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Old 06-28-2018, 08:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
jnlperformance
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Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication

Contents;

Preface
Safety Precautions
Tools and Supplies
A Note on Fiberglass
A Note on Resin & Hardener
The Subject at Hand
The Method Described
Cracks and Splits
Missing Parts and Pieces
The Mold
Trimming and Cutting
Finishing Up

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Old 06-28-2018, 09:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Preface

To be very clear this is by no means a tutorial on how to repair this specific item. This is a beginners guide to aide you for basic to intermediate repair or fabrication. The methods described below are good for automotive application, fabrication and prototyping but are in no way suitable for marine application and boat repair.

There are a wide range of tools and methods used when fiberglassing, making molds, using gelcoats, epoxies and working with carbon fiber... but I'm gonna do this the very simple and basic way using methods that developed over time when I had just begun to work with fiberglass and various composites some 14 maybe 15 years ago. If I were to do this the "professional and proper" way, I would use several other available methods that require the use of special tools and supplies not readily available nearby.

That's the point. It's very basic, does not require 500-700, 1000$ worth of tooling and supplies yet being an effective fabrication and repair method.

So we won't be using any special tools or supplies. Mostly what you need you have already or can find at a store nearby with one exception; I will be using a graduated container to properly measure out .5 fl oz of resin, but there are many ways to accomplish that (e.g. walmart, kmart, target... something to measure out fl oz). A glass mix container is the best.

As for the fiberglass, resin, hardener. All Bondo Brand. Can be found at nearly all major auto parts stores, home depot, lowes... nuff said.

Also, in the true spirit of DIY, we will be using some old, nasty resin. Totally not advisable BUT also proving that it's still effective. I'll touch up on this a bit more down the line...

Attached Thumbnails
Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_124351.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_133523.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_152610.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_152547.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_145531.jpg  

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Old 06-28-2018, 09:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Safety Precautions

Its some pretty nasty stuff. The resin and hardener are already bad by themselves. You'll need some nitrile gloves. Latex will start to melt and degrade pretty quickly, within a few minutes.

Respirator. Respirator. Respirator. I did not use a respirator during this small project however the amount of fiberglass used were mere scraps from previous jobs and the total amount of resin used during this process was precisely 1.5 fl oz. For particularly large jobs (e.g. a full body panel) that require a lot of fiber, the real problem is non-wetted dry fiber and the ones floating around that you can't see. The fumes get a bad rep but most people would use a fan for that which is fine but the loose fibers can get out of control pretty easily while becoming airborne, so keeping it controlled by just cleaning up as you go is highly advisable. I usually just have a "fiber cutting session" between cure cycles.

Other than those two common sense applies, if you're underneath it while wetting (applying resin mix) or cutting the stuff you'd wear at least some safety glasses or better; a full face mask... well I hope you would.

This one I'm not too sure of because it's never happened to me personally but I've "heard" of it happening; "If you mix too much hardener to the resin it will catch fire." It does create a bit of heat if left in a container, but I've always been cautious to get the mix right. I've had a few blocks of the stuff reach temps to be too hot to touch by hand, but never a fire. I do, did and always usually have had a fire extinguisher but I've never had to use one on this specific subject.

Use common sense, keep your gloves and respirators on and that extinguisher handy.
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Tools and Supplies

Your typical "tools" required;

Your hands
Some popsicle sticks
Razor
Sharp scissors
Hack saw blade

Some additional items I used;
A paint scraper and file.

Supplies;
Resin
Hardener (MEKP)
Matte
Mesh (commonly referred to as cloth)
Tape
Wax Paper
Cardboard
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A Note on Fiberglass

To keep things very plain and simple, there's typically two your going to find;

Matte and Mesh.

Matte is where the structure and strength comes from. Not very flexible dry. No more than 4 layers at a time between cures.

Mesh is merely used as a finish. Extremely flexible and considered difficult to cut dry. Typically only 1 layer for finishing.

You start with matte, always end in mesh. Trying to give matte a nice finish can result with some bloody aftermath. You can stab and cut yourself pretty easily trying to sand the stuff down. Then you say; well why not use a power tool? Simple answer; dust. It's much much easier to sand on mesh and provides an industry standard finish on its own.

For today's project I'm making single sided repairs and a single sided part. 2 layers. One matte, one mesh. As basic as it gets.

If you were to want to make a dual sided 5 layer part the layers would be as follows and in this order;

1 mesh
3 matte
1 mesh

If you were to make a dual sided 10 layer part it would need to be split up into two cure cycles and would go as follows;

1 mesh
4 matte
Break Time; Cure Cycle. Should take 30-45 minutes.
4 matte
1 mesh

Stray away from more than 5 total layers at a time. This can create a very considerable amount of heat.

Also, fiberglass does not do sharp, highly defined corners very well. To achieve that, build up the edge first. Then lay your main matte down. When working with defined edges use mesh for its flexibility. So you will have small pieces of mesh to "work a corner" or "build up a corner" then use your larger matte to give it strength.

When cutting (this particularly applies to the finer mesh) cut in short strokes towards the handles and slide the scissors backwards while cutting your stroke length. Cutting like it's paper... or just about anything else can yield unwanted results.

One more thing, when you cut mesh; don't worry about getting it perfect. Once it's cut, touch it as little as possible. The more you handle it the more it's going to unweave.

Picture annotations;

1.) Left: matte, right: mesh
2.) Bottom cut: using method described, top cut(if you can call it a cut): trying to cut normally like paper
3.) The effects of not building up your sharp edges and corners.
Attached Thumbnails
Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_143228.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_184031.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_144938.jpg  
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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A Note on Resin & Hardener

As stated earlier, I'm using some very old resin. You may encounter this from resin you just purchased. Return it if you can. You should not have to drill your way into the can. Lol. There are expiration dates on the bottom of the cans. Also, a good indicator that the can is old (most of these cans come with hardener), check the hardener that comes with it. When stored upright it will never leak out. When stored on its side, if it's old the hardener will have leaked out. This may cause you issues later on. Check the stuff before you leave a store with it. If it's old, ditch it.

Old resin can be signified by a greenish tint that you can see in the pictures. I had to make a test batch to see how much hardener to add because when it's old the directions do not apply.

The typical mix instructions (simpified) are 1 fl oz of resin to 10 drops of hardener. For this old can of mine, it turned out to be 1 fl oz to 14 drops. Note the color differences in the pictures.

The proper color indicated should be a light yellowish tan color after it's all cured up. At least 24 hours.

A dark brownish color post cure indicates a resin soaked workpiece and is just as bad as a workpiece that didn't harden at all. Resin soak causes brittle, weak parts and repair.

If your finding that your workpiece is not hardening (stays somewhat flexible and sticky, and is actually used as an advanced pre part method) don't worry. Just very lightly brush on some hardener. Does not take much, your just inducing a small chemical reaction causing the part to harden.

The weather and environment play a vital role in how much time you have to work the resin and how long it takes to cure.

Cold environments; longer cure.
Hot environments; shorter cure.
Humid; more time.
Arid and Dry; much less time.

The two extremes;

Cold humid environment (seattle, wa) youll have plenty of time. In fact you may want to increase hardener to resin ratio for proper results.

Hot arid environment (albuquerque, nm) youll have to work fast and may want to consider decreasing the hardener to resin ratio.

Always make a test batch and test a small piece of fiber. Adjust accordingly.

Picture annotations;
1.) Graduated measuring cup used.
2.) Note the nasty green tint. Created from bacteria buildup in my nasty old can of resin. Yum.
3.) Proper mix, proper color, but you can still note the green tint. Not the end of the world, still VERY effective.
Attached Thumbnails
Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_131719.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_152022.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180628_173404.jpg  
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The Subject at Hand

So today I'm going to quickly repair my spare grill from an 84 for my 85 box body.

It actually took me all day to do this, because I've been constantly taking off gloves, taking a picture... etc. Writing...

But the total time this would normally have taken me is around 30 minutes for something like this. Including cure cycles maybe an hour and a half. Given proper planning. So think your project through thoroughly.

I also realize that I could have purchased this from rock auto for roughly 30.00 but it wouldn't have given me the chance to make this article, and that's 30 dollars I can spend on other things that are more important than a grill. If it ever breaks (unlikely) then I guess I'll make a DIY article on metal forming and shaping... which would require some special equipment therefore I don't think it would be in true DIY spirit. If I am to replace this grill with a new one it's gonna be steel.

Moving on...

So first you identify problems. They can usually be fit into two categories;

1.)Cracks, splits, crevasses, small chips... items of this nature...
2.)Missing pieces, panels... large chunks that are completely missing all together.

This was a good example for an article because it contains both criteria.

Before you begin to even identify all the issues your project has, particularly a repair... step one is to thoroughly clean said item. You may find things you missed or couldn't see due to dirt, grime, etc.
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Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180625_234205.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_144145.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180625_234817.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180625_235129.jpg  
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The Method Described

Ok. Down to the nitty gritty of actually doing it. Unfortunately I can't take pictures of me glassing and doing it at the same time.

So the best I can so is describe in detail what I'm doing. This is where your gloves and popsicle sticks come into play.

A note on the sticks vs a brush... this is a lesson learned the hard way. Don't get me wrong, I use brushes all the time. However they are more cumbersome and require some experience to use plus they soak up hella amounts of resin. They also stick to your fiber easier and the brush can pull your fiber right off your workpiece... and that will be bad and frustrating. The popsicle stick doesn't soak up anything unnecessary. They glide much easier across the fiber. They are used for wetting, rolling, scraping... pushing... like a paperclip it's just a wonder tool for this application. Most importantly... they are reusable whereas the brush gets disposed of. No amount of cleaner will prepare a brush properly for the next cure cycle. Once it's used, throw it away. No matter how much acetone, soaking... there's always gonna be that once piece of hardened resin left behind that will end up in the next cycle and that will create air bubbles and help delamanation occur. Moving on...

Keep your gloves resin free for a long as you can. Once the resin and hardener are mixed you have a limited amount of time to work with it. Maybe 5-7 minutes. So chaning out gloves every other minute is not going to work... so... popsicle sticks!

Take your stick and get some resin on it, spread it on work area like butter on toast.

Take your first piece, matte, and carefully lay it on, but don't worry about it soaking yet... just stick it on there so it will stay.

Take your stick, repeat. More resin on your first piece you just applied.

Take your next piece of matte, or mesh if this is a 2 layer application, and stick it over the first piece.

Get all of your pieces in place.

Now, wet the work area out. Soak it up. Use your hands, the popsicle stick, or dump it directly on. Be very generous. You don't want delamanation or bubble pockets. They will be signified by a "whiteish" area. You want it all dark and shiny. You will be using your hands in this step. The more resin on your fingers the better. This will prevent the fiber from sticking to your gloves and ruining your afternoon.

Now you don't want all that extra resin on your item, so take a popsicle stick and gently scrape off the excess. A resin soaked piece of finished fiberglass is brittle and weak. By the time it's dry you want to be able to feel the texture of the mesh with your fingers, you don't want it smooth to the touch. This means you have a resin soaked piece.

Once your satisfied. Walk away. Let it cure up for 30-45 minutes.

Picture annotations;
They are posted in order... I hope this gives you an idea.
You can thank my wife Megan for the pictures. Otherwise there wouldn't be any... lol
Attached Thumbnails
Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190114.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190148.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190219.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190319.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190428.jpg  

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Old 06-28-2018, 09:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The Method Described (pictures pt2)

More pictures.
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Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190444.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190525.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190609.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190628.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190639.jpg  

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Old 06-28-2018, 09:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The Method Described (pictures pt3)

More pictures...

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Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190658-0-.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190813.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190815.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_190939.jpg   Simple, Cheap & Effective Fiberglass Repair and Part Fabrication-20180626_192044.jpg  

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