Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Custom Built Fiber Glass Coolers

I was going through some files on my laptop that I normally only use for running my 3D printer when I discovered a folder with a couple of projects that were never posted on my blog.  One of these projects that I  thought I would finally post about today was a set of custom built coolers that I had designed and built for my motorcycle cargo trailer.  Sadly as a lot of you already know the cargo trailer along with a lot of other great projects along with my motorcycle were destroyed in a major fire a couple of years ago.  This also was the case for the custom coolers that I am showing you now.  So let's take a look at what I put together way back then.

I wanted a set of custom built coolers that would fit into my newly designed and built motorcycle cargo trailer.  A standard cooler would have worked fine but I wanted something just a bit more in keeping with the design and function of the trailer itself. The first photo you see here is just the start of the coolers.  Very simple one inch Styrofoam box construction. The boxes were first fiber glassed on one side and then hot glued together. A fiber glassing resin and micro-balloon powder was combined to make a putty mixture to fillet all the inner joints.  You can see this white putty in the inside of the boxes in the photo above.  The boxes by the way are 17.75 inches by 15.5 inches by 11 inches tall.  This makes the interior of each box 1.23 cubic feet.  Nice big coolers.

I wanted a basket inside each of the boxes to hold items such as sandwiches, cookies, etc. to stay cool but not get wet by sitting on ice.  I found the baskets at a local office supply company that fit the bill perfectly.  To hold the baskets in place I simply needed to add four foam blocks to the inside of the boxes.  I also added simple handles to the outside of the coolers as well. 

To make the insert for the lid of the coolers I cut four three inch wide one inch  thick Styrofoam pieces and fitted them into the inner lip of the coolers. In the corners of this frame work I glued and taped triangular foam pieces to strengthen the assembly.  It also gave this portion of the lid a nice look as well. 

The lids of the coolers were topped off with an additional one inch thick piece of foam and glued on to the framework that I had left to cure the night before.  I didn't want just flat cooler tops so I came up with these great looking designs that fit the bill.  I found graphics in my computer library and had the images enlarged and then traced out on to another sheet of Styrofoam.  The pieces were then cut, sanded into shape and then glued to the lid tops to complete the assemblies.

All of the pieces for the sun and moon graphics on the coolers then needed to be filleted once again with the resin putty mixture to allow the fiber glassing of the lids to be completed. 

The boxes for the coolers were also fiber glassed inside and out at the same time.  Once the parts had cured I puttied all the surfaces of the cooler boxes to fill the weave of the fiber glass cloth and sanded them smooth to the touch.  This is where the work took some time to do as the lid with the sun image on it was the most difficult with all of the little fingers of the sun having to be sanded over and over again to get it smooth enough for paint.  The rest of the project was fairly simple to sand as all of the surfaces were flat.  

With all of the effort of sanding on the lids my work was rewarded with very smooth surfaces that looked great when paint was finally sprayed on them.  I used a very light gray color as I thought it would be less likely to show any dirt on the coolers over time.

The coolers and lids were painted white on the inside with a black pin strip to separate the two colors.  This gave the project a very nice professional look when they were completed.  

Here the coolers were installed into the motorcycle trailer. The orange bungee cords kept the coolers in place while traveling and held the lids secure at the same time.  A friend of mine had seen the coolers and really liked the them.  He said he knew why the sun and the moon were on the lids. "One cooler for hot food and the other for cold food".  I had to crack up over that one.  This project by the way would make a perfect project for someone just starting out in fiber glassing.  It is an easy project and you can learn a lot about fiber glassing in the process.  After seeing these photos of the coolers once again after all this time they will be on my project to do list again too. Have a good day in your workshop and enjoy the photos.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Such a good blog with useful information. I got good idea about glass cooler. I would like to read more similar posts. So kindly keep posting.