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"How to Design, Build, and Test Small Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines"

Leroy J. Krzycki

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....           Actual size is 11 x 8.5-inches

How to Design, Build, and Test Small Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines

Leroy J. Krzycki

A classic text for experimental and "amateur" rocket scientists, engineers, and technicians.  Written especially for people who want to build their own rocket motors, from scratch, this is a superior "how to do it in your garage or workshop" kind of book.  We know of no other similar texts.

As the author says:  "With proper design, careful workmanship, and good test equipment operating in a safe manner, the amateur can build small liquid-fuel rocket engines which have hours of operating life.  The purpose of this publication is to provide the serious amateur builder with design information, fabrication procedures, text equipment requirements, and safe operating procedures."

Contents include:

  • Introduction
  • Propellant choice
  • Propellant properties
  • Design equations
    • Nozzle
    • Combustion chamber
    • Chamber wall thickness
    • Engine cooling
    • Heat transfer
    • Materials
    • Injectors
  • Example design calculations
  • Fabrication
  • Testing equipment
    • Feed system
    • Feed system components
  • Test stand
  • Safety equipment
  • Engine check-out and operation
  • Ignition and operation
  • The law
  • Bibliography
  • List of suppliers
  • Conversion factors
  • Additional online resources
The book takes you, one step at a time, through the entire process, from start to finish.  It begins with an excellent introduction to rocket engine design principles, explaining DeLaval nozzles, gas velocities, propellant types and characteristics (including pressurized gaseous oxygen), performance factors, and related calculations. 

The text focuses on a simple yet effective rocket motor that uses gaseous oxygen (in the kind of tanks used by welders everywhere, and readily available everywhere) and a hydrocarbon fuel (such as gasoline or alcohol).  Incidentally, this is exactly the kind of propellant system that was used by the first rocket scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of Cal Tech!

There are the necessary simple formulas for calculating mixture ratios, flame temperatures, chamber pressures, thrust, specific impulse (thrust per pound of propellants used), nozzle design, combustion chamber design, wall thickness, heat transfer, and engine cooling.

Then you'll look at the various materials to use in construction, including steel, brass, copper, etc.  The design and fabrication of the propellant inject is explained in detail, for various kinds of spray nozzles.  (The author suggests using commercial spray nozzles--a good idea!)

One chapter takes you through the steps involved in designing your own rocket engine, from start to finish, over 15 important steps in the process.  You'll learn how and where (and how big) to drill the fuel injection holes, and how to build the combustion chamber.  He even specifies the tools you need.  (If you have a workshop, you probably have most or all of them already).  As the author states:

"The fabrication and assembly of a small liquid fuel rocket engine is no more difficult than the more serious amateur machine projects, such as model steam engines, gasoline engines, and turbines."
There are plenty of detailed engineering drawings, so you can see how each part is built, and how the parts go together.  All the machining process is described in great detail, and is easy to follow.  There are instructions for the fuel tank, the connection plumbing, the control valves, fuel filter, and pressure gauges.

Finally, you'll learn how the build a simple but effective (and safe) rocket test stand, and how to run the motor safely.  There are details about engine check-out and calibration, leak testing, flow calibration, and test stand checkout.  Ignition and operation are explained (he suggests a simple spark gap, using two wires).  There's a step-by-step check list taking you through 18 steps to operate your rocket engine.  And the bibliography gives you additional references for further research.

Sample Illustrations from the Document
(greatly reduced in size)


Hard to find and now out-of-print, this 73-page report is quality bound, for a key place in your library or research files.  11" x 8-1/2" size.  $24.95

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