Category Archives: Composite Fabrication

Building Composite Tubes

With WEST SYSTEM and braided fibers

By Captain J.R. Watson

Tubes are used on boats for hard tops, T-tops, Biminis, dodgers, bows, bow and stern pulpits, rails, canoe and kayak paddle shafts, boat hooks, and so on. Composite tubes built with epoxy and reinforcing fibers offer advantages over metal in terms of light weight, custom shapes and sizes, and corrosion resistance. Composite tubes can be faired and painted to produce a seamless appearance to match the boat, or left to show the carbon fiber. I’ve been experimenting with approaches to building a variety of composite tubes. Following are some things I’ve tried (some that worked and some that did not) that you may find of value if you want to produce composite tubes yourself. Continue reading

Lost foam method

Fabricating an Air Scoop

BY BRIAN KNIGHT & J.R. WATSON

I used lost foam construction to fabricate a fiberglass air scoop for my son’s Formula Continental C race car. Our project started because a modification to the shape of the race car body necessitated the construction of a new air scoop. The air scoop is bolted to the car body so if either the air scoop or the body is damaged (a very likely scenario), the repair will be simpler. To fabricate the scoop, I made a Styrofoam male mold, surrounded the mold with fiberglass, and then dissolved the Styrofoam to leave a hollow part. I used Styrofoam to build Continue reading

Building a Masthead Fitting

by Captain James R. Watson

Here’s another use of the lost foam method to produce a custom part with a molded interior cavity. In this case, the part was a mast head fitting to hold an internal sheave and provide a route for the halyard to pass. This method can be adapted to a variety of other applications, as demonstrated in Fabricating an Airscoop. Continue reading

Chopped Strand Mat

Chopped Strand Mat and Epoxy

By Tom Pawlak

Chopped strand mat, in fabric form, is sold on the roll and in small folded packages. It is made up of 1″-2″ long fiberglass strands that are randomly oriented and typically held together with a styrene-soluble binder that acts like glue connecting the fibers. The binder is designed to dissolve upon contact with styrene in polyester resin or vinylester resin. Once dissolved, the fabric softens, allowing it to drape around curved shapes. It comes in a variety Continue reading

Building Photographic Darkroom Sinks

By Spiros Polemis

We built two darkroom sinks using WEST SYSTEM® epoxy: one for tray developing, the second to hold our Jobo film processor and two archival print washers. The two sinks are end-to-end on one wall of the room and fit flush with waterproof caulking, the taller sink sitting on top of the side of the shorter one. Continue reading

Testing DCPD laminates

Testing DCPD Blend Laminates

By Tom Pawlak

Gougeon Brothers recently did R&D testing for a manufacturer who wanted to know if WEST SYSTEM® epoxy could effectively repair injection-molded parts made with fiberglass and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) blended polyester resin that included an internal mold release. The hoods and decks for many jet skis and snowmobiles are made with this material.

DCPD blends in polyester cause it to cure rapidly and cross-link thoroughly. This feature helps to reduce emissions from the resin but makes it difficult to repair Continue reading

Laminated Canoe

Laminated Construction Gives Lasting Value

John McKibbin recently sent pictures of his refinished 18′ canoe. He built it twenty-five years ago, using cold-molded, that is, laminated composite construction, with WEST SYSTEM® epoxy. Laminating a hull is similar to making your own plywood on a three dimensional mold. While it may take more time and effort to make a laminated hull, the results are well worth it to many. Continue reading

Building Components with Kevlar Braid

By Hugh Horton

Braided Kevlar®, or composites with Kevlar and carbon braid, are used for joints and many components of my sailing canoes. These include the hull/deck joint, cockpit coaming and spray deck rims, the leeboard bracket and retaining pin, the attachment of the mast step to the hull, the gunter’s yard heel fitting, and the Continue reading

Building Composite Fan Shrouds

By Dan Witucki

Hopefully, you can stand one last story about El Niño. I work for Bay Metro Transit in Bay City, Michigan, and the long hot summer of 1998 was especially hard on some of our transit buses. Our 27′ buses are a front wheel drive unit, powered by a Cummins Diesel engine mounted below the driver’s seat.  We were experiencing dozens of air conditioning compressor failures, along with various other problems due to the overheating. While this was happening, the manufacturer also realized it had a problem, and equipped all subsequent buses with a fan on the side engine cover of the bus that sucked the hot air out of the engine compartment, curing the problem. Continue reading