July 16, 2009

Disorganised chaos

I kept toying with the idea of doing the fibreglassing inside the pod this evening but then deciding not to because of a dodgy weather forecast. But the weather kept staying warm and bright with not too much wind so I thought I’d make a start and see how much I could get done. I began by taking some coarse sandpaper and roughening up all the areas inside that pod that I’d removed the paint from to give the new resin a better key. Then it was time to prepare the fibreglass.

On the advice of Ted Snook and Laurie Hurman on the BMAA forums, I’d gone for fibreglass cloth rather than matting because it has a higher strength/weight factor. Rather than just blast ahead, cut the cloth and start sticking, I decided to take my time. First of all I put masking tape over the openings in all the areas where I was going to fibreglass so the resin couldn’t run through or round onto the outer gel coat. Then I made newspaper patterns for all the main sections of mat that I would be applying to the pod. There were 6 in all and something like 10 pieces in total including the little holes and other small areas that I will be repairing. Then I used the newspaper patterns to cut the pieces I needed out of the square metre of cloth that I had purchased. So far so good.

I looked up at the sky and it was a bit cloudy, but still sunny and bright, so I decided to go the whole hog and mix up some resin. From previous experience I estimated that I could get the whole job done in 45 minutes or less and it looked like the weather would be kind to me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to go for Epoxy resin for the internal pod work. It comes in 2 parts just like Polyester but doesn’t have anything like the smell. I took a paper cup and mixed up a reasonable measure. The ratio is a maximum of 5:1 (resin to hardener) and I would think my mix was a bit less than that.

The pod was on my back lawn and I started by laying in the mat around the nose wheel opening. Then, as if like magic, after about 30 seconds just as I’d got a nice old resin mess going with the cloth half in, it began to rain. Just what I needed. I grabbed the fibreglass cloth that was out on the patio table and sprinted with it into the conservatory. Then I grabbed the pod and did the same with that, the whole time with the dog closely on my heels, first into the conservatory, then out again, then back in. I placed the pod on the floor – not much room at all – and by now the rain was falling pretty hard and it had become quite dark. Far from ideal working conditions! Then the dog tried to push past me, the pod and the wet resin – he was very upset when he got a big flea in his ear and went off to lie down on his bed 🙁

To cut a long story short, somehow I managed to get the job finished and it didn’t end up looking too bad either. I didn’t like working with Epoxy initially but I warmed to it more as the job went on and I got more used to it. Certainly the relative lack of smell is a big bonus – especially as now because of lack of space, the pod is on the floor of my lounge while the resin hardens 😀

So having started off totally organised and with everything planned out nicely, because of the weather, the job and the evening descended into almost total chaos. But we got there in the end – leastways I think so. Haven’t checked whether the resin has gone off yet 😕