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Old 08-21-2018, 01:51 PM
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Royatl Royatl is offline
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Default How Many Motors?

Pardon me for writing down this mind exercise.

At the NARAM 60 Rocketeer Reunion, Bill Stine recounted the creation of the hobby up to the point when Vern created Mabel, then performed a sound experiment on the crowd where he dropped BBs into a metal pail, each BB representing 100,000 model rocket motors made since then. He said the final cacaphony represented a total of 500 million motors produced (someone heard him say 50 billion, but I'm quite sure that was a gross error) since January 1959 when Mabel I went online.

The Estes Catalog is a marketing piece, not necessarily an accurate source of company data, but it could be used to corroborate the numbers and give us an idea of How Many Motors have been produced.

So here's what is in the catalogs I have access to at the moment. Usually the verbiage is "consistent and reliable in more than X launches".

1969 14000000
1970 20000000
1973 40000000
1974 50000000
1981 175000000
1991 300000000
1996 300000000
1997 300000000
2005 310000000
2007 315000000
2010 400000000
2014 275000000

Where did they get these numbers, and what happened in 2014 to have the numbers revised downward?

from 1969-74, it appears an average of 6-7 million motors were produced per year. These years correspond to the first golden age of model rocketry.
Yet it appears that from 1974 to 1981, nearly 18 million motors were produced a year, then there was a slowdown from 1981-1991 when only 12.5 million motors were made per year.
Of course there was that infamous dead spot in the 90's were no one launched model rockets (everyone was doing high power??).

Then a tiny increase until the late aughts.


Ok, so Mable I made a motor every 5 seconds. New machines make them every three, and the one we saw on the Estes tour makes two motors every three.

So Mabel 1 was able to make 720 motors an hour, 5760 in an eight hour day, 1.5 million in a year of work days.

The Mabels that went online starting in 1969-71 could make 1200 motors an hour, 9600 a day, 1.9 million a year. The Double Mabel we saw can make twice that.

That doesn't subtract the approximate 3% used in testing.

There are seven machine buildings at the plant. Apparently only six have operating machines at the moment, and it appeared that the Double Mabel was the only one operating that Monday we were there. Ellis Langford confirmed that despite rumors, they never operated 24/7.


if, from 1970-2018 all seven machines ran at full capacity for one shift per day, you'd have 720 million motors. If you take into account the 3% and unexpected downtime, then yes, 500 million does seem reasonable

If you take into account a few years of Centuri machines running in the early 70's, a few years of one to three Quest machines running in the 90's, whatever the production of WECO and Sachen Fuerwerks, and Sky in China, you can even take into account the current slack at Estes (due to the skeleton crew for the recent past), so 500 million doesn't sound so off.


So again, what happened in 2014 for Estes to revise the number downward?

Maybe some data said that 1.8 motors are used per launch of a model rocket? Yea, all those two stagers and clusters going off everywhere!! That's the ticket.


Thank you for your time.


Roy
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:49 PM
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Earl Earl is offline
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Interesting compilation.

The numbers that I have scratched my head about over the years is the big jump from the '73-'74 numbers you listed of 40-50 million, to the 100 million 'celebration' that Estes mentioned in their '76 catalog. Specifically, the 76-1 catalog (in my mind because it was my first Estes catalog, though I had Centuri catalogs going back to late 1970).

In that Estes 76-1 catalog, Vern's 'message' on page 3 mentions something like "...and sometime early this summer a rocketeer will push the button on the 100,000,000 launching of an Estes model rocket". I think they even had some kind of a sweepstakes drawing that year in honor of the event.

It seems -- by popular impression at least -- that during that '74-'76 timeframe, rocketry was slowing down somewhat sales-wise (Apollo was basically over), yet rocketry flight numbers (and hence motor usage) DOUBLED from '74 to '76?

That always seemed a bit strange to me. But then again, maybe the retail distribution sales of model rockets had increased a great deal during that time frame (compared to maybe primarily mail order sales in earlier years) to account for that dramatic jump. Not sure.


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Old 08-21-2018, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl
It seems -- by popular impression at least -- that during that '74-'76 timeframe, rocketry was slowing down somewhat sales-wise (Apollo was basically over), yet rocketry flight numbers (and hence motor usage) DOUBLED from '74 to '76?

That always seemed a bit strange to me. But then again, maybe the retail distribution sales of model rockets had increased a great deal during that time frame (compared to maybe primarily mail order sales in earlier years) to account for that dramatic jump. Not sure.


That's the only explanation I can think of. In '76 my participation in the hobby was down to a couple of Saturdays a year. I did attend a wedding in Charlotte, NC and during some spare time stopped by a mall that had a hobby store that had a big supply of Estes stuff, and Lenox Square here in Atlanta had a nicely stocked hobby shop, but other than that I didn't see a whole lot of retail. Maybe it was just spread out further. By 1980 you could find Estes stuff in craft stores, so that could account for a lot of inventory. In 1981 Mary Roberts was sending me to all sorts of craft stores in rural GA to deliver display models and sometime give demo launches. Ladies doing decoupage and batik and ceramics had to deal with this long haired guy bringing rockets!
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:40 PM
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Jerry Irvine Jerry Irvine is offline
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The figures I have seen are 500,000,000+ launches without accident. At 6 million a year for 60 years on average is 360,000,000. I think we can agree volumes have increased over time.

As I often state, The most popular solid motors in the entire world are Estes 18mm solids.

Solids rock.

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Old 08-23-2018, 09:57 AM
Blastfromthepast Blastfromthepast is offline
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Hi, all,
I emailed and just received a reply from Bill Stine. He confirms 500 million, but thinks the number might be closer to 600 million by now..

To add to this discussion, let us not forget about all of the motors produced by other companies other than Estes - Quest, MPC, Aerotech, Cox, FSI, AVI, etc, etc, Not to mention all of the HPR motors produced.
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