Glassing 101

Recently got into "Fibre Glassing". It's really fun once you get the hang of it, and what you end up with is only limited by your imagination and skill. It all started when Tom "grabbed the technology" from back home at his place - where they have boat races, and they build fibre stuff for that purpose - and soon we had all the raw materials in place and started off with our initial experiments. Mind you, it's a messy affair and you run the risk of not just getting your hands dirty, but the whole place as well. The item list runs like this:

Resin

Accelerator

Catalyst

Mat (lots!)

Brushes

Probably detailed introduction in order, so moving left to right:

First is the Resin. This is a very viscous fluid, which when mixed with the next two chemicals in line - The Accelerator and the Catalyst - has the property of "hardening". The normal ratio is around 20:1; that is, for 100ml of Resin, you mix about 5ml of Accelerator as well as 5ml of Catalyst.

Now, this is just the chemical part of it, which provides the "flesh" of the structure you build. The Skeleton comes from elsewhere, and for that you need the fourth item in line - the Mat. It looks like a fabric, and it is indeed one, except that the strands or fibres are made of glass.

And the fifth member, the Brushes, obviously is to apply the mixed solution of Resin, Accelerator, and Catalyst onto the mat. The way we go about it is simple:

[1] Using cardboard, create the exact shape which
    you want to make.
[2] Cut the Mat into shapes suitable to cover the
    surface area of cardboard shape.
[2] Mix Resin, Catalyst and Accelerator.
[3] Apply a coat of the above solution to the
    cardboard surface.
[4] Using piece(s) of the cut Mat, form a layer of Mat
    over the freshly coated surface.
[5] Apply multiple layers of the solution over the Mat
    layer.
[6] An exothermic reaction kicks off soon. Let it cool,
    and Harden.
[7] After an hour or so, when the chemicals have hardened
    enough, strip off the cardboard layer completely,
    leaving behind just a layer of fibre glass in the
    exact shape which you needed.

Our original intention was to fabricate a lightweight petrol tank for the dragbike; But that quickly proved to be way beyond our beginner skillsets though.

So abandoning the tank idea, we set about building a proper racing seat. The one on the far left is our first attempt - really pathetic. I made a lot of mistakes with the mixing ratio as well as the layering, it really messed up bad.

The next one came out better, well rounded and much neater. I applied the layers on both sides of the cardboard - effectively sealing the cardboard layer inside - and it came out quite strong

as a result. Unfortunately, a whole array of clamps were required to bolt it on, and that kinda nullified the weight advantage. But it was fun, designing and building the whole thing, and so the next project is to design and build a proper Fairing.

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