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Old 04-18-2006, 03:01 PM   #1
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As a sailboarder, I saw the transition years ago from fiberglass masts, fins and cloth used to build boards, aluminum booms...and then the transition to carbon fiber masts, booms, fins, and cloth for board building.

This switch of materials made the equipment stronger and much lighter.

My question is, would it be possible to build the conversions out of carbon fiber materials, ie carbon fiber framing members, skin...?

Carbon fiber is being used in many industries today. Sailboat masts, knee braces, golf club mention a few.

This would lighten the weight of the conversion significantly, thereby making it accelerate quicker, faster to stop, better gas mileage and able to carry greater loads...

Anyone work in this industry and can comment?

"I have marveled often at the thin line that divides success from failure and the sudden turn that leads from apparently certain disaster to comparative safety." Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic Explorer, Sea and Land, 1874-1922.
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Old 04-18-2006, 07:05 PM   #2
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I'm no expert, but from what I know about carbon fiber, the cost to do very much with it on a conversion would be prohibitive, especially if you are using it to try to shave off very much weight. It would have to be used extensively in the structure to save any appreciable weight, and the amount required to do this and still retain enough strength ( yeah, I know, this stuff is STRONG) would cost way more than would be practical. In other words, you would have to save a TON (literally) of fuel to justify the cost of carbon fiber

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Old 04-18-2006, 07:52 PM   #3
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plus--- in order to build the carbon fiber you have to bake the semi-finished product in an oven sort of like an autoclave, from what i understand which works well for atuff like indy car cockpits, spars, wings, etc.. i don't know of a way to get the large pieces of a coach body in the oven , but smaller stuff might work, but as gary asked would it be worth the cost and trouble to do? for example,-- would it hold up well bolted to a shifting vibrating part? is an interesting concept---- carbon fiber toilets? sinks? ---- mase
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:27 PM   #4
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Mase- Always good to hear from you.....
Good point on the vibration aspect of carbon fiber; I'm not at all sure it takes well at all to the kind of vibration over long term that a truck chassis would give it. It's different than a racecar situation where a part does not need to last more than a few hours at most at a time. But, as I said, I'm no expert on this. Anyone else know much about this stuff?
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Old 04-19-2006, 06:15 AM   #5
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Another factor to consider is weight. If your building on a class 8 and you make the conversion to light it will ride like crap.
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Old 04-19-2006, 08:00 AM   #6
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CF would work from a vibration aspect - think fighter planes and stealth bombers, they're mostly composites like CF.

The obvious main reason it won't get used is it would more than double the cost of a conversion. To make structural CF pieces they have to be formed under high pressure and heat, it doesn't work like fibreglass at all. A buddy of mine built a dargster sized autoclave for his brothers CF company so they could make bodies for top fuel cars - major major expense. Also it's conductive and blocks radio waves which would be an issue. So maybe for frame members but not as exterior or interior sheathing. Weight isn't too big a deal, it can't be that hard to soften up the spring rates.

I have to say it woul dbe cool though
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Old 04-22-2006, 01:32 AM   #7
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Unfortunately, carbon fiber has a very high demand and lagging supply problem. I too am a windsurfer and the price of our carbon gear has gone sky high in the past few months. An article in Windsurfing Magazine blamed it on Boeing- they are building passenger planes from the stuff and raw fiber production has shifted to the higher grade product thus creating a shortage in the sports grade (bike frames, masts, tennis raquets etc.). I do have a photo of a carbon fiber toilet that weighs 40 lbs. less than the standard porcellin variety; it looks like a porcellin standard (except its black).
Roy T

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