For those people who do not have a background in rocketry or who want maximum performance and efficiency from a rocket engine, I strongly recommend commercially manufactured model rocket engines. In no way can you expect to make at home with a minimum of equipment and by hand the same quality of product achieved with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mechanical equipment and dozens of years of background knowledge and specialized training. The methods and procedures explained in this text borrows for the most part procedures used by ancient artificers hundreds of years ago coupled with some modern techniques and materials. Even some of the old techniques cannot be duplicated in a small home workshop but other techniques have been developed to compensate for this as will be explained later.
So, you say, why bother with constructing engines at home? Several reasons. Nothing can match the pride and excitement of watching something you have built yourself do the job it was built to do. Watching a rocket lift off the launch pad, streak skyward nearly out of sight and return to earth again swaying gently from it's parachute in perfect condition to fly again is something that must be experienced. When that rocket has been built 100% “from scratch” including the engine, it is an accomplishment shared by very few other people in the entire nation.
Besides the pride of accomplishment, there are infinite variations of sizes and powers of engines that can be built. Engines can be produced having nearly any shape thrust time curve. Large engines, very small engines, or any size of standard or sizes between standards can be built. The field is wide open for experimentation, not only to find how to make an engine perform just as you want it to but in methods of construction, materials and tools for construction and simple machines to facilitate construction.
Although this text will give explicit details for constructing engines, it is the hope of the author that it will also motivate and challenge you to go beyond merely following instructions and delve into this field in true scientific curiosity. Try to improve on the ideas presented and search out that “better way” of doing it. This curiosity backed by training and knowledge has been the backbone of our modern technology.
Curiosity by itself is not enough. To truly advance technology a thorough knowledge of the technology existing is also necessary. I again urge you, if you do not have a background in model rocketry start with commercial engines and read everything you can find on rocketry. A list of books, publications, and suppliers is listed at the back of the book.
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