Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Kitty Waterer: Phase III

One of the things I wanted to do while I was off work was push the Kitty Waterer project forward to a pre-production prototype.  Something a little more water resistant and finished looking.  Fibreglass is a medium I don't have a lot of experience with but it is definitely something I want to get more familiar with as I see myself doing more fibreglass prototype components at work when I tend to think in sheetmetal terms.  So this was my opportunity to get some practice in.

The first step was to disassemble the old prototype and get a base form together with the old MDF platform and using 1/2" foam to build up the features I needed:

Next came the Bondo.  This was a bit of a disaster.  I thought Bondo worked pretty much like drywall compound.  Lay it on thick and then sand down to a smooth surface.  The thing I didn't realize was that Bondo sets up MUCH faster than drywall compound and it is MUCH harder.  This means you have to work quickly and very smoothly.  My first coat was a disaster.  I spent a lot of time sanding.  Second coat went better.  I should have gone for a third but I'd had enough.  This was the end of the second coat sanding:

It was what it was.  I wasn't going to spend my entire last week fine tuning this thing.  On to the fibreglass!  And that went better than the Bondo.  But not by much.  I ended up with a lot of wrinkles and frayed spots that could have been avoided with a little more planning and cutting the sheets to size.  I also thought two layers would do the job.  I should have gone for five.  Here's the end result:

I was hoping to save the form but the I hadn't really put down any release agent before laying down the fibreglass.  I ended up melting out the foam with acetone.  THAT'S cool.  But the structure is just too flimsy. I'll try mounting the hardware tomorrow but I'm not expecting it to work.  Like I said, I should have gone way thicker or, what I'm likely going to do, leave the MDF base and just wrap the whole thing with fibreglass to waterproof it.

A learning experience to be sure.  Won't likely have another application at home any time soon but I'll know what NOT to do when it comes to trying this at work.

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