Setting up your fireworks – Rockets

Rockets are great fun both to watch and fire. But, reaching speeds of several hundred miles per hour in a just a few seconds means you need to be careful setting them up.

 

Getting started

It should be pointed out first of all that UKFR guides are not intended as a replacement to the instructions on a rocket which you should of course always follow. Common sense must at all times prevail here. For example in the event of a conflict between the rocket’s instructions and the advice here, always follow the directions on the label. Most guidance and tips here can however be used in addition to the firework’s own instructions to enhance safety.

 

Setting up rockets – the basics

Push the supplied launch tube into the ground far enough so the tube is stable when the rocket is inserted into it. Angle it slightly if required to take the flight away from spectators. Be aware however that rockets track into the wind because the wind tips the stick during flight.

Insert the rocket’s stick into the tube. In many cases the stick will reach the ground before the head of the rocket touches the top of the tube. This is fine providing the stick does not get stuck in the ground and the rocket won’t tip over.

Many displayers attach their rocket tubes to wooden stakes. This has a couple of useful advantages. Firstly the tube does not get bent while trying to insert it in the ground because you can hammer the wooden stake in first. Secondly, it helps to keep the rocket tube straight because the rocket’s weight is not causing it to sag.

Firework Rockets

A line of large rockets each in a tube attached to a stake. Quick, easy and safe.

Leave fuse covers on until you are ready to fire. At the last moment before firing ensure the rocket is loose in the tube and is not stuck.

Some rocket fuse covers are glued on or otherwise very hard to remove. It is worth loosening and then replacing them during set up so you know they will come straight off when you are ready to fire. If not there could be an unwanted pause in your display while you are trying to wrench the fuse covers off!

Never launch rockets from bottles or other freestanding items because these can tip over causing the rocket to fire horizontally. This is highly dangerous! Never insert the rocket stick directly into the ground.

If your rockets are supplied in wire mesh cages be aware these can take a little time and patience to open. Don’t leave it until the last moment when it’s dark and you are under pressure.

 

Rocket racks

To prevent having to reload rockets during a display you can build a rocket rack. This avoids the potentially dangerous situation of having loose rockets lying around – or being held – while waiting to reload tubes. It is also easier to light several rockets at once if they are lined up in a rack.

Rocket Racks

Examples of small (left) and larger (right) rocket rack designs

When building a rack do ensure your tubes are big enough for the largest rocket sticks which can be quite thick. It is entirely personal preference what type of tubing you use. Plastic conduit is cheapest but will melt after continued use. Metal tubing is more sturdy.

 

Waterproofing rockets

This is easy to do by placing a waterproof bag (such as a bin liner) over the head of the rocket. Use some tape or an elastic band to keep the bag in place if you think it might blow off. Tarpaulins or polythene sheets can be used to cover whole rocket racks.

Big rockets waterproofed

Rockets waterproofed with plastic bags. Very simple and very effective.

 

Firing rockets from hard surfaces

When firing from concrete, tarmac or other hard surfaces you will need to secure your rocket tubes in some other way than pushing them into the ground. The use of a rocket rack is recommended and you can secure this by building a wooden frame or other support for it.

 

Further information

The other articles in this section will guide you through setting up various other types of firework.

The busy UKFR Fireworks Forum is always a good place to ask if you want more advice or if you want to get a little more creative with your fireworks.

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Established in 1999, UKFR remains independent from the fireworks trade and does not sell fireworks.