Carbon Fibre - Pre Construction Advice Please!

I am about to build my first board and the more I look into it, the more daunting it seems, however, nothing ventured and all that!

As I am 6ft tall and weigh 12 stone, I have gone for a 7ft4 mini mal foam blank, however, I want a short board pointed nose and a slightly square tail.  I am getting the blank (along with all the other required accessories) from Home Blown who have been really helpful and will do the shaping including the Mid 50/50 shaping of the rails.

Here’s the kicker tho.  I am using carbon fibre to cover the foam as a friend makes parts for F1 cars, olympic rowing boats and racing boats.  Off the shelf carbon boards are upwards of £900 and I can do it all for a maximum of £500.  I think £500 for a carbon custom is a bargain!

As I said, I am extremely daunted by the prospect of spending £500 and the board being a dud.  Are there any gems of information you could share with me before I set off on this journey - something you wish you knew befiore you started.

I welcome and massively appreciate any comments suggestions!

Thank you!

you must vent the board, carbon black will absorb heat and it will pop unless vented.

I made one and still have it ,carbon fiber bottom and veneer deck, beutifull board and works killer,. but not to be left in the sun

are you planning on doing the entire lamination in carbon or just carbon rails?

my experience with carbon/kevlar is that you need really good sheers, really good patience and a couple extra hands to help get that layup done cleanly (especially for a beginner)

the thickness and (un)sandability of carbon will make for some difficult finish work.

don’t mean to be a bummer…but you may want to consider glassing using traditional cloth first to suss out the intricacies…and then go to carbon on your 2nd or 3rd…

this will allow you to get your shaping sorted before compounding things with expensive materials…but of course this sort of hedging may just embolden you to do it anyways…I know that’s how it is for me.

best of luck!

Hi -

I don't know if this is mentioned in any of the discussions to which Mike Daniel linked... a black spray on the foam might prevent white see throughs in the carbon weave.

Carbon is too stiff for being the predominant fiber in the lam, IMO. But if you have pro help/source of fiber and you really want to do it....

Is this a hand-lam or are you going to get your friend to bag it?

check this for some other carbon comments: http://www2.swaylocks.com/forums/carbon-fiber-1988-pics

and another one (more recent board, too) to show that I might have some clue as to these applications: http://www2.swaylocks.com/node/1025564

Hi Ken,

Thank you for responding.  When you say ‘vent the board’ what do you mean?  Can the internal heat of a black board really cause it to pop?

How is this venting achieved?

Neil

 

those sound like pre-preg applications, are you considering using pre-preg and an autoclave??

 

please do post your progress pictures for us to drool over!

Hi Mike!

Cheers for responding!  You are going to have to excuse me but I am very much a newbie to surfing (only been doing it a year) so I am a bit lost with the terminology.  I only decided to make my own board out of carbon because I could do it at just over the cost of a decent pop out / epoxy board.

When you say ‘hand lam’ do you mean hand laminate?  The plan is, once the blank is shaped to apply an epoxy coat to it.  Then a thin dark grey prep cloth it applied to the board and then the carbon weave.  I have a pro applying the carbon as he makes parts for Formula 1 cars and race boats so I know he will do a nice neat and more importantly, even job.  Following this, a couple of coats of epoxy to fully absorb into the weave and then lots of sanding to get a perfect finish.  Then I am going to use a UV Boat Varnish for that ‘glass’ finish!

A lot of people have made the comment that I either need to vent the board OR paint it white to stop it popping, however, the finished look of the carbon is really important.  In the UK we dont really have temperatures high enough to worry about - as you probably know!  Should I still consider venting the board and if so, how do I do this?

My main worry is spending all this time making a board which is useless.  This is why I am getting Homeblown to shape the board to exactly my specs, taking into account my height and weight and the type of surf I normally ride.  It is cheating a bit, but I want to give my first board the best chance.  If I do this again, I may get more adventurous and do the shaping etc etc.

Is there anything about the board design I should really be considering now?  I am going for a 7’4" mini mal with slightly square tail, pointed nose and mid 50/50 rails.  I intend to use FCS Thruster set up of the fins (please excuse me if that sounded like rubbish).  Basically, the best board I have ever ridden and got on really well with was exactly like this design.

Thanks again for your help.  Very much appreciated!

Neil

hi, i made a couple of carbon boards about 6 years ago , one with polyester the other with epoxy , from my own experience other than the looks carbon was/nt worth the effort , 200 gram cloth weighs the same as 200 gram fibre glass so the board will be the same weight over a poly blank , it will still dent the same because of the poly foam under foot ,

you have to think about how you will do your laps other wise it will look awfull ,

i did a cut lap on the deck and pressed the edge into the foam when set and then the deck lam was cut to a taped edge where the tucked edge would be, this was then sanded back to the tucked edge ,

this method produced a clean blend between the top and bottom laminations , pete 

Hello Dave,

Yes, I am using a pre-preg carbon weave, which requires very little heat to complete the hardening process.  I know very little about carbon fibre, so I am being led my my expert friend!

Yes, I will post many pictures - good or bad - throughout the process!

Thanks for your comment!

Neil

Hi Pete!

Interesting you say that about the weight and if I am completely honest, I had sort of figured out that I wasn’t really saving any weight, however, I hoped I was making a more robust board.  In the end, I am lucky enough to have an expert in laying carbon fibre so I know the finished article - laps and all - will look fantastic.  I may never build another so I wanted to go for the best possible look I could.

May main worry is building something unrideable, which is why I have gone for a design I know works for me and Homeblown are shaping it taking into account my height weight etc etc.

How do your boards ride?  Were you pleased with the finished article the first time?  How did you pick your design?

Neil

hi, your board will ride fine, the carbon wou/nt make any difference to the way the board rides, mine were copies of boards i already had and they surfed much the same,

funnily enough the fish board was the first of the two i made and that was a blank from homeblown , i sourced a second quality with small blow holes in it , the carbon covered it all so it was fine,

where about in the uk are you?  i am  close to the main surf supplers so getting stuff is easy for me ,

i originally sourced the carbon to make some parts for my motrbike and then decided to make a board out of it , these were the first boards i had made in about 10 years , it then  rekindled my interest back into making board again , i now make them from wood composites,still a form of carbon i suppose , pete 

Ok, quick update!

Spoken to my Carbon Fibre expert…  We are using a vacuum bad for applying epoxy to both the blank and then carbon weave to give a perfect and even application. 

The Carbon sheet actually cures / hardens in the air (it is kept in a freezer proir to application).  He is confident of creating virtually invisable seam on the rails using a similar process he uses for race car parts - something about overlap and careful sanding?!

The epoxy coat over the carbon weave will be cleaned with a chemical process (I forget the name) to give it an excellent finish negating the need for contuinual sanding.  This will form an excellent base for the UV varnish and give a glass-like finish to the board really showing off the carbon weave.

Does anybody have any suggestions as to when you apply the graphics / decals? - I am guessing before the UV Varnish stage?  Also, where is a good place to get my decal design made into a sticker?  Or where I can source some really nice ‘off the shelf ones’ for the board?

Thanks to everyone for all input, it has been a great help and I am so glad I joined this forum!

Neil

Hi Pete,

That board is stunning!  If mine is half as nice I will be delighted.  That is an interesting fin set up - is that what they call a Bonzer?  I have gone for your basic Tri-Fin / Thruster set up.

I am in Northamptonshire, a good 3.5 hours drive from Polzeath, which is our closest spot for decent surf.  Later in the year Barnstaple gets good surf, but during the summer we head for Cornwall. 

I have managed to source pretty much everything I need via t’internet and a really helpful bloke at West Epoxy pointed me in the right direction as far as resins are concerned - he has built race boat parts and surf boards using carbon and really knows his onions!

Thanks for the feedback!

Neil

Niel,

Is there any particular reason you want to use Carbon fibre for your first board? I know you mentioned that it is available to you but paying £500 is quite a lot when you also place the risk of glassing on yourself! From what i have read CF is quite hard to work with especially for a beginner; the need to vent it only further complicates the process. If you really have your heart set on it then i would suggest you go for it, practice before the main event and take as much from Sways as you can. But before you do can i suggest you think about whether the properties and cost of this CF project fits your requirement? 

What i mean is if you plan on making a few boards, would it not be sensible to do away with the expensive materials and use the money saved to set yourself up with enough standard materials for 3 boards? By doing this you will learn more about board shaping and production, get 3 boards for the price of one (as a beginner you probably wouldn't notice much difference between std and CF anyway).  I am also in the UK and when taking all material and disposable costs into consideration it costs me £155 for the materials for a 7ft Mal. IF you have £500 burning a hole in your pocket you could get enough materials to shape 3 boards and still be left £40 in your pocket to help with set-up costs an tools etc (my setup was £80 approx).

Learning to produce boards form scratch and experiencing the problems all first, 2nd, 3rd and 4th timers do might be something you are trying to avoid at all costs? Maybe you want this first board to be spot on and that is why you are having someone else shape it - to reduce the risk? But if you you will want to learn about shaping and have a go yourself, its time to dive in, 'nothing ventured and all that!'

Hello!

You make many excellent points there and if I am honest, I have probably let this thing run away a bit.  It came about as a result of a conversation with a friend who rents a small unit off us who does CF and Fibreglass work.  Basically, I wanted his advice on repairing a knackered board (as he has dabbled in surfing) and we got around to the conversation about making one and he is really keen to give it a go.  As he is a specialist in CF he suggested I could cover it in CF for £300 materials, however, if he has CF from a job he would use that at no (or very little) cost.  My thinking is:  The blank, epoxy, fins, tools etc etc is gonna be nearly £200.  I would have been prepared to pay £300 - £400 for an off-the-shelf board, so for just £200 more I get a personal, custom, fantastic looking board I will have for life.

I wont actually do any of the CF work; that is his domain and wayyyyy too expensive for me to practice on.  I may never attempt this again, so I am pulling on all resources to make sure this goes right first time, hence me having Homeblown shape the board to my exact requirements and having expert help with epoxy, CF, varnish etc etc.  This is why I joined this forum and I am glad I did as there has been some excellent feedback.

I really do appreciate your comments and yes, it really isn’t anything I haven’t thought but my heart is dead set on it now.  By the way, I am told by Tris at homeblown that foam technology now negates the need for venting CF boards.

Thanks for responding!

Neil

Ps.  Probably need to brush up my surfing a bit more so I dont look like a complete idiot with a flash board! “All the gear, no idea” springs to mind.

Niel,

Sounds like you have all the right people involved and you are good to go! I’m sure it will turn out pretty sweet and you shouldn’t be back and forth to the ding repair shop for a while! Shaping is very fulfilling if you get into it and I kinda started as a way to keep the stoke going whilst I had some knee surgery and was out of the water a while. If you don’t get down to the water too often you may find it helps keep you going! I used to live in Bedford (not too far from you) and keeping the fire alive was a struggle at times, especially after lots of onshore sessions near Cromer! Now I’m in Bristol so gradually making my way further south, soon be in Devon; Cornwall by the time I’m 40! Anyway, good luck and I will keep my eye out for a Carbon mini mal next time I’m down Croyde Way!

Sounds like you are steadily creeping your way down south!  We have a 3.5 hour journey to our nearest surf beach during the summer, Polzeath (actually took 6.5 hours this weekend due to the silly season?!).  In the later months of the year Barnstaple gets some good swell and is only 2 hours away, but until then, it’s the trek to North Cornwall.  One day I might have the resources to move there… dream, dream!

I will, hopefully, one day get into making a surf board properly (and on my own) from scratch, but as you say just to ‘keep the fire alive’ when I cannot surf.

Thanks for your time and yes, if you see a bloke with a CF board not particularly surfing well, come and say hello.  I will post many pictures of the process from start to finish so the board will be recognisable!

Neil

[quote="$1"]

hi, your board will ride fine, the carbon wou/nt make any difference to the way the board rides, mine were copies of boards i already had and they surfed much the same,

funnily enough the fish board was the first of the two i made and that was a blank from homeblown , i sourced a second quality with small blow holes in it , the carbon covered it all so it was fine,

where about in the uk are you?  i am  close to the main surf supplers so getting stuff is easy for me ,

i originally sourced the carbon to make some parts for my motrbike and then decided to make a board out of it , these were the first boards i had made in about 10 years , it then  rekindled my interest back into making board again , i now make them from wood composites,still a form of carbon i suppose , pete 

[/quote]

sweet Bonzer there Peteuk... would like to see more of it. in another thread maybe?

Good luck with your project! I'm not familiar with Homeblown's products, so I'm still unsure as to whether you are using PU or EPS or XPS for core. Keep track of your finished blank weight, weight after bagging skin, and finished weight; then you'll know how much each step added.

Unless you use a LOT of carbon (and yield a heavy board), the board won't be incredibly strong. Carbon by itself is very brittle, surfboards need more ''toughness''. All-carbon is also the stiffest possible structure, desirable in many composite applications but not in surfboards.

But I'm not trying to discourage you, with pro help you'll get a good-looking product that has a ''look'' you obviously desire. And you're in the right climate to show off the carbon, you won't have to paint it white or vent or such (unless the core is low density EPS).