Used mainly in creating lightweight and durable body panels, fibreglass has been a popular material in the motorcycle industry for years. Although many manufacturers have shifted towards the use of high-impact plastic, fibreglass and other similar composite materials are still in use with aftermarket bodywork. The relative ease of working with fibreglass also makes it a suitable choice for motorcycle customizers in creating their own one-off pieces. To simplify the process, a single part can be made with a positive mould method, using a prepared form to make the part that requires some minor finish work.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Flexible tape measure
- Serrated knife
- Coarse- , medium- and fine-grit sandpaper
- Dremel or rotary tool
- Aluminium tape
- Automotive wax
- Fibreglass cloth and mat
- Paint brush
- Putty knife
- Body filler
- Electric drill
- Mounting hardware
Plan out your custom part on a sketch pad or paper. Take into account any details that will be incorporated into the part, such as air ducts and mounting points. Take measurements of the part's intended mounting location on the motorcycle. Using a flexible tape measure, measure the distance between mounting points and note them on your sketch or notes.
Create a form for the part using foam. Cut the foam with a large serrated knife until you have roughly attained the shape of your part. Further define the rough shape using a sander and medium-grit sandpaper. Add in details using a Dremel or a similar rotary tool.
Prepare the form for the fibreglass. Cover the form with aluminium tape, overlapping each layer at least 1/4 of an inch. Coat the aluminium tape with a high-quality automotive wax to help the fibreglass separate from the form later in the process.
Planning and Preparation
Prepare your fibreglass cloth, mat and resin. Cut the cloth and mat into smaller pieces with a sharp pair of scissors. Separate the cloth and mat into individual groups. Mix the fibreglass resin with its supplied hardener following the manufacturer's directions.
Apply a coat of resin onto the form with a paint brush. Place the first layer of fibreglass mat immediately onto the form, using the tip of the paint brush to apply a second layer of resin onto the mat layer with a dabbing motion. Coat the entire mat layer until it is saturated with resin.
Place a second layer of fibreglass mat onto the form. Coat this layer again with fibreglass resin, applying the resin with the tip of the paint brush in a dabbing motion. Repeat again, using the fibreglass cloth instead of the mat. Dab the cloth with fibreglass resin until it is saturated completely before repeating again a fourth time.
Remove any trapped air bubbles in the fibreglass resin with a plastic putty knife, working from the centre of the part outwards. Allow the fibreglass resin to cure completely, following the manufacturer's suggested curing time. Once the fibreglass resin has cured, pull the form out from the fibreglass part and trim away the excess fibreglass with a Dremel or similar rotary tool.
Sand the exterior of the fibreglass part with coarse-grit sandpaper to remove any surface irregularities and peaks. Fill in any low spots with body filler and sand the part again, using medium-grit sandpaper. Repeat, as necessary, until all high and low spots have been filled or removed. Sand the part again using fine-grit sandpaper until it is smooth.
Drill any holes for mounting points and attach mounting hardware as required by your design. Have the part painted and install it onto the motorcycle.
Creating the Part
Tips and warnings
- Dip your paint brush in acetone occasionally to keep its bristles from hardening with the fibreglass resin.
- Work in a well ventilated area and wear protective clothing while working with fibreglass.
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