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I need suggestions on how to build a miniature missile silo in my backyard. See the details for more. Anything helps. Answered

I'm looking at a hole about 6-7 feet deep and ~2 feet wide.  I'm looking at launching model rockets out of it.  I'd like it to be as unobtrusive as possible, weatherproofed, and possibly camouflaged as well.  Even suggestions for more features would be awesome.


You could use a length of concrete drain pipe buried vertically. Before burying, seal up one end with more concrete and paint the whole thing, inside and out, with basement water sealer. To weatherproof and camouflage, find a plastic muck bucket that fits over the end of the pipe and make a cap. Hold the cap down with a concrete birdbath, a large rock or a tree stump.

Then you'll have nice, sealed, 2 foot diameter concrete tube, into which you can...climb down....with a cylinder of explosive...and emerge, one way or another....

Personally, I'd go with an extended launch rod and a sliding platform, but for sheer entertainment value, I like yours better.

are you talking about subterranean or surface-based? I have quite a bit of disposable space here, and I may be able to do that.

I was thinking subterranean, mostly for concealability, Besides, how much fun would it be to have your very own missile silo in the backyard? That would totally rock.

what kind of launch rod are you thinking? and then would the sliding platform be for the doors at ground level or what?

The rod would depend on how large your rockets are, but it would need to be rigid enough to support its own weight without sagging. Maybe a length of 1/2" iron pipe for large rockets?
The platform I was thinking about would be basically a launch elevator that would rise to the top of the silo on a track to allow for easy loading, then descend to the bottom for launch position. This could potentially be motorized, maybe with an electric winch/cable/pulley setup. Or if you prefer the low-tech approach, just raised and lowered with a rope. The platform itself would need to be blast-resistant and faily lightweight, like aluminum diamondplate or a salvaged stainless countertop. really, it depends on how fancy you wanted to get.

The way that I've been launching my 5' F-engine rockets has been using a 6' long, 1/8" diameter steel rod with threads on the bottom, so it can be screwed into a 1" thick piece of plywood. Does the job rather well, although I may have to replace the wood soon because of the craters... Maybe something metallic would be better. Some kind of servo motors attached to the edges of the platform and bringing it up on rails attached to the side of the silo. Then would I need the concrete pad or just some sort of water dispersal device (gravel)?

Very "Thunderbirds", if you get the reference ? Not sure if it ever aired in the USA

That show probably did more to make my generation into engineers and scientists than any other since. And then they made a movie version - killed the whole franchise in one and half hours.

Uh-huh. They do that kind of thing a lot these days. Have you seen The Last Airbender? Yikes.

Have you made your missile silo yet? It would be very interesting to see pictures of it if you have. What type of rockets were you planning on launching out of it?

No, I wasn't able to do it yet. I think it will be a few years before this project happens, as I don't own land to put it on right now. When I do build it, there will be an excellent instructable about it. I'm probably going to make it larger than I had originally planned, as I'm working on my High Power certification, so I would be able to launch rockets with up to 640 N-sec of impulse, easily able to top a mile in altitude. Really looking forward to the day I can do this project... Glad to see people still interested about it!

Ok, I will be waiting for the ible or pics  :>)   .  I  might make a small underground "missile silo" for one of my model rockets (maybe Alpha).

That would be super cool. We can talk a lot more about what I've discovered and been thinking about if you want, and I can send you diagrams and helpful links as well. Good luck!

I already have a hole and a very simple design. I am making a small model rocket for it.

Update: I've got it a lot more planned out, submitted it to the school administration so I could build it on school land (we have a couple hundred acres of open space, and yes I'm a high-schooler... anyway. What we're looking at:

-6' x 6' hole; bottom layer of concrete with a coffee can (with bottom cut out) inset for drainage into the (extremely dry) dirt.

-On top of the concrete floor, a circle (really going to be a 14-gon) of cinder blocks.

-Inside each hole (2 per block = 28 total) will be a 6-foot rod of steel rebar, concreted into the hole and pointing straight up.

-The next 14-gon layer of cinder blocks will fit over the rods, 1 node rotated from the previous layer - so the blck is on top of the seam from the previous layer. These will also be concreted with the rebar in the middle, no mortar.

-This will continue for several (I forget exactly how many, as I don't have the plan in front of me) layers, until it's a few inches above ground level.

-The doors, for now, are going to be some 2x6s nailed together, with ropes to pull them away. I may retrofit something motorized later. We'll have a ladder, instead of an elevator pad... it's pretty basic, but still awesome. Maybe Mk.II will have more features, but that won't be for several years after Mk.I. Thanks for all the advice, this is looking sweeet!

for the water proofing i would suggest the rubber they use on the car doors you can get some silicone gel (same thing at any hard ware store)

Will you add a cool motorised silo door and a smoke machine?


motorized door: yes, if I can make it work. suggestions? I also have to keep it watertight. See below... smoke machine: It would be a smoke machine that rises into the air. Some would call it a rocket. ;) Also would maybe have other features... like subterranean lighting...

This sounds exciting, do give us an Instructable. My best guess for the water-tight is a good lid, with 1 foot of hardcore underneath the pipe as a land-drain. It doesn't get wet, but you're not going for hermetically-sealed.


so then what would I make the floor out of? I can't put a concrete pad inside the pipe if I want drainage from inside there. Should I just put the pad in the center of the pipe and earth/gravel in a trench around the pad? Overall, a good idea.

If you seal the pipe-bottom, any water (rain or dew) won't drain. That would work if you had a tight lid though. Otherwise you could add a drain (in case of flooding) as a small hole through your concrete?


I think what I'll do for the pad is RavingMadStudios idea with the elevator pad, then probably gravel under that. That would make a non-waterproof hydraulically powered (or at least mobile) silo door possible. Ideas for that?

For that size I wouldn't know (door), it would be very nice, but I can't help past Googling it.


Excellent. Thanks for everything so far. I will indeed make an instructable when I finally do it.


8 years ago

Good point, orksecurity. I would suggest using a gas-powered augur to bore the hole as well. Digging a hole that deep, with that small of a diameter is almost impossible.

Do you have a suggestion on where I could rent one?

For the size of hole you're talking about, you might have to hire a well-drilling crew. Most earth augers available for rental will get you 3-4 feet with a 12" diameter, max. They are intended for postholes, not missile silos.

hmmmmm. maybe a wider hole would be easier. Or not as deep. Either way, it's going to be difficult. I really don't want to have to hire anybody to do this...

If you go with a larger hole, you could rent a small backhoe, which are generally, oddly enough, easier to rent than a really big auger. You could then install your silo and backfill around it. Much easier than trying to dig the smaller hole.

Right. Excellent. I think that just making a crater, putting down the culvert pipe, then filling in the edges is the best approach. At least so far.

How are you planning on keeping it from filling with water?

I live in an area with ~11 inches of annual rainfall, so I'm not keeping a ton of water out, so building on a hill would be at least a partial solution, I assume. Other than that, I'm looking at a concrete pad, and watertight walls. The doors/roof would be an issue. Maybe a drainage tunnel? I'm not entirely positive yet.