Carbon Fiber

Well, I had to replace some bits anyway

I suppose the start of my carbon fibering came with an advertisement.  And no I won't advertise for my advertiser here, but lets just say I was discussing some fiber whatnots in an email and loe and behold an add for USComposites came up.  All the raw materials I could hope for.  So I skimmed a couple of youtube videos and ordered my materials.

 Well, I guess I ordered a pair of books and my materials.  I highly recommend the competion car set of haynes manuals and have yet to be disapointed.  Competition Car Suspension and Aerodynamics are both practically pleasure reading, so I decided that one of my books had to be Competition Car Composites.  Overall I can't say it compared to the others in the series but it was enough that I felt I could start putting things together.  

 My friend Jason, who's starting a high performance fabrication company and is well versed in composites from his days in a company that specialized in custom airplane components talked me through the process over many drinks while waiting for the parts to arrive.

When finally I got the square yard of carbon fiber, the epoxy and the mold release I had a plan.  I would make a part that was not mission critical and if it succeeded would be nearly invisible.  So I made a little fender eliminator kit for the bike.  The first piece took me nearly a week (possibly because I wanted it hinged).  Overall that part paid for the raw material.

I decided to make the next piece visible.  Which meant that I would need a mold.  I bought some fiberglass and more epoxy (still keeping the total under 200 bucks).  The molding ended up going without a hitch, though I recommend overdoing the stiffness of a mold to prevent any sagging.

I also decided that this piece would require vacuum bagging.  So I went out looking for mattress bags I could cut up.  And amazingly enough I found instead a beautiful solution.  Various stores, like linens and things sell space savings bags that are designed for neat freaks looking to compress their clothing into a clear statis field of folded permanence.  So I bought me some of that...

Actually my guess is if I ramble any more without a picture people will completely lose interest, or already have.  So, here.


 As you can see I replaced the cowl.  She looks ok, and fits at least 90% of the way.  She's made of one main layer with 2-5 layers in various parts for rigidity.  The under-structure is also composite and I didn't reuse any of the hardware from the old cowl (as I couldn't buy just the parts I wanted).

Two interesting discoveries that I'll add to the random corpora of unsorted knowledge on the internet:

1) making mounting points is difficult.  I recommend covering your mounting points in mold release and letting the CF dry onto it in place when the CF is all rubbery but no longer dripping.  I ended up using a little rubber (folded between fiber), some bolts (for the security portion), styrofoam (from a wedding present, for the internal skeleton), and balsa wood (wrapped in lots of fiber, for the critical tail-hook assembly).

2) sanding epoxy makes it opaque.  To come back to a transparent sheen a simple rattle-can of clear coat will do fine.  If you want it to be both smooth and clear I recommend lots of clear coat and buffing (yes I had to buy a variable speed buffer in the end).  

 Anyway here are some more pictures:

 A rear view to show my awesome fitting skills.  And my poor filthy garage (she's clean as I write this, of course).


A tiny patch job that was made infinitely easy by a couple of scraps of CF.


And I got my new wheels (New rear and old front shown, new front is installed)

(thank you carlitosGSXR from ebay)



 I guess I'm free from the cage for a while till next time :)