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Old 04-30-2015, 10:55 PM   #11
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I have a bucket full of various types of foam that I saved. I'll post some pics of that tomorrow. Then I'll try to post some videos of the actual work involved.

I thought of something I forgot to mention earlier: save your fiberglass scraps! Even small scraps only a few inches wide are useful for all kinds of things - repairs, patching holes, doing tiny layups, etc. I've made all kinds of useful things with finger-sized bits, like mounting tabs for things like radios.

You don't need to go crazy with organization. I threw all of mine in a plastic grocery store bag. Just keep dust and oil/grease of any kind FAR from your cloth. If you're spraying WD-40 in the shop, make sure your cloth is covered/protected. That stuff travels really far and will totally ruin a layup.
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Old 05-10-2015, 01:50 AM   #12
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I am wondering if it would be possible to make a fiberglass understorage box 12' 3" long x 30" deep x 30" high. one section would hold a 40 gal/320lb fresh water tank and one section would hold a 400lb battery bank?
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:18 AM   #13
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Cool stuff tankswap.

Thanks for taking the time to share.

Nat
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Old 05-10-2015, 03:40 PM   #14
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Thanks guys. I'm packing to sell my house so I haven't had time to video any demos, but I'll try to do some soon. This is also that time of year for me that, like Nat_ster, I have a million "things I do to make money" all starting at once.

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Originally Posted by Rayzer69 View Post
I am wondering if it would be possible to make a fiberglass understorage box 12' 3" long x 30" deep x 30" high. one section would hold a 40 gal/320lb fresh water tank and one section would hold a 400lb battery bank?
You can definitely do this, but for something that long you may want to think about whether it's cost-effective (and worthwhile) to have the box itself support those items. You can make structural shapes like channels and beams just like you can get with steel - and they do exactly the same thing. The Cozy's front-seat floor pan is just 2-BID (each side) over 1" PVC foam and supports two adults side by side. I'd double the fiberglass to provide some extra crush resistance, but this isn't that hard to set up.

But... batteries need to be serviced so you're going to want to be able to slide them out. That means some type of tray or drawer, which you could mount to the bottom of the bus with a simple frame of bolted angle-iron. You can do the same thing with the water tank, and that doesn't really even need to be serviced so you can just support it with steel straps up to framing members.

Then if you still want a box you can do it just to provide a sealed environment for the above. But now it doesn't need to be structural - it's just a simple shell. That means you can use very thin (cheap) foam and only 2 plies of fiberglass. That would give you a sealed-environment box for much less cost and work (and worry?) than wondering if you got the structure right on your first "go".

If you want to do the structural work with fiberglass (for fun or ...?) I have a different kind of fiberglass that's confusingly called "tape" even though it bears little resemblance to the thin stuff you use to bond two panels together.

I'll post a photo of this later today - the one here in this link sucks, but it's this stuff:

UNIDIRECTIONAL FIBERGLASS TAPE from Aircraft Spruce

This stuff is incredibly thick - I think it's like 1/8" thick (which is very thick for fiberglass) and it's strong as hell. The Cozy main wing spars contain "I" beams made of this stuff. You don't need much - a single layer can be used to make a "strap" that has the same strength as a steel one. A pair of straps made of this will easily support a 400lb water tank.

One drawback to this stuff is you can bend steel, but not this. You need about 1" radius on any corners it has to go over. But... it'll never rust...
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Old 05-10-2015, 04:21 PM   #15
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Thank you very much for replying. Yes, I want to have the understorage enclosed and sealed as I will also have a section for electrical/electronics; inverter/charger, breakers, fuses, as well as sections for personal items that cannot get wet/dirty.

I had thought of building it with steel angle and sheet metal but the cost was very high. I thought fabricating the with fiberglass would be cheaper than steel, in the short term, material cost, and in the long term, increased fuel milage do to being lighter than steel. I plan to have one 12' box on each side between the front and rear wheels and one 8.5' box on each side btween the rear wheels and rear bumper. That would require over 300' of angle at .80/ft. With shipping, that is almost $400.00. Then sheet steel is $100.00/ 4'x8' sheet. It would require at least 10 sheets.

I am starting to think there is no affordable solution to our need for understorage.
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Old 05-10-2015, 05:09 PM   #16
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It depends what you mean by affordable. Fiberglass isn't really the go-to thing to save money over steel - in fact, steel is usually cheaper. Its advantage is being waterproof, rust-proof, etc, and usually lighter for the same strength. IMO that means it's still a good choice for basement storage - but not necessarily for everybody / every case.

My main concern here is you're starting basically with the hardest project - something structural and carrying heavy weight, exposed to "road rash", and HUGE. Steel has the advantage of being simple - you bolt it together, and there it is. With fiberglass, you ideally want to get into it thinking about multiple things you could use it for. I'm not sure you'd be happy just trying to make one huge box and be done.

Doing some math here, $100 for a 4x8 sheet of steel is pretty good. Even with a standard 2-BID layup on each side of a piece of foam, you're going to pay like $70 for the cloth, another $40 for the foam, and like $45 for the epoxy. Now, what you'll get out of it is going to be way stronger and rust-proof compared to steel... but the steel is cheaper.

If it was me, I would separate the STRUCTURAL requirements from the ENVIRONMENTAL ones. Figure out a way to attach the batteries and water tank to your bus, directly. Then if you want a fiberglass box you can build one around all that just as a protective cover, add some service hatches, and you're done. That would be much cheaper than trying to do the whole thing another way. And I bet you'd find that you would only need a fraction as much angle iron if all it was doing was supporting a water tank, rather than the whole basement bin...
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:16 PM   #17
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Thank you so much taskswap for your information and advice. It has helped a lot as far as planning. Separating the structural from the environmental really helped break my paradigm and has given me some ideas.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:50 PM   #18
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Good stuff. Make sure to get the scissors for free. There's always "free with purchase" HF coupons. And they actually last a long time (for me).
Since this isn't as critical as homebuilt airplanes, a cheap(er) source for cloth is Thayercraft and a cheap source for epoxy is USComposite.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:41 AM   #19
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Good points, boojiewoojie. I'm going to keep talking about the materials that I know (mostly 8lb/yd cloths and 3lb foams with higher-grade epoxies) but there is DEFINITELY a lot of room for personal decision making here. If you're clever and are willing to do the math you can save quite a bit of $. You can also save $ by watching for deals and sales online. All of these materials are cheaper in bulk.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:43 AM   #20
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First video promised. I took it with a GoPro so it's very high-res but I should have zoomed in - you may want to watch it full screen right from YT. 1080p is available.

This one is about some of the common foams you can use as substrates.



First video with this camera so pardon the excessive white balance trouble from the open door (and the messy shop)!
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