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Old 07-05-2006, 03:32 PM
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how to make fiberglass body?

I have always wanted a '20's-'30's style hotrod, weather fiberglass or steel, reproduction or original, I like the style. I got the idea to build a budget rod using an entire S10 or smaller pickup frame, such as maby a 2wd Nissan Mini truck from the early 90's. also use the engine and drive train but, it would need a custom body. I originally had the idea to use a wood inner frame work and outer skin made of louan plywood, soaked and warped over the framework, then fiberglass the entire thing, inside and out. after I went through the idea, and thought about the hassle to warp the wood, and not crack it, I though of alternatives, 1 is using a flexible plastic sheeting or even a rubber sheeting, as it needs no integral strength because the frame work and fiberglass will take care of that, any idea's? right now I'm still working on my frame on budget resto/ custom of my '51 Chevy Fleetline 4dr with a 235/PG auto in it.


Last edited by matt167; 07-05-2006 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 07-05-2006, 07:41 PM
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been thinking, what about using a counter top material? it's expensive but very flexible, or even a linoleum rolled flooring, that stuffs flexible but could hold it's shape if it was attached to the inner framework good.
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Old 07-05-2006, 08:26 PM
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Some home built aircraft are made of foam cut to shape with a hot wire set-up and then sandwiched with glass cloth and resin. This method (mold-less composites) makes a light weight, strong and slick structure that is easy to build and relatively inexpensive. One of the first designs to use this method was the Rutan E-Z series of planes. I have often wondered how practical this would be for auto work. Blocks of foam should not be expensive and regular glass cloth and poly resin could be used instead of the exotic resins commonly used for aircraft parts.
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Old 07-05-2006, 08:36 PM
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Get a book on building strip built canoes..that is an excellent technique for building a one off sort of thing..and they do bounce pretty good..the canoes tha tis so that way of doing it should work just fine for a one off car body..

I have tried most all of it and now do what is known to work..
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Old 07-05-2006, 09:00 PM
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There are so many ways to build a glass body from scratch there is no way they could all be listed in 1 thread or even 1 small website .

There are a few more common methods though. Which one you use depends on what materials you are comfortable using to a lesser degree what you want the final outcome to look like.
Keep in mind that using flat materials such as masonite,(tempered hardboard). formica and thin plywood will result in flat panels and single plane curves. It is totally possible to use these materials. I have used poster board, cardboard and sheetmetal also as well as shower stall material and plexiglass, to name a few. I have built quite a few wooden molds for flat parts. The determining factor in choosing a substrate is whether it can be coated with some type of mold release if you want it to not become part of the finished body, and if you do want it to become a part of the finished body, is it compatable? Wood needs special preparation and will eventually seperate from the fiberglass if not done properly.
Foam core is not all the same. Urethane is cheap and easy to shape, but will turn to dust under conditions found in auto body construction. Polyurethane foam, (probably like the stuff that the Rutan plane was made with), is alot stronger and not subject to core shear, but it is harder to shape and more expensive.

There are a few ways that you can build from scratch that will result in a body that you can shape with any shape you want. I will assume that you want some kind of opened wheel roadster type of body. so we will start with the body tub, we can add on later, but here is the basics.

If you have a design in mind, draw it. .then bring the drawing up to full size. Make sure it will accommodate all of the passengers and equipment such as steering and seats you intend to incorporate into your car. Depending on how accurate your drawing is you can use this for some of your pattern making .

1 Buck method: You can make up your shape using stations, or bulkheads that you attach either wooden strips or some type of wire mesh to. . You can refine the shape with clay or bondo or joint compound. In the case of wire mesh, you need to paper mache' or tape over the top if you want to remove it easily after the laminating fest is over. After I do my shaping I usually wax and/or PVA the buck so as to make the removal easier. Once your shape is final you lay up over the top with 3-5 layers of 1 1/2 oz matt. when that cures you start to sand and bondo until you have a surface that you can finish. after the sanding is done you can yank all of the buck out from underneath, then reinforce the body as necessary.

2, shaped foam The second method is to get yourself some urethane foam blocks. It comes in 4x8' sheets and in thicknesses from 1/2" up to 8'' The urethane foam is very easy to shape and will remain dimensionally stable until you lay up over it with minimal structure underneath. If you start with thick enough sheets you only have to glue them together and no further structure is necessary.
You shape your foam using saws , sandpaper and sureform files until it matches your design. It is so easy to shape you can even shape it with your finger tips. I usually make templates to go from side to side to keep the foam buck symmetrical as I'm shaping. Once your foam is shaped you can layup as in the first method and continue in the same fashion.
Once the laminating is done you can carve all of the foam out from underneath. If your foam is smooth before you layup your part will be fairly smooth underneath. For a really smooth inside I usually paint the foam with resin, then wax it. when I pull the foam out it leaves the surface clean and smooth.

I built the streamliner in my photo album for a customer using that method, with a few areas where I used the wooden buck/station method and some material called C-flex, which is a fiberglass rod material woven together. It is used in building boats where compound curves are required.

There are as many methods to build from scratch as there are stars in the sky, the foregoing was a very simple summary of 2 of my favorites.

For show stuff I usually build a wooden /foam buck. glass it, finish it, paint and wax it then pull a mold. Then build my parts in the mold. The body work is already done, the actual body will have no fillers and be a homogenous material. This is desirable because when fiberglass is modified with fillers and secondary laminations it tends to show later on in the form of fiber transfer and filler edges coming through. I also prefer to use a vinyl ester resin because of its resistance to heat and shrinkage.

There is a book that I refer people to called "how to build fiberglass hot rods, customs and kit cars, by Tex Smith.
It is a very informative book and details several buck making processes with a lot more depth than can be written out in several posts.(I also like it because there are several pictures of me in it) Even so, If you have more questions, please ask.

Hope this helps, mikey
my signature lines...not really directed at anyone in particular..

BE different....ACT normal.

No one is completely useless..They can always be used as a bad example

Last edited by powerrodsmike; 07-05-2006 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 07-06-2006, 03:19 AM
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Designing a scratch built "Rat-Rod"

If your building any kind of Model-T/A vehicle, that is probably the best thread for that.

It has alot of information about front-suspensions, which frames to use, what to use, etc. And what looks right and is wrong. There is alot of information in there, and alot of pictures/examples.

Also, information about bodies in there.

I would also check out cboy's project journal, since he built his car's body from scratch. And the suspension and running gear was donated from a 1982 Ford Truck. And it turned out good. Should be around the top of the project journal page. And if you can find it, Rob Chuck Berry's journal, since i think he built a 30's ford roadster from a toyota van roof.

You could also just buy a model-t body from somewhere, but i have not heard good things about them regardless of where they come from. Alot of problems. And i really like the idea of just building something yourself. I even dug my old project thing up today.

I made two sides of a 30's style roadster, by cutting a 10-inch strip out of the center of a 78' Ford Truck hood. Then turning the cut side on either side up. These trucks had a kind of fold on the side of the hood, where they were part of the top of the fender of the truck too, this makes a good solid place to stick a floor in. And also a nice body line at the bottom. And there is a step-up in the body, that looks factory.

Mine is held together with parts of a cot/bed-frame now, but it isn't as bad as it was to begin with.

But if you do read through all of that thread, you might want to post a reply to it, it needs to be back where it can be read, and not stuck back in the pages.

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Old 07-06-2006, 03:17 PM
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Thanks guys, I think it sounds doable with the eurathane foam blocks. I'v got shure forms and files. Yes I want a '30's style open wheeled roadster, with a '30-'31 model A style cowl ( with the stainless belt trim ) and the rear end look of a '32 roadster/coupe and a '32 dash, everything I like about the early Fords rolled into 1 car body, of course a '32 Grill shell, gotta have that. dosn't have to have doors but If I do put them in, they will be a small Model T style door, using T latches. kind of what Cboy's roadster looks like, that kind of roadster.
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