Fibreglass!?


“Well!  yes?  No!” Let me start at the beginning.  At one time we did a lot of glass fibre; which by the way is not a true plastic,  but as time went on the plastic welding took over. Until the other week we had a phone call from a gent that had been recommended to us. Now we could not let him down could we and took on the repair of his Austin Montego bumper.  

 I remember now why it faded out, the stink is unbelievable.

After a bit of reasearch to get back up to speed and some investment in materials we completed the job to a very high standard. The customer was very pleased with the result.

Would we do it again? Yes we would.fibreglass

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Tale from the workshop Resteration Plastic.


Some more plastic from the MK3 Honda civic showed up the other day. This time it was a shock guard/ soft mount for the rear spring.  The shapee of it suggests that it is a  weather defector for the mounting bolt too.

The repair its self was not that difficult, There was a slit  about twenty-five mm long. Once we had  given the plastic a good clean without which the welding process will not bond properly it was ready for us to identify which type of plastic it was. The repair went surprisingly well considering how imbedded the dirt was. Good for another two hundred and fifty thousand miles. We still cannot believe that this car has done that much mileage.

Electro Glide.


The world of two-wheel transport is further ahead in the alternative fuel category.  The reason is its a  lighter vehicle to propel than its four-wheel counter part.

 But what I do not understand is the obsession that electric transport has to rely on battery’s that can only be charged with a plug, there by limiting its useability and distance it can travel before recharge. I know this maybe a simple view but why do none of these transport types have the latest solar electric panels as part of their build, to help keep the battery’s topped up. 

A typical drive to work means that you have to sit in standing traffic,  wouldn’t  it be great to think your little electic car is recharging itself  while your waiting in a que!  By doing this you have already extended the distance it can travel and with traffic volumes set to increase we are going to spend more and more time standing still.

The rise of plastic welding.


Free_hand_weldingGas welding for plastic has been around for decades.  The Swiss company’s introduction of  a hot air gun  that had a very exact temperature control made it possible to use this method  for fabrication and  plastic  repair.

It was not until the release of Ford Escort MK4, Austin’s Maestro, Montego and the Rover 800 series ( These sites have pictures and histories www.maestro.org.uk and for the Rover www.aronline.co.uk ) and other makes along these lines, that a good reliable way of repairing flexible materials  needed to be  found. The traditional method of  the  fiberglass patches behind the damaged area as support  had to change.

It did not take long for the Insurance companies to realize that they could not sustain the replacement costs of all these bumpers. The type of plastic used in the Austin and Rover ranges would not take much of a knock before it shattered. The insurance lab’s at Thatchem ( www.thatchem.co.uk ) had to find a way to cut costs.

Two pack urathane repair material.

Two pack urathane repair material.

It did not take long for two systems to come to the fore; two pack polyurethane and plastic welding. The two pack procedure still required with some repairs, a patch behind it, this limits it to the smaller repair. As to the welding, it can cope with the full gamut of damage from a small crack to broken pieces. It became clear that this was the way to go.

At this point I must point out that flexible materials  fall into two categories:- thermoplastic the injection molded type that  repair by gas welding and the other is thermo-set; this is where two chemicals added together  form a solid like two pack polyurethane and glass reinforced plastic (GRP).

Badly broken nose cone  Plastic welding can rebuild this nose cone where glue cannot

Badly broken nose cone Plastic welding can rebuild this nose cone where glue cannot

Plastic welding has come a long way since the early days. The Institute of  the Motor Industry recognise it as a valid repair for plastic parts and has become part of the body repair apprenticeship. It  only takes a few hours to learn the basics of plastic welding but it is a skill that takes some time to perfect, more so when it comes to broken and missing pieces.

The motor industry is introducing more and more plastic into its products, part of the reason is to cut costs, another to make vehicles lighter meaning they will go further on a tank of fuel and in the current climate of higher energy costs this is a good thing. But where will it stop? In the future the plan is to have the vehicle made of plastic right down to the wheel rims.  I know we already have GRP cars like TVR ( www.tvr-car-club.co.uk ) but I’m talking about thermoplastic cars that go beyond the Renault Espace (www.matrasport.dk ). It is possible that in the future, the engines that propel these cars could be made of plastic but that will depend on fossil fuels still being used.

Plastic in the cold


Welcome to a freezing start to the new year.
 
This weather has implications for automotive plastic ( farings, bumpers, etc,etc ). Plastic looses its elastic properties when the temperature drops making it hard and brittle but this does depend on the plastic material used.
 
There are two main categories of plastic hard and soft. Hard plastics like ABS  used  in motor bike farings, can become very brittle and break easily. Soft materials like Polyprop , being more flexible , will not crack so easily but will show signs of stress in the cold.
 
With the weather as cold as it is, it means that any damage your plastic receives will be twice as bad. So take a bit more care around that bike stored in the garage.