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Machining Rocket Tooling and star plates

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#1 Mitchell


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Posted 14 February 2021 - 07:37 PM

I recently gained access to a full machine shop/forging shop. I am going to plan on making my own rocket tooling (1lb hopefully universal) and I wanted to know if there are any set dimensions people usually use for making these? 


And what is the best thing to make the spindle and rammers out of (not stainless) I have seen many people use aluminum rammers and spindles and I was wondering what the other options were.


For star plates, are aluminum plates and brass/bronze pins generally acceptable?




Edited by Mitchell, 14 February 2021 - 07:38 PM.

#2 gdeputy



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Posted 14 February 2021 - 11:44 PM

I'm no expert, but i've been making my own tooling for years now and had good luck.   Just need a lathe, and aluminum is cheap, easy to machine, and non sparking.   i've not found a reason to use anything else, yet.   


This is a handy program for designing rocket tooling, but its old and runs on adobe flash, so you'll have to download it and run it locally.   http://www.ma.dk/rts/

#3 a_bab



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Posted 15 February 2021 - 01:25 AM

For rocket tools, the spindle needs to be bronze or SS. Aluminium is no good as it will soon break - it's too soft.

The rammers can be made of aluminium, bronze, SS or even plastic (delrin) - however, delrin won't be good for large pressing forces as it tends to deform. 
Avoid iron for sparking and rusting issues.


As for the star plates, yes, aluminium plates with bronze pins will make a bad ass plate.
Delrin pins are also acceptable. 

A brass plate with brass/bronze pins would be the Ferrari version.

#4 Mitchell


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Posted 15 February 2021 - 04:28 PM

gdeputy, I appreciate the link to the software, I didn't realize how useful that was!! That definitely answers my question about what the spindle sizes need to be. Who made that application, whoever did thank you!


a_bab, I can definitely get/make bronze and i have access to plenty of AL. If I had that much brass I would definitely make everything out of brass. I am going to be making 3 and 4 inch shells so I will make plates for them, the question is how many pins do I include in the star plates? Is there any general number people use for those?

#5 JAX7030


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Posted 21 February 2021 - 06:22 PM

I found these shower stems ( Gerber or Pfister) are very easy to convert to spindles for rockets and spolettes up to 3/4" The stock is about 3/8" to 3/4"  and both ends are tapped.

The stems fit in a 3/8" drill and are quickly shaped with a large file and emory cloth. I already have a 1# Super B.P. core burner kit and I will add marks and use the rammers but need to find a suitable base.

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