Preparing the Cabin Walls

In preparation for the removal of the body and final clean-up of the rear half of the chassis I needed to make sure the cabin walls were also ready.  Once I get the body off, and chassis prepared, the cabin walls will go back in permanently with a water tight seal to the chassis.

This means that the existing 1/2″ plywood walls needed to be skinned with some fiberglass.  This is a common technique used in old-school Hot Rodding and boat building.  Using the plywood as the core material gives the structure lots of strength, and then laminating both sides with fiberglass cloth sealed with resin creates a water proof finish.

A quick tip that I find works well when skinning plywood is to cut your fiberglass cloth to size and then use a staple gun to hold it all in-place.  The resin will cover up the staples and simply make them part of the panel.  That way you don’t have to worry about your fiberglass cloth moving around while you are trying to soak it with resin.

The process is pretty simple, but it can be tedious as you wait for the resin to cure.  I usually add a good amount of hardener to my mixture so that it sets up quickly.  First step is to cover one side of the panel and soak it with resin.

Once that side has cured you can trim off all of the excess.  I usually find that a cutting wheel works great to quickly slice off the extra bits.  I also make sure that I let the resin soak into the cloth slightly past the edge of the board so that it cuts better.  Here’s an example of two of the boards after trimming them

Then you repeat the same steps to cover the other side of the panel.  Once everything has cured and the second side has been trimmed you can look for any air bubbles and rough spots.  This is a good time to use the grinder or cutting wheel to grind down any of the bubbles right down to the plywood.

If you’ve done a decent job there shouldn’t be a whole lot of these.  In the picture below you can see where there were some areas where there were some high spots and also where two pieces of cloth overlapped along the edges that I ground down.

Since the majority of my cloth covered the panels without bubbles there was lots of extra strength added.  So for the next step I simply mixed up another batch of resin and coated the edges of the panels as well as any of the areas that I ground back down to the plywood.

For the inside of the speaker boxes and armrest areas I didn’t layer any cloth.  Instead I just coated them with resin to give them a nice hard finish.

While this process will keep you hopping (this took me about 6 hours or so) there’s usually some down-time while you wait for resin to cure between steps.  During these times I decided to spray a few coats of paint onto the speaker fronts and the canopy rails.

I figured I might as well keep things moving instead of basically watching resin cure 🙂

Next I’ll have to grind down any other high spots, drill out the holes and sand the entire surfaces of the panels so that there’s a good scuffed up surface that paint or some other coating will stick to.  One of the crappy things about working with fiberglass is all of the nasty dust.

Always make sure you are wearing the proper breathing protection when grinding/cutting/sanding fiberglass.  As you can see it puts a coating of dust EVERYWHERE!

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