Saturday, March 28, 2009

No Pics, But Progress

As the title suggests, I have no pictures to show today, but a lot of progress to report.

First, I finally finished pouring the rubber onto the cape. I just got back from another week out of town on business, and I ran another gallon and a half of silicone onto the thing this afternoon. It's all done. Just need to wait for it to cure, than I can pull out the cape and send it back to its eagerly awaiting owner.

I'm experimenting with some new urethene. The stuff that I used on the yellow belt in my last post was nice, though I don't have a source for a variety of pigments. I only have yellow. So if I want to tint it a little different, or create a totally different color, I'm out of luck. So I tooled around with a batch of stuff that I got from Sil-Pak, and it looks nice. However, I only ordered a sample of red pigment for testing purposes. This means that I have poured up a RED belt. My main purpose here is to experiment with the opacity. So far, it looks really good. It will be cured in about 12 hours, and I will take pictures when I demold.

The last thing I'm experimenting with is thinning out said urethene. I'm going to need to make the stuff really brushable for when I do a layup of the cape, so I mixed up a tiny batch and thinned it out with a random thinning agent I had lying around. Truth is, I cannot remember what I used. Senior moment, right here!!! Either way, it thinned it out very nicely. Now I just need to see if it will cure. My guess is that the stuff could easily retard the curing process, so it might be a dud batch. If it was a work day, I would simply contact the place that sold it to me and ask if they have a thinning agent for it. If it doesn't cure, that's what I will do on monday.

Other than that, not a whole lot going on. Looking forward to tomorrow when all this stuff has set up and I can play around with it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Second Belt Attempt Looks Great.

Tonight I demolded the belt I poured up last night, and it turned out really great. It still has some flaws, but they are the type of things that repeated attempts will surely fix. Most of all, the surface the belt was sitting on was not completely flat, so the goop all built up on one side of the mold, leaving the other side rather anemic. But no big deal at all.

Here's a close up of the buckle. You can probably see some air bubbles, but notice the color and opacity. Opacity is perfect, color is close. Still some work to do on color matching, but I really feel like I've made a huge leap in the right direction.

Here's the full belt. Looks pretty good.

This close up of the strap really reveals how opaque the belt turned out to be. I consider that problem licked. Notice that you cannot see the belt webbing inside at all. Very nice.

So the lessons learned from this are that I need to get some white pigment to lighten it up a bit, I need to make sure the surface beneath the mold is level before pouring, I need to de-gas the urethene before pouring, and I will continue to use a mold release. Oh, and I also need to put some webbing reinforcement into the belt, right around where the faux belt loops will go. The urethene gets very thin right around there, so I'll have to watch it.

Second Belt Attempt

I realized I had some urethene pigment on hand, so I thought I would give the belt mold another try. This time I'm using a different brand of urethene along with the pigment.

Based on how the stuff mixed, I'm much more optimistic about this pour than the last. The color is decent, though not quite right. But most of all, it's really opaque, and that's what I'm after.

I'll check back in tomorrow to see how it turns out.

By the way, that's the cape mold in the top of the picture. It's not done yet, but almost there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

First Pull Out Of The Belt Mold

Good news/bad news on this one.

The good news is that the mold works beautifully. The pull that came out had only ONE air bubble, and it was right where I suspected they might form. Easy to account for in future pulls.

The bad news is that the urethene I'm using isn't quite what I was looking for. It's too translucent. If you look at the edge of the belt, you can CLEARLY see the webbing inside it. That's not good. I have already ordered a different brand of urethene to experiment with, and have contacted a few friends who dabble in this stuff to see what they recommend.

Here's a closeup of the buckle to show how cleanly this sucker is coming out. Looks REALLY good. Of course, the color is off, but I was just experimenting with the pigments on this one, so no sweat. The mold was dirty when I poured this, so there are many surface imperfections, but those will not be present in the final pours.

With my travel schedule kicked into high gear lately, there hasn't been much time for me to continue working on this, but it is not forgotten.

The cape is coming along really nicely, but it's using WAY more rubber than I had anticipated. I had to order TWO MORE gallons just today to finish off the first pour. Yikes!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cape Is Ready For Molding.

Wait, I take that back. There's still one thing I need to do, and that's clean the cape. I'll just use a soft sponge and some water to dab at the parts where some dirt and grime has accumulated. No big deal.

But other than that, the planets have all aligned and this sucker is ready for some rubber. Yes, you read that right.

Speaking of which, just today, my order from Sil-Pak arrived. Two gallons of silicone rubber, and two different catalysts. One will make the stuff brushable, and the other will make it pourable. I've got it all worked out.

I didn't post this the other day, but my resin for the fiberglass showed up the other day also. I didn't order quite enough catalyst, but I have some left over from my last batch, so I should be ok.

The cape has been laying flat on my molding table for the past few days, and it has flattened out pretty nicely. There are still some wrinkles in the fabric, but that's ok. they will transfer to the mold, but I figure once the thing is done, there will be wrinkles in it anyhow, so I doubt it will be easy to differentiate between actual wrinkles, and molded in wrinkles.

And besides, if you can spot them on the final product, I'll award you a no-prize.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cape Table Completed

After another week in Ohio on business, I returned home to get cracking on the cape table. I had to make a quick run to Home Depot to pick up some more wood screws, but it's all done now.

Here's the top surface...

And here's what the underside looks like. I stood it up against the garage wall so that I could sweep out the place before I get down to molding. It will also let me move a couple of things around so that I'll have room to work.

The thing is huge! This is the biggest project-related item I've ever built, and I think it turned out well. There was a blunder on one of the corners, but it shouldn't really matter. It doesn't really need to be structurally sound, it just needs to be flat. I think it is.

Yesterday, I ordered my silicone rubber from sil-pak, and it should be here on Wednesday. If all goes well, I may very well have the mold finished by the end of this week.