Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Building a Suitcase

To try and transport our folding bikes to the other side of the world I decided to build a fiberglass suitcase for each of them. Another reason is that I have never worked with fiberglass and it is something I wanted to learn. It would have cheaper and easier to buy cheap rolling suitcases but the bikes were to wide. I bought some inline skates from the thrift store to use as the roller wheels and I found an aluminum rod to use for the extending handle. The fiberglass cloth was some thick remnants i bought from eBay. Trying to make the rolling luggage might have been a bit much for my first time and I should have stick with just the basic box.
The way I did it was I got large pieces of cardboard from the bike store and used a glue gun to glue them to the shape I wanted. It is harder than it sounds because there can not be any 90 degree angles so everything has to have soft edges. Once it is formed, then just cover both sides of the cardboard with fiberglass. It worked great but I should have made one big box and cut it in half because the cardboard wet with resin deforms a little. It was hot in my garage so everything cured quickly and I still have not figured out the answer to the riddle of how to get the cloth to stick to the suitcase when my gloves are more sticky. The next mistake was to try to cover the paint job with another coat of resin. The two chemicals did not mix well and I ended up using a heat gun to cure the resin because the catalyst was not doing anything. The finished product looks like a beginner job but I learned from my mistakes and won’t make them again so I am satisfied; not to mention that the end product is sturdy enough to stand on.

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