CAR v2.0 Air Rocket Launcher Build Instructions

By following the simple instructions below, you can quickly assemble the Compressed Air Rocket Launcher in about 15 minutes using just a Phillips screwdriver, some sand paper, pliers and two adjustable wrenches.  Also by using these instructions, you won’t mar the pipes and you’ll keep your launcher looking new for years to come.  Note: When applying teflon tape, make sure you are winding the tape in same direction you are screwing in the pipe fitting.  Usually three to four wraps of teflon tape works best, as your biggest challenge in assembly is preventing leaks.  (You can click on the pictures to enlarge.)

#1 – Unassembled Compressed Air Rocket V2.0 Parts

#2 – If desired, sand the edges to “Ease” the corners of the wooden base parts.  Also, you may choose to stain or polyurethane the wooden parts before assembling them.

Base Assembly:

#3 – Mount round feet to slotted base, using the supplied wood screws and a Philips Screwdriver.  Note that the feet mount to the side of the slotted base without writing.

#4 – Insert bolts through recesses and holes in base.  You can use a hammer to tap them in, or they will pull in once you tighten the wing nuts for the first time in step #8.  Note the large stepped side of the hole allows the head of the bolt to be pulled below the surface of the wood so the base will sit flat.

#5 – Install slotted base with feet down over bolt threads

#6 – Install steel plate with welded on pipe cap over bolt threads.

#7 – Install washers and wing nuts

#8 – If you did not hammer in the heads of the carriage bolts, tighten wing nuts with wrench to fully seat the heads of the carriage bolts in the lower wooden base.  Once tight, the heads should be flush to slightly below the surface, allowing the base to sit flat on the ground.  Loosen the nuts with the wrench, and just finger tighten them.

Pressure Chamber Assembly:

#9 – Wrap the threads on both ends of the black pipe with the supplied teflon tape.  Go around three times and make sure you are wrapping in the direction shown in the picture.  You may want to trim the tape off with scissors for a clean cut.

#10 – Loosely thread the black pipe into the cap welded to the base

#11 – Wrap teflon tape around the male threads on the elbow fitting

#12 – Loosely thread the elbow onto the top of the black pipe

#13 – Loosely thread the QEV, port A, onto the male threads of the elbow fitting

#14 – Thread the 3/8″ pipe into the adapter bushing.  No teflon tape is needed here.  Hold the pipe and tighten the fitting onto it until the pipe slips in your hand.  This is tight enough.

#15 – Thread the adapter bushing into the R port of the QEV – HAND TIGHTEN ONLY – also, no teflon tape is needed here.

#16 – Wrap teflon tape onto the threads of the 1/4″ to 1/2″ NPT adapter bushing

#17 – Thread the adapter bushing and one of the tube fittings (with teflon tape) onto the P port of the QEV, and tighten the adapter with the adjustable wrench.

#18 – Now tighten the tube fitting with an adjustable wrench.

#19 – While holding the base with one hand (or your feet), with the silver tube horizontal, use the other hand to rotate the silver tube around clockwise.  This tightens the elbow fitting onto the black tube and the black tube into the pipe cap welded to the base.  Next, while still holding the base, rotate the QEV onto the threads of the elbow fitting ending with the silver tube pointing straight up.  Note that you can rotate this joint to aim the rocket, which will change its trajectory.  This joint is also rotated (loosen direction) to fold the launcher for transport and storage.  If this joint develops a leak, simply unscrew the QEV/launch tube from the elbow fitting and replace the teflon tape.

Slide Valve Assembly:

#20 – Wrap teflon tape into the threads of the brass 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter bushing.

#21 – Tighten the adapter bushing into the slide valve end that has no hex.  Hold the hex end of the slide valve on the left with a second adjustable wrench.

#22 – Wrap teflon tape into the larger tapered threads of the Schrader valve.

#23 – Tighten the schrader valve into the adapter.

#24 – Install and tighten the second tubing fitting into the hex end of the slide valve.

#25 – Firmly push one end of the tubing into the tubing fitting.  Do a pull test – the hose should not come back out.  If you ever want to release the tube from this fitting, push the blue plastic ring inward, and you can pull the tubing out.

#26 – Firmly push the other end of the tubing up into the second tubing fitting.  Again, do a pull test.

#27 – Bend the ARG Wing Wire as shown.  I like to bend small loops in either end with needle nose pliers to prevent the potential of getting poked by the end of the wire.

#28 – Fully assembled CAR v2.0.  Note the 1/2″ sliver metal launch tube (shown attached to QEV on launcher – hand tightened only) is used for launching 1/2″ paper and tape rockets, along with the foam rockets.  The 3/8″ launch tube with the 3/8″ – 1/2″ adapter and bent wire is used for launching the Air Rocket Glider, and Ultra Stomp Rockets® (Made by Stomp Rockets).  If you don’t have an Air Rocket Glider, you can order it from our store.

#29 – Folded Launcher – To fold the launcher for transport and storage, first ensure there is no pressure within the launcher by sliding the valve to the “launch” position.  Next, loosen the QEV by rotating the silver launch tube counter-clockwise and pointing it down toward the wooden base.  Next, loosen the four wing nuts and rotate the two wooden legs toward one another.  Tighten the wing nuts.

#30 – Test for leaks.  Pressurize the system and feel for leaks, especially in and around the threaded joints.  Keep away from the end of the launch tube – NEVER PUT YOUR EAR OR FACE OVER THE END OF THE TUBE WHEN PRESSURIZED.  At launch, there is a powerful surge of air that comes out of the tube.  The best way to see a leak is to use the same technique as is used to test natural gas lines.  Use a spray bottle with water and a little liquid soap in it.  Spray the fittings with the system pressurized, and look for bubbles.  If leaks are found, disassemble, apply teflon tape, and reassemble and re-test for leaks.

#31 – Pressurize the system with the blue slide positioned closest to the launcher.  To launch, slide the blue part of the slide valve away from the launcher.  A small puff of air will exit by the blue part of the slide valve, and this will release a powerful surge of air from the pressure chamber through the QEV and out the launch tube, launching the rocket.

#32 Launch Instructions:

Paper and Tape Rockets, and Foam Rockets: With the valve in the launch position, there is no pressure within the launcher.  Slide the paper rocket onto the 1/2″ launch tube (larger diameter tube without a thread adapter).  It should be a slight friction fit for the best performance – too tight will turn your rocket to confetti, too loose will hurt performance.  Now slide the blue valve to the Pressurize position (shown in step #30), and pressurize the chamber.  Give a countdown, and slide the blue part of the valve away from the launcher to launch!  Click on the Paper and Tape Rocket Building Template and Instructions here.

Air Rocket Glider (ARG) and Ultra Stomp Rockets® (Made by Stomp Rockets):  Remove the larger 1/2″ launch tube from the outlet of the QEV, and in its place install the smaller diameter 3/8″ tube, complete with the black 3/8″ to 1/2″ adapter and the formed ARG Wing Wire.  No need to thread this in any tighter than hand tight, and no need to use teflon tape here.  If there was a small leak at this joint, it really wouldn’t matter.  When there is pressure in the launch tube, the rocket is only on there for a few milliseconds.  Fold the wings of the ARG, and install onto the launch tube, with the wings between the wire, preventing them from opening.  Now slide the blue valve to the Pressurize position, and pressurize the chamber.  Give a countdown, and slide the valve to launch!

If the Quick Exhaust Valve Leaks:  Sometimes, when using a bike pump, the QEV diaphragm will fail to seal the outlet, and the air will leak out the launch tube with each pump.  There is one super-easy trick that almost always works if the QEV diaphragm fails to seal.  First, with the slide valve in the “Launch” position, complete one stroke on the bike pump.  This will build up pressure in the hose of the bike pump.  Next, slide the valve to the “Pressurize” position.  The sudden inrush of pressure built up in the pump hose will almost always seat the QEV diaphragm.  In fact, the more you launch, the more the diaphragm gets broken in.  Now, pump up the chamber normally. Here’s a video showing the process:

Depending on your bike pump, this usually will automatically happen between launches, as the slide valve seals off the incoming air and leaves pressure in the bike pump hose.  In fact in the video, you will notice that this happens on the last two firings of the launcher in the video.  When the valve is slid from the launch position back to the pressurize position, the residual pressure seals the QEV diaphragm.  I believe that this quick inrush of air is exactly why the QEV works so well when connected to an air compressor.  We really like This Pump, because it’s bombproof when working with kids and the hose screws directly onto the Schrader connector on the launcher slide valve.

Connecting to an Air Compressor – For Instructions on how to connect directly to an air compressor, rather than using a bicycle pump, click here.  The set-up below works great with the little 3 gallon, 100 psi compressor from Harbor Freight at:  We’ve done hundreds of launches with this set-up with the regulator set at 100 psi.  After about 12 launches, it turns on to re-pressurize.  We had no issues with the QEV sticking and you do of course need electricity nearby for this set-up.