Took the day off (working Saturday this week) and heated up the garage for some more fun with fiberglass. Last episode, I’d got the fenders ‘glassed up from the bottom and the top, cut the wiper plinths out of the scuttle and put one layer of glass under the holes from under the dash. Fun!
Since then I glassed them from the top, made mistakes with the glass filler, got the filler right, removed the front valence for modification and made a mold for a new piece to shroud the steering column. Here’s how it shook out:
Here’s the plinths with three or four layers of glass added from the top. I used the smallest piece first to sort of fill in the divot, overlapping the edges at the end. The pieces still hammocked a bit—the first layer of mesh was dry-installed. But the depression was pretty shallow. Really almost perfect for the filler I’m using.
This is called Fibral.It looks like a mix of Vasoline and cat hair, but my guy Dr. Clock, Speedster-builder extraordinaire, recommended it with urgency, so I bought a tin of it for $23 delivered.
This stuff comes with no instruction sheet at all. The web was little help. The spec sheet specifies 3 percent hardener by weight at 70 degrees and says you get a four-minute working time. Clock tells me the stuff sets up like concrete after a half hour, so “sand it at 20 minutes or you’ll have trouble.”
All of which adds up to me under-mixing the first batch, which I applied to the driver’s front fender (that’s the tricky one) three days ago. It was still goopy this morning.
I scraped it out with a putty knife. It was messy and left residue, which I hit with some acetone. There was still residue after that.
The smart guys say epoxy resin is better than polyester. It’s stronger, kicks faster and dries harder, while retaining better flexibility. You can apply epoxy over polyester, but not the other way around. That’s because the polyester chemically bonds. When you glass over old polyester glass work, the old material kind of “melts” a little bit. Well, it doesn’t melt, but the new stuff—provided you cleaned off all the old wax—will bond chemically to the old. Not so with epoxy.
Epoxy makes a mechanical bond. You clean the old surface and rough it up with 80-grit, to give the epoxy something to bite on. [Edit/Correction: I originally thought Fibral Lite was an epoxy filler. Turns out it’s polyester]
So that is what I did. It worked a treat on the scuttle.
That’s one layer of Fibral. It’s maybe an eighth inch deep. Less than an eighth more and the scuttle top will be smooth and flat. I’ll use regular body filler for that.
When I screwed it up on the fender, I resolved that the next batch would be a little over-mixed. I’m thinking any of the residue left on the work should be catalyzed by the new material I spread over it. And that seems to have worked.
This fender is the problem child. At the BCW factory the mold was a bit flat on the outside. All the BCW cars seem to have this slight asymmetry. When I cut the fender up the middle, in the front, the outside piece wanted to rise above the inside piece (you can see that, above), while in the back, the outside wanted to duck below the inside. The other fender separated beautifully, with both sides staying on plane. But this side, nope.
So, more filler. The above shot was the first pass (well, the second pass, since I had to dig out and throw away the first). The Fibral fills readily. It goes on smooth and sets up rock-hard.
Here’s the passenger front after one pass. It’s basically ready for the regular body filler now, I think. I’ll skim the edges and fill the middle up to a depth of about 1/8 inch and then sand it back and feather it. Easy.
The rears both needed more material, because of the place I had to cut them.
Here’s the driver’s rear after two passes. That should just about do it, I hope. A little hand work with the 80 grit, then the regular Bondo, applied with an applicator I’m going to cut to match the contour I want. Then smooth it and feather it.
Here’s the driver’s front with the second coat:Getting close as well. Which is a good thing, since I used up almost that whole quart of Fibral already.
While I had the bay heated up I decided to go after the steering shaft. The BCW cars—VW version, anyway—have a small section of the steering shaft out in the weather down in this fender valley. I’ve long wanted to make a cover for that.
This is a bit of plastic from the treadmill I took apart years ago. The motor cover had a lot of interesting shapes molded in, and a part of it seemed to want to go over that six-inch length of outside steering shaft, once it was persuaded with a little help from the propane heater.
I got it close but wanted mounting tabs, so I taped it up as shown with the flat extensions and cut some fiber mesh. I sprayed it with Pam cooking spray, then laid it on a piece of wax paper before laying the fiberglass over it.
This is the front valence. On the driver’s side this edge kind of rises up to cover the rag joint between the steering shaft and the steering box. I want it to curve down two inches to meet my little shaft cover, so I ground out most of the glass on the inside where I wanted it to bend. On the other side I ground off the gel coat. Then I bent it. Then I glassed the inside to give it strength again.
Next, I’ll extend the edge another couple inches and maybe install a mesh screen in the little “window” that will remain, to make it look “performance-oriented.”
All this took from about 11 a.m. until 5, with a short break for lunch. I had to snuff the propane heater at one point because it was getting too hot in there, despite the freezing temps outside. I also lifted the car up five feet to put the work up where the air is warmer. It’s a bit after 7, and should all be set now.
And so it is. Popped the little steering shaft cover from its mold.Thin and flimsy. I’ll have to put another couple layers on it, probably. Should not be a big deal. There are a couple of other spots on the car that will need a spot of ‘glass before spring.