Gaspos Guide to Fiberglass

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nobody mentioned Douglas and Sturgess?
in SF, 730 Bryant st. im sure they're online.
they carry the "smooth-on" brand goops.
more variations on thick,thin,flex,stiff,colored,clear,etc.
everything from laytex hollywood masks to fake stone resins.
every kind of mat, microsphere fillers, chopped fiber, all the gear to use it, and real people behind the counter who actually play with the stuff.
highly recomended, i get heaps of goops from them.
even when i can get it direct online from smooth-on, i try to go to the storefront just to see whats new.

tap plastics, dont get me started,
when _i_ was a kid, there where all kinds of plastic stores.
bending sheet acrylic in the oven, etc.
just like radio-shack and wallymart killed the local tv repair shop, tap killed the local plastics.
theres some sort of monopoly on acrylics and polycarbonates deal that they have for retail.

thank god for Royal Plastics in oakland, they have everything solid plastic you can think of.
most all kinda sheet in stock (HDPE,PET, pellets, blocks, etc etc etc) thats not the stuff tap carries.
if you have a bizness cover, they will sell you the same stuff as tap for _way_ less.
they cant sell the average joe a sheet of lexan to fix his window, which is what tap does.
dont know if they have goops tho.

just so you know, most polyesther resins (aka, "surfboard" resin) use Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) as the catalyst. this is the stuff that bleaches the braincells of surfboard makers and boatbuilders alike.
use in a well ventilated area.
ie, "outside" is not enough.
you need a fan even outside to
blow it away from where you're working.
respirators need to be of the "organic vapor" or better rating, but the burnt-honey-sweet-smell of MEK stays a LONG time (weeeee!!!!!)

trust me, my frontal lobe is totally blonde.
for a headache-for-five-days-after amount of MEK/polyester resin use.

if you've never done goops before,
know that you can "practice" in small amounts first.
_however_, not all goops will scale up in mix size linearly.
some have more or less thermo to their curing, and the heat is non-linear to the mass that is curing.

ie, a small dixie cup might start to get firm in 15 minutes, but a whole pint at the same ratio be a brick in 10 minutes.

two-part resins are way more predictable.
ie, a 50/50 part A/B type goop scales more linearly.
also, anything thicker than a 1/8"-1/4" at a time is kinda difficult with catalyst plastics anyways.
my little buddahs where done in smooth-on crystal-clear (i forget the model#) and are 7" thick at the thickest.
would never have worked in a standard polyester single pour.

if it says "by volume", thats different than "by weight".
and they really mean it. the really really good stuff needs to be under 5% and better under 3% to mixing specs.

what Steamer said about working it green, absolutely.
its a lot easier and cleaner to "pull taffy" with gloves and a boxcutter than to sand that fiber into a bazillion little razor blades. And without a proper surfacing coat, polyesters never really cure completely.

oh, and the most important thing,
plastic resins and goops fit thru holes that don't exist.
you can water check your mold, and still be wrong.
they will find sub-micron pores in your mold and empty their entire contents slowly but completely.
even the mighty duct tape is powerless to poly-resins.
melting wax to seal the mold joints is your friend however.

have fun,
if you learn any trix or good suppliers, please share.

oh, forgot,
polyester resin is cheaper at that homedespot place than tap.
but make sure to get "water clear"
if you want "clear" in any sense of the word.

This bit from Steamer:
Try not to get into a situation that requires extensive sanding; if at all possible do refining of shape while the resin is 'green'; i.e. not entirely hard. In this state you can cut the stuff with a trim knife and abrade it with a Shurform tool with very little resulting dust.
Understand the difference between laminating and surfacing resin too. If at all possible make the acquaintance of a few surfers. Heh.