February 15, 2004

Build It - the finished rocket

We've had a nice stretch of weather, which allowed me to get outside to paint our rocket. You can do painting like this in the winter, but the secret is to bring the rocket into a warm place immediately after the final coat.

The picture, and the rest of this post is in the extended entry.

What is all this about? "Build It" is a series of posts where were building a basic model rocket online. Each post shows part of the process step by step, including pictures and passing along tips and tricks Ive learned along the way. You can find the rest of the series here.


I used Rustoleum sandable primer, and Krylon gloss white, gloss banner red and gloss regal blue, all in spray cans. Step one was applying four light coats of primer, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper between coats. Then I let it sit for several days.

Next up, an all-over coat of blue, applied in 4-5 light coats, followed by one fairly heavy 'finish' coat. I let the rocket sit in the sun for about ten minutes between coats. The nice thing about Krylon is you can recoat anytime.

If I were going to be masking this rocket off to paint different colors, then I would have let it sit for several days for the blue paint to fully dry. Instead, I decided to 'fade' the colors together.

Starting at the top, I sprayed several coats of white over the blue, making sure I never went as far down as the joint where the nose cone meets the body tube. I concentrated more paint towards the top of the rocket to completely cover the tip of the nose. The nice thing about this 'fade' technique is that you can just do it by eye and stop when it looks good to you.

I also did a light fade of white in a band near the top of the fins so that the red and blue would contrast better and to brighten up the red a little.

Once that had dried a few minutes, I sprayed the red in the same manner as the white. Concentrate the color more towards the ends of the fins and bottom of the rocket to create the 'fade' into blue. I was careful to not completely cover the white band.

The best tool for painting a rocket like this is a 5/8" dowel about 18" long. Slide it up into the motor mount and you have a wand to hold and manipulate the positioning of the rocket while you spray.

Several hours later (I got impatient, you should wait a day or two), I cut out the decal and put it on the side of the rocket. I didn't use the fin decals. I normally don't like the newer self-adhesive kind, but this worked ok. I also thought about cutting out the "FAT BOY" letters to write something like "OY BATF", but it's been done before, so I stuck with the original.

So that's it! We now have a completed rocket. Maiden flight will be next weekend. Saturday we have a club launch in The Plains, Virginia, at Great Meadows Equestrian Center, and on Sunday is the first Culpeper launch of the year. A Launch Report will be posted, and as always everyone is invited to attend. Email me for more information or leave it in the comments.

Posted by Ted at February 15, 2004 07:43 AM | TrackBack

Does that come in pocket size? ;)

Posted by: Dawn at February 15, 2004 02:51 PM

Looks great Ted. Good job.

Posted by: Rocket Man Blog at February 15, 2004 06:48 PM
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