Rolling Your Own...Rocket Tubes

Discussion in 'Space & Aeronautics' started by wyverns4, May 11, 2006.

  1. wyverns4

    wyverns4 Member

    After finishing the 1/24th Mercury Capsule, I decided to jump into the 1/48th Gemini/Titan rocket. Right away, I'm running into a problem. How do I get the rocket body tubes rolled smoothly? No creases, kinks or dings, and also have the edges mate smoothly? Right now, I have the first part over-rolled in a cardboard tube from a large roll of paper, but the very edges don't seem to want to curve properly.

    Any hints?

  2. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    The answer is relatively simple: Cheat. Use model rocket cardboard tubes. Measure the circumference of the rocket body you need to make (if it is a one-piece body, then you'd be measuring the width) and then head down to the model rocket section of your local hobby shop and find a cardboard tube that matches the circumference. I've been amazed at how many times I've been able to find a tube with a circumference that either matches what I'm looking for or is just a milimeter or two off.

    Once I've found the tube and cut it to length, I lay a length of angled brass on the tube so I can draw a straight line lengthwise. Then, I take a piece of double-sided tape that is the length of the tube and lay it down so that the line shows up roughly in the middle of the tape. Make sure the tape is flat and has no wrinkles.

    It is generally best to print out the rocket's "skin" on a lighter-weight paper than what you would normally use. Still, once you get it cut out, you'll want to "roll" it to impart a curvature in it. I do this by using the underside of a computer mouse pad and a piece of dowel or a metal tube. You basically lay the "skin" on the pad, printed side down, and smoothly roll the dowel over the paper, much the same way you'd use a rolling pin to roll out some dough. Make sure you press down on the dowel or tube evenly along its length, or else you'll wind up with a skin that has a curvature along the top and bottom, but not the middle.

    Once the skin has a curvature to it. place one of its length-wise edges down on the tape, lined up with the pencil line. Don't press it down firmly yet. Curve the skin around the tube to make sure everything lines up when the edges meet. If they do, you can press the skin down firmly on the tape. If they don't meet up properly, carefully lift the skin up and adjust it along the pencil line and try again.

    This is the method I've used on my rockets, and they've come out ok. Building rockets in this fashion adds a lot of strength (and not a lot of weight) to the model.
  3. jleslie48

    jleslie48 Member

    Phissshawwww (sp???) If its not laying around the house it doesn't get used.

    try this:

    fourth question down.
  4. wyverns4

    wyverns4 Member

    Thanks! I totally missed the FAQ from your site! Essentially, I was doing everything you mentioned, just not doing it well. The most important thing you suggest is "slow down"! Thankfully, I haven't glued anything yet. The two main things i just learned to try is to roll a slightly smaller tube from scrap, and to cut the formers slightly undersize, then wrap with a wider piece to make up the difference. Makes sense. that was, you are essetialy making a, "I" beam section, adding to the ridgidity. BTW, I really appreciate your site, and the rocket models therin!
  5. jasco

    jasco Member

    I have taken dhanner's advice of cheating one step further. I couldn't find any model rocket tubes at the local hobby shop (they sure ai'nt what they used to be!) so after several months of moping around, a sales rep came into my office ( I work for "a major printing company") and was selling "cores" to my cubemate. Cores are short tubes we wind a stream of labels around for shipment to our customers a la paper towels or toilet paper. Hey, Mr. Sales Rep! Can you get me about a dozen custom made tubes of exactly the diameter I need as samples for a special project at no cost to me? You can? Fabulous. I feel so guilty, I can hardly wait to return to my Delta II rocket project! It's not really cheating, it's using resources creatively!
  6. wyverns4

    wyverns4 Member

    Update to Titan/ Gemini I am working on. I found an old, unused fence post in my garage that was almost exactly the correct diameter for my tubes. I cut off an 18" chunk of the galvanized steel tube, cleaned it up and took it to the shop. All it needed was a couple of shims to keep the paper tight while the glue dried. Worked out perfect!
    Moral to the story - Keep yer eyes open! You never know what you might find laying around that might work!
  7. I know this is an old thread but I couldn't resist sharing my method of rolling a perfect tube every time. I take a tube roughly half the diameter of the tube I want to end up with. then I tape the edge of a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper the lenghtn of the tube. Roll the paper one or two turns around your form then insert the edge of your model between the paper and the form. continue rolling until it is wrapped around the form tightly. You want to have the glue tab glued to one edge beforehand so it all get rolled together. leave it rolled for a little while then unwrap it and presto you will have a perfect tube no wrinkles kinks etc. Also because it is now rolled to a smaller diameter you have to unspring it a little. this makes for a perfect joint as it clamps the edges together when it springs back. I have tried all the other methods and believe me this works the best. I also roll a piece of card stock three or four layers then insert into the finished tube and let it unspring. It gives added support and you don't even have to glue it. I hope this helps.

    One more pointer. some cardstock can be moistend slightly by laying a damp twoel over it. Then when you roll it and let it dry it makes for a very sturdy tube.

    NULLMOON Member

    make a note of the paper/cards grain, rolling with the grain will produce flawless tubes.... agaist will create wrinkles/fractures exept on very large dia tubes
  9. Hans Christian

    Hans Christian Active Member

    Hey I've also encounter this a lot when I build rocket tubes, or any narrow tube...

    If there's no available pre-made tube for the model, you can try rolling it on something solid and cylindrical that is way wider than the diameter of the tube in question, then progress it to more tighter diameters... (I think a lot of our folks here already knew about this technique)

    I've done this on the 1/96 Mercury Redstone, Atlas and Gemini-Titan II, and even on Mr. Currell's Concordes, and it works great!!!
  10. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Tim, I took your suggestion and created a couple of "scrolls", as my daughter calls them - wood dowel rods with 32 pound paper attached using double sided tape. The paper is rolled around the dowel and allows me to roll near-perfect tubes just like you said. Woohoo! I'm really happy with the resulting tubes. But here's where I have trouble - gluing the resulting edges. The tubes dry fit together perfectly. However, when I put the glue onto one edge I have trouble lining up the edges correctly to make the glue joint. Do you (or anyone) have any suggestion how to place the dry edge onto the glued edge correctly? Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I'm a little off and have to pull the edges apart and try again. Each time I do this the "dry" edge gets a little warped and the tube spreads out a little more. I have made a few good tubes, but I'm not getting them consistently right.
  11. gluing the edges

    I glue a tab to the inside of one edge. Roll your tube to a smaller diameter. Then when you pull the tube back to the correct diameter it will spring into the joint apply glue first of course and it will clamp itself into the other edge. I use the dowel as a roller and roll it from inside against a hard surface to compress to the glue tab the length of the tube. Tell your daughter she's right it does look like a scroll.

    If you don't want the glue tab to be a pemanent part you can use 3-M white artist tape. Follow the same procedure glueing only the edge then when thoroughly dry remove the tape. Your edges will align perfectly
  12. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Thanks! I'll try that suggestion tonight.
  13. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Been home sick the last couple of days and started feeling better today, so I got to rolling some tubes for the Chang Zheng using timhinds1's method. Here are some shots of my rolling scroll and some tubes. Insert and edge of the part into the roller.

  14. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Roll it up.

  15. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Next, roll up the "scroll" in clear plastic wrap to secure it.

  16. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    The scroll is holding the tube tight.

  17. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    A couple of the resulting booster sections alongside the original escape tower which is next to the custom one I rolled from scratch.
  18. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Almost ready to send a Taikonaut into orbit. :) For the core I used David Hanners' method of forming the parts around an Estes model rocket tube. He calls it cheating. I call it maintaining my sanity. :grin: This model has been kicking my butt for a couple of weeks.
  19. Very nice. I think it is the easiest method to roll a tube. Great pirctures. I am glad to help.


    Current build: 1/4 Merc project by Scott Todd
  20. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Thanks, Tim. By the way, do you secure your roller and leave the tube in it for a while like this?

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