Sandia rocket scientist foam, Part II

So a couple weeks ago, there was a thread about a scientist at Sandia Laboratory who invented a non-toxic alternative to Clark foam. (See thread :…tring=sandia;#254221 )

Well, the Discovery Channel happened to catch wind of it. The molecular chemist, a guy named LeRoy Whinnerly, a shaper friend named John Moore (Mystic Surfboards in Bolinas), and a film crew from Discovery were up at 2-Mile SS (and Mystic shaping room) yesterday. Since it was a stormy, rainy day, too nasty to surf (for most :slight_smile: ), and because I had a few random samples of other alternative foam & weird R&D-type boards, I went along as well. Some other friends were there too, including Jereme, who took a bunch of photos, Dan (the world’s tallest surfer) who also works at Sandia, and Dexter, who rode for the G&S team in LA back in the 80’s (and looks right at home holding up a clipboard for mugshots er camera tests)…

Fun day. Beats sitting at home staring out the window at the rain.

John shaping for TV

Talking foam flex with LeRoy

Dusty John & TV people

very cool happings Benny… when will this air on the Discovery Channel?

Cheers Ben

I don’t know yet. I’ll post it up when I find out … might need someone to tape it for me … a garage full of tools but no cable TV!

I like the photo of what I assume to be Dan (WTS) holding the big piece of string cheese…weird science or just lunch? Gil

So what was the foam like?

Haaa - I’ll be damned, funny thing, that. See, John Moore is from out thisaway. Small bloody world -

If you run into him again, tell him John from Jasper’s sez hi, but don’t ask him about Andre the Giant…



and because I had a few random samples of other alternative foam & weird R&D-type boards, I went along as well.

Did you have the guts to show them “Mr. Peanut” and the “Fish Sushi”?

Bet that got their attention on the Discovery Channel, maybe you’ll start a trend…

Actually I should’ve checked the link… Yup ya did … Good one I love it…

BTW the foam on the end product looks kind of funky… how did it shape and how’s it compared to the block foam you’re using now. Looks like it was hard to get a good finish with the stuff.

Yeah, Doc, John’s from NH originally? Good dude, does nice work. He’s fitting in real well up here north of the Gate.

LeRoy is still mixing & molding foam chunks by hand, so nothing big enough to shape. I’ve held samples of 2# density & a 6# (!) block he brought yesterday. Can you say no glass? Shape it, spray it with 2 pac, and call it good.

John mowed a Clark & a 1# EPS yesterday for the camera. The point of the show isn’t exactly what I’m into - instead it was how difficult it is to get good results without Clark foam & how LeRoy’s foam was going to help solve that. The Disco people sort of had the theme worked out ahead of time…I would rather have seen it focused a little more on how lots of alternatives are a good thing, especially non-toxic ones. But it’ll make a good story, showing how smooth the Clark looks after a planer pass vs. all the pukas in 1# EPS…and LeRoy comes across as totally scientifically credible.

Hey Benny -

Are any of the people in the pics you? I didn’t see anyone resembling Einstein with one wandering eye licking his chops.

Gil, that’s me with the string cheese. I’m not even the W’s2ndT.S. around here…I’m 6’2" and Dan is 6" taller than that. 8" with the hair :slight_smile:

…I had the eye fixed & got a haircut, just for the TV people.

Hey let us know when Discovery is going to air it . . .

my friend has a TV tuner he records discovery channel stuff online . . . we often joke they should have a “shaper’s bay” where a trio of surfers that shape visit different shops and glass shops and stuff or they have a team of glassers and shapers make all sorts of boards and jobs. But then I say maybe not because surfing’s too popular and he says I’m paranoid. But the point is he can record that stuff (I know how its done and can do it but I don’t have cable or sat, I rarely watch tv . . .)

kinda like this?

I have a Tivo. Could probably digitize it and set up a bittorrent share so everyone could download it.

Benny, are you going to be on TV?!!?!!

and if so are there going to be lots of women around you?

and if so will you be wearing a pyjama gown and slippers?

and if so… can i get your autograph now, so in the future i can sell it for billions?

Haha, i’m definately vote one benny for president…

Your crazy benny, i like you… but your crazy… i’ll even drop the gratuitous L bomb and say i LOVE you :wink:

God i wish i had discovery channel…



I just heard about some materials these guys on the East Coast are working on that can potentially eliminate the cloth from the lam process. How’s that for progress.

Thanks, Ant, but no, I’m not going to be on TV. I’m no longer young nor do I need the money :slight_smile:

Doc, John remembers you well. Even remembered you’re a kneeboarder. Says Andre the Giant is really busy…and sent me this link. Its a little goofy, a little subversive…everything I admire. :slight_smile: …hooah, love it. John hasn’t changed a bit. If he gets out here in the summertime, we always have a cold beer for him at the shop. You too, by the way.


Thanks, Doc. We’ll be there tomorrow by 5 pm. :slight_smile:

patently summer is coming early out there…still snow on the ground here and as such, mebbe a skosh early for outdoor beer drinking…


Sorry to bump, but I just remembered something interesting LeRoy said on Sunday.

We were talking about different kinds of foam used in surfboards. The conversation came around to XPS and I explained that most people who’d tried it had abandoned it because the trapped blowing agent seemed to lead directly to delaminations.

I went on to say how one manufacturer - XTR - had come up with a tool that was a bunch of little heated needles. When the board was all done, they pushed the heated needles through the deck glass to provide some kind of pressure-relief venting. I was laughing at how crazy this seemed to me, putting holes in a brand-new board, on purpose.

LeRoy didn’t laugh at all. He just looked at me and said, “That’s how they fixed the foam from expanding & breaking off again on the Space Shuttle.”

Wow. XTR really is rocket science!

Hi Benny,

Ya know, that makes a lot of sense, 'cos the foam itself is applied at a slight overpressure so that as it ablates during takeoff it won’t go in particular spots where ( for instance) some shock waves build up, etc.

But at altitude, when ya get past Max-Q ( where the combination of atmospheric pressure and aerodynamic pressure is at its highest ) you could get some foam flaking, etc. , as you are down to very low atmospheric pressures and so the initial overpressure bound up in the foam itself becomes quite a large factor. The trapped (and somewhat heated, exacerbating the problem) gases could migrate out to the air or migrate in to the skin of the tank , blowing the foam off in chunks.

That bit with the fine hot needles?It’s really kind of an elegant solution to the overpressure problem on the Shuttle tank. Though I have some doubts about it as a surfboard foam trick - I’d maybe do it with needles and the shaped blank alone, heated slightly or set in a tank ( like a diving decompression chamber) with mebbe a few pounds of vaccum drawn.

How do I know this? One of the guys who had some stuff to do with the original process design, a cat called Jack Ford who took his degree in Mining Engineering*, was a drinking buddy of mine back in the day. And he’d tell me roughly what they were doing and let me reverse engineer how it was being done…my twisted idea of a good time, ya know?

This isn’t really original, a drinking buddy of my father’s was a Naval Architect/Marine Engineer who had a great deal to do with the heat shield on the Apollo…

*Engineering is cool stuff. Mining Engineering, like Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering, is Really Cool Stuff; a very multidisciplinary field, with lots of different facets and things you get to play with…