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Almost done with the “OEM” vent and MMI pieces…

After the first round of clearcoat. It will get two more and then all the little imperfections will be wetsanded and polished out.

Won’t be long now…

“OEM” B8 Vent and MMI trim production – part 2…

We’ve made a bunch of progress on these pieces in the last week or so.

First and foremost, we got the bag system running multiple parts now.  We’ve also made an upgrade to the molds that I’ll detail in a separate post because it is a neat little process.

We’ve also had to deal with stubborn vacuum pumps.  We have a few of them, and none of them like to run at anything less than full vacuum.  Unfortunately, these B8 vent and MMI pieces are made of flimsy plastic and anything over 5psi starts to make the parts contort inward on themselves.  So, we have to run the pumps at about half vacuum (via a pressure valve at the mouth of the vacuum bag).  The pumps get angry about this and spit out oil and smoke.  Previously this meant dealing with a smokey shop when the pump was running, but I fashioned this ghetto exhaust out of PVC tubing to allow the smoke to vent under our bay door.  If you look closely at the bottom of the tubing you can see where a bunch of light yellow oil has collected.

On to the good stuff.  You can see here the fist few pieces out of the bags that have full epoxy on them.  These pieces are a day or so away from being cured enough to be put into our oven.  Once in the oven they’ll be baked for 36 hours or so to improve the strength and complete the cure.  After that, the excess fiber will be trimmed off, they’ll be sanded smooth, and sprayed with several layers of clearcoat.

More pics of these pieces in a few days after they get cleaned up.

“OEM” B8 Vent and MMI trim production – part 1

Got a bunch of these in a little bit ago and have begun production on them. The goal will be to produce these in a 8 harness satin weave (8HS) so that they are similar to the OEM carbon atlas trim found in the B8 S4.

We’re going to be doing these pieces differently than most of our other trim, so the production should be interesting. Most of our pieces are just wet laid by hand, but these will be vacuum assisted layup, possibly with some latex molds.  We want to use a vacuum to help form the fabric to the part because of how complex it is (sometimes when doing it by hand, there would be lifting issues around some of the curves).  The vacuum parts are much more time consuming, but the quality of the part increases considerably.

If you wish to take a look at how we produced these pieces via wet lay, you can check out our earlier posts like these two:

I’ll keep the blog updated as we work our way through production on them over the coming weeks.

We got the vacuum rig built and spent a little bit of time testing it in different conditions and with a few different epoxies. At first we had some problems with leaks and boost (only 2PSI) but once we got it figured out (stronger bags, tighter seals) its running at 20PSI or so.

One of the big setbacks that I’ve still got to try to figure it out is how to keep vacuum once I disengage the pump. I’m not sure if it is possible, but it will speed up production to be able to build a few of these, run the pump and get it tight, then remove the pump and move on to the next rig. As it stands now, I’ll only be able to make one part at a time and will have to keep it running a day or so while each one cures.

I’m also going to try connecting a few different rigs to the pump at once and see if the pump is strong enough to handle multiple pieces at once.

Either way, some of the legit parts will be finishing up over the next week or so.

Here are some pics of the RHD test pieces we were messing around with:

After playing around with the test pieces for a bit, it was time to start a real part with the matching 8HS fabric.

The fabric is taped and cut to fit the part.

I now paint the silver piece black before it is wrapped.  This ensures that there are no silver bits peeking around on the edges, or perhaps where there is a sliver of a gap in the weave of the fabric.

Epoxy is applied to the part.

Part is placed in the vacuum and is instantly molded.

Stay tuned for more…

Finished up the matching vent and MMI pieces

and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

Now I just need to have someone local test fit them and I can start offering them.  I’m going to try to offer them for between $400 and $600, but with cores it is going to be kind of tricky.  I’m going to see about setting up a group buy for the first 10 sets or so to see if we can bring the costs of cores down.

There is a slight drop down between the fabric and the chrome ring.  We beveled the edge to make it look good.  We’re going to try and do a few more things to get it to appear flush, but I’m not certain we can do it.  I don’t want to shave down the original piece too much or it will be too thin and weak.

A note on this MMI piece: The carbon fiber has not been glued down to the housing.  There are several different screen sizes on the MMI unit, and I didn’t want to glue it into this one and then have it not be the same size as the person that will be test fitting.  If you see some major gaps, it is because of this.

Matching B8 vent and MMI pieces clearcoated

Got these pieces clearcoated up today.  I’ll probably wetsand them down a bit and do another few layers of clearcoat because I really want these pieces to look good.

After sanding and before clearcoat.

After the first few coats.

Couple of detail shots on the vent piece.

Few closeups of the MMI piece.

Keep in mind the colors on these photos aren’t 100% accurate.  They have a bit of a pink tone to them because of the lighting in the shop (the fluorescent lights with the skylights are making the colors goofy).  After these firm up a bit I’ll take them out in the sun and get some pictures in natural lighting.

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