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Monday, March 24, 2008

Fiberglass Tank Fabrication Part I

The space we have planned for holding tank for the forward head is somewhat of an odd shape. Vendors like Ronco Plastics have all sorts of polypropylene tanks in various shapes and sizes, but they don't have anything that comes close to this. So I decided to try my hand at fiberglass tank construction.

There are all sorts of info on the Internet about constructing tanks via hand-layup. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to get more experience using vacuum infusion, seeing as we have all the materials and equipment.

So, this past weekend, I started building the "plug" that will be used to mold the tank. First picture there is the wooden frame. The one on the left was a hack job I first tried, which I didn't like. The one on the right is the final version. Frame is simply made of wood and held together with hot glue and brads. The frame needs to be sturdy to withstand the downward force of the vacuum bag such that it doesn't flex, or worse, crush.

The panels over the frame is Masonite. The version that has the slick white finish on one side that is used for dry erase boards. The slick surface is good for releasing the part when the resin has cured.

The edges were trimmed down with a chisel and given a generous round over with a router. The important part is that the surface of the mold must be sealed air tight. Not so much to prevent air leaks (there wont be the way it will be infused), but to prevent resin from leaking into the interior space of the plug, which could be disastrous for the infusion process. So, the gaps along the edges are filled with a two part filler or fairing compound to give it a good seal. Just about anything could be used here as long as it can be sanded smooth.

Stay tuned for part II.

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