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Can fibreglass panels be reshaped? 
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Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:11 pm
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Post Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
I trial fitted the engine cover/boot lid on my Rossa for the first time today and the fit is a bit iffy, to say the least, probably the worst panel on the car :( Most of it I can deal with one way or another but the biggest problem is that the wheel arches stick out about 15mm from the rest of the car. The front edge of the lid has also lost its curvature and is straight rather than following the curve of the rear bulkhead - for all the world it looks as if the lid has been stored on the floor with other items on top of it and that has flattened it which has resulted in the arches being pushed out. Is it possible to heat the panel up with a heat gun and try to get some of the shape back or will this just result in cracking it? I read somewhere that it depends on the type of resin used, apparently polyester can be reshaped while epoxy can't but I haven't a clue what GTM used anyway! Has anybody tried this and what happened?

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Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:12 pm
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:44 am
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Location: Chester le Street
Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
Yes they can.

I very much doubt that the panel you have will be epoxy resin. It's 99% certain to be polyester.

You need to work out a method of clamping the panel in it's correct shape. In fact you need to exaggerate the required shape a little to allow for 'spring back'.

A hot air gun is OK for small panels but it can melt the GRP if you're not careful. You really need to heat the whole panel for quite a while so a good fan heater is better.

Get the panel as warm as you can with the fan heater then leave it heating overnight. Switch off the heat source but leave the clamps on. Allow the panel to cool for a few hours then unclamp it and check the shape. You may have to repaeat the process to get exactly the shape you need.

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:25 am
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Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:56 pm
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Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
Did it fit before? The rear and front panels on my one were a poor fit before the accident, probably more like 50mm out believe it or not, however since it then had the accident I have modified both clams substancially, however the shape on the rear one is still not as I would like and the centre section is exactly as you describe (flattened), I have decided to put a couple of adjusters under the edge of the panel towards the middle so that the panel will sit on these. Basically like you have on your normal cars bonnet, rubber "bump stops" if you like.
I would suggest you do a similar thing at the same time as re-shaping and then it would always be supported in the future, the rubber should mean that it doesn't damage the glassfibre or squeak.


Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:56 am
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Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:34 pm
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Location: In the workshop
GTM: Cox/Coupe
Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
As above caerful heating with a heater, and clamping blocking with wood over time has a good effect. I did this to teh rear of my coupe to get the wheelarch to look right from the back, if you look at most coupes the body goes to the left slightly in relation to the wheels, mine looks even.

Best advice from me is go slowly,

We have to do the same to my dads race car when the front panels have been off over winter we warming them up in the trallier before refitting.

Neil

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:08 pm
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Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:11 pm
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Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
Lots of good advice there and it's much appreciated. The main thing is that the panel can be worked with so it's a case of easy does it.... When I got the car the panels were what I would describe as 'thrown on' and I didn't pay too much attention to their fit but, looking at photos from when it arrived, the arches stuck out then so maybe it's been a factory problem if others have been the same. Looking at it today I wonder if the front is meant to be flat where it meets the bulkhead so that it sits flat on the hinges because it actually looks ok. When pressing down on the arch you can see it flexing slightly (and quite easily) from the hinge - it's not very much but it's enough to make a big difference at the arch. I think I might try heating up the hinge area (carefully, bearing in mind advice above about melting!) with the panel on the car using a hot air gun and clamping the arch where I want it before leaving it to cool. I presume that it's ok to apply the heat to both sides because it's double skinned and that the gel coat won't suffer. Thanks again guys :)

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:45 pm
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Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:11 pm
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Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
Having just posted the above I went on to ebay and found a Mk1 Rossa whose panels look to be a perfect fit, particularly the boot lid which has a curved front :roll: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CLASSIC-80S-G ... 3f0d32bf3c

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
I've spent the last couple of days footering about with my engine cover following the advice given and I'm pleased to say that it now fits perfectly :D I looked at it for ages trying to suss out where to start and decided that the first step had to be to try and restore the curve to the front of the panel so that the rest of it would have a better chance of fitting and this worked out spot on at the first attempt - beginner's luck! :mrgreen: This pulled the arches in a litttle but they still had a good bit to go, the drivers side sticking out twice as much as the other one. First attempt at them resulted in a big improvement and a second go made them just as they should be. I'm really chuffed with this because it was a bit of a worry wondering what to do with them and it was also very satisfying getting them to fit using only a few small pieces of wood, two pieces of string, two large hacksaw blades that have been made into scrapers(!) and a hot air gun..... That's another skill I can add to my CV now :lol: Next fun job is fitting the 'boot' so that the gaps are even :roll: :)

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:32 pm
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:09 pm
Posts: 174
Location: south yorkshire
GTM: Rossa
Post Re: Can fibreglass panels be reshaped?
nice to hear things are coming along. I know the feeling when a panel needs reshaping, i kept thinking my roof was scrap but got there in the end. when im on the road i'll drive out to see the car.


Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:17 am
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