FSAE 2010 CR – Radiator Intake How-To

July 7, 2010


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Nearly everyone involved in the program works on the car and naturally we all get our own little projects to do. I really want to have experience in composites, so I immediately shotgunned this job when it needed to be done. What I’ve been working on is an intake for the radiator which is placed in one of the side pods. This intake covers most the parts of the radiator not used for cooling and directs the air in to those that do. Naturally the material of choice was carbon fibre.

So I’m doing this little write so that I remember how to do it for future work and for those who are interested in making some small carbon fibre pieces.

I started out with some hard modelling foam, which looked like this:

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I glued 2 blocks together and using a saw and sand paper I got it close to the final shape. I then used body filler to smooth the surface out completely and to ensure that no foam was exposed. After a couple of coats of primer it looked like this:

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You can just lay carbon fibre over the shape if you’ve done a negative of the part you need, but that may be quite hard to do. Instead I made a fibre-glass mould of the shape.

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To ensure that the mould doesn’t stick to the shape, I used a product called Chemlease. It’s some nasty shit. If you’re gonna use it, make sure that you have a few layers of primer and that the foam mould is covered in body filler because it may react with it. A good alternative is some PVA based release agent.

I painted about 3 layers of Chemlease.

To make the fibre-glass mould is pretty simple. Use Epoxy resin and a hardener and simply paint it on the shape, then lay on the fibre and paint more epoxy over it so that it looks nice and wet. One thick layer of fibre-glass was good enough for me:

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I let it dry over night, removed the foam and voila’ you have a mould. You can make sure the mould is perfect by filling out the imperfections with more body filler and sanding.

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I used the roller to roll any air bubbles out.

Then simply repeat the process for the carbon fiber. Chemlease, epoxy, carbon fiber, epoxy and so on. I decided to do 2 layers of carbon fiber.

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Mmmmmh, lovely.

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Dry. Detach.

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Make sure you cover the entire fiber-glass mould with Chemlease and not just the area of the mould you want. Otherwise you’ll have a hard time detaching the excess carbon fiber from the fiber-glass mould, just like I did. That shit is solid.

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Cut, wet sand, polish. Beauty.

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