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D White 06-13-2012 06:48 PM

You Can Repair Fiberglass
HiÖMy name is Dave and I love FIBERGLASS. I have been working on show quality Corvettes for 35 years and Iím wondering if there is any useful information I have learned in that time that I could pass on to this great forum. We are currently reconfiguring a Uhaul for a client which promises to be quite a build in the steam punk genre. This Uhaul is in remarkably good condition, but requires lots of patching and fiberglass work. It will be a perfect subject for this forum.
First of all, I believe anyone can make a satisfactory fiberglass repair. It doesnít require much for tools, or specialized anything. I will document some work in this thread done with basic understanding. Yes there are other ways, methods, tools etc. I encourage others with differing methods to start a thread with those ideas. The more information, the better. I donít know everything, and use this information at your own risk.
I start off with safety. You MUST ALWAYS use the following safety items as a minimum.
Dust masks
Eye protection
Nitrile gloves or better
Long sleeve shirts or tyvek coveralls
I know there will be lots of reaction to the following statement, but donít waste your money on epoxy. I love epoxy and use lots of it, but you donít need anything but regular old polyester fiberglass resin. I have 35 year old repairs still looking good with it. We use vinlyester resin, for many reasons, but you donít have to and it may be hard for you to get. ďtoolingĒ resin would be a step up also. The problem with epoxy is that is does stick better, but nothing sticks to it except epoxy unless strict procedures are followed. You donít have the time or the money for it, and you donít need it if you follow the following two rules EVERY time
1. YOU ARE WEARING SAFETY EQUIPMENT ARENíT YOU? You must have a clean surface. Before starting a repair, clean all foreign material off with a razor blade then wipe with acetone. You may now start sanding the repair area with at least 80 grit, (40 is even easier). Use a sander, or do it by hand, but sand the heck out of it. It MUST be rough. After sanding, again wipe all dust and debris off with acetone. IF ITíS CLEAN AND ROUGH, IT WILL STICK.
2. SAFELY cut your mat (donít use weave (cloth), your trailer was made with mat. When you are ready, mix your resin according to the directions on the can in a body shop style plastic cup or an grocery store style paper bowl, NOTHING ELSE. No cottage cheese container, yogurt container, pop container, or any other thing. Plasticers from other receptacles can melt into the resin and cause you problems, and you wonít know why. Yes I know other people have done it, but donít you. Paper cereal bowls are cheap and become better after the resin has cured in them. You are now ready to patch, depending on what repair you have. I will start off with small and if it is useful to the forum, weíll move to more complicated. If you have fresh resin and catalyst, mix it correctly and follow the above, it will workÖYOU CAN DO IT!
If I can figure out how to post pictures, we will have specific information in the next few days

Tim Wood 06-13-2012 06:58 PM

Dave, Great stuff and love the tips. Like the one about using paper cereal bowls. Keep um comin.

Bobbie Mayer 06-13-2012 07:13 PM

Yes, good info. My dislike of working with fiberglass comes from the mess so any tips you can give on cleanup and on keeping things clean as you work would be appreciated.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by mat, is that the stuff that looks kind of like underfacing for sewing? I know what weave is; that's what I have used.

Finally, my own advice, inherited from my Dad: don't try to save mixed resin by storing it in your home freezer where your wife has put about twelve chocolate cream pies (which were on sale) as the pies will acquire a resin flavor and the resin will still get hard!

Sheryl 06-13-2012 07:33 PM

Oh, thanks Dave!!! Very helpful already. But I wish I had known not to use the weave as it was kinda hard to work with. One obvious thing I did wrong was left the finish too shiny so I'd like to know for next time--too much resin, or should I have sanded the smoothness down before painting?

D White 06-13-2012 07:43 PM

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Here we have a small hole that we can't get to from the back. Clean with acetone, then grind a dish shape around the holes almost clear through. You need a recessed area to put the new fiberglass into. Use a sander, grinder, wheel on a drill, sandpaper by hand, anything to get a rough depression. Hang some newspaper to protect adjacent surfaces from drips of resin. Cut 3 pieces of mat starting with one slightly smaller than the hole, then one slightly bigger, and then the final one slightly bigger than the depression. YOU"RE BEING SAFE, RIGHT? Either do this repair outside using a dust mask, or wear a respirator. Paint the correctly mixed resin into the hole with a throwaway chip brush (the blond colored throwaways)...don't use anything plastic or foam....put the smallest piece of mat in, wet it thoroughly, then the next bigger, and the next bigger pieces, wetting thoroughly before continuing to the next piece. Stipple (pound the brush tips) the resin untill everything is saturated. Clean up and wait for it to cure....See, easy.

Sandy Christie 06-13-2012 08:03 PM

I can see this is going to be a really useful thread.

Sandy C

RogerDat 06-13-2012 09:11 PM


Originally Posted by Sandy Christie (Post 314702)
I can see this is going to be a really useful thread.

Sandy C

Totally agree!

I always pay attention with respect when I see advice that starts out with an emphasis on the basic safety equipment for the job.

There was a "commandment" often repeated in the plants that if you were going to glue it, paint it or weld it cleanliness is next to godliness.

The other rule learned the hard way is a good job is 70% prep work, 20% careful finish work. The 10% in the middle is just following the instructions.

Appreciate the why of not using plastics too. Always nice to know why, who knows might apply to something else later.

D White 06-13-2012 09:24 PM

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Here we have the vent hole over the stove. We no longer want it there, so time to fill it...I Love will repair and be undetectable. Since this is a Uhaul, the hole goes through both the inside and outside "hulls". We'll do the outside first. We are cutting the inside fiberglass compartments to make cabinet door access where there was none before. Recycling a piece of the now unneeded fiberglass, I tapered the hole to give room for the new glass patch, and screwed a piece of sanded fiberglass in with drywall screws as a backer. I also shimmed it snug, without bulging the outside.

D White 06-13-2012 09:29 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Time now to SAFELY fiberglass. Tape newspaper below the repair. Cut a piece of mat the size of the hole, another a little bigger, and a third bigger yet. Correctly mix up your resin, and paint on the surface. Apply the first piece of mat and saturate and stipple it. Do the same to the remaining 2 pieces of mat. After you are sure all layers of mat are wetted out and stippled tight, allow to dry over night. Good job! Body work comes next

D White 06-13-2012 10:08 PM

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The previous owner had installed (poorly) a non working, oversized heater in the closet by the door, and really beat the fiberglass to death forcing it in. Time to patch the no longer needed hole. First, cut and scrape off the silicone until there is no caulk left on the surface. Use the razor blade on its side to TOTALLY remove. Clean with acetone. Silicone can be sanded in, so don't sand until it's removed.

D White 06-13-2012 10:19 PM

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Grind or sand around the hole on the BACK side. Now tape some wax paper to a scrap piece of plywood bigger than the hole and screw thru the hull with drywall screws to attach it leaving room to fiberglass the gap with 2 inch wide pieces of mat without fiberglassing over the screws. Now screw a waste piece of fiberglass the size of the hole to the plywood. Paint resin and put the 1 layer of 2 inch wide mat over the seams and let dry. Then remove all screws and plywood, and put 2 large layers of mat over the hole and behind the cracked gel cote to reinforce the damaged area. Let dry and we will later do the front. See, easy!!

Marje 06-14-2012 01:53 AM

awesome thread!

CindyL 06-14-2012 08:43 AM

This is absolutely great! It is so simply put that I think even I could do something we discussed doing to our Uhaul. And, here it is with pix!!! The location of the stove cover in the Uhaul VT is dangerous to your health. It sits immediately to the left as you enter the door. If you are not aware while you load and unload, you can raise up and immolate yourself on the very sharp metal edge of the stove cover which we have both done. I thought Kevin was going to need stitches the last time. With all the Uhaul owners converting to fans on this site, and the fact that we cook outside all the time now, it seems a good time to replace it with something else.

And here are the directions:okra:okra:okra !!


Kenny Strong 06-14-2012 10:36 AM

I will add to "to do list"

Spanke 06-14-2012 12:11 PM

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!:cheers

Very useful information!


Sue and Henry 06-14-2012 05:48 PM

Great thread! Very well done. Thank you, I'm following with interest!

D White 06-14-2012 08:58 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Now it's time to do the front of this repair. Sand a ditch with a grinder on the seams to give a place for 2 layers of mat. Safely put the two layers in and allow to dry. You're now ready for bodywork, which will be in another thread. Notice I ground a ditch and put mat in the screw holes. Never just use bondo for holes.

Laura June 06-14-2012 09:02 PM

Waiting for pictures of your U haul

BCDave 06-14-2012 10:02 PM

Wow! GREAT tutorial, good pics, too! You write very well and you teach very well.

And I am learning ! <_<

djtriceflt 06-15-2012 12:38 AM

I am very much appreciating this info, having done many repairs myself, and will
put some of your tips into use...Thanks Indeed for your sharing with us!

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