by Joel Cool-Panama, Compton Comet Engineer, RRS Secretary
The Compton Comet has made a lot of progress in the past few weeks. In that time we’ve managed to have new pipes fabricated for the LOX and ethanol systems, allowing us to finally complete them. We had previously tried to bend tubing by ourselves, since our budget is quite limited. However, it proved to be practically impossible to bend larger tubing without kinking, especially 1″ diameter tubes, with the simple pipe bending tools at our disposal. In the end, these problems were overcome by Waldo Stakes, one of our generous mentors, having the aluminum pipes bent at his own expense. We know from previous quotes for tube bending that this can in fact run into the thousands of dollars, so we are surely indebted to him and his generosity.
We’ve also started, and finished, LOX washing the plumbing, especially the pipes leading to and from the LOX tank. LOX is a very strong oxidizer, and the presence of any remotely flammable material in the plumbing system could spell disaster. For this reason LOX washing is vitally important, and the knowledge of how to properly do it is practically required in rocketry.
With the plumbing all cleaned and installed, we will begin doing low pressure tests of the whole system. This should reveal the majority of any leaks that may be present. Naturally we will need to retest and tighten the whole system once we get it out to the RRS MTA for the hot fire test, but doing a low pressure test now will practically ensure that there are no irreparable problems with the system when we get out there, from where we would likely be incapable of fixing those problems with what tools and supplies we can reasonably bring with us.