Space Derby® Spaceship Construction


  • The newest and best type of Space Derby® kit is made out of balsa wood. The older kits have a Styrofoam body. The Styrofoam body is not as strong, difficult to glue to the plastic parts and difficult to paint.ShipParts1.jpg (74124 bytes)

  • Green Soap and glycerin.

  • Have extra rubber bands and extra prop assemblies. 

  • Round file

  • Needle nose

  • Sand paper

  • Glue - Super glue holds well but should be used with parental supervision.

  • Paint

Building Procedure

  1. Sand the inside portion of the spaceship that will form the tube for the rubber bands.  This allows the rubber bands to rotate with less friction.

  2. Make grooves for the hanger on each half of the ship so they are in the same place when the halves are assembled.  Use a small file or carefully use an Xacto knife with parental supervision.  Insert the hanger to verify that the groove is big enough.  Do not glue the hangar in because it will get in the way while shaping the ship.

  3. Glue the two halves of the ship together. ShipBackBandHold.jpg (57579 bytes)

  4. Make a groove across the back of the spaceship with a round file for the rear rubber band holder to fit into. Make the groove at 90 degrees from where the body joint is for additional strength.  There will be a lot of stress on this section when the rubber band is wound.

  5. Special Step:  Slip the red covering over the wire from the straight side to the curved side before assembling anything else on the propeller.  Use the needle nose pliers to hold the straight side and push the red covering over the hook.  The directions tell you to do this after the propeller is assembled but it is much harder to get the covering on from the curved end.
    ShipHookCover.jpg (59667 bytes)

  6. Assemble the propeller as shown in this series of pictures:
    ShipPropPreAssembly1.jpg (77136 bytes)  ShipPropPreAssembly2.jpg (47883 bytes)  ShipPropPreAssembly3.jpg (26978 bytes) ShipPropPreAssembly4.jpg (28092 bytes)

  7. Install the prop with the rounded hub protrusion toward the brass eyelet.  

  8. Bend the prop mounting wire so that it fully engages the prop. Don't simply bend it into an 'L' shape to engage the ratchet on the hub. At 100 turns the wire will jump over the ratchet. Refer to the pictures below to see the correct way and the wrong way to install the wire.

  9. Here is a series of pictures to clarify the way the propeller is assembled:
    ShipPropAssembly1.jpg (64510 bytes) ShipPropAssembly3.jpg (60942 bytes) ShipPropAssembly4.jpg (67891 bytes)   

  10. Sand the spaceship down to the shape you desire.

  11. Cut the wings to any shape you desire.  Make grooves for the wings using an Xacto knife with parental supervision or a small file.  Glue the wings and the hanger securely into position.  Super Glue holds best but please use with parental supervision.  The wings and hanger tend to fly off when they fly down the wire.  It is important to secure them well.

  12. Paint the ship.  Water based paint does not stick well to the wings as you can see in the picture below of the gray ship.  We would also recommend not painting the hanger because it might not fit well in the carrier.

  13. Lubricate the rubber bands with glycerin. It is very beneficial to soak the rubber bands in two parts "GREEN SOAP", one part "GLYCERIN" and one part water.  Rub this mixture onto your rubber band at least an hour before racing.  Find more information and links about the lubricating solution on our FAQ page.  You may also soak it overnight in castor oil.  You will probably find the green soap and glycerin at a pharmacy.  

  14. Hang 3 rubber bands on the red hook of the propeller and feed then down through the ship.  We have found that 3 rubber bands works well.  They give you 4 but that gets too bunched up inside the ship and they sometimes won't unwind.  Attach the propeller to the ship hull as shown:
    Ship2ProptoPlane1.jpg (91111 bytes)  PropOnShip.jpg (75647 bytes)

  15. The ship should be well built and ready to fly.
    Ship1FrontView.jpg (65400 bytes) ShipBackBandHoldSide.jpg (73458 bytes) Ship2FrontView.jpg (68799 bytes)  

  16. Exercise the rubber bands with partial winding before applying the full winding amount. It is helpful to warm up your rubber band by winding it in 50 turn increments and releasing after each winding until you have wound up to about 150 turns.  Our pack used about 120 turns for a race.  We think that more than 150 turns is too much and puts undue stress on the rubber band and rocket.  


Note:  Test each entry by winding it up to the number of turns that you will be using on the race night. If the rocket "falls apart" or the rubber band breaks then there is still time to fix it if this is done before the night of the race. 


Correct Way to bend the wire onto the front of the ship.

Wrong Way to bend the wire onto the front of the ship.