Bottle Neck Caps For Fluorescent Tube Covers
A technique for making ends for water rockets using
fluorescent tube covers and 500 ml Dr Pepper bottles.
Fluorescent tube covers are long plastic
tubes sold in hardware and lighting stores. They are designed to
slip over Fluorescent light bulbs to prevent a broken bulb from
anyone below it with broken glass. Readily available in the USA,
they might be difficult to find in countries with fewer or different
regulations. Needless to say, being extremely tough, about 42 mm
(1 3/8 in) in diameter and coming in lengths over 2 meters (8 ft), it
only a matter of time before a water rocketeer noticed this material.
There are reportedly some good fits to FTC using
commercial model rocket nosecones. This will work fine if you
need to put anything on top of your rocket, but it will get expensive
you are using water recovery.* The following describes a method I
use based on the conical shape of 500 ml Dr Pepper bottle neck.
*It is possible to trim one of these rockets so that
it descends horizontally
at a non-dangerous speed, but I suspect this will ultimately cost you
Make a mold for plaster of paris by drilling a
centered 1 3/8 inch hole in the bottom of a Dr Pepper bottle
a spur drill (A spade drill bit with spikes at the corners of the
edge.) Smear Vaseline inside the bottle neck as a release
cap the bottle and insert a square cut piece of FTC that is long enough
to stick out the bottom of the bottle. Pour plaster into the FTC
and let it harden. If you are smarter than I am you might think
how you are going to hold this assembly while the plaster sets before
you mix the plaster. When it is hard, you can twist and pull the
form out of the bottle, but leave the FTC on the plaster. Clean
any plaster that might have leaked out around the FTC inside the
I made a line 3 cm from the shoulder on the FTC to guide my scissors
I trim bottlenecks before shrinking them.
off the neck of a Dr. Pepper bottle at the shoulder, slip it onto the
form, trim it to the line, and shrink it with a heat gun. You
find this makes a snug fit with FTC in a minute or so.
The contact surfaces inside the neck and outside
the FTC are roughened with coarse sand paper, and I glue them together
with Household Goop because it is hard to find the superior but uglier
PL Premium where I live. Using Goop, it is easy to level the glue
squeezed out with a moistened finger. Use rubber gloves if you
PL Premium at all.
Using this technique, it is easy to put two nozzles
on an FTC. Thinking about it another way, it is also easy to put
on a nozzle and a threaded fitting. I glue (Goop again) two
caps together, back to back, and put a Pop rivet through them.
a washer to get the rivet tight. This makes an air-tight
adapter. Then anything I can make based on the male threaded neck
of a bottle, for example, payload chambers or recovery systems,
screws onto the front of my rocket. I make a fairing from another
bottle or short piece of FTC to cover the linkage. These rockets
are modular, and it is
easy to switch and swap parts.
7/25/00 Gordon B. McDonough