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Old Sep 13, 2012, 01:48 PM
Zach
Illinois
Joined Feb 2004
806 Posts
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Fiberglass Body Work for Solar Car

I am a member of a Solar Car Race Team at my local university and we are working on a new car body and canopy.

I am currently on the canopy team and we are working to create a new fiberglass canopy. We are using a technique similar to the lost foam method where we form a foam plug, cover the plug with dry wall mud to keep the resin from melting the foam and then fiberglass over that with about 3 layers of fiberglass.
This fiberglass shell will be our canopy, with a lexan windshield added later.

My question is how do we finish the fiberglass to get it to a smooth surface for painting. I know the proper way to do this is to first make a mold for the part and coat the inside of the mold with a jell coat before laying down the fiberglass. The problem is we are on a very tight budget and don't have the extra materials for the mold or anyplace to store the mold since we just got kicked out of our garage because they found asbestos in it.

My idea is to coat the entire part with bondo to fill in the weave of the fiberglass and then sand it smooth. The problem is this will add extra weight. Some other members think we can just sand the fiberglass smooth but I am worried about sanding into the fabric and exposing the glass fibers.

Any advice is appreciated.

Zach
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 11:41 PM
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TLyttle's Avatar
Keremeos, BC Canada
Joined Mar 2004
2,639 Posts
If the mold was good enough, then 2 or 3 coats of auto primer should fill the weave enough, sanding between coats. Better, it is quick and accepts most paints, and there is not much weight penalty. If youi go over it using bondo for the really rough bits first, the final product should be good enough unless you are looking for "best finish" prize!
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Old Oct 01, 2012, 07:57 PM
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Denver, CO
Joined Dec 2005
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Bondo is really heavy. There are some commercial light weight fillers.
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Old Oct 08, 2012, 08:36 PM
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wparsons's Avatar
Canada, ON, Markham
Joined Aug 2008
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Another option would be to wrap it in vinyl instead of painting it, you'll probably come out even lighter that way.
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