Original Theme-Create something original.

Here is what I recommend for the build:

  1. Inventory all of the parts and immediately place small parts in a tiny zip-lock bag for safe keeping.
  2. Review the attached documents to get a better idea of the rules of the event and how to build the rocket.
  3. Completely read over the instructions included with the Space Derby Rocket Kit.
  4. Watch a YouTube video on how to build a Space Derby Rocket

The Start

Start by sanding the inside cavity/channel where the rubber bands will rub before gluing the two sides together. Enlarging this channel by sanding somewhat is helpful as well to prevent rubber bands rubbing on the wood. You want this area and the outside to be smooth.

Space Derby Rocket Build - Starter Kit  Space Derby Rocket - Sanding

Choosing a Method

The videos and instructions state two different ways of installing the Rocket Hanger: between the sides or cut into the side. Choose which method you think is best. I recommend putting the Rocket Hanger between the sides by cutting a notch in the wood and fitting the Hanger in place before gluing the two rocket halves together to ensure the best fit. Installing the Hanger in the side of the body encourages you to forcing the parts together which will likely damage the body. Glue the Rocket Hanger and the two rocket body halves together ensuring that the front and rear halves are aligned with each other (small hold and large holes match) and let everything dry for a few hours.

spacederbybuild4  spacederbybuild5

Shaping the Space Derby Rocket

Shape the body of the rocket using sand paper and/or a potato peeler to remove much of the corners quickly. The directions state that knifes should not be used and I agree. Knives can severely damage the soft balsa wood if not careful. I recommend installing the nose cone (no glue) and letting your Scout use a potato peeler to strip away at the edgy corners of the block to make a round tubular rocket body that tapers to a point at the front down to the nose cone. A little taper at the rear is fine as well, just be sure to leave enough material at the back for the rubber band dowel notch (see YouTube videos). The lighter and more aerodynamic the body the better it will fly. If the rocket at all resembles a square tube, remove more wood until it is round.

spacederbybuild6  spacederbybuild7

Rocket Design/Theme

Design a theme or paint scheme for your rocket. The Scout Shop has sticker kits for Space Derby rockets or they can be purchased at Place masking/painters tape on the Rocket Hanger to avoid painting it. Paint on the Rocket Hanger will cause it to stick in the Rocket Carrier after launch. Sand the outside of the body very smooth and apply a couple coats of paint, but not more than three. Paint will add extra weight. Remove the tape once paint is completely dry.
I would not recommend using super glue except for items like perhaps the wings. You will want the forgiveness of Elmer’s glue when putting the rocket together in case a mistake is made; it can be fixed before the glue sets.

Use care when handling the rubber bands. If they contact sharp or abrasive objects, they can get scratched and will break more easily. If testing your rocket with the rubber bands installed, be sure to gradually warm them up according to the instructions included with the kit. They will last longer this way.

If the wings extend back past the end of the rocket, it will not meet the length specifications in the rules so keep that in mind.

I hope I’ve covered the major “stuff”. Get building and have fun and contact me if you get stuck.

Jeremy Peery
Cubmaster, Pack 495

The Space Rocket Derby will be held at the Pack 495 November Pack meeting.

Space Rocket Derby - Pack 495, Renton WA Space Rocket Derby - Pack 495, Renton WA