Monday, November 16, 2015

The Carbon Fiber Project

November 2015

I had bought a lot of carbon fiber cloth for another project thinking I would need quite a bit.  In the end very little was used.  So with all of this cloth sitting around, actually kept moving around from one storage site to another I decided it was time to put it to use.  What to use it on though became a nagging question to me!

After my last two trips I finally came up with the plan, yeah, THE PLAN!  I have been to date storing most of my cooking gear in either my Duluth Pack or a dry bag but ya know the kit always gets banged around, shifted and leaves the container pretty nasty after a few fires.  It was time for a wannigan made out of carbon fiber!

After reading Epoxy Works #40 I got inspired by trying to use the method of making a foam shell, coating it with resin and carbon fiber cloth and then using Acetone to dissolve the foam out leaving a shell as in the article title Pedal Car.  I cut a couple sample patches of foam and fiber and laid up the resin two different ways to see how things would go.  Hell, I have never worked with carbon fiber/foam mix and had no way to see how the foam would melt out.

Step one was to see how the foam I was using, packing rigid foam, it was free, would react to Acetone.  Time to play.

Adding Acetone the foam melted within a few seconds and the leftover residue quickly wiped out with a paper towel.

With a couple of cut pieces of foam I cut out two small pieces of carbon.  I wanted a two part approach to this.  One was to put resin on the foam, lay a piece of carbon on it and treat that with resin as well.  Two was to treat the foam, let it cure and then lay the carbon and treat that.

The Ingredients

Carbon to foam and resin(L) resin to foam(R)

Cut and left to cure

Cutting off the excess foam after curing

Just a thin layer to dissolve off
Just to make it clear I did lay a layer of carbon on the piece of foam that I just added resin to.   The test was on.  The goal was to see if I had a clean piece of carbon fiber when I was done or what would happen.  Pictures are worth more then the word.

Glove and rag, no bare hands for this

Stringy and gooey trying to get it off

The underside after attempting to clean it.
The top side was smooth as hell but the underside was a gooey mess.  Also, it was not rigid enough for the purpose of this project.  Being an experiment I was ruffled too much but did expect something different.  Back to the drawing board.  

So, after a long chat I decided that a card board backing would be the way to go.  What I ended up with was box from reams of paper that I can get at work.  It fits all of the cook kit stuff, fits into the bow of the Caddilac kayak and will fit in any canoe I own.  It also has a lid that fits!

My first step was to line the inside of the bottom with Dynel.  I chose this over Carbon Fiber due to how rigid and tough it is.  I simply trace out the box on the fabric and cut it, coated the inside of the box with resin, I did do a test piece first and was happy with the results, then laid the Dynel in and treated that with a coat of resin.  

I wasn't worried about any loose strands of cloth as they will get covered later.  The entire exterior will be covered with carbon fiber as well but will do the bottom with Dynel.  Next was starting the inside with CF.  Now I have only played with this a little bit and every time while applying resin with a foam brush, a regular brush or a roller the cloth starts to unravel.  No different this time but I was patient and played with it much as I could as the resin set up.  Still not very pretty.

 I laid down two side and fought the loose strands and thought how crappy it looks.  I do have a sense of how my products turn out and wonder how in the hell some folks make this look so freaking good cause I wasn't.  Now before I laid down my third side I decided to break out some Super 7 adhesive spray.  It wasn't for adhering the cloth to the box it was to make the edges of the cloth rigid.  I cut out my next piece of cloth, cut a piece of wax paper to go under it and second piece much smaller to leave the edges of the CF cloth exposed and sprayed them.  I then took the top piece of wax paper off and pulled up the CF piece and draped it over my camp chair to set up.  I will be making a jig for that for the next few pieces.  I waited about fifteen minutes until it wasn't too tacky and then laid it in the box and applied resin.  I had one strand come out vs many.  

Although this is an extra step I will be going with it due to the frustration levels of playing with loose carbon fiber resin coated goo to content with.  

I finally got the last interior piece in.  There are many pieces that need a second layer of resin and I will be laying a second piece of cloth of the floor to try to cover previous mistakes with the cloth.  That will come at the end as I now am starting a coating of CF on that.  So far I have a layer of resin on the two exterior walls curing.  When that's ready I'll flip it over and do the two other sides.  After that I'll start with the cloth work.   

November 20, 2015

This afternoon I started to lay up CF cloth on the outside of the box.  I started out by cutting out the cloth to just under what the area called for.  I plan on covering that from the bottom when I get to that stage.  

I got the cloth cut and then laid it out to coat the edges with Super 7 which took all of about a minute. Now, here is shop mistake, we all make them.  Instead of paying attention to setup time I turned my back and started mixing resin.  Big mistake.  By the time I got back to the cloth it had almost, almost!, set up with the wax paper.  As I peeled it off in a most undignified manner I swore at myself.  Now the kicker was that in my anger I threw the wax paper still sticky has hell on the floor only to step on it and walked around like a piece of wet toilet paper on my boot!  That sucker is now destined for the burn pile.  

The end results were one long side of the exterior of the box and a short side were done.  I cut it just long enough to cover the lip of the next section to be done.  Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I'll be able to get the next section done which will leave me the bottom and then the next part of the project will be the lid.  

Now here is one thing I did for cutting the CF.  Since I was using a razor blade to cut the cloth I got tired of the upper part of the blade hurting my fingers.  I used some duct tape to coat the upper edge.

It provides a fair place to grip and protects your fingertips and I find it much easier to cut with this setup.   Just a waiting for resin time now. 

After the two sides set up I finally did the other two sides with one piece.  Any leftover resin I used on the inside as I hate to waste the stuff.  I have the bottom to do but decided to bring it in the house and let it cure for a few days.  After that is done I'll let it cure some more and then do a light sanding, maybe add one last thin coat of resin and then work on the top.  I actually have a plan for that to minimize cloth (hmmm, minimal cutting!)  While that is curing I have one last step on the box to secure the lid while traveling and those pieces have already been made.  Should have started this a month ago before the cold weather moved in!



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