High power rocket construction: part 6 (applying primer)

So if you’ve been following along with this step-by-step guide at home, the construction of your new high power rocket is now complete! All the major parts are assembled, and aside from putting a motor inside, you’re ready to launch. (Note: a motor is in fact required. More on this later.)

Some people do actually launch their rockets at this point without doing anything more, like applying primer or painting or adding any decals or other finishing touches. The idea behind flying your newly minted rocket “naked” is that it’s untested and may suffer some catastrophic failure during flight – so why invest a large amount of time making it look nice?

Rocket standing upright on flattened cardboard boxes on grass, sprayed with white primer
Trying not to turn the grass completely whit

But most people take some time to class the rocket up after building it, even before the first flight. You can spend as much or as little time as you want on this.

Here, I used a spray can of primer to cover the length of the rocket. The primer should be applied as evenly as possible, continuously moving the can and its nozzle so that it isn’t concentrated too much on any single area. Better to do many short, quick passes with the spray than to focus too long in one spot and build up an uneven surface. (Of course, it can always be sanded down to make the surface even again, but this just adds unnecessary extra work.)

Full rocket standing vertically with white primer applied
Rocket imitating the pine trees

Another tip is to cover anything that you don’t want to spray with masking tape before you get started, like rail buttons or the motor retainer.

Our yard and house are surrounded by massive pine trees, so this would not be an ideal place to launch a large rocket, for a variety of reasons. But that’s okay. Look at that rocket gleam in the morning light.

Next: painting and finishing touches!

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