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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
WERock Cedar City is coming up fast, and the RockHer is lookin a bit worn so it's time for a new set of panels. Most of the time the only materials being worked with at StinkyFab Racing are steel, and aluminum, but today was a little change of pace. I've gotten a lot of questions about how we build the bodies for Becca's car so I thought I'd take a few extra minutes to photograph the process and do a little how-to.

First I'll try to cover a few of the general questions that come up a lot. We obviously have molds for our body panels. They were made for us by Dirty Dave's Marine and Design who also used to make the panels for us. Dave stopped doing this kind of work about a year ago, so now we do it ourselves, often with a bit of help. The molds were built using basically the same process I'm about to show, but with many more layers (for rigidity) and starting with the part AS the mold, instead of the parts negative shape. Basically if you have panels right now, you can use the process I'm about to show to make a mold of them so that you can reproduce them.

When Dave gave us the molds Dustin and I were clueless as to what to do with them. Neither of us had ever worked with fiberglass, and didn't even know where to start. This problem was solved for us by Tony Santana, who runs the Auto Body program at Santana High School in Santee, CA, just down the street from Dustin's house. Tony was kind enough to show us how the process worked, and also frequently provides us free labor in the form of High School students. I owe him a HUGE thanks for all his time, knowledge and use of his shop. Currently I have the molds at StinkyFab Racing, but when the panels are ready we'll be taking them to Tony for paint.


Alright, time for some pictures and stuff. :flipoff2:
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I'll try to caption the photos in order, since the attachment feature on here makes it a pain to put text between photos.

1. Here are most of the molds set up in the StinkyFab Racing shop. Hood, front fenders, doors and the rear fenders on the floor by the door.

2. Molds for the upper half of the doors.

3. The first step is to give the molds a good coating of mold release wax. Without this, you're gonna have a really hard time separating your part from your mold.

4. It's just like waxing a car. Go ahead and do a couple coats, more is better.

5. Many of our molds make parts for several different cars. This hood mold is actually a full size Chevy S10 hood. The different lines you see are scratch marks from cutting out the different sizes that we use for the original RockIt, The RockHer1, and the RockHer2. At this point I put down a layer of blue painters tape over the sections we wont be using for this hood. There's a little trick here I'll explain later.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
1. Here is one of the molds for the rear fenders. Again, it's used for all the S10 Bodied buggies that Team Redbull has.

2. Step 2. Gelcoat. We use white. It comes in other colors, usually just white black and grey. If you're gonna paint it a light color, a light gelcoat helps. Mix 16oz. Gelcoat with 5-7cc MEKP and spray

3. You'll want a big nozzle on your spray gun, like 2.0 or maybe even bigger. I'm using a cheapo Harbor Freight gun that came with a 1.8. It gets the job done, and it's cheap but a bigger nozzle would make this step faster. Put the gelcoat down fairly thick and if you want the parts to come out really smooth do a couple coats.

4. About this time my friend Jenny came over to help out. I figured everyone would like pics of the shop helper. She's slightly better looking than the little mexican guy at the shop next door.

5. Ok so she really came over to work on a surfboard, but I put her to work on body panels later.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
1. Ok remember that trick I told you about, well here's where it comes into play. Now I've sprayed my Gelcoat, but there's a problem I can barely tell where my tape edge is, and once I put down a layer or two of fiberglass it's gonna be damn near impossible to see.

2. Well I've made this mistake before, so this time after putting down all the tape masking, I ran one more pass around the edge with some narrower masking tape. Now I just peel up that single strip and I have a nice bright blue stripe all the way around the area I want to use. It's dirt simple, but man does it make a HUGE difference when it comes time to trim the parts.

3. This could really be your first step, or it can be done now. Cut out your pieces of fiberglass mat. We've done this a few times, and have made some cloth templates to make things easier to duplicate. You want some extra around the edges, so dont bother making your templates too perfectly sized. Also on parts that have compound curves the mat is gonna wrinkle up. Simply cutting a slice or "dart" into it will let the mat overlap or expand and sit flat. as you can see our front fenders have lots of darts in them, in fact to make things easier, after cutting out the shape of our templates I just cut the piece in half and overlap them. Whenever you decide to do this step, make sure to cut out enough pieces for all the layers you plan on doing.

4. Getting started with the sticky stuff. The shorter bowl on the left has some powdered fiberglass in it. I forget the proper name, but its basically white dust that will destroy your lungs and makes a mess. The middle cup is General Purpose Polyester Laminating Resin, and the squeeze bottle has MEKP. The MEKP-resin ratio is the same as the Gelcoat. 16oz resin with 5-7cc MEKP.

5. On parts with tight corners or detail work I use that deadly white powder and some catalyzed resin to make a paste. This then gets brushed into the tight spots. The glass mat isn't that flexible and sometimes doesn't wanna conform to tight corners and this fills in the gaps and makes things really easy. In this case I mixed up way too much for the job at hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
1. Painting in the paste. Theres a pretty tight return on the wheelwell opening that the mat doesn't like to conform to. Just kinda goo the paste in to fill the corner.

2. Take the resin and paint the mold a bit. Dont worry about using too much or too little, this isn't detail work. More is a little better, but dont make puddles.

3. Take your pre-cut pieces and start sticking em down. That coat of resin you just painted in should hold the mat nice and flat against the mold. Also push the mat into the paste gently so that it soaks in and you get the air bubbles out.

4-5. Take a brush and start applying Resin. Move quickly and use more of a blotting motion than a brushing one. You want to fully soak the mat, but again you dont wanna use too much resin. If you have puddles, you're using too much. You need to make sure that you get any air bubbles out, and that you get resin soaked into the extra mat that's overhanging the edges too. Going about an inch or so outside the edges will make it worlds easier to trim later on.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Ok it's almost 3am, I'm gonna get some sleep. I'll get more of the process up tomorrow.


EDIT: Ahhh screw it, I'm still awake. Might as well do this now.

1. Here's where Jenny gets put to work I gave her some gloves, a mask and some resin. After getting the first layer nice and wet she put the second layer of mat down and is using the roller to press the layers together. If you've put down a lot of resin this will help soak it up into the second layer. It's also great for smoothing out all the stray bits of fiberglass after you put down the resin.

2. All done. We only use 2 layers for the fenders, and doors. This makes them very light and flexible, and helps keep them from shattering when we nail em on rocks. It's also cheaper. You can see the stripe in the middle where I cut the pieces and overlapped them. There's really no reason for this other than it just makes the pieces fit easier, the extra strength or thickness does little for us.

3. Jenny rolling out the hood. She seems to like that roller. At one point she actually made a somewhat obscure "rollin with the homies" Clueless reference. She's an odd girl.

4. 2 layers down on the hood. Now you can see how that tape trick helps. The edges are pretty clear, but without doing that they would blend right in.

5. Because the hood is big, flat, sees a lot of heat, and is only supported at the corners we need a little more rigidity. This piece of core mat in the center soaks up a ton of resin and really helps stiffen up the panel. I'll be doing one more layer of fiberglass on top of this for a total of 3 plus the core mat.
 

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Getting started with the sticky stuff. The shorter bowl on the left has some powdered fiberglass in it. I forget the proper name said:
It's called colloidal silica, also known as "Cavasil" -- its added to the gelcoat to get the right thickness .
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Jenny is definitely :smokin: Plus she likes playing with power tools, and helping out with various projects. One of these days I'm gonna have to teach that girl to weld. Then she might be the perfect woman.
 

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Jenny is definitely :smokin: Plus she likes playing with power tools, and helping out with various projects. One of these days I'm gonna have to teach that girl to weld. Then she might be the perfect woman.

Especailly if she had M.D. after her name :laughing:

;)
 

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Nice job. I have been wanting to build some fiberglass panels but have never done that big of a job before. Thanks for the info.
 

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I hate doing glass work but while it was curing I hope you got to tap that ass, Nice write up.
 

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Thanks for the write-up. I've been thinking I should read up on fiberglass, and here this post appears. :D Perfect timing!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Jenny managed to take herself off my list of favorite friends last night after pushing me into the pool with my cell phone in my pocket :mad3: She did offer to make up for it by posing naked on my motorcycle though so I'll let you all know how that goes. The phone also came back to life, so she's off the shit list again.

When we left off the parts were sitting in the molds, with a bunch of excess around the edges. Here is the somewhat tricky part. There is a period of time when the resin starts to set up and everything becomes kinda rubbery. It's hard to explain, but once you try it it's easy to figure out. During this time you can simply take a utility knife and slice off the excess. This is also why you made sure to get resin out past the edges. You'll get nice clean edges with little to no excess glass fiber hanging off.

While I was makin the doors yesterday I decided to add a little something to the inside of the passenger door to make Becca smile on course :flipoff2:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
1. Last step. Using a plastic wedge, find a corner and carefully start lifting the part. It should come free pretty easily. The more complex and curved a piece is the more you'll have to work, but it shouldn't be hard. If it is you fucked up step 1.

2. A nice shiny new fender. Just needs a little sanding and some paint.

3. Jenny demonstrating how flexible our new panels are. Our old panels were thicker and held their shape better, but making them thin and flexible means that when we slam them into rocks they fold out of the way instead of splintering. They still get scraped up and need to be fixed, but most of the time they are repairable.

4. Now it's time to party.

5. Spotted this one walking around the party......wonder who she stole that shirt from.....:flipoff2:
 

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