Fiberglass

Cafe Racer Seat – Part Deux

It’s really like.. part 8.. or something.. isn’t it?

Anyway, after all has dried and sat up for a bit, I pulled it off and started the trimming.

I pretty much just sat the nasty seat on the frame and drew where I needed to trim with a marker. Then I took a Dremel to it. If you do this, definitely go with the nicer trimming wheel instead of those tiny ones that explode after a minute or two. Also.. wear eye protection and a respirator. So much nasty stuff is about to be flying that you just don’t want in you.

Here’s the seat all trimmed up.

The guy doing my tank fab dropped the tank by so I could see it all together.

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Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Making A Cafe Racer Seat

I fiddled with the tailpiece in the past, but in the end, it just didn’t fit right, so I went ahead and made one from scratch. This is not a super complicated process, just time consuming. Also it’s dirty. And not the fun kind.

I started off by cutting out some cardboard to fill in the gap of the subframe. This should add some support for when we lay the glass down the road.

Next I laid up a bunch of floral foam blocks where the tail piece would be. I glued these together with spray adhesive… which only barely works as this stuff is too dusty. I Also made a cardboard stencil of the shape of the tailpiece.

Then you can just start carving the shape with a knife. The floral foam is really easy to slice.

Once I get it down to the right shape, I go back with a razor and smooth the thing down real nice and sexy. This was actually Kate’s idea.

When you’re done, you should have a nice looking tail shape. Don’t pay any attention to the junk all over the place. We just moved into this house and the garage became the place everything got dumped until we find it’s new home (which will most likely be the trash can).

So now that you’ve inhaled a few pounds of green dust particles it’s time to bring out the big guns and get to the toxic fumes.

Take some of that aluminum duct tape and cover the area to be fiberglassed. That means the subframe from side to side (across the gap that you cardboarded over) and the newly fashioned bum stop. You’re going to want to use smaller strips for the round part of the tail so it will lay flatter. Once it all looks like a baked potato, use car wax to slick up the surface. This will act as a releasing agent (sorta).

This next part is best done with two people. Skyler was kind enough to give me a hand. Pre-cut your fiberglass into strips. You don’t want to lay giant pieces down as it won’t lay completely flat. Prepare a cup of acetone and your fiberglass resin. Using a paintbrush, apply the resin to the aluminum tape in one area and then lay a strip of fiberglass on top. Then use the paintbrush to push it down flat and soak more resin in.

Once you’ve covered the whole thing, you can use fiberglass cloth (it’s more smooth and delicious than the chop stuff) as a final layer to smooth it all out. Alternatively, you could probably just build the whole thing out of this, but I haven’t tried that.

After this I leave it to dry, and usually don’t touch it for at least 24 hours.

As you can see, it has some imperfections. But these will be sanded/bondo’d/cursed out.

So that’s where I’m at RIGHT NOW. I’ll update this post when I get in there and trim it, etc…

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Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Fiberglass Cafe Tailpiece

[UPDATE] This post is a little out of date and doesn’t as much apply to my project anymore. To learn to create your won cafe racer seat / tailpiece, check out: www.cafematty.com/making-a-cafe-racer-seat

Probably one of the most significant and most distinguishing pieces of the cafe racer is it’s seat and tailpiece. I mention quite often that the bike was in rough shape when i bought it. There were quite a few things that were frankenlopped on there. There was one thing on the bike that I quite liked and that was the old tailpiece. Best I can tell, someone cut a sportster tank in half, and welded it to the subframe. It had a little reshaping as well. This look was actually the model for what I want to do with the gas tank. I’ll get more into that later on, but for now, I’m working on a few ideas with that tailpiece. Fiberglass Style.

I had the shop that fixed my subframe up cut that tailpiece off.

I started out just like I did when I created my seat pan. I covered the tailpiece with metal duct tape.

Next I threw on a few coats of wax. This will (hopefully) keep the resin from sticking to the tailpiece.

I cut up some fiberglass strips. Little tip here. Keep them small. That’s the only way you’ll get a good smooth coverage.

Apply resin. Apply fiberglass. Repeat. For the final step I used the nicer mesh cloth. This is more of a softer nylon mesh that goes over the top and smooths it all out.

Let it sit for like 24-36 hours. Then slide (read: twist, bend, pull, torch, pry, swear, and spike) the newly-formed fiberglass creation from it’s host.

And there you have it! I’ll post more about the tailpiece later, as I want to try a few things first.

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Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Staple Bones

So today I worked on getting a wooden frame built into the bottom of the seat that I will be able to staple to when it comes time to cover it. I started out by measuring out the sticks to fit around the frame of the bike. These are giant paint stirrers from Wal-Mart btw. They were like 30 cents each, and worked well for what I was trying to do.

I taped the pieces to the seat and checked to make sure it fit on the frame properly without rubbing against the wood. I only had to move one of them a fraction of an inch.

After that I went ahead and bolted them to the seat pan. And stood back to admire my handy work.

While I was out at Lowe’s grabbing the bolts for this stage, I also picked up these nifty little plastic wing nut things to mount the seat to to the frame. I figured this would be good for quick removal of the seat without tools should the need arise.

After that I marked the edge of the seat pan with a marker and went to trimming with my trusty angle grinder. The finished product was a clean edged seat pan. Complete with hump, mounting hardware, and a frame for the staples.

It’s not looking too bad. I mean…. It’s not perfect… But I’ve never done this before, so I’m cutting myself some slack. And you should too. Also you should go get an angle grinder.

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Saturday, May 29th, 2010 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

Don’t Breathe the Resin

So today I made my first attempt at a seat pan. We will see how it turns out. How did i do it you ask? I started with a few simple ingredients.

I started out by taping the area down with painter’s tape.

Then I covered the tape with aluminum duct tape. Like.. REAL duct tape.

I then covered this with a few coats of turtle wax, letting it dry between coats. Finally I threw a layer of fiberglass resin on there and starting laying down fiberglass mat.

I would apply a thin layer of resin and then lay mat over it, building up the layers.

The final layer was a fiberglass cloth, which should give it a little extra strength.

So that’s just going to cure over night. The good news is, the whole setup wasn’t too expensive and it’s not hard to do. Couple of pointers:
- Do this in a well-ventilated area.
- Wear gloves, glasses, and maybe even a little mask to keep some of the fumes out.
- Once you mix the resin with the hardener, keep stirring! It will harden really fast!
- You will notice the resin gets really hot as it hardens. This isn’t really a pointer. Just a noteworthy observation.

Hopefully all I will need to do is trim it and throw some mounting hardware on there and get it to an upholstery shop to get it foamed and covered.

One other thing. I did notice as I was prepping that the rear cowl wasn’t really even. I really like this part of the bike. It looks like an old sportster tank that’s been chopped and welded on. I say welded. I don’t know what else to call it at the moment. You’ll see what I mean in a second. There are a few problems with this thing. For one.. It isn’t straight. Its like the guy didn’t even try to get it on there right. I feel like he cut the piece that covers the hole uneven and just slapped it on. Secondly. The thing is welded to the bike frame. And the welds are ugly. So… I’m going to have to cut it off.. Grind off the old welds and then RE-mount the thing. But properly. So I grabbed a saw and started cutting at that crooked plate so I could straighten the thing out. I then realized I could just bend the plate right off. Thanks to the worst welding I’ve ever seen. Here’s a shot of those sweet welds in action.

So once I ripped that plate off, I was able to straighten it properly and prep it for the seat pan construction. Now I give this guy crap on his welds, but I did like where he was going. I never really considered ripping that old Harley tank off the back of the bike and putting some spiffy fiberglass cafe racer seat setup on there. As a matter of fact. the shape of the tail piece with its side dents was the inspiration for the tank’s shape. I’m excited to get it all done.

Ok. It’s late. Need sleep. Thanks go out to Jon and Kate for their help and moral support today. Goodnight all.

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Friday, May 28th, 2010 BMW Cafe Racer No Comments

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