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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I thought I'd try my hand at making a fiberglass seat cowel and get some experience with glassing, body work, and painting... it turned out great... This isn't an in depth how to because it'd be a book if I went into every step. I suggest you reading a book on the art and skill to best prepare yourself for a project like this. I at least hope you get the idea and look to try it out. Let me know if you have any questions.

To do the Fiberglassing you'll need the fiberglass cloth weave (sample on top of resin) two packs ($5 each) a large can of resin ($14) and extra tube of hardner ($2) a container of bondo body filler (comes with hardner) ($10) putty knives ($3) Sanding block ($4) Acrylic red glazing putty for filling in tiny dimples after 320 grit sanding bondo ($8), a throw away paint brush or three ($3), razor blade and of course 80, 120, 320, and 600grit sand paper (or if your cheap 120 and 600 will do) ($3 a pack)

Here's a close up of some of the supplies for fiberglass and bondo work
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

It's VERY important to use the same brand "wax and grease remover" as the paint you use for prepping the paint surface ($11) Next is the high build sandible primer... I used this with two other hughs of gray to visualize the sanding progress by using a different color every other layer ($10/can X2), next is the primer sealer ($11) (use the same brand as your paint) this seals the primer that may be pure lacquer based whereas the duplicor perfect match ($6.50/can X2) is acrylic laquer... ALSO the primer sealer is thinner and more paint like providing a better foundation for paint.
The green tape (sharpest lines) is used if you are going to have more than one color border each other ($8) yes it's expensive, but if you use cheap tape you get seepage under the tape... make sure you read up on masking because it's a pretty involved process from laying down the tape to when to score the edge and lift it and how to sand bordering paint colors.
Lastly only use 1,000 and 2,000 grit sand paper on paint... if you did a decent job only use 2,000 grit only while wet sanding by hand only (spritzing water onto the paint surface while sanding... tips on that later) wipe dry often to see the progress during wet sanding for when the orange peel look disapears and only sand in the direction of the pannel (not in circles)... look it up to learn the true proffessional techniques
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So on to the process of fiberglass it's self... I molded my cowel to go over my stock seat... the reason my cowel ends up being flush with the sides of my tail is because I cut down the edges of my seat under the seat skin:

If you don't want to cut up your seat than your cowel won't be able to rest on your stock seat to provide quick and easy transition from cowel to seat. and you'll have to make a mold, form a cowel in that, deal with fabing up brackets to the bottom of the cowel.... blah blah blah


Anyway, back to how I did it... you can see the indent on the seat side because my seat was cut down to provide that relief. To prep the seat before you mix any resen you should cover the seat tight with thick grade tinfoil then lift the seat and cover the tail with it too and cover the rest of the bike for any spillage.

Then cut one layer of fiberglass cloth with one inch of excess over the edge. When buying resen buy an extra tube of hardner because I find you should use double the drops of hardner suggested in the resen mix because it's just gummy with the ordered ammount.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Here you can see the edge that curves out and that's what provided the room for build up of additional layers of fiberglass and bondo etc


Here's after the second and third layer of fiberglass... Lay each additional layer of fiberglass cloth diagonal to the layer below it (for strength). I used sharpie to show the seams... pre cut the cloth so you don't waste it... Also lay additional layers on the next after the base is hardend (about 15minutes), but still tachy, and flatten all air bubbles... again look up the process for exact directions... let it cure for a few days before thinking about painting it
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

As you can see it's still transparent and still pretty thin


It's stronger than if cured at room temperature because I used a home made curing box made out of a electric heater... the temp in there gets up to about 100 degrees... cure the three layered piece for an hour or so... don't leave the room



This is some excess resen mixed up after doing a layer of fiberglass on the cowel

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So after a few days letting the piece set at room temperature you can sand down the cowel with 80grit sandpaper placed in a sanding block going the lengthway of the piece... stop sanding when you start hitting the fiberglass cloth under the resen... don't sand off the top layer of resen... the sanded piece is great prep for the bondo (this is the first layer of bondo done)

Sand down the bondo real good till the fiberglass shows in places with the block and 80grit
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

For the second layer of bondo I put a layer of painters tape down to sand the bondo down to flush the edges of the cowel to match the tail. Start using 120 in the block... you use a block because the bondo will be wavy if you hand sand it... make sure the bondo doesn't get thicker than an 1/8 inch or so because it'll crack for sure with any minor flexation or if there is a big change in temperature



This is the third session of bondo work... don't do all three in one day... rather one a day at most because it takes about a day to fully cure. Now the cowel was ready for the red acrylic glazing putty to fill the minor dimples that are left from bondo work... use only small thin layer in the needed areas
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·


Here's the carnage from just one session of sanding the bondo down.


When it's nearly ready for primer like this sand it smooth with the block and go up in stages until 320 grit dry sanding. Depending on how good you get the original fiber glass piece depends on how much bondo work you'll have to do


Lay the filler primer down after cleaning the part well by wiping it down with the wax and grease remover... really let the piece dry after using that stuff... wipe off the excess and you can speed the drying by putting it 6 inches under a 100watt shop light


Put down 4 coats of filler primer, waiting 10 minutes between coats, the next day block sand it working the stages of sandpaper up from 600 up to 1000 grit. Same thing: Depending on how good your bondo work is depends on how much filler primer work you'll have to do...


The next stage is primer sealer once you work out the fine bumps, waves, grooves, and other flaws out of the piece with the sandable primer... the primer sealer is great for getting the sanding flaws of grooves out of the piece...

I learned to lower the chance of dust in the paint you should place news paper down all around under the area you are painting because walking around while painting kicks up dust.

Put down 4 coats or so, waiting ten minutes between coats, let the piece dry for a day, and then this is when you begin to wet sand... I wet sanded by just sanding over the sink with the water running slowly and sanding by hand without the block and sanding the direction of lengthwise down the piece (not circular... creates swirl marks) with 1000 and then 2000 grit sand paper. It doesn't take much sanding to take down a lot especially with 1000grit. I kept the working area wet by occassionally running the sandpaper under the water to wash off the build up... you check your work by drying the area with paper towel to see if the orange peel look is gone and the high and low areas are level... low areas are characterized by being tiny shinny pin head sized spots (bottom of the orange peel valleys) again, look up wet sanding if you are unfamiliar... never use just one source when taking on a project like this because each source has great advice and tips usually
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Remember, every flaw that shows up in primer work WILL show up in the paint... with a flawless looking primer work you can get flawless paint job and clear coat.


So after the primer sealer is wet sanded by hand without the block you can again clean the part by wiping it down with the wax and grease remover (REALLY let it dry by wiping off the excess and drying the piece under lights)

I picked the closest match paint by buying three different cans of white that were nearly the same color... primed some plastic spoons and then painted each one with a different color... the color of the cap isn't a great guide as to what color the paint is going to look like. At only $6.50 a can it's not to bad of an investment to get a good matched paint.

The duplicolor perfect match paint is acrylic lacquer... it's the best of both worlds in the paint industry... it's got durable qualities to resist chipping and cracking with being acrylic and fast flash times and the ability to wet sand it because of the lacquer qualities (from what I understand...) They say you don't NEED to clear coat acrylic lacquer... but I wanted to for shine and protection.

When laying down the first coat of paint make it really thin... you don't want to cause runs...put down about 4 to 5 thin coats of paint... waiting ten minutes between coats... when spraying move even and slow with the stream and start the spray before hitting the part and stop the spray after having passed completely off the pannel... over lap each passs by and inch or so and keep the nozzel 6-8 inches away from the piece while aiming the nozzle straight at the part... start on the right or left side and make passes length ways across the piece till you get up to the middle... walk around the piece and make passes starting from the middle where you left off making the slow but swift passes from the edge of cowel starting the stream of paint before hitting the piece and stopping after the pass is off the part... do not attempt to curve your passes around to over the front... make side to side passes over the front after the main area is done... wait ten minutes between coats... keep the piece raised so you can get paint under the lip of the cowel... this is just some of the MANY tips with painting... I'm no expert... this is just repeated advice from expert sources... read up on your own
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The next day you can wet sand the first color coat the same way you wet sanded the primer sealer. Again, after you are done sanding wipe the area with a lightly dampend cotton cloth with the duplicolor wax and grease remover... dry with a second clean cotton rag and then let it dry under lights for 15 minutes before paint



This is after the second color coat (again 4-5 coats in one session) follow the same techniques I describbed and make sure you take the time to look up some outside resources too.



You can see the orange peel that inevitably happens... you actually want this look when you are done making passes because it shows you have a nice thick coat... you know it's too thick if you see runs... to thin and it is dry within a couple minutes because it's too thin.

After you wet sand this thick second coat session it'll be ready for clear coat (as long as you didn't sand through any areas) Wet sand the paint the next day and prepare the surface in the same manner as you would another coat of paint



This is after one whole 8oz can of clear coat (two coats of clear laid down in 4-5 light passes). It may look finished but it needs to be wet sanded.



This is what paint and clear coat look like after it's successfully wet sanded the next day. It no longer looks shinny... but the orange peel is gone:) Under the clear coat is Jason Britton and Eric Hoenshell's signatures they did for me with Sharpie brand Paint marker. Now it's time to Buff, polish, and wax the piece to a high gloss shine with these products in order from left to right:


Make sure you hand buff, polish, and wax to prevent burning that could occur with a electric buffing machine. each stage is less gritty than the last... spend about 8-10 minutes of work with each stage on the piece... you can use small circular pattern with moderate pressure... by the end you have a great looking high gloss piece
 

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I've been thinking of doing something similar for a while now. So, Props for getting it done and doing a great write up!

Looks great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks! it's still solid, probably didn't need to make is so thick and strong you could get away with 2 layers instead of 3 of fiberglass... but yeah, It's good practice for body work and paint.
 
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