The Female Mold
Yes, it is getting to be about that time. Hours, days and all the sweat we could muster were spend on this body plug and we are just going to throw it away! So next up is the Female mold. The first step? We are going to prep the plug for the layup. This includes waxing the vehicle, spraying it down with a parting fluid and finally setting up a clay barrier that will help us make our mold flanges. Keep your eyes pealed, we'll have an update soon!
Ok, so the female mold is WELL underway, Unfortunately the fiberglass layup is pretty messy, so photo taking is a bit more difficult.
We finalized the plug with a layer of Gel coat and started by waxing the mold. 5 layers of wax on this thing and a bunch of buffing. This thing is nice and shiny.
After we got this thing all waxed up we had to lay up a clay barrier. The barrier is going to be used in order to block the fiberglass and help us make various sections to the mold. Each section has a flange and each flange should be able to bolt together in the end so we can have a complete mold all ready to go.
At that point we sprayed on a layer of parting fluid. This is a fluid compound that is designed to help the fiberglass separate from the plug when it is time to pull it off. This was sprayed on with a standard paint gun. Once it cured we were ready for layup. This began pretty standard. We are using a chop fiberglass so we don't have to worry about woven issues like working around the contours we have on the car. We simply tear the fiberglass up into smaller pieces and layup each piece with a bit of overlap to create a layer. Once each layer cures we work on the next layer. We are doing 3 layers on the female mold with encapsulated foam blocks that will serve as support. We are hoping to get a bit of strength and stiffness by using the blocks in the layup.
After the first part of the mold was finished and cured we had to move on to removing the clay. In retrospect it would have been smart of us to put the clay on something, like packing tape, but it sure didn't seem like it could possibly be this tough to get off the mold.
So we wised up the second part of the mold. First we taped all the flanges with a nice layer of packing tape. This is to keep them separate so they don't cure together. Then we taped the areas where the clay would be put down. So when the clay was in place and the tape was ready we sprayed it down with a parting compound again and began layup.
Once we got the full mold laid up on the body we had to pull the mold. This sounds pretty easy, but turns out to be fairly difficult.
We started off by cutting away anything that was stuck to foam and trying to get our fingers under any edges we could. This was a bit daunting to be honest. It took a lot of sweat and a lot of crackling. Eventually things started to come apart, unfortunately so did most of the female mold.
We moved on to filling the mold up with water, this is supposed to dissolve the parting fluids that we used and help separate the mold, so we got started.
After hours of messing with the mold and a lunch break we finally made some progress.
So we got the thing all cleaned up, bolted it all together and went on our way to fixing any divots that we may have in the mold itself.
We sanded the mold and it is ready for gel coat. Hopefully we will be finished Gel coat tonight, on to wax tomorrow and laying up on Thursday!
Many an hour has been spent since I last wrote on this site. But lets cover the build:
after the bondo and next gelcoat were completed we were able to bolt it all together and get it prepped to lay up. The prep work consisted of waxing the mold, taping all the seams, then PVA coating the entire mold. From there we were able to start our layup.
Red Bull came out for a visit, this time one of the wings girls had visited us at the old shop last year. She was pretty excited to see the vehicle and things we may do pretty well in LA...we'll see.
We then started layup. The mold was prepped, all the tape was sealed off and the first resin was mixed. When we laid the first layer (out of 3ish) it took a total of 3-1/2 hours. That was much more than we anticipated. The first layer took a lot of extra care to eliminate bubbles and pinholes. The following layers took a little less time to get through however so we were able to get through a lot more layers in one night, the second night.
Eventually we had to fill in the nose and the tail of the vehicle. This required a milled fiber mixed into a goo...(tools can't get into the nose and the tail otherwise) so we had to tilt the vehicle on end to get these parts all fixed up.
Of course the night we had to do layup was one of the coldest that we have experienced so far. The problem with that is the resin cures quicker in heat. So we made a point of bringing space heaters. Between layers we cranked them up and closed off the room. This got the temp up to a nice 80 degrees(ish) in there and really helped cure the resin quickly.
The second day of layup was intense. We really had to get the body pulled on Sunday so the only way that we could do that was to finish the layup on Saturday. We pushed it into the night with the nose and the tail and all the body layup minus the first layer and got this thing finished. In the process however, there may have been some shenanigans and some exhausted team members.
We kept pushing hard, finishing around 4am but getting it all done and anticipating the separation of the mold from the body.
In the end, we laid in a red bull can and a red bull cola can, just like last years craft. Hopefully they give us wings again and we are able to finish strong!
The next day we were on film from redbull, so we weren't able to shoot as much as I had hoped. We were pulling the mold and it just popped off! I couldn't believe it! The whole plan actually worked! When it came off we were left with a smooth body that will require only minor work.
Next up, body work, mounting the body, bondo, sanding and all the things we do a lot of, but this time our timeframe to get it in paint is... Thursday.