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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Tristates console that I'd like to cover with carbon fiber to match the dash, door panels, scoop and spats. Can anyone point me to a site where I can find out how to do it? I'd also like to do the trans tunnel cover if possible. I think I read an earlier post from someone who built their own carbon fiber dash...maybe Russ Thompson.
 

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Joe, yes it was I. IMPORTANT tip, don't put carbon fiber directly on the aluminum, I was told by Aircraft Spruce the CF would eat up the aluminum. I layed regular fiberglass between the Dash and the CF. I layed down glass, sanded smooth, more resin more sanding etc then the CF.
I shot a clear coat, sanded and buffed to a shine.

You can get cloth at Aircraft Spruce or Tap Plastics.
 

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Russ, did you use epoxy or polyester resin? Most of the epoxies I have used tend to turn yellow.
I was planning on using polyester surfboard resin.
What are your thoughts?
 

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Joe,
Here's where I go for all my "high tech" needs:
The Composite Store. Another site popular with the modelers and aviators is:Aerospace Composites. Check out the Aramid (colored) carbon-kevlar cloths. You might find a red-black or blue-black to match your finish...

There is also FiberGlast.

You'll want to finish the exterior laminate with at least one layer of glass cloth (under 2 oz glass cloth, .75 oz OK). This will seal the carbon cloth and also give it a deeper look. If you do it right you won't see the glass cloth over the carbon as it will be transparent. West Systems shouldn't yellow as it's used for all types of fine marine exterior finishes.

I've been thinking of laminating some 6 oz carbon cloth to the inside of the door panels so the FFR carbon dash has something to match with...

Russ,
I'm not sure about what you heard. Perhaps raw carbon rubbing up against aluminum will be eaten away but suspended in an epoxy resin mix (West Systems) and laminated or sandwiched with aluminum should not be a problem when used for aesthetic applications. However, I'm not sure how strong or durable the sandwich would be for structural applications or high vibration environment (aircraft) where the laminate may have some compliance.

[ November 14, 2002, 04:23 AM: Message edited by: CobraJet ]
 

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Decals always look like decals.

Nice idea to do the trans tunnel cover!
 

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You will get galvanic corrosion of the aluminum if you put carbon directly up against it. Ask any materials engineer. So put a layer of glass cloth or mat against the aluminum first, the glass doesn't need to be very thick. Rough up the aluminum good (80 grit) and clean with denatured alcohol before laying down the glass and you should have a really good and permanent bond. Any exterior laminating epoxy with UV inhibitors in it should work fine and not yellow.
 

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Etch, then prime with a two part epoxy type primer. Then lightly sand the primer with 180 grit sandpaper and apply the carbon fiber. Putting fiberglass or carbon fiber over bare aluminum doesn't bond well, it peels easily. I use West system resin. Brush a first coat on the surface and let it tack up, then while still tacky lay the carbon fiber on and work out any wrinkles. Add several applications of resin, sanding between coats untill all the weave is filled, don't sand into the carbon fiber. Sand the final coat with 1000 wet or dry and buff. One other thing, if this is for appearance only, the surface to be covered should be black or a very dark color or the light clored background will show thru in spots with only one layer.
 

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Hey old guy,
Just use the tunnel cover as a mold for the carbon fiber one. Use a resin like 156 that cures at room temp in about an hour. Put plenty of release agent on the part so you can seperate it after it's cured. Use a small amount of vacuume, say one to three inches, to keep it flat and squegie the bubbles to the sides of the bag. You can trim the access around the edges after it's set. Try to leave it as resin rich as possable to save time on clear coating. You'll have to clear and sand it several times to get rid of all the pin holes. It's not that hard it just takes time. Be VERY sure to protect yourself when cuting, mixing the reain and sanding. This stuff is very bad for you to work with if your not protected. You don't want in on your skin, you don't want it in your lungs.......
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
All this good info brings to mind more questions:

Russ: Did you use one ply of fiberglass bonded to the aluminum with one ply of CF cloth over that? Did you get the fiberglass showing through the CF or did you darken it first?

Road Toad: Can I use the aluminum part as a mold without vacuum bagging? What's the difference between bonding the cloth to the aluminum or using it as a mold besides the mold release?

Does anyone know the grade and weave of the CF cloth FFR uses so I can match it correctly?
 

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I'm guessing FFR uses a plain weave, medium grade cloth. I'm pretty sure they don't use a harness weave and the grade is obvious sence there are basicaly only three ie: fine, medium and coarse. I wouldn't attempt to do it without without bagging the part. You can get a vacuum box at Harbor Freight for about ten bucks. As far as the advantages of not laying up directly on the part, There's no worry of corrosion. There's no worry of disbonding between the metal and the carbon and by the way carbon and fiberglass will also corrode after time when contacting each other. Ease of trimming, drilling and cutting. Weight savings. There's really no reason to leave the metal there that I can think of. The only difference in time and labor is the time it takes to lay up the extra layers of cloth. You'll need to build up the layers to get the .040" thickness. You won't be able to see through the cloth then, and you should have about the same rigidity as the aluminum one. Each layer of medium cloth should be roughly .007" after being bagged and cured and they can all be applied at the same time. This way you can alternate the directions of the weave between the plies to acheve the strength. If you want the outer layer to come out really smooth, use a flat caul plate, with release agent or parting film, on the outer ply surface. It might sound hard but it's really not. You might want to try a few trial runs with fiberglass to get the hang of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sounds like something I should try. I'm anxious to achieve my "all carbon" interior. If all works out, I might just attempt the rear bulkhead...I think nickel plated accessories afloat in an ocean of carbon fiber and black metalflake is just what the doctor ordered.

Thanks
 

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What would the thickness need to be in order to provide the same level of intrusion protection as the aluminum?
 

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The CF decal folks only guarantee that you 'friends' won't be able to tell the difference. People who don't like you will spot it right away.
 

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Snake,
Add a few layers of Arimid, which is basically the same thing as Kevlar (you know, the bullit proof vest stuff), and it won't have to be very thick at all. :D :D :D
Mike,
Excellent observation!!!!!!!! ;)

[ November 16, 2002, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: Road Toad ]
 

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Thanks Bill, that's a great article! Joe, when I was in college at the University of Florida a couple of years ago, I worked with SAE (Soeciety of Automotive Engineers) building the formula car for each annual competition (600CC Honda CBR engine, around 450 lbs). What a fun project! We built 4 diffent chassis while I was there--two chromoly "spaceframes", one aluminum bulkhead style and finally, a chromoly spaceframe with carbon and kevlar shear panels forming a hybrid monocoque. All the panels for that car were flat, so they were really easy to lay up on a vacuum bagged sheet of glass. The carbon is incredibly stiff in shear and since the aluminum shear panels on the FFR are bonded anyway, it would be pretty simple to replace them with CF (as they are mostly all simple bends). Would the difference in stiffness be apparent on a street car? Probably not. But on a track car, I'm certain it would. You would need to use kevlar mat around the high heat sources since carbon doesn't stand up to a lot of heat for an extended period of time. You would probably do all the panels for about $12-1400 in materials. It would be different anyway . It would also necessitate more frequent inspections.

BTW, did you see any photos of the two '96 911 GT1 cars Porsche built and debuted at LeMan's? Unpainted carbon and kevlar hand laid bodies that were undoubtedly the finest composite work I have ever seen. One of my friends was at the race and he said everyone's jaws dropped about 3 inches when they rolled them off the transport Porsche replied that 'in their haste to make the event, they didn't have time to paint the cars'. Humility always was one of Porsche's strong points . If I could do work like that, I wouldn't paint it either...

Mike
 

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How do they get that deep deep clear coat look on top of the CF? Is it just a thick coat of resin, or is it some type of clear gelcoat?
 

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Cobra_Phil,
Resin with fiberglass cloth or veil over the carbon will give it that effect.
 
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