Body Work at Doral

For the past two weekends, the team traveled to Doral Corporation in Milwaukee to work on the bodies of both the gas and electric cars. We have been able to use their ventilated paint booth to safely fiberglass and paint the two bodies. Thank you for your support, Doral!

The gas car’s body is taking shape, as we began fiberglass layup over the foam mold.

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Preparing the two part resin

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Is that the Michelin man?

We first poured cups of the two part resin onto the body mold. Next, we tore the roll of fiberglass into various shaped squares and rectangles, applying each dry rectangle to the wet mold.

Laying up the fiberglass sheets

Laying up the fiberglass sheets

Teamwork

Teamwork

After each section of fiberglass was wet and tightly applied to the mold, the excess resin had to be removed to keep the car lightweight and strong with a smooth finish. We began the multi-layered vacuum bagging process after a 45 minute partial cure time. The first step is to apply a polyester material called peel-ply to provide a barrier between the resin and the rest of the layers. The resin does not adhere to the peel-ply, so the peel-ply is easily removable after the full cure time.

The next two layers were a white fleece called the bleeder and breather. The first layer of white fleece, bleeder, will soak up any extra resin when under vacuum conditions. The second layer of white fleece, breather, provides an extra layer. The final layer is the vacuum bag, which is sealed around the mold with double-sided tacky tape. A vacuum pump was hooked up to valves in the vacuum bag.

Unfortunately, not everything works perfectly the first time!  The first vacuum bag would not create a tight seal around the mold as the bag had accidentally gotten dragged through the resin before coming into contact with the tape. No seal = no vacuum. We removed the vacuum bag and resorted to “heavy rolling” the body with a cardboard roll to try and soak up any unnecessary resin.

Rolling pins- not just for cooking.

Rolling pins- not just for cooking.

Squeezing out excess resin

Squeezing out excess resin

The second weekend at Doral’s ventilated paint booth went a little more smoothly as we fiberglassed the bottom half of the gas car body. We learned our lesson from last weekend and came up with a new method to create a seal with the vacuum bag. Before the fiberglass layup began, a drop cloth was cut and placed around the outside of the body on top of the base material. This drop cloth caught any excess resin and was cut/removed before the vacuum bagging layers were placed (leaving an area clean of resin). When it was time to place the vacuum bag, team members were extra careful not to drag the bag in any resin before coming in contact with the tape. The vacuum bag was stuck to the tacky-tape and extra sealed around the edges with duct tape.

Bottom half before fiberglass

Bottom half before fiberglass

Bottom half with a successful vacuum bag

Bottom half with a successful vacuum bag

It's sealed!

It’s sealed!

Vacuum bagging

Vacuum bagging

The electric car body was also sanded and primed for its new paint job. We are using last year’s gas car body as this year’s electric car.

Sanded/primed electric car body

Sanded/primed electric car body

Sanded/primed top half

Sanded/primed top half

Posted in 2015 - 2016.

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