fiberglass painting and repair - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2002, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
 
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fiberglass painting and repair

I'm getting ready to fix up the sharkskinds on the RS and I thought I'd post a thread about it. I have some questions and some links to share. It took me forever and a day to remove the stickers w/a hair dryer, some wd-40 and a bit of goo-gone worked the fastest but it still sucked.

1st off, don't know if you guys know about him, but there is The Plastic Doctor, who looks very temping for 75$(!) per piece and he got rave reviews from some wera guys... but I want to do this all myself. Going to remember that guy for the future tho...

Started looking and it seems that the boat guys are the ones who spend the most time doing this, and lots of people recommended that I go to a marina instead of home depot to get the repair kits. Also, microballons are worthwhile for ease of sanding and weight savings. Anyways, here are two of the better links I found - hope it helps someone:

detailed link

fiberglass repair

I've NEVER painted firberglass before and I read about LBK's chipping problems... Dave did you use the new Krylon for plastics or just the regular stuff? Anyone know of a rattlecan solution that is hardy? I'm going to do black/grey so I don't need any fancy colors and I don't want to spend too much $$ on this cause then I'm dooming myself.

Last edited by phozed; 12-18-2002 at 10:06 AM.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2002, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
 
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can't get the first link to work(?) so here it is:

Before You Try Your Hand with Fiberglass
Sport Aviation - 2/96

By Tony Bingelis

It is a rare homebuilt that doesn't have a few fiberglass parts and components installed somewhere.

Typically, these components might include the cowling, wheel pants, tail and wing fairings, landing gear fairings, cuffs, and other less conspicuous parts installed to hide various openings and drag producing intersections.

Such a rather extensive use of fiberglass is deemed to be a good way to enhance the overall appearance of the aircraft and, at the same time(hopefully), to reduce drag.

Anyone building a kit plane can, therefore, expect to receive many of the aforementioned pre-molded fiberglass components, along with the basic structural materials and parts normally included in such kits.

The kit manufacturers, in many instances, furnish the molded fiberglass components with the assumption that you would know how to prepare and install them so they look good and fit good. They provide very little information explaining how to finish the parts or, if necessary, how to modify them to fit your particular project. Am I implying that, sometimes, the parts you receive may not fit your project? That's right, amigo.

Every homebuilt built is different and, certainly, none of them are exact copies of the original prototype. Even the FAA realizes this because it officially considers each homebuilt to be uniquely different - even though hundreds of a particular type may have been built using the same kits and plans.

Each airplane will differ slightly, in spite of the most conscientious efforts expended by the average builder to duplicate the exact design dimensions, contours, and tolerances. Furthermore, additional differences crop up with the engine and equipment selections.

Nevertheless, one would naturally assume that the stock fiberglass parts provided will fit properly. Unfortunately, this is not always so. Consider these possibilities:

1. The fiberglass parts you receive may have been improperly supported during storage or shipment and may have become warped.

2. The fiberglass components may be so fresh that they were not given time to cure properly before shipment.

3. Your engine selection will not fit the design cowling.

At any rate, builders do get warped and poorly fitting fiberglass components on occasion. What to do? Fix them, usually. Sometimes the application of heat (heat lamp, hair dryer or heat gun) can be used to "unwarp" and restore the component. Otherwise, you as the builder will have to correct the deficiency surgically. That is, cut, rework and modify the parts you receive if you are dissatisfied with their fit or appearance.

Tail fairings are unique in this regard as the fiberglass fairing must fit around both the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer. Naturally any change in the angle of incidence of the stabilizer or in the offset of the fin will definitely alter the fit of a molded tail fairing. When that happens a drastic rework of the part may be necessary.

All this points up the need for you to become familiar with some basic information for working with fiberglass.

I feel extra compassion for the builder who has to redesign or rebuild his cowling to accommodate that special, somewhat bulkier, auto engine conversion. He, too, certainly should know and understand what is involved when working with fiberglass.

What You Should Know About Fiberglass
Fiberglass, in my estimation, is a hostile material (medium?). The term "fiberglass" is a rather ambiguous one. Because of popular usage the term "fiberglass" is equally applicable to the fiberglass cloth alone, as it is to a completed fiberglass cloth/resin impregnated part.

For example, fiberglass (cloth or mat) to be useful must be saturated with a polyester, polyvinyl ester, or epoxy resin. When the resin saturated fiberglass cloth cures, it solidifies into a rigid glass-like shell that will permanently retain the shape of the form or mold used in the layup. In this state it is technically referred to as FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic).

Incidentally, increasing the number of glass cloth layers increases the rigidity and strength of a layup more so than increasing the number of coats of resin applied.

A completed fiberglass part is a strong, long lasting, hard, shiny-surfaced product. It is absolutely waterproof, rot-proof, inset-proof, and immune from the effects of most solvents and fuels. Best of all, it is fairly easy to keep clean and to maintain.

Your Choice of Resins
These choices might include the polyester resins, the vinylesters and the epoxies. All are excellent when properly used. However, due to space limitations I will concentrate primarily on use of the less expensive polyesters.

1. Polyester bonding or laminating resin (PRB).This resin is chemically formulated to remain tacky (sticky?) after it has hardened. This characteristic allows you to later add other layers of glass without the necessity of sanding the original layup to ensure a good bond. However, a sticky final surface finish is not what you want or need, is it?

2. Surfacing or sanding (finishing) resin (PRS).This polyester resin contains wax which rises to the surface and cures to a hard tack free finish. You can readily sand this surface without gumming up the sandpaper.It does have a drawback. If you later want to add additional layers of resin and fiberglass (after the initial finishing resin layup has completely cured), you must first sand the surface until all traces of surface glaze are removed. If you don't do this, any additional resin or fiberglass layers you may add will not adhere very well and could separate.

3. Vinylesters provide good adhesion, impact resistance, and have mechanical properties which fall between those of polyester and epoxy. These resins are not as commonly available as are the polyesters or, for that matter, the epoxies which are commonly used in boating and automotive applications.

4. Epoxy resins are available in a variety of special formulations.

What is the difference between epoxy resins and polyester resins? Actually, there are many differences.

Epoxies do not use MEK peroxide for a catalyst. They have their own special hardeners. These are mixed in various ratios depending on the particular resin formulation.

The epoxies that have a 1:1 mix are the easiest to measure and use. Epoxies are super strong adhesives and are excellent for all woods, metals, glass and many plastics.

Epoxies require little or no clamping pressure to achieve super strong joints. They can be applied to StyrofoamTM or any other kind of foam without destroying it.

Epoxies adhere well when applied over polyester surfaces, however, do not attempt to use polyester resin over an epoxy surface. Another important characteristic is that they do not shrink as they harden.

In addition to the extra cost of epoxies, most builders feel it has another drawback. It is that epoxies take much longer to harden, often as long as 24 hours.

In contrast, polyester resins mixed with their MEK peroxide catalysts cure (harden) quickly - often within 30 minutes when the temperature is above 70 degrees F.

Amazingly little MEK catalyst is needed to activate the resin - about 14 drops of MEK peroxide per ounce of resin, depending on the grand you are using.

Too much MEK and/or higher temperatures will kick off the cure quickly . . . sometimes too quickly. When that happens, the resin gets hot in the can and starts to gell before you can finish using it.

It's too bad but polyester resin will dissolve StyrofoamTM and some plastic containers. Therefore, avoid making your molds of StyrofoamTM and mix your resin in small tin (soup) cans . . . or coffee cans.

Polyester resin is bad to use on PlexiglasTM-so don't make the mistake of using polyester layups next to PlexiglasTM.

When mixing the resin, try to work in a well ventilated area because both polyester and epoxy fumes must be considered to be toxic.

Mix only small amounts of polyester resin. Check the clock, and don't piddle. Work fast but carefully. Polyester resin will kick off (start to gell) as quickly as 20 minutes at 70 degrees F. Much sooner if temperatures are higher in your work area.

Don't try working in the sun; the stuff will set up before you can do much.

Don't become upset if that new polyester fiberglass layup doesn't set up hard as soon as you think it should. Sometimes it may take half an hour, sometimes a day, and sometimes several days. It all depends on the temperature and the humidity (especially humidity) during and immediately after making the layup. Don't worry, polyester will continue to harden and gets tougher with time.

When working with fiberglass resins, you will learn that they seem to have a way of getting all over your tools, shoes, clothing and practically everything else in the area. Acetone will do a good job of cleaning up the stuff before it cures and hardens - however, cleaning your hands with the solvent is not recommended . . . use gloves and obviate that need to do so.

Sanding Fiberglass Surfaces

The fiberglass dust kicked up by a disc sander - and there will be a lot of sanding you will have to do - can irritate your skin and nostrils. Naturally you should wear a dust mask during all sanding operations.

Adding to the sanding problem - fiberglass sanding dust can be likened to shredded razor-sharp glass particles - so, if any of that sanding dust gets on your unprotected hands and arms, it will penetrate the pores in your skin. You will then experience an irresistible urge to rub and scratch your hands and arms relentlessly to relieve the itch. Much of this itching misery can be avoided by wearing a long sleeved shirt and using a protective cream (like Invisible Gloves #1211) on your hands. Long rubber gloves also work well.

What You Should Know About Gel Coat
Factory made fiberglass components are laid up in female molds which are prepared by spraying the inside surface with a gel coat layer (usually white) before laying in the resin soaked cloth and mat. This gel coat ensures a uniform smoothness and a hard glossy surface finish to the completed fiberglass component after it has been removed from the mold. Unfortunately, gel coat is also quite heavy and increases the weight of the completed fiberglass part.

Before you can paint a cowl or any other fiberglass part that has a gel coat surface, you should dull the surface by sanding it with #180 and #320 grit wet/dry sandpaper. All of the gloss must be removed, otherwise the paint will not adhere reliably. Ordinarily, no primer is needed if the surface is in good condition.

Here is an interesting phenomenon that bothers some builders.

If not immediately, then weeks or months after he has completed a very nice glass-like finish on his airplane, one day he just happens to notice that he can faintly detect the weave of the fiberglass cloth under that beautiful paint finish. This bothers some builders and they manage to become quite upset when they first notice "IT." The problem, if you want to call it that, is not really the builder's doing. It is characteristic of polyester resins.

Most kit furnished molded fiberglass components are made not with the more expensive epoxy resins but with the more economical polyester resins. Unfortunately, polyester resins will continue to shrink slightly after they have cured initially.

This shrinking process may continue for months. As the cured resin shrinks, the fiberglass fibers become more prominent because the glass fibers in the layup do not and cannot shrink. The result . . . a somewhat noticeable presence of the fabric's weave in the surface finish - you really have to be looking for it to see it.

What can you do about it? At this stage, nothing much short of undertaking a major refinishing job.

If you are a builder who is going to take several years to complete your project, the "shrinking" will probably have ceased long before you will get around to finishing and installing your molded fiberglass parts . . . and you may never experience that "problem."

Obviously, fast builders are more likely to be faced with that cosmetic problem as they will be installing and completing their fiberglass components soon after they receive them. The chances are good that the parts they receive will have been recently molded . . . just before shipping.

As previously stated, fiberglass components made with epoxy resins do not shrink in curing, therefore, are not as likely to suffer from that characteristic common to polyester resin layups.

Nevertheless, in spite of it all, most builders prefer working with polyester resin which sets up in a matter of minutes rather than put up with the overnight cure normally required for epoxies.

A Final Cautionary Note . . .
The catalyst (fluid) used with polyester resin is a strong irritant and is corrosive to your eyes so always use protective glasses while mixing a batch of polyester resin. That MEK peroxide (catalyst) may cause blindness if any splashes into your eyes.

Flush immediately with lots of water for 15 minutes and call your physician. It also is harmful or may be fatal if swallowed. Don't let this precautionary note scare you out of working with fiberglass materials and resins . . . just be careful. After all, the experience you acquire can be as rewarding as it is educational.

For doing small fiberglass jobs:

Fiberglass cloth, 6 ounce O.K., and/or 3" glass tape.

Polyester (finishing) resin with MEK peroxide catalyst.

Large scissors.

Razor blades (single edge).

Masking tape and/or duct tape or aluminum tape or electrical tape.

Brush, inexpensive, bare handle, 2" wide.

Acetone, 1 gallon for tools cleanup.

Mixing sticks.

Floor wax or similar paste wax.

Clean empty soup cans or unwaxed paper cups.

Scale for weighing resin in ounces.

Half round file, 10" -12", bastard cut.

Disc sander with foam back-up pad/#80 grit sanding discs.

Sanding Block, hard rubber

Sandpaper, Black floor paper #80 grit and #320 wet/dry.

Hacksaw blade, 18T and 32T, use as handheld scraper.

Modeling clay/solid foam/plaster for making simple molds
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2002, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
 
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and here is the last one - from a message from a guy called unabiker:

I'd avoid using the Bondo polyester stuff they sell everywhere. It dries real brittle and will crack in a reasonably short time. Get yerself some West System epoxy (105 Resin and 205 Hardener). It dries to a more pliable state, bonds to just about anything, and takes paint well. It also lacks the nasty fumes that polyester resin gives off, so you can get away with doing repairs in the basement. You can get it at a marina. Spend the extra ten bucks for the pumps that meters the stuff automatic like. For the fabric, the stuff at walmart-autoZone or where ever will work fine. Other things you'll need are wax paper, a plastic spreader, dixie cup and a tongue depresser, and some throw away gloves.
Now for a simple repair, like say a big ol crack through a lower or something like that:
1-Get the broken piece to fit back together as good as possible. Run some clear packaging tape along the crack on the outside of the panel.
2-On the backside of the panel, take a disc sander with 40 or 60 grit paper and grind away about 1/3 of the thickness of the original glass about 2" on either side of the crack. I'll do this so that I grind a slight v shape with the crack at the bottom of the v, and going a bit deeper in that area.
3-Cut some glass. I will usualy use 3 or 4 layers. The first one is about 1" and is the length of the crack. The next ones will be 3"-4" wide and a bit longer than the crack.
4-Mix up some epoxy. I normaly will mix 4 pumps worth. More and the batch will set up too fast.
5-Have some wax paper laid out and taped down on a flat working surface. You'll need enough so that your biggest piece of cloth will fit on with 3 or 4" of paper left all the way around.
6- Take you first piece of cloth, the skinny one, and drizzle some epoxy over it. Spread it evenly over the cloth with the spreader. The cloth is saturated when it looks transparent. Don't use more epxoy than necessary else you'll be adding un-needed weight. Lay this piece into the v.
7- Take your next piece and goop it up. keep laying and gooping the rest of the pieces on top of each other on the wax paper, making a stack of goopy cloth. Lay the whole mess over the first layer. Work any air bubbles out with the spreader.
8-Let it all dry. Depending on temperature, around 4 hours, longer if it's cold.
9-Once dry, peel off the tape on the outside, sand smooth and apply snazzy krylon paint job.
Piece is now ready for furhter crashing.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 09:10 AM
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Steve, the repairs aren't really that bad once you figure it out. The main thing is making sure you have the right mixture of resin, and hardner. I didn't on my first attempt and the fiberglass basically fell off.

Once I got the right amount it worked like a charm. However it is time consuming and try to find something to smooth any resin that makes it way to the outside before it sets. Once it sets it takes A LOT of sanding to get it leveled out again.

The paint I used was just the cheap stuff from Meijer. So Krylon may be better. I'm not too worried about it since more than likely it will go down this season. Once I get to a point where crashing is less frequent I'll probably spend a little more time on them.

If you want some help, email me or PM me. I'll be happy to share what I learned from mine. Also keep in mind that how well the paint sticks is going to have a lot to do with prep. I sanded my fairings pretty good, but probably could have spent a little more time on them. For me it worked out like a balance time/effort/looks. Didn't want to spend the time/effort needed to get the looks I really wanted. So I went with a balance of all three.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 09:20 AM
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Speaking of the wera board.

did you see the guy Jesse Davis and his posts about painting and repair?

the guy does cheap painting and repairs and from what pictures i have seen, he does a very good job.

BTW. ODY,

Am i still on your calender for sometime in January to get the number plates painted on? (we're going to do yellow instead of the white now )

That Boy Just Ain't Right
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
 
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Dave: thanks for the tips - I've finished the repairs and it's suprisingly good work The stuff was easy... I put the glass on the back, and resin on the front and then just sanded. I have a dremel and a mouse sander but doing it by hand worked the best for the repairs (curved places) - I'm gonna get started on the prep work for painting tonight.

My goals for the paintjob are something that will hold up to spilled rocket fuel, clean easy, and maybe stand up to a rock or two. I'd like to get something with a clearcoat look for the black but if I don't no biggie...

Pugsly: yeah I did see Jesse's posts and he does do good work and his prices are great, but my thinking is when I bin it I can fix it myself w/a leftover can and some more bondo resin if I have to...
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 05:55 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by phozed
[B]and here is the last one - from a message from a guy called unabiker:

West System epoxy (105 Resin and 205 Hardener). It dries to a more pliable state, bonds to just about anything, and takes paint well. It also lacks the nasty fumes that polyester resin gives off, so you can get away with doing repairs in the basement. You can get it at a marina. Spend the extra ten bucks for the pumps that meters the stuff automatic like. For the fabric, the stuff at walmart-autoZone or where ever will work fine.

Hey gang.....I sell the West Epoxy system! 30% cheaper than anyone esle!! Don't use 205, sets up way too fast for me, use the 206, gives you plenty of time. I also have the 207 that is UV inhibited,epoxy will break down under sun light.

If you need West System, let me know, also I carry System 3 epoxies.

Rick

Last edited by RickC1957; 12-19-2002 at 05:59 PM.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 06:24 PM
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Steve the West System is the stuff I was telling you about. It's the stuff we used on the race boats. I really like the way it sets up and the finished product.

And oh shoot, you are taking this way too seriously for race plastic. I've got 2 words for you.

Duct Tape And I've got it in multiple colors for those special repairs.

There is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe. Nothing remains in its original state, each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. Change is the essence of life. Embrace change as you do life. To fight change is to live in the past.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
 
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lol Bruce! The previous owner had the colored duct tape system! Looked OK too...

I'm spending time on this now cause I can and the body work wasn't in the greatest shape in the first place. At least now I know during the season that I can fix bodywork in ~40 minutes tho
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 10:56 AM
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Well just because I'm still in the pest mode.

1. You are spending time because it's still "The Summer of Steve".
2. You are obsessive (understatement) about your toys.
3. You need to understand how everything works, before you are comfortable with it.
4. You need to give me something to laugh at so I can justify my shallow exsistance.

There is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe. Nothing remains in its original state, each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. Change is the essence of life. Embrace change as you do life. To fight change is to live in the past.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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ahaha thanks for the laugh!!! I... uh... man, I just got pegged

I should add, I always suspected my existance was soley for the amusment of someone, but I had always assumed it was a higher power and not Bruce At least now I know I was right
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 11:19 AM
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You mean I'm not a god and the world doesn't revolve around me? Damn, mortality sucks.

Well back to a more Zen attitude about life. At least I can con myself into believing that life is just an illustion and for our entertainment.

There is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe. Nothing remains in its original state, each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. Change is the essence of life. Embrace change as you do life. To fight change is to live in the past.
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