Good clean Mayhem

Surgical rubber tubing, dry cleaning bags, Frisbees and beer.


       Well, the weekend is over and there is only 12 days until Mile High Mayhem.  Saturday, the NCR equipment trailer cleaning party was held at my house (Château-Flounder).  It was a great success, however unlike last years cleaning party this one did not have nearly the beer to host ratio.  I admit, I had a cold and didn’t advertise for beer donations but I was surprised that only one person showed up with beer.  And he did not leave any for me.  What’s the world coming to?

       Every year we seem to hold the NCR cleaning party at my house, I really enjoy having all the rocket geeks over, and I learn something new every time. 

       One year Burt enlightened me to the magic of the zither.  I think that’s what he called it, anyway you take a dry cleaning bag and twist it until it’s a long thing rope.  Then hang it up over a Frisbee full of water.  Then you light the end, as it burns it drips molten plastic, the noise the molten plastic makes as it falls sounds like “ZZZzzzziiiiiithhhhh plunk”  the plunk is when it hits the water. It also makes cool little sculpture like things when it hardens in the water. 

        Another year John showed us that you can take a dry cleaning bag (again) and make a hot air balloon out of it and a candle.  We did so in the garage, it was raining outside at the time, and it was so cool.  Hazardous but a great little bit if fun.

       This year it was surgical rubber tubing.  Not your wimpy rubber tubing that you would use for IV drugs, or to make a wrist rocket but real mans, giant, slingshot of the gods kind of tubing.  This stuff is about 1” in diameter with at least a ¼” wall thickness. You can barely stretch surgical rubber tubing of this type. 

Why do we even have this stuff, you may ask? 

       Well, it all has to do with pressure, uprOar, and black powder.  We use black powder to create expanding gas to push the parachute out of the rocket.  You see the theory is that when the atmospheric pressure is low like it is at 25,000’ you can’t generate much gas by burning black powder, I have never encountered this issue with my little rockets but uprOar is different.  The solution to this problem we chose to use is to confine the black powder to encourage more complete combustion.  So that’s where the surgical rubber tubing comes into play.  We cut off a piece about a foot long and tie one end off, fill it with about 65 grams of BP, in cert an electric match, and pinch off the tube with wire ties and electrical tape.  Ta-Da; confinement, with out hard pieces of stuff blasting all over the place. 

       So anyway John brought over about 12’ of the stuff and decided that it really needs to be opened up and stretched out a bit, it seemed a bit ridged.  So he tied off one end and with the aid of a hose clamp attached the other end to the squirt attachment on our garden hose.  I was down stairs the whole time taking my Tripoli L2 test, I knew that the guys were up to something but not exactly what.  Then I came up stairs and what’s in my back yard?  A 25’ flesh colored water balloon about 12” in diameter that’s all.  Well, I am not entirely sure what was supposed to happen, it did look dangerous and disgusting but we couldn’t just let it lie there.  So I went over and disconnected it from the hose. 

       “Woooosh, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle”.  Strangest thing I have seen in a long time.  It immediately started shooting water and returning to its original diameter, but not all at once.  It started to go back to its original diameter at the outlet end, wiggling back and forth like some kind of possessed cows nipple or vomiting snake, or worse.  Use your imagination.  Times like this I really love my wife for her practicality and thick skin, she was watching me, with this thing in my hands at about belt level, pink, wiggling from side to side and yelled over “water the tree with the thing, don’t waste the water”. She also gave other helpful words of encouragement, while bypassing the toilet jokes and sophomoric humor that the others were using with great enthusiasm.


The cleaning party was a great success, somehow with about 20 people we managed to eat 24 brats, 2.5 lbs of chicken, a half gallon of Beans, 6 liters of pop, two dozen brownies, and a 5 lb bag of potatoes. 



We also cleaned the trailer. 




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