My Nida-Core Project - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-23-2015, 10:09 PM   #1
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My Nida-Core Project

Hello everyone, I've been busy this year. Tammie spotted me in Alabama heading south and just missed catching me. I spent a month driving south to the Keys and visiting family along the way. I whelped a litter of puppies in Feb and March, and then did a yacht delivery to the Caribbean in April.

Now that I'm back, I've been restoring a 20' center console. I just finished rewiring it. One reason I bought this boat was the T-Top frame. These cost about $1500, and I got the boat for less than that. I wanted protection from the sun, and I also saw that it had space for an Electronics Box (E-Box) under the hardtop. I could not find any that suited me, so I decided to build one. My chief goal was to keep it very light.

What you mod'ers might be interested in, is a new material I've been trying; I like it a lot. It's called Nida-Core, a honeycomb sandwich between two layers of fiberglass. The thickness of the honeycomb determines the strength of the structure. I'm using 1/2" thick, but 1" thick is something you could stand on. It makes the best sense for walls. It weights less than plywood and can be substituted for it. I can see someone making a new Egg interior out of this stuff. I can see making an entire camper out of it. When I get around to rebuilding my other camper, I plan to use a lot of it.

My project is two phases. The first is building an Electronics Box for the T-Top of my new boat. Next I'll be building a hardtop for the same boat. All out of one sheet of this stuff.

First, I ground off all the gel coat. I think you can get this without the gelcoat. Or you can get it with two thin layers of plywood-ready to varnish or paint. Grinding off the gel-coat was a PITA, but it left me with bare fiberglass, ready to tab together. Bare glass, particularly glass that is roughed up, give a strong bond.

I cut the panels on a table saw and taped them together with 6" shrink-wrap tape to hold it in position while I tabbed the inside joints together.

I used a filet on the inside corners to make a round radius, followed by a layer of 2" tape and then a layer of 4" fiberglass tape on top of that. This was probably overkill. One layer of 4" tape on the inside was plenty.

I repeated the same on the outside where two layers is not overkill. Fiberglass is strong under tension and the outside corners are where the loads are. Two corners I needed to shave down as the T-Top frame tapered some, and I used two layers of wider "glass cloth" for those spots. You can see that in the photos as this shaved down area exposed the hexagonal cells.

Here are a couple of pictures.

View of the whole boat to give perspective. Shows my temporary shrink wrap cover on top.


Project Rough Plan:


Box built 5 sides and test fitting it on the boat. This is looking forward from the helm station.



View from forward looking aft. I included this picture because you can see through the fiberglass to the honeycomb core. The honeycomb is a plastic like material. I don't think it would rot. If you do want to use compression fastners like nuts and bolts, you much first drill into each cell and fill with epoxy, otherwise a nut and bolt could crush the material. The white spots on the surface is a bit of gelcoat I missed grinding off.


Close up of the corners I shaved down. Shows the structure better.



Here it is a bit farther along. The extreme left edge shows the section where I had to grind off the top layer of fiberglass to make this fit. The lighter material you see through the fiberglass is the core I exposed.




I just finished making a picture frame front. (Mostly hidden by the box on top) I ran out of material and tabbed three pieces together to make one piece, and then glued those to the open end of the Electronics Box which is now face down.

Tomorrow, I'll grind off the loose edges and tab the front to the main box with fiberglass tape. Once dry I'll cut out the opening to the picture frame front. There will be a locking cover made of plexiglass and I plan to add an inner panel to flush mount a chart plotter, VHF Radio, and Stereo. The stereo speakers will face down. The Plexiglass to lock upwards when operating the boat so that all the instruments will be easy to see.




FYI: In the above photo: That white platform underneath is a porch I built for my camper out of a 14' long pallet and some scrap plywood flooring. This is my docking station for my Bigfoot camper when I'm home. People think I'm strange preferring to sleep in my camper to the house.

Back to the discussion of Nida-Core:

Overall it is pretty light. I considered using carbon fiber tape to make it lighter but that cost did not seem to be justified. I'll weigh it when done. I can easily pick it up with one hand. For the same strength in plywood, I'd need to use thicker material.

It is plenty strong. I could have used thinner material for this Ebox but 1/2" seemed about right for the main project which is the hardtop I'm building next. I actually wanted to go a bit thicker on the hard top like 3/4" but that would have been too thick for the E-Box. If I need more strength on the hardtop I'll glass in some ribs to make it stronger. The hard top will have some curvature to it, so that will add to its strength also. I plan to reinforce the outside edge of the hard top with something like White Oak.

I estimate I have a few more days to finish this. I hope to start painting by Monday.
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:16 PM   #2
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This product is used extensively all over the shells of the Oliver and has been since the original 2008 models. It is the reason that two men can walk around on the top without fear of damage.
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:53 AM   #3
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Nice work Conrad, and thanks for sharing this information.
Dave & Paula
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Old 05-24-2015, 01:01 AM   #4
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Looking good Conrad
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:50 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Night Sailor View Post
Hello everyone, I've been busy this year. Tammie spotted me in Alabama heading south and just missed catching me. I spent a month driving south to the Keys and visiting family along the way. I whelped a litter of puppies in Feb and March, and then did a yacht delivery to the Caribbean in April.

Now that I'm back, I've been restoring a 20' center console. I just finished rewiring it. One reason I bought this boat was the T-Top frame. These cost about $1500, and I got the boat for less than that. I wanted protection from the sun, and I also saw that it had space for an Electronics Box (E-Box) under the hardtop. I could not find any that suited me, so I decided to build one. My chief goal was to keep it very light.

What you mod'ers might be interested in, is a new material I've been trying; I like it a lot. It's called Nida-Core, a honeycomb sandwich between two layers of fiberglass. The thickness of the honeycomb determines the strength of the structure. I'm using 1/2" thick, but 1" thick is something you could stand on. It makes the best sense for walls. It weights less than plywood and can be substituted for it. I can see someone making a new Egg interior out of this stuff. I can see making an entire camper out of it. When I get around to rebuilding my other camper, I plan to use a lot of it.

My project is two phases. The first is building an Electronics Box for the T-Top of my new boat. Next I'll be building a hardtop for the same boat. All out of one sheet of this stuff.

First, I ground off all the gel coat. I think you can get this without the gelcoat. Or you can get it with two thin layers of plywood-ready to varnish or paint. Grinding off the gel-coat was a PITA, but it left me with bare fiberglass, ready to tab together. Bare glass, particularly glass that is roughed up, give a strong bond.

I cut the panels on a table saw and taped them together with 6" shrink-wrap tape to hold it in position while I tabbed the inside joints together.

I used a filet on the inside corners to make a round radius, followed by a layer of 2" tape and then a layer of 4" fiberglass tape on top of that. This was probably overkill. One layer of 4" tape on the inside was plenty.

I repeated the same on the outside where two layers is not overkill. Fiberglass is strong under tension and the outside corners are where the loads are. Two corners I needed to shave down as the T-Top frame tapered some, and I used two layers of wider "glass cloth" for those spots. You can see that in the photos as this shaved down area exposed the hexagonal cells.

Here are a couple of pictures.

View of the whole boat to give perspective. Shows my temporary shrink wrap cover on top.


Project Rough Plan:


Box built 5 sides and test fitting it on the boat. This is looking forward from the helm station.



View from forward looking aft. I included this picture because you can see through the fiberglass to the honeycomb core. The honeycomb is a plastic like material. I don't think it would rot. If you do want to use compression fastners like nuts and bolts, you much first drill into each cell and fill with epoxy, otherwise a nut and bolt could crush the material. The white spots on the surface is a bit of gelcoat I missed grinding off.


Close up of the corners I shaved down. Shows the structure better.



Here it is a bit farther along. The extreme left edge shows the section where I had to grind off the top layer of fiberglass to make this fit. The lighter material you see through the fiberglass is the core I exposed.




I just finished making a picture frame front. (Mostly hidden by the box on top) I ran out of material and tabbed three pieces together to make one piece, and then glued those to the open end of the Electronics Box which is now face down.

Tomorrow, I'll grind off the loose edges and tab the front to the main box with fiberglass tape. Once dry I'll cut out the opening to the picture frame front. There will be a locking cover made of plexiglass and I plan to add an inner panel to flush mount a chart plotter, VHF Radio, and Stereo. The stereo speakers will face down. The Plexiglass to lock upwards when operating the boat so that all the instruments will be easy to see.




FYI: In the above photo: That white platform underneath is a porch I built for my camper out of a 14' long pallet and some scrap plywood flooring. This is my docking station for my Bigfoot camper when I'm home. People think I'm strange preferring to sleep in my camper to the house.

Back to the discussion of Nida-Core:

Overall it is pretty light. I considered using carbon fiber tape to make it lighter but that cost did not seem to be justified. I'll weigh it when done. I can easily pick it up with one hand. For the same strength in plywood, I'd need to use thicker material.

It is plenty strong. I could have used thinner material for this Ebox but 1/2" seemed about right for the main project which is the hardtop I'm building next. I actually wanted to go a bit thicker on the hard top like 3/4" but that would have been too thick for the E-Box. If I need more strength on the hardtop I'll glass in some ribs to make it stronger. The hard top will have some curvature to it, so that will add to its strength also. I plan to reinforce the outside edge of the hard top with something like White Oak.

I estimate I have a few more days to finish this. I hope to start painting by Monday.
This is what we use on the HC1 floor, extremely strong and durable
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Outlaw View Post
This product is used extensively all over the shells of the Oliver and has been since the original 2008 models. It is the reason that two men can walk around on the top without fear of damage.

What do they use, the 1" thick material? If you arch this stuff it is even stronger. I didn't want to take the time to make a mold.

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Old 05-24-2015, 08:03 PM   #7
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T[ATTACH]84376[/ATTACH


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Old 05-24-2015, 08:07 PM   #8
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I have the front nearly done. I built it up more than it needed to be so I can buzz it flat with a grinder tomorrow.

The best part. It weighs only 9 lbs. I'll be removing some more material but it will gain weight with speakers, plexiglass front cover, gas strut and electronics.


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Old 05-24-2015, 08:12 PM   #9
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Nida Core sounds like a synthetic equivalent of Balsa core- would you say that is true?
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:34 PM   #10
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It is lighter. There was a product call Nomex that was even lighter. Balsa is a great product also. It serves the same purpose. Like Nida-Core, the Balsa can't handle high compression loads, so you drill it out and fill with thickened epoxy for compression strength.

Balsa has great bonding--the end grain absorbs just the right amount of epoxy to bond really well. It fail when water gets into the core and freezes. I recore nearly the entire deck of one boat because of this. The boat sat outside for 18 years of winters.
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:34 PM   #11
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R[ATTACH]84382[/ATTACH


OK, so I grabbed one frame out of a video for this picture. It was an odd opening so I had to put a lot of strips of fiberglass tape to cover everything. I'll be grinding a good bit of this off. The corners didn't wrap well, so what I've been doing for those, is filling any gaps with epoxy thickened with glass fibers. I load it on as it is easy to grind off and if there is not enough, then I have to build it up and and grind once more.

I'll be using a dremel tool and sanding drums to clean up the inside. As careful as I was, a few pieces of filler and tape are sticking out. I want the inside to be as smooth as possible.

After that I'll be using a fairing knife (plastic squeegy) to apply a very light filler that is easy to sand. It looks like peanut butter, and sands off with a palm sander. Mostly I want the sides, front and bottom to look good as these are the visible area. The inside I want smooth enough that I won't cut my hand if I'm reaching inside to work.

I have a spade type fuse panel going in also.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:25 PM   #12
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Why, when a post has 11 paragraphs and 7 photos, do people have to quote and repeat it I would like to know?
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:49 AM   #13
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This Nida-Core product looks like what I am looking for. I need to replace floor in camper. Where did you purchase product and is it expensive? Nice article.
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:54 AM   #14
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This sounds like a very interesting material and looks like a staple in the marine industry.
Just google Nida-Core. Check here.
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