Glassing the shell and my OK, not perfect results
July 10, 2017 at 9:17 am #1014
I thought I would share a picture after my attempt at glassing the shell in the hopes of saving future builders some issues and getting feedback on improvements. This was my first big fiberglass and epoxy project and the results turned out OK but not perfect. It has been pretty hot here and I’ve been waiting until evenings to do any epoxy work but that still means it is around 80 – 85 degrees in my garage. But if I want to have something done for the fall I need to keep moving forward and I can’t wait for cooler weather.
Overall the big problems I had were:
- Mixing too much epoxy and not being able to spread it quickly enough. I was doing 12 oz batches and later cut down to 9 oz.
- Moving too quickly for fear of the epoxy setting which left a few areas under saturated causing some patches of cloudiness/discoloration.
- Using the epoxy once it started to get warm (see my issue about mixing too much) causing cloudiness in some areas, especially on the seams between the #1 and 2 panels where there are 3 layers of glass. You can see it in the picture below.
- Trying to pour and roll the epoxy directly on the glass. I found it much easier once I switched to using a roller pan and applying the epoxy like painting a wall.
- A little bit of sagging/rippling on the side panels. I’m not sure what caused this and I think it will sand out. My best guess is that, in response to under saturating the top I was over correcting and over saturating the sides causing the glass to float/sag a bit.
Things that worked well:
- I bought a cheap Hamilton Beach hand mixer ($15 on Amazon) and I’ve been using it to mix my epoxy. It cuts down the mixing time and saves you a lot of manual stirring. I found that it was cheaper and easier to use than a drill attachment and I can get replacement beaters for a few dollars (although I’m still on the first one).
- Using a roller pan rather than directly pouring.
- Using the two stage method for top then sides as outlined in the manual. For a first timer in a warm garage, I would not want to try the whole thing in one shot.
- Spending the time smoothing the glass before ever touching it with epoxy. It is really nice to be able to take your time on this rather than be in a panic with a cup of epoxy in your hand.
- Swapping out the roller half way through. I’m using Wooster Epoxy Glide rollers because I can easily source them through Amazon and at $2 each it is a lot easier to just toss it than risk it getting too tacky half way through leading to moving/sticking to the glass.
I only have the 2nd fill coat on so I still have to sand and roll/tip another coat which might help a little but at this point I think I’m stuck with the cloudiness. My significant other thinks I’m being over critical but I think she’s being too kind 🙂 It isn’t at the point of resorting to painting yet but I might need a racing stripe or two.
I think my next steps, which are a slight deviation from the manual, will be to rough sand, then stick on the vent hatch, then roll/tip and move on to the doors and galley hatch. So for anyone else struggling to get a perfect finish like the CLC demo unit, you’re not alone!
-mikeJuly 10, 2017 at 10:57 am #1015
disclaimer: my TD is my first fiberglass/epoxy experience so take my comments with a grain of salt.
if you have any “blisters”, where there is an air bubble under the fiberglass, you definitely need to cut the blisters out and sand smooth the edges of the fiberglass. then lay in a patch and epoxy it. as for the cloudiness, I’m not enough of an expert to know whether that is just a cosmetic problem or whether it is a structural integrity problem.
what I would do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will get an answer within a day.
I have a stand-alone workshop, and I started my project when it was still early spring. It has a heater, and a window air conditioner. as spring turned to summer I’ve empirically determined that the sweet spot for working time with the MAS epoxy system is low 70’s.
if you have a window in your garage, I’d strongly advise that you buy a 5000-7000 BTU window air conditioner. yes, it’s another $150, but remembering that you’ve invested $2-3K on the kit and trailer, this is a small additional investment that will save you lots of grief if you can get your garage temp down to 75 or lower.
at the very least, store your epoxy and hardener jugs in the coolest part of your house, and mix it there as well. if you start with mixed epoxy that is at 70 degrees you’ll buy a little more time even if your garage is 85.July 10, 2017 at 11:55 am #1016
The cloudiness in the epoxy is called “blush”.
Blush can be removed by washing it off with a cloth saturated with undiluted vinegar. It should disappear with little effort and save a beau coup of sanding.
Actually it’s more of a chemical reaction and not so much a cleaning of the surface.July 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm #1017
Thanks for the feedback. Luckily I only ended up with 2 small air bubbles about an 1/8th inch in diameter on the entire shell so I’m not sure if it is worth trying to fix them. I’ll get some better pictures and email CLC this evening.
Ironically I had an electrician out to the house the other day to get a quote on running a subpanel to the garage so I can put AC in. Right now I’m running on a single circuit which is pushing it for AC, lights, and tools. So the $150 AC might cost me 2K for an electrician but it has been on the punch list for a while.
Thanks for the info about blush. I’ll give the vinegar a try to see if it makes any difference.
-mikeJuly 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm #1020
I’m probably beating this to death, but… (haha)
if you happen to have an outside outlet on your house that’s within 50 ft of your garage interior, you could use a 50 ft 12-gauge extension cord. I just looked at my 50 ft 12-ga cord and it’s labeled for 15 amps, which should be sufficient for a 5000 btu a/c. chances are a 100ft 12-ga cord would also be labeled for 15 amps but I don’t have one here to check.July 11, 2017 at 5:52 pm #1036
Off topic slightly but I think anyone who can build one of these can easily add power to their garage if you have place for a breaker or 2. That project is on my list as in our townhouse they ran one 15 amp circuit to power the garage door opener, the ONE 2 receptacle outlet by the door to the main house, and 2 light sockets. With the deep freeze plugged and some shop lights rigged in to the sockets we have been running extension cords from inside the house to have the power tools and the vac running simultaneously.
You can easily wire and pop 1 or 2 breakers in a modern box, run some wire to a few boxes. If you don’t have drywall up you can staple the wires in place. In our case we do have drywall so I plan to run it all through cheap and easy PVC conduit. I plan to run 2 circuits, one for my workbench area with 4 receptacles and one on the other side where the Teardrop will be parked for battery charging etc. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube that show you all the steps. I like this one for the breaker box work but I would turn the main power to the panel OFF as I know how clumsy I could be with that panel cover off:July 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm #1046
I heard back from Dillon at CLC and he said that from the pictures it doesn’t look like a structural issue so that’s good news. Our best guess is that it was some combination of:
- Epoxy starting to cure in the heat
- Moving too fast and not fully saturating the two bottom layers of glass
- Moving the roller too quickly and introducing micro air bubbles into the epoxy that made it cloudy
He said my two options were to
- sand off 4 inches from each side of the seam and lay consecutive layers of new glass to slowly expand out over the seam and overlap the remaining glass
- live with it
- use it as an opportunity for a creative stripe of paint on the seam
Given the amount of time and possibility for mistakes with option 1, I’m going to see how it looks at the end and then get creative!
On the electricity side, I agree that running another circuit usually isn’t a big deal but my garage is detached about 30 feet from the house so I have to trench and bury the line. Not an impossible task but not something I would look forward to in the middle of summer. There are some jobs worth paying someone to do.
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