How To Wrap Parts in Carbon Fiber
The How To page is for people who want to get their hands dirty, or are thinking about getting them all greased up.
Just watch, learn and ask. Before you know it, you are building your own beauty’s.
These posts will be a combination of collected information from the web and produced by our own.
In this post of TB Racing shows you how to wrap parts in carbon fiber!
What you need
- 1 – 2 Yds. of Carbon Fiber Cloth
- 1 Qt of Epoxy resin *I used West systems 105*
- 1 pt. of Hardener (catalyst) *West systems 205*
- 3 Brushes of the 1in variety
- Some rags /towels
- Assortment of sand paper grits from 100 – 1000
- 8 or more measuring cups (Paper cups are fine too)
- And some to put the carbon fiber on!
- Block Sander
- Pump kit made by West Systems
- 2-part epoxy clear coat or spray lacquer
- Heat gun or blow dryer
- 1 set of good shears or scissors
- 1 Qt. of aircraft paint stripper.
- 0, 00, 000 Steel wool if you have rust
- Nitrile or latex gloves
- Lamp Black or other black pigment in powder form
- Black rust inhibiting spray paint.
If you are going to strip the tank than continue to step 1
If you are going to just wrap your tank in carbon fiber than skip to step 6
Take you tank off, drain all the gas out of the tank, and remove all the rubber parts along with the gas cap.
Fill a cup up with the paint stripper and start to apply the stripper to your tank. Let the paint stripper sit on the tank for the allotted time as per the directions on the can.
Optionally you can use the heat gun to remove your decals first, however I chose not to and it worked just fine.
Wipe off the paint with a damp rag, when the cloth becomes overwhelmed with paint dip the rag in a bucket of water and clean the rag off. You may need to repeat the paint stripping process a few times; I had to do this three times.
Once you have the majority of the paint off, grab your coarse steel wool and scrub the entire outside of the tank removing any rust, imperfections or paint left over from the stripping process.
See that rust? Get rid of it all!!
Use your Rust inhibitor /reformer spray paint to coat the outside of the tank in a nice even coat. Wait 3 – 5 minutes and apply a second coat wait another 3 – 5 minutes and apply a third coat. Let sit 30 minutes until cured and lightly sand any high spots in your paint being careful not to remove too much paint. If you do you can touch up and sand that spot to match the rest of your tank.
Make sure you follow the following steps closely
The pot life of the West Systems resin 105 /hardener205 is 12 – 15 minutes
Pour the resin into your mixing cup, add the black pigment and mix the two thoroughly but not vigorously to keep the bubbles at a minimum. Once you feel that the resin /pigment have mixed enough add your hardener and stir for approximately one minute. I put in ½ a tsp. of the Black pigment in the resin of 4 pumps of the west systems pump kit. Sorry for not having the exact amounts the pump kit measures it all for you.
No picture, was stirring
Apply the resin to your tank in an even, thin coat. Let it sit until it tacks. You will know when it is ready by touching your finger to the tank and your finger sticks but when you pull away there is no residue on it. This takes approximately 20 minutes.
At this point you are ready to lay your carbon fiber on the tank (I recommend you get an extra set of hands). When you cut your carbon fiber make sure you tape where you are going to cu before you cut. It will reduce the fraying and protect the weave. I found this out late into the game but I have made quite a few things since the tank with the left over CF and it has proven it’s self very well.
Start with the hole for the gas tank and work your way across the top of the tank. Pay attention to your weave because it will distort and if you’re not careful will start to unravel. If you find that you need to cut the Carbon Fiber to make it work around the corner don’t think that you messed up the whole project and your ruined forever!! It’s ok, just make sure to overlap one side over the other and make sure you cut straight!!!
Pour your resin into a mixing cup (if you’re using the pump kit I made a batch of two pumps of each. Than when that batch was done I made another two pump batch. I did this a total of three times to make sure I would have enough time to apply a needed amount of resin) and add the correct amount of hardener. And start to “impregnate” the Carbon Fiber by using the brush do not just pour the resin out of the cup onto the tank. I prefer to dab the resin on than once I have the coat on I will re-brush it to smooth it out, this keeps the weave safe. Make sure that there are no globs of resin and that once again the coat is even and thin. Go grab your heat gun /GF’s blow dryer and give your tank a nice blow over on the lowest heat setting. If you look closely you can see tiny little bubbles rising to the surface and popping and that’s good just don’t overdo it. Let sit for about an hour and then trim the Carbon Fiber up to the tank and cut a cross pattern where your gas cap goes and fold the CF down; trim the excess. Be mindful of the holes to mount your tank, yes you can drill them out once the tank has cured, however you don’t want to mess up the threads if you don’t have to.
Don’t install the gas tank, the only reason I did was to make sure it would still fit. It does…
Go ahead and grab the block sander with 100 grit sand paper and start to sand out the high points, take your time and make sure you don’t sand all the way through the CF. If you have any spots where you had to overlap the CF here is why you made sure you overlapped and made sure to keep the fraying to a minimum, go ahead and sand that point down so its smooth.
I know there is a bucket of water in this photo; you don’t need to wet sand at this point. I used the water to wipe the tank down and keep the dust down.
That’s the same overlap! You will see it but it will look good, trust me and have faith!!
It gets dull and you will doubt that you are doing it right; but don’t fret the beauty is still there it’s just hiding.
Now it’s time to add some layers of epoxy. This will give you that deep professional look and let you sand it completely smooth without biting into the CF. Mix yourself up another batch of epoxy (it took me a total of 4 pumps to cover the tank, make sure you split up the batches to buy yourself some time). Apply the epoxy to the tank via brush. Brush on a thin, even coat and let it come to tack (approx. 15 – 20 minutes), again utilizing your heat gun to get rid of the bubbles.
Once the epoxy has come to tack, apply a second coat on top of the first. Let it tack and apply a third coat; if you choose to do a fourth it is ok. Make sure you are using the heat gun to remove the bubbles. Once you have applied the amount of coats you wish, you will leave the tank to cure
At this point let the tank cure for 24 hours at a minimum not overnight this is what gets your tank its depth!!
These are the last few steps, Take your time and really pay attention to detail here, you are finishing the gas tank now so what you do now can mess the tank up and its a long process to start over.
So here comes the fun part…..sanding! Bust out your handy dandy block sander, some 180 grit sand paper and a bucket of water w/ a tiny bit of soap. Let your sand paper soak in the water for 10 -20 minutes to absorb the water than start sanding your heart out. Sand every inch of the tank, get all the high points out and get it even and smooth. Make sure to use plenty of water and change it out often.
Don’ worry, the beauty is still there, you just have to show it some love.
I don’t have any more photos because my phone corrupted the rest.
Once you have finished sanding with that grit; bump it up to the next grit, around 220. Make sure you change the water every time you change grits. Continue to sand and change grits until you reach 800.
Here is a point where you need to make a decision. Do you want to put a clear coat over the epoxy or do you just want to polish it. Both will give you that mirror shine and the deep luster you’ve come to expect from CF. The clear coat will protect the CF from UV rays, however, polishing it will be cheaper.
I decided to apply the OEM Decals to the tank (to help balance out the CF). To get the OEM look, I applied my decals before the clear coat so that way they would match the OEM tank /color scheme. It will also protect the decals and keep them from fading. It looks good and I highly recommend doing the same thing if you are applying any permanent decals.
If you choose to go the polishing route, continue to wet sand up to 1000 grit.
Once the decals have been applied go ahead and apply the clear coats
I took my tank to a professional shop because I don’t have the set-up or room to apply it correctly
Move onto a rag with polishing compound and rub that tank good, yea real good. repeat the rubbing another time. Once you’ve polished the tank up you have a pretty nice looking tank right? well let’s get it even better grab a buffing compound and buff your tank.
Wax it, stand back and marvel at your master piece.
Here are a few other pieces that I have made using molds.
Building a Cafe Racer Yourself?