Carbon Fiber Skinned Plywood Core Fins

Posted on September 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Spoiler-alert, the fins turn out great!

Original laser-cut 1/4″ birch plywood fins.

At the National Sport Launch 2017 in Alamogordo, NM, I picked up a large crayon bank kit from Discount Rocketry. It comes with a 38 mm motor mount and 1/4″ birch plywood laser-cut parts. The kit is nicely put together, but I wanted to do a little something extra with the fins to help ensure a good flight with a J motor in it. My goal was to bevel the fins and laminate them with carbon fiber. I’ve done a small amount of fiberglass work, but I’ve never dealt with carbon fiber, and I’ve never done vacuum bagging before, and both of those would be required for this project. ┬áThe equipment for this project included a fin beveling jig, a Foodsaver vacuum sealer, a custom edge drilling guide, and a buffing wheel with a polishing compound. The supplies included 5.7 oz carbon fiber cloth, 2 oz fiberglass cloth, laminating epoxy, 100% polyester smooth tightly woven cloth (instead of peel-ply), paper towels (instead of breather material), multiple grits of sandpaper (120, 180, 220, 400, 600, 800, 1500, and 2000), and a 12″ vacuum bag roll. Continue reading Carbon Fiber Skinned Plywood Core Fins…

“Fat 50” ammo cans as saddlebags

Posted on October 3, 2011 at 7:39 am

A few Redditors asked for pics of my ammo can saddlebags this morning, so here they are. They’re mounted using Easy brackets (http://easybrackets.com) which work really well for this. When I pull them off, only the chromed mounting studs remain.

More great progress on the trailer.

Posted on May 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

There was a lot of progress made on the trailer this weekend. I got the running lights wired to the hazard switch, and then I got that wired into the junction box and the junction box wired up to a 7 prong trailer plug. I also got the two circuits for the pumps run, and two circuits for the lights run. The interior lights are installed and working, and the porch light has a wire run via a switch by the door. With the exception of attaching the porch light, which will be done after the roof skin gets put on, the electrical work is complete! After that, with Sam’s help, we got the lifter cables adjusted so that all four corners lift to the same height, and while I was crawling around under the trailer, we also got the copper lines for the propane run. The furnace is now properly vented on the outside and hooked up to propane, and it works great! The line for the water heater & stove is in place with the valve shut off for now so the furnace could be tested. Those will be hooked up with a couple of 3/8″ flare hoses that I need to pick up, but other than hooking up those hoses, the propane work is basically done! The final task of the weekend was to bolt the wheels back on now that the work under the trailer is out of the way. There’s still a hole to drill for the drain, but that will be towards the edge of the trailer, so the wheels won’t be in the way for that. Next weekend I need to get the aluminum for the roof ordered, and then I need to start working on installing a ton of T-nuts for the track that holds the canvas at the top. Those have to be in before the roof can be skinned. After that will be doing the plumbing for the water system.


The Roof!

Posted on May 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

It was a good weekend. The roof has been built and bolted to the lifters. I also installed the winch switch and wired it into the main junction box; there’s still a bit of cable arranging to do for the winch, but that will wait until the final adjustments can be made to the limit switches. Next on the list is ordering the aluminum for the roof, and then working on the final electrical details. After that is some plumbing, gas, and the final cabinet parts such as drawers and countertops.

We have siding!

Posted on May 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

This weekend with a little help from Nathan, Jenn, Sam & Rob I got the siding installed! Once that went on, I was able to put all the trim pieces on with the vinyl inserts, and install all the running lights. I still need to run the wires into the junction box, but the lights all appear to work. I also installed the water fill hatch, the water heater, and the outside shower hatch. With those bits done, it’s really starting to look like a trailer. Next on the list is to build the roof, do the gas & water plumbing, & finish the electrical.

Made good progress on the trailer!

Posted on April 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

This weekend I wasn’t sure how much I would get done with it being Easter, but I managed to get some work done. I cut the holes for the water fill hatch and the outside shower. Then I located and drilled the two holes for the furnace. Since the furnace vents are a slip fit from the outside, I went ahead and screwed the furnace into it’s final position. The hatches are just sitting there for now; they will be installed properly after the exterior skin is in place. After that I installed the two battery trays. The trays are a bit longer than my current batteries, but I want the ability to upgrade to group 27 sized batteries in the future. The straps hold the batteries securely in position despite the size difference. After that, there was still a good bit of daylight, so I wired the two batteries into the junction box via 50 A circuit breakers. Then I wired the junction box to the fuse panel via a switch, and I got the first interior circuit run. I wired the linear actuator relay circuit to the fuse panel, and then ran a wire around the inside of the cabinetry to the kitchen cabinet and hooked up the actuators. There’s still circuits to run for lighting, power sockets, water pumps, and the furnace, but those will be easy. The winch, however, will take some doing since it’s pre-wired and bound together, it’ll take some finagling to get it to cooperate and hook into the junction box. Not sure if that will be next weekend or not, but stay tuned to find out.


Finally got some time in on the trailer this weekend.

Posted on April 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

This weekend, I finished the cabinet frames, then framed in the drawer openings, installed all the cabinets, and put the paneling on them. I had previously believed that with a variety of rotary tools, die grinders, and 1/4″ routers that I had no need for a rotozip, and boy was I wrong. I picked up a rotozip yesterday and it kicks serious butt doing paneling work. The work would have been slow and painful with a rotary tool, and the router would have been too big & bulky to get into the tight spaces; the rotozip had plenty of power and speed, but it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand for the tight spaces.

With all the cabinets installed, I drilled and cut the various holes I need for wiring and plumbing. I also cut the hole in the exterior wall for the water heater and built the platform that it will be installed on. Next on the project list is to finally run all the wiring! There’s also a few more holes to make in the exterior for the water fill compartment, the exterior shower, and two small holes for the furnace intake & exhaust.


Visit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Posted on March 26, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Today I went with Nathan, mom, Rob & grandma to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Nathan rode in the car, and I took the motorcycle; what a fantastic day to be out on the road on a bike! We had a nice picnic lunch and then wandered around a bit. The wildflowers are in bloom, and the cacti are just starting to bloom. Here’s a few of the pictures I took out there today.

More progress on the benches

Posted on March 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

This weekend I cut and installed the blocking for the bench seating, started installing the electrical, test fit the water tank, adjusted the linear actuators, and installed the bench seating. I also figured out where the batteries and the junction box will be installed.

Next on the list is building and installing the battery compartment, then installing the rest of the cabinets. With the cabinets installed, it will be time to start cutting into the walls and floor for appliances, wiring, plumbing, etc.


Finally got more work done on the trailer

Posted on March 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

After three weekends of problems, I was finally able to get some work done on the trailer this weekend. I managed to get two of the three bench seats framed up. They still need the blocking to support the seat, and then the bench going across between them will be the last cabinet to frame. After that, there’s some work to do getting holes cut for the appliances and getting the cabinet frames firmly attached to the trailer. Once that’s done I can work on plumbing, electrical, & LP gas.

There was also some extra distraction this weekend. Kristen came by and we had a bit of an arrow making workshop, so Kristen, Jenn & I all have new sets of arrows!