Jan 17
Fiberglass Reproduction License Plates
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Tips & Trix on 01 17th, 2018 | | No Comments »

In the post prior to this one I had just started to get into the benefits of using silicone for a mold for a fiberglass project like this one.

First of all, silicone doesn’t smell and it doesn’t stick to anything other than itself.  With silicone I would never have to worry about ruining the original like I did with my first effort with building a fiberglass mold.  Secondly, there is no need for parting agents like wax or PVA – pieces simply effortlessly pull right out of silicone molds.

So, let’s get started.  The process of mounting the plate to a parting plane remains the same expect for the fact that I want the silicone mold to be little deeper than the fiberglass mold so I am mounting the plate to a ¼ inch piece of MDF that I traced the plate onto and cut out with my scrolling saw.  This ¼ piece of MDF is then glued to a parting plane and the plate is secured to the MDF with wood screws.

The pieces of the parting plane with the plate.

1/4 inch mdf glued to parting plane.

Aligning the plate to the parting plane with clamps.

Plate screwed to the parting plane.

The next step is to seal the edges of the plate with clay to prevent the silicone from getting in between the plate and the MDF.

Now I use 1 X 1 pine to build a perimeter around the plate that will act as a wall that will contain the silicone.  I leave about a ¼ gap between the plate and the pine perimeter that will define the boundaries of the mold.  At this point I go around the outside of the pine with masking tape to prevent any silicone from leaking out.

Sides of the mold clamped in place and Silicon at the ready.

With the plate prepared I go ahead and mix some silicon with its curing agent and pour it over the plate.  I make sure that there is enough silicon to completely cover the plate with about a ¼ inch depth.  The next step is the easiest of all – let it stand for 24 hours.

Silicon is flowing.

The silicon is curing – will be ready in 24 hours.

More on this project soon!

Happy Glassing



Jan 16
Tooling Gelcoat for a High Gloss Finish
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Tips & Trix on 01 16th, 2018 | | No Comments »

I’ve received some more questions about Fiberglass Mold Making Gelcoat and how to end up with a high gloss shiny finish.

Sonic 1 High Gloss

When constructing a mold for duplication of parts, there are several considerations that must be addressed.  The main reasons for using tooling gelcoat versus finishing gelcoat have to do with the hardness of the finish and the shine of the finish.

The finished surface of your mold should be abrasion resistant.  Polyester gelcoat is used for making tooling masters and molds where good gloss retention of the surface is of paramount importance.   A high gloss finish of the molds surface allows for easier release of your parts and thus extends the life of the mold. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 14
Fiberglass Model Boat Build Moves Ahead!
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Boat on 01 14th, 2018 | | No Comments »

Getting back to building the base for the assembly of my hull, in the previous post I had just assembled the base and am now preparing to attach the piece of cut mahogany that will define the periphery of my hull.

[caption id=”attachment_83″ align=”aligncenter” width=”300″ caption=”The Building Base will define the shape Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 13

With the keel and the hull sides attached, I can think about filling the hull with foam and carving out the bottom of the hull. As I study the hull bottom as it sits, I notice that the hull sides have some waves in them. Since it is much easier to fix this now, I go ahead and glue then clamp some thin pine strips along the inside of the hull sides about ½ inch below the upper edge. This strip will also help me with the construction of the hull bottom. Once these extra hull pieces are secure, I measure and cut Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 11
Fiberglass RC Boat Project: Post #1
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 01 11th, 2018 | | No Comments »
A friend of mine who spent an enlistment period in the Navy as a SWCC asked me if I could build a model of the 11 meter RHIB that he became fond of while in the service. I have always enjoyed building model boats so this was an easy decision for me. Not only did I want to build it for him because I like to do those things for people that I consider friends, but this will be a unique project for me. I have never even considered building a boat with an open deck. The 11 meter RHIB has an open deck with exposed seats, control console, and armament – lots of potential detail. Lucky for me I can consult with my friend regarding the details of this project.

For my friends purpose, this is going to be a display only model. I will definitely make mine radio controlled. The differences in the two models should be minimal with the RC version simply allowing for easier access to the underside of the deck.

The full scale 11 meter RHIB is approximately 36 feet long. The first this that needs to happen is we need to decide on a size. My buddies wife would be happy if it were no longer than a foot from stem to stern. I think that making it 1/6 scale to fit GI Joe would be the way to go. Obviously we are pretty far apart on this so we decided on 1/10 scale making it about 43 inches long. This sized boat will allow me to buy some off the shelf detail pieces such as guns, ammo boxes and maybe even the 50 caliber machine guns (hopefully, I would hate to have to make these!)

Scale is important with a project like this. To make sure that I get as close as possible, I scour the internet looking for photographs and drawings of the 11 meter. I was able to get my hands on a digital owners manual which was of great help as well. The first thing that I did with my photographs and drawings was to use my copier to blow up a drawing of the 11 meter from the top and from the side. My copier has a function that lets me resize a picture up to 200% with each pass through the machine. I did the math and ended up with side and top perspective drawings that give a length of exactly 43 inches long and 16.5 inches wide.

This series of blog posts will be done in real time and will follow my project as I make progress. Stay tuned!! I will post pictures as I progress.

Happy Glassing


The 11 Meter RHIB


Jan 10
Fiberglass Copter Build Part 8
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 01 10th, 2018 | | No Comments »

I begin by applying black tooling gelcoat with a dump gun at about 80 psi. I make sure to keep the gun close to my work because gelcoat makes a huge mess if it gets on something other than your project. I lay down a nice thick layer of gelcoat making sure to get good coverage around the base where the plug meets the board.

Once the plug is covered with gelcoat, I let it cure to a tack. I did this project on a nice hot San Diego day so it cured to a tack in about 45 minutes.

At this step I used a different approach than I am used to. I came into possession of a large roll of veil that I decided to use in the corners and angles of the mold. In the past I have always used a combination of cabosil and resin. I found the veil easy to work with, especially when pushing it into corners with a chip brush. With the veil in place, I proceed to build the mold with three layers of 1 ½ ounce chopped mat.

I begin applying the chopped mat by brushing a nice thick layer of catalyzed resin over the area of the plug that I am working on. Then I place a piece of mat that has been pulled off of my roll and lay it on the plug. I like to keep the pieces fairly small on a project like this, no larger than 6 inches square. Pulling the mat apart will leave many loose fibers that will help the strength of my final product once it has cured. When applying the mat, I like to overlap my pieces by about 20% and build a nice flange around the base of the plug.

Happy Glassing



Jan 8
Fiberglass Finishing
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 01 8th, 2018 | | No Comments »

When I first started working with fiberglass, I found it a fascinating yet frustrating material. While I enjoyed the fact that it was water proof and could be formed into any shape, I was often frustrated by my attempts to finish it in a way that would make my final product look presentable. Over the years I have come to the realization that a nice fiberglass finish requires a little preparation and a little improvising.

Obtaining a nice smooth finish can be obtained on a consistent basis when using a mold to produce your parts. Even so, thought and preparation are still necessary. A nice thick gelcoat layer that is covered with a layer of veil that is then covered with a layer of chopped mat will create an end product with a nice finish and no pattern transfer to the final product. The gelcoat layer should be thick enough to allow light sanding without getting into the mat.

When repairing a broken piece of fiberglass, getting a smooth finish takes a little more work. On painted surfaces, I like to remove the paint around the damaged area with sandpaper. Depending on the size of the damaged area, I like to remove enough paint around the damaged area to give me a couple inches of working room. I will then tape over the finished side of the damaged area and apply my repair to the backside of the repair.

Once the resin has cured, I remove the tape and access the exterior of my repair. If the repair is flush or depressed, I will smooth over the surface with either bondo, finishing putty or a thick mixture of resin and cabosil. Once this has cured, I will sand it smooth, primer it, inspect it and go from there. If there are defects in the surface, I will refill them with the medium that I find appropriate and repeat the sanding, inspecting and primering that I had done before. This process continues until the finish is right.

You should not be afraid to sand fiberglass. If you happen to sand it to the point that you expose glass fibers, clip the long ones off and brush more catalyzed resin on. Let the resin cure and re-sand. You may have to repeat this process several times to get your repair right. If your sanding continues to expose fibers, you may want to cut the surface down an 1/8 of an inch or so and fill over the surface with either gelcoat, resin mixed with cabosil or even bondo. Once this has cured you will have plenty of room to shape and sand without exposing fibers.

The bottom line is that many people feel as though the final outer surface of a fiberglass repair must be fiberglass. This is nice if possible, but there is nothing wrong with smoothing over the outer skin of a fiberglass repair with gelcoat, bondo, resin mixed with cabosil or body putty.

Fiberglass Shooting Star Body (Speed Racer) For RC Car

Happy Glassing



Jan 7

Last summer a buddy of mine asked me if I could make him a duplicate license plate for his vintage truck.  The original California plate that he had was black with yellow lettering and he wanted to keep that plate.  Apparently you can’t purchase duplicate California plates so his only option was to make a copy.

Even though I have never attempted a project like this one I jumped at the opportunity.  The concepts of the making of a fiberglass mold don’t change so I knew that if I followed the standard protocol that it would work out fine.

This project went smoothly – just like planned.  The old plate was stripped of its registration tags and it was straightened out as good as possible.  It was then mounted to a parting plane with wood screws and the edges were sealed with clay.  The plate was then waxed heavily with mold release wax and then it was sprayed twice with PVA and set aside to dry.

When the time came to build the mold itself I started getting nervous.  While I have only once before had a plug ruined by a combination of failed release agents and tooling gel coat that failed to cure, I really didn’t want this to happen to  my buddies license plate.  That being said I did what I always do and pushed forward.

After a liberal application of tooling gel coat followed by fiberglass resin and a few layers of 1 ½ oz mat my mold was complete.  I was thrilled when I de-molded a few days later and found a perfect mold and even better – an un-marred original plate.  Whew!

With my new mold I went ahead and prepared it with mold release wax and PVA and proceeded to follow all the steps to make a part with this mold (all of these steps are covered in my series of fiberglass mold manuals).  Just like with the making of the mold, making this part went just as planned and I ended up with a near perfect duplicate of my buddy’s license plate.  The mold however did not do so well.  After pulling the part from the mold a host of flaws were revealed in the mold – most of them were air pockets / voids in the tooling gel coat.  The flaws in the mold were significant enough to make the mold not suitable for further use.

After this experience I decided to try this project again – only this time I would use silicone rubber for making the mold and simply make parts by laying gel coat, fiberglass resin and mat into the silicone mold.  There are several benefits to this process for this particular mold as compared to making a fiberglass mold.  More on this project in the next post!

Happy Glassing



Jan 5
Fiberglass Mold Project Continues
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Boat on 01 5th, 2018 | | No Comments »

Once again work has gotten in the way of my fiberglass molding project.

In my last post I had described how I had finally sorted out the underside of the hull of my 11 meter rhib. I want to move this project forward and I think I have the right plan to do so. I have spent so much time getting the hull of this boat right that I am afraid to do anything that might generate more work on this portion of my build … Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 4
Plug Building for Fiberglass Molds
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Tips & Trix on 01 4th, 2018 | | No Comments »

Its funny how we do things that we think are not only the right way but the only way only to find out later that there are better ways.  Years ago, when I first discovered the use of dry foam, ( No I had no experience with surf  boards), as a medium for plug construction, I thought that I had found the perfect plug building material. Read the rest of this entry »

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