Jun 12
Fiberglass Molds – Multipiece Benefits
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 06 12th, 2017 | | No Comments »

I just finished building a new mold for a 1/10 scale radio controlled car. One of the great things about making radio controlled car bodies out of fiberglass is the detail and the undercuts that can be formed using multi-piece molds. The realism is much greater than that which can be found in a vacuum formed body.

Multi-piece molds are always necessary for building three dimensional objects – whether those objects are hobby related or not. With the exception of very simple molds, multi-piece molds are almost always required or at least preferable. The obvious reasons for the use of a multi-piece mold are driven by the ease of extracting your parts from that mold. Molds that are very deep are difficult to lay-up parts in and can be very difficult to pull your parts out of.

The draft angle of your plug is a major determining factor that will determine the need for a multi-piece mold. Smaller parts may require no draft angle while larger parts that are deeper than 12 inches will require a draft angle of up to 5 degrees.

Automotive parts other than hood scoops, fender flairs, spoilers, etc are often done with one piece molds. Larger parts, such as doors, hoods, entire bodies and the like are almost always done as two piece molds.

I was looking at my first and main Fiberglass Mold Manual in which I outline the procedures for building a simple one piece mold. The funny thing about this manual is that the project that I follow in this manual ultimately required 3 separate one piece molds. A project requiring 3 separate one piece molds can also be labeled as a multi-piece mold.

Multi-piece molds do give many benefits to the builder, but there are a few drawbacks. Multi-piece molds do produce a flash line that must be dealt with. Flash lines require filling, sanding and refinishing. Flash lines are created by imperfections in the edge of the mold and in the general alignment of the pieces of the mold. In my opinion flash lines are a minor trade off for the many benefits of a multi-piece mold.

Happy Glassing


Steve

www.fiberglassmoldmanual.com

Jun 10
Joining Fiberglass Mold Part Halves
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Tips & Trix on 06 10th, 2017 | | No Comments »

There are several ways to join fiberglass halves.  Fuselages, boat hulls and car bodies usually require joining of at least two pieces in order for the project to reach a point of completion.

With some applications, a sleeve can be built into the plug with will allow the second part to slip into which will result in a nice joint that can be epoxied together.  An application that comes to mind in this circumstance would be the deck of a model boat to the hull.  This technique needs to be planned well in advance since it requires Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 9
Fiberglass Mold Release Agents
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 06 9th, 2017 | | 1 Comment »

I have received many questions from those who purchased my manual set regarding mold releases. Especially when preparing the plug. The bulk of the questions seem to come from the use of PVA as a mold release.

Let me start by saying that I like and prefer to use PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) mold release at all stages of my projects – both to release the plug and my parts. I like the security it provides. I have never had a part or a plug get stuck in mold when I have used PVA.

The problem that some people have with PVA is the orange peel appearance that is left on the inner surface of the mold after you have separated the plug from the mold. More often than not this orange peel is visible but can’t be detected by touch. Unfortunately, sometimes the orange peel appearance can transfer to the parts that you will make with your mold.

For me, this orange peel appearance has never been a problem because of the type of projects that I like to build. If you are planning on painting your finished pieces, as I do, the orange peel look of the gelcoat is of no concern. You will be at the least priming and painting the parts so you will never see the gelcoat. Even with R/C boat hulls that I have made I always plan on painting them for the final finish.

If you want to produce finished parts that have that glowing perfect gelcoat surface you will need to take a different approach with the plug. You will have to rely on mold release wax alone to allow for the separation of the plug from the mold. With this approach, you will want to follow the waxing procedures outlined in my manual. Use great care with applying and polishing the plug.

Another consideration with an approach that doesn’t involve the use of PVA is that more than likely you will damage (if not destroy) your plug when you de-mold. This is another reason why I like using PVA – I work hard on the plugs that I build and I like to save them.

I hope that this helps with your PVA questions

Happy Glassing


Steve

www.fiberglassmoldmanual.com

Jun 7
Fiberglass Mold Construction Part 9
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 06 7th, 2017 | | No Comments »

I let this mold cure on the plug for almost a week before demolding. This mold popped off its parting board with little effort. Likewise, the mold separated from the plugs with ease. The process for removing the mold from the plug is simple. I use a half dozed small plastic putty knives that I insert between the mold and the parting plane.

Once I have one putty knife between the mold and the parting plane, I simply insert another putty knife at the edge of the separation that occurred as a result of the first knife. This is repeated time and time again as I work my way around the perimeter of the mold. Once you get started, this is an easy process.

At this point the mold is inspected for any flaws, repaired and then prepped for its first part pulls.

Making parts with this mold is very similar to making the mold itself. I begin by applying five coats of mold release wax to the inside of the mold. Once the mold is waxed, I can apply a coat of PVA to the inside of the mold with my spray gun. After the PVA dries, I can do my first parts lay-up. This is part that I really enjoy – I am very close to seeing the results of my efforts and planning.

Happy Glassing


Steve

www.fiberglassmoldmanual.com

Jun 5
Fiberglass Mold Project Continues
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Boat on 06 5th, 2017 | | 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 »

Jun 4
Fiberglass Boat Build Continued…
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Boat on 06 4th, 2017 | | No Comments »

In my last post I addressed an issue that I was having with the plug that I am building for this fiberglass project. At some point after the sponsons were covered with mat and resin I realized that they were simply too big in diameter. To correct this problem I cut the fiberglass covering off with a Dremel tool and then used a chisel to scrape the building surface clean of foam. After rebuilding the sponsons with foam and fiberglass I begin to follow the … Read the rest of this entry »

May 29
Fiberglass Model Build 11 Meter RHIB
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Boat on 05 29th, 2017 | | No Comments »

To prepare this model for the molding process, the first thing I need to do is mount it onto a parting plane. My inclination is to use some nasty looking piece of scrap 1/8 inch piece of press board that I have laying around. However, since I am going to take a bunch of pictures of this process and turn it into yet another fiberglass instruction manual for my current series, I decided to use a nice looking piece of wood from the local Home Depot … Read the rest of this entry »

May 28
Fiberglass Finishing
posted by: Steve Jones in Uncategorized on 05 28th, 2017 | | 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


Steve

www.fiberglassmoldmanual.com

May 25

 

To begin laying up a fender, I mix about a half a cup of gelcoat with the recommended amount of hardener.  Once this is thoroughly mixed, I use a disposable chip brush to paint the gelcoat into the mold.  I try to get a heavy layer of consistent thickness.  This gelcoat needs to cure to a tackiness before I apply the fiberglass mat and resin.  Usually this takes about 45 minutes. 

 

While I am waiting for the gelcoat to cure a bit, I begin to prepare for the next steps of this process by tearing 1 ½ ounce mat into small pieces that will be easy to lay into my mold.  Since this is a fender, it has compound curves – one that goes side to side and one that goes front to back.  In my experience, smaller pieces of mat are easier to work with in a mold like this.  Just FYI, my pieces of mat are approximately 4” X 4”.

 

Now that the gelcoat has cured to a tack, I mix an 8 ounce cup of resin and catalyst (as directed by the manufacturer) and begin to work my way around the inside of the mold with resin and mat.  I soak a chip brush with resin and use it to blot the resin onto the mat over my freshly applied gelcoat.  Since the gelcoat is still tacky to the touch, it holds the mat in place while I soak it with resin.  I work my way from one end of the fender to the other and then back again (two layers of mat and resin) being careful to make sure that the mat has no air trapped underneath and that the mat overhangs the mold by an inch or so.

 

Once this mat and resin cure to a gel-like state (this takes about ½ hour of 45 minutes) you can safely trim the overhanging extra mat with a razor knife.  If the resin pulls or is too sticky to cut, check back in another 15 minutes and try it again.  This is the best way to clean up your parts of excess fiberglass.

 

After trimming, I allow the part to sit in the mold for a day or so to let it fully cure.  Once fully cured, I pop the part from the mold using a couple of plastic putty spreaders.  I simply use my fingers to pick at the part until I get slight separation from the mold then I push the plastic spreader between the part and the mold and work my way around until the part pops out.  Since I used adequate release wax and two coats of PVA, this part easily separated from the mold.  One fender down, one to go!  

My New Beach Cruiser With Fiberglass Fenders Installed

My New Beach Cruiser With Fiberglass Fenders Installed

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

May 23
Building Fiberglass Fenders: Part III
posted by: Steve Jones in Fiberglass Fender Project on 05 23rd, 2017 | | No Comments »

With the recent application of bondo leveled and cured, I can now smooth out the surface of my fender – again. As it turned out, the two outer thirds of the circumference of my fender were about the same height. The middle section was about ¼ to 1/3 inch on the shallow side. It is in this center section that I need to reshape the fender around my newly formed ridge of bondo. I accomplish this with more bondo and a credit card that I use as a spreader. I like using credit cards or other thin pieces of plastic as spreaders because they can be used to produce a flat smooth surface or a nice smooth curved surface. Read the rest of this entry »

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