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Tips and Tricks

This section contains a collection of tips, tricks and frequently asked questions related to pyro tooling.

  • To those customers who want to know how to clean their rocket tools: The best way to clean the spindle is to use a non scratch kitchen pad. Clean the rammer bores using a gun cleaning kit. Store all the pieces to one size kit in a BOX or marked bag.
  • When making rockets be sure to keep all the same size together. Keep all your different manufactured rocket tooling separate, do not mix tooling from one manufacturer in with another manufacturer. Tooling made by Wolter Pyro Tools does not fit Ben Smith's or anyone else's.
  • If you need a quicker-reacting pressure gauge, remove the black cap at the top of the gauge and pour out the glycerin. The gauge will react much faster, especially in cooler climates.
  • Ask ten rocket-makers how to make nozzles and you will get at least eleven answers. Here is one of those answers.
  • Not all rocket tooling is made the same! Some are made with plastic or nylon rammers because they are cheaper and easier to make. The problem is that the rammers wear out quicker. Our rammers are all made from either aluminum or steel.
  • Be sure to check all your rocket rammers' stop marks before using them. This is especially important if you buy a new spindle—it could be a little off from the original one in your rocket kit.
  • Keep the sleeve and plunger from twisting when removing the composition from the pumps. This is very important when making crossette stars as the star shape will deform and the crossette will not break into four equal parts. Also, to get your crossette stars to break right, please use the formula that comes with the pump.
  • Invest in a good pair of safety glasses and perhaps even a face shield. It only takes one accident to change your life! Medical science does not offer eyeball transplants.
  • Adding 15-20% graphite to bentonite clay when pressing nozzles greatly helps when removing the finished rocket from the spindle.
  • If you cannot find a store that has graphite, I can get it for you.
  • Always double check the "No pass line" machined on your rocket rammers with the cases you intend to use. This is especially important if you order a new spindle as just a slight innovation in spindle diameter will greatly affect the position of the no pass machined line on your rammer.
  • Check to make sure all rammers are clear of any rocket composition before pressing another rocket. Any remaining composition in the rammers may act as a solid "stop" and bend your spindle.
  • If you should stick a rammer on your spindle, you can remove it by first carefully cutting away the case and removing any rocket composition. Place the stuck rammer upside down and apply some penetrating oil such as liquid wrench (WD40 doesn't work) on the spindle where it contacts the rammer. Let the rammer stand 2-3 hours, or even over night. The spindle will usually come right out, some with a slight twist. If it still won't come out, send it back to me and I'll try and get it unstuck.
  • If you have a cavity pump, try filling the cavity with flash powder, add a disc to cover the flash powder and paper the star as you would a crossette star. This adds a little surprise.
  • Color changing crossette stars: Begin by marking the side of the sleeve with a piece of tape or paint pen at the position where the fuse pin is flush with the end of the sleeve. To begin, load the pump first with the composition you want the star to break into. If there's any excess beyond the fuse hole pin, depress the plunger till the pin lines up with the mark made before you started and trim off any excess star composition. Next load the other color star composition on top of the composition already in the sleeve and press or ram till solid. Any excess can be trimmed off by depressing the plunger till the pin touches the top of the sleeve. After trimming remove the star to dry.
  • It's always best when making these types of color changing crossettes to use compatible star compositions and to choose colors that go from darker to lighter such as charcoal to silver, not the reverse.
  • Now that you have spent all that time making sure you have pumped those crossette stars just right, we have one last hurdle. Before the stars are placed in the shell, tape a short piece of black match across the face of the exposed surface of the star as the shell is being assembled. The stars are placed so that the black match extends into the break charge to insure ignition of all the crossette stars.
  • For your rocket spindle to release easier from the tube, try dipping it in graphite first. You also can try dipping your star and crossette pumps in graphite if you have trouble getting the stars off.
  • Rocket Pressure Pressing Conversion Formulas: Click here for information on optimum pressing pressures for rockets using whistle-type mixes.
  • When filling crossettes with flash it is easy to get too much flash in the crossette. A simple way to control your flash is to put it in a small ZipLoc sandwich bag. Now cut a teeny bit off of one corner. Now you have a pastry bag with flash in it. With a little practice, and cutting the bag right, it is very easy to get the flash just where you need it, with a minimal amount of slobber.
  • Check to see if your press is aligned right so when pressing your rockets your spindle and rammers don't get bent out of shape.
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