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Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:12 pm
by ah8tk
This is not a BSA Blastcar, rather a CO2 car built for a school project

In early 2012, one of Noah’s Industrial Technology assignments was building a CO2 car. When he found out he was going to get to build a CO2 car as one of his assignments, later in the school year, he started coming up with ideas for his car. He thought building a rail type dragster would be the best way to go to use the block that came with the kit. He looked at many pictures of rail dragsters and could not come up with one he wanted to emulate.

In February of 2012, we went to a Superbowl party at The Rocketman’s, house and Noah saw this:


Noah decided this is what he wanted his car to look like, it is a rocket powered rail dragster. This car went 412MPH in 3.22 seconds back in 1977. Noah thought that the CO2 cylinder could look like a rocket so the car fit. We took a lot of pictures of the car so when the time came to build his car we would have pictures to design with. Noah even got to sit in the dragster and get his picture taken:


In late April of 2012 the project started, Noah asked his teacher if he could do his design at home on his computer, the teacher told him he could do his design using his computer, but it had to follow all of the steps the kids that did their drawings in class did. He had been doing some drawing so he had a good basis for creating the drawing. With my help (and some father son arguments) he drew this:


There were many design considerations that needed to be implemented, the CO2 cylinder location could not be changed as there is a starter used to pierce the cartridges to start the cars. So a bulge in the upper body was created to house the CO2 cartridge.

The car kit that was used for this school project was the basswood body, not the balsa body. I think they used this because the basswood block is more durable for the youngsters to cut and sand.

Noah was building the car mostly at school, he would bring the car home in the evenings to get some cuts made on our bandsaw. Noah asked his teacher if he could add accessories to the outside of his car, he was told that everything needed to come from the block. We discussed how to make a roll bar from the cut away wood. As the car progressed he apparently asked the question again and the teacher said he could make a copper wire roll bar on the car.

Noah asked if we could lighten the drag car like we lighten the pinewood derby cars we build. I told him it would be possible but we usually have an aluminum bottom on our pinewood derby cars. Noah came up with a plan to cut most of the bottom of the car off, remove excess wood and glue the bottom back on, we were able to lose 1/4 of the weight of the block.

On Monday, May 7th Noah learned the race was going to be Wednesday, his car was a neat looking block without any paint, so it was time to move. Monday night we got the block primed so Noah could sand the primer Tuesday at school. Tuesday evening we painted the car, added decals, cleared the car, built and painted the roll bar, primed and painted his car stand, polished the axles then went to bed (somewhat late).

Wednesday morning we lubed the axles and assembled the car so he could bring it to school for the race. We also polished the pop-rivets, and glued them to the stand so it looked cool. This is what it looked like the morning of the race:


The CO2 car race was held during class time, Wednesday. At the race there was some trouble with the CO2 cartridge in Noah’s car. Apparently the cartridge end was not pierced correctly, so the car started slowly but then the end cleared and the car took off and passed the car he was racing (he decided to race his friend). The teacher did not allow him to race again (apparently all of the cars were racing against the clock), because they were running low on CO2 cartridges. Noah said that another student was having trouble keeping his wheels on and used about 5 cylinders to finally get a time.

The next day they had the cars available to view and they could vote for their favorite car. The students were not allowed to vote for their own car. Noah’s car only received 2 votes (one from his friend and one from the teacher, Noah was helping count the votes and the teacher gave him a vote, even though the teacher does not usually vote for cars). The car that won was just a block with the wheels attached, apparently most of the group decided, in advance, to vote for this car. What can I say, middle school (junior high) kids.

They also raced to find the fastest car, apparently the car that won was the car that had trouble keeping the wheels on.

At least he has the car.


After the race was over Noah asked his teacher if there was any more blocks that he could purchase. He wanted to build a copy of his car to give to Ky, The Rocketman. The teacher found a block that someone had drawn their plan on incorrectly and he gave the block to Noah. I went online and bought some wheels that were wide in the rear and narrow in the front. I originally thought we could use BSA Blastcar wheels but they are one size, so we couldn’t use them, to make a dragster.

Noah started building a copy of his car, the same way he had built the car for school. This time we had time to actually take pictures. The car was built exactly the same as the original car:


We see Ky at a motorcycle event we attend every month. The next month Noah brought the car to give to Ky.

When Ky saw the car he was very impressed with the car, along with the fact it resembled his dragster. He thought Noah had brought the car so he could autograph it. When Noah told him the car was for him he got all misty eyed. Noah told him he would bring his car the next month so he could autograph it for him.

The next month came and Noah brought the car, but he did not bring a Sharpie. We scoured the neighborhood to find a Sharpie to no avail. We knew we would see Ky at a car show the next month and decided to meet up again, this time with the right tools.


Now Noah has a model of the car Ky built, that he built in school, which is signed by the original builder of the real dragster.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:40 am
by Speedster
That is a great looking car. I've never seen one of these races. How do they keep the car going straight? How far do the cars travel?

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:02 am
by ah8tk
The cars are raced along a fishing line running under the car (I’ve heard someone say it is reverse to Space Derby), there are 2 eyelets mounted to the bottom of the car, you can see the front one in this picture:


This from describing the track:
What do you use for the track?
• Many times when people are new to CO2 racing, they hear about cars running on a "track" and think that a track specially made for CO2 cars is needed to race them.
• You can easily build a simple and inexpensive race track.
• The only track required is 50# test fishing line.
• Fishing line is used as a guide line that the eye-hooks on the bottom of the cars attach to.
• The fishing line runs between the start gate and the finish gate
• The length of the track is also important. You need to have at least 60 feet without any obstructions. Any shorter distance than this, and the cars will destroy themselves upon finishing a race.
• The optimum track length is 66 feet (20 Meters), which is in scale with real dragstrip lengths of a quarter mile.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:19 am
by gpraceman
That is really cool, being able to sit in the real car and getting his car autographed by the designer.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:25 am
by sporty
I think you are one of the best artistic builders out there.

Truly amazing.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:34 pm
by whodathunkit
Wow Andy & Noah!
Now those are some really sharp looking co2 powerd drag cars.. Ky looks happy also..
Nice job Noah!

I noted the wheels: ( BP-500 slicks ) Kinda look like the Metric Pitsco 500 wheels also.
Is this wheel type running with a solid axle that passes threw the block and the wheels press fit on to the axle..
like the Metric Pitsco 500 wheels do.
What did you guys do or use to help keep the friction down..
where the axle passes trew the car body and has to spin inside the car body with the wheels?

On the older Monogram models co2 cars i've posted
The axles also pass threw the car body but fits tight and don't spin inside the car body.
Brass spacers are used to keep the wheels away from the car body the wheels spin on brass bushings that fit over the axle.
And have to be pressed inside the rubber wheels with a retainer that has to be solderd on to hold the wheels on.

I've been working on some re-makes of monograms kits from the blast car kit.
Thought i'd try one for the next blast car race.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:41 pm
by ah8tk
whodathunkit wrote:I noted the wheels: ( BP-500 slicks ) Kinda look like the Metric Pitsco 500 wheels also. Is this wheel type running with a solid axle that passes threw the block and the wheels press fit on to the axle. like the Metric Pitsco 500 wheels do.
Yes the wheels are different on both cars, the Pitsco wheels were the wheels we purchased online. They are close looking but not the same.

These both are the style that is a solid axle with the wheels pressed into both ends, they provide straws to put into the car body to reduce friction and also include the brass washers that go between the car body and the wheel.
whodathunkit wrote:What did you guys do or use to help keep the friction down. where the axle passes trew the car body and has to spin inside the car body with the wheels?
His teacher told the students they didn't need to use the straws that came with the kit to reduce friction in the car body, I don't even remember if he brought them home. We went to a bunch of convenience stores to get coffee stirrers to replace the straws. Then we built some aluminum sleeves to try to reduce friction. The axles were also too short, so we used some 1/8" steel rod to make some longer axles.

The Pitsco car used the plastic straws that came with the wheels, this seemed to have less friction than the aluminum bushings we made for Noah's car.

Re: Rocket powered CO2 Car

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:03 pm
by whodathunkit
Thanks Andy & Noah.
Seems that I can also recall that the Pitsco Basswood Drag pack kits came with plastic straws also..
but it's been awhile guys.

Noah :idk: Why you're shop teacher said that the plastic straws were not needed as a bushings
for the axels in the kit you used.
Maybe the teacher did know..but did not want students useing the plastic straws as bushings
you never know about things like that.
Now or days it seem's like there is all kinds of good suff for souping up the Pitsco co2 cars with..
derlin axles..nylon spacers, and axle bushings.. & even 8 gram co2 bottles.

After seeing what you've done.
I'm going to have to look into building a co2 drag car. ;)