The ultimate fix for graphics bubbling problems (maybe)

24 replies to this topic
  • whalerboy

Posted November 14, 2006 - 07:57 AM


After years of watching graphics shrivel up like my sack on a cold winter morning, I finally deceided to do something about it!!

A few months ago I was looking at getting an aluminum tank. This would have done the trick, but at $500, I just couldn't pull the trigger.

Then I searched in vein for some of those Hot Tops tank covers. None were to be found.

Then someone suggested making a shell out of fiberglass cloth and painting it. Well I took it one step further and made a shell out of carbon fiber. The theory being that the gas vapors will come throught the tanks, and escape between the two layers, keeping your graphics on the carbon fiber unharmed!

At this point, many of you probably think I'm retarded for doing all of this on a dirtbike, but this bike has seen it's last days in the dirt and is now my street legal supermoto. If I go down on the street, the LAST thing I'm gonna worry about is my carbon fiber tank shell and my graphics!!

I got the black and blue carbon fiber/kevlar off ebay. I bought 3 times what I needed, so I'd have some left over to make other bling bling parts with, and in case I screwed up. Cost $90.

I bought some resin (ebay $40), and some plastic squegees and brushes at the local Lowes.

First, attempt was to vaccum bag it READ ABOUT THAT HERE.
That didn't work as the bad got a small hole in it, and leaked slowly...glad I bought extra!!

I decieded to lay it up by hand.

First, I used an old bed sheet to figure out the shape I wanted. Reinforcing with tape on the cut lines, I cut out my carbon fiber with a good sharp rotary cutter.
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Then I layed that on the tank. I mixed up about 4 oz of resin, and wet down the top and down the sides using a paintbrush. Be sure to push into the CF so the resin soaks through. I didn't do it all at this point. Just the parts that I could get to lay flat on the original tank.

After that area hardened, I wraped the CF around a few more of the curves and applied more resin to those parts. And so on and so forth until the shell was made. It took me about 4 steps to get it all done.

Now, with one coat of resin on, I carefully trimmed the excess carbon fiber I had, and around the holes for the shrouds. Be sure when your wetting out the CF to go a little past where you want to trim. CF with a little resin in it cuts a lot better than just plain CF. It will pull and distort otherwise.

At this point it's tme to start applying a few more coats of resin, for strength. If you are using a laminating resin, you can recoat at will. A normal resin will require a light sanding before the next coat. Be careful not to nick the fibers!

After all the coats are done (I did 5), it's time to sand, wet sand, and rub out like you would if your were doing body work.

Then, a few coats of glossy enamel, a quick rub down and your done!!

Some of these pics are before I was completely done rubbing everything out...I just got so damn excited!!!
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Now I'm wondering if I want to cover all that up with graphics or just leave it be....hummmmm.

  • whalerboy

Posted November 14, 2006 - 08:00 AM


Oh, and I'm making some carbon fiber fork guards to match!!

I used my wife's food saver vaccum bagging thinghy to mold them.

I used a mold release wax, and some relese film and a breather to get all to come out right. Still not done yet though...

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  • whalerboy

Posted November 14, 2006 - 08:07 AM


For what it's worth, here is a pic of the graphics I'm thinking about putting on the bike. My brother is designing them for me.

What does everybody think? Graphics on tank and shroud, or shroud only?
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  • red_rider_elsinore

Posted November 14, 2006 - 08:40 AM


Looks awesome. I like your graphics, looks like WWII airplane's graphics. How hard was it to mold the carbon fiber?

  • 6fiddy

Posted November 14, 2006 - 08:58 AM


Well Done!

I think your sharing of your ideas and photos are what this site is all about. We need more guys like you who share and illustrate. I know it takes some time to post all that and I just want you to know that its appreciated!
:cheers: Rock on with your hard-on! ...Dr.Evil

  • Dustin_Mabro

Posted November 14, 2006 - 09:46 AM


that looks nice, i'm envious

  • Fastest1

Posted November 14, 2006 - 10:17 AM


You are going to put graphics over that! Are you crazy? Maybe a Yamaha sticker and that would be it. It looks great! You are making me want to try it.

  • whalerboy

Posted November 14, 2006 - 10:31 AM


How hard was it to mold the carbon fiber?

It wasn't as hard as it was time consuming. Took me about 4 nights before I had the whole thing coated.

The important thing is to not rely on the resin to hold it to the tank. It's sticky, but you'd hate to form it on there, go to bed, and come out in the morning to find that it drooped down.

Like I said, step 1 was wetting out around the fuel fill, and along the sides, where it layed naturally. I used duct tape to hold it tight to the tank. (Only put the tape on a spot that you'll be trimming off!!)

Let that dry overnight, then wrapped the CF around the bottom and tape, wet out.

Next night, wrapped it around the front, near the mounts, tape, wet, dry....

last night it did all the other remaining areas. Near the Rad fill cap and such.

Wasn't out in the garage more than an hour each night, but I had to let it dry before moving on.

Just like doing body work, take your time and you'll be fine. Hurry and you'll be screwed!!!

  • RCannon

Posted November 14, 2006 - 03:08 PM


Screw the graphics.

I am impressed. I REALLY wish you were my next door neighbor. I would take care of your lawn for an entire summer if you made me a tank cover.

If you ever make a cover for a yz 250 two stroke, I believe I know someone who would buy it.

If I could understand the gas guage thing, I would fill you up.

  • warrior86

Posted November 14, 2006 - 03:31 PM


that is awesome man. It looks badass and i give you a lot of credit for even attempting it. Like said ^ , this is what forums are all about!!!

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  • grayracer513

Posted November 14, 2006 - 03:38 PM


For what it's worth, here is a pic of the graphics I'm thinking about putting on the bike. My brother is designing them for me.

What does everybody think? Graphics on tank and shroud, or shroud only?
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Now you're talking! :cheers: :p

(Shroud only, leave the CF show)

  • kylwk1500

Posted November 14, 2006 - 03:40 PM


wow that is awsome. I sure could have used that on my old 400. I hated what always happened to my tank decals

  • Chrome Speedo

Posted November 14, 2006 - 07:02 PM


Holy crap that looks good. No one can argue, very nice job. I might have to give that a shot.

  • BergArabia

Posted November 15, 2006 - 08:29 AM


very sweet... no need for graphics....


Posted November 15, 2006 - 06:02 PM


That tank looks sick... There is no way I would cover it up with graphics... Show it off be proud...

  • whalerboy

Posted December 26, 2006 - 07:22 PM


Just thought I'd drop you all a quick line and let you know how my job was holding up....

I've rode it about five times, and have had a 1/2 tank of gas in there with the cap on tight. So far, it looks like this idea is just crazy enough to work!!

No change in the carbon fiber. No rippling, no bubbling, no anything!!!

woo hoo!!!!

  • torqueme

Posted December 26, 2006 - 10:53 PM


Nice job & thanks for the illustrated explanation. i already have 6 or is it 8 half completed projects in my i don't think i'll add this to my list. looks great, shroud gaphics only-don't you cover up all that beautiful hard work.

  • kevin nichols

Posted December 27, 2006 - 11:25 AM


That is really cool!!!!

  • 30-A rider

Posted December 27, 2006 - 02:55 PM


I applaud your craftsmanship! Stellar job!

Leave the tank alone, it looks too damn good to put anything else on it. Next, for me if it was my bike would be to go one stap farther and cover those aluminum frame guards by the pegs in carbon fiber if you have enough left over. The tank, the fork legs guards and those frame protectors all in carbon fiber will look killer!

  • Twig323

Posted December 28, 2006 - 08:39 PM


Your add is inspirational I plan on learning and working with CF for my senior project Thanks should be a interesting task : )

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