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gijoe

"Ghost" Carbon fiber

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Has anyone successfully reproduced a "ghost" carbon fiber body?  What I mean by "ghost carbon fiber" is that I've read that the Ferrari F40 used so little paint (to keep weight low) that in the correct light you can see the carbon fiber through the paint.  

I've got a 2 month "challenge build" ahead of me with Tamiya's Ferrari F40.  My dog died, and my girlfriend moved out (anyone want to write a country song, haha?) so I've got 2 months before I move with very little to do, and I wanted a build to challenge some of my skills, namely carbon fiber decaling, and achieving the perfect finish.  

My research has turned up very few reference photos of this light paint over carbon fiber finish, but the ones I've seen to be primarily on the yellow F40's.  It looks like despite initial claims of all F40's being rosso corsa, that 9 came from the factory in yellow.  If you've ever painted with yellow you probably know how tricky at can be.  Yellow doesn't cover well, and it's really important that the entire body gets the same number coats or else you'll see the light and dark spots.  The trouble will yellow could be exactly what will make this "ghost carbon fiber" finish successful. 

After wrapping the body in carbon fiber decals, a careful application of yellow could be just transparent enough to show the weave in good light. The point is for this finish to be as realistic as possible for the scale.  The carbon fiber should not be obvious from a distance, but visible under close inspection, a worthy challenge without a doubt.

Have any of you done something like this, successfully?  I will start shopping for carbon fiber decals, my favorites (scale motorsport) are becoming trickier to find, since they went out of business (such a shame), but I'm open to any brand. Since it will be hidden under paint, I think the contrast in the weave needs to be high, so I'm less concerned about the color of the decals, and more concerned about the contrast that needs to show after some yellow paint.  I believe the body was done in kevlar weave, and scalemotorsports made decals in this weave at one point, but I don't know if that will be the best product at this point.  

There will be some obvious challenges to make this work.  First I need the decals to go down extra smooth, I'm not worried about this, I've worked with carbon fiber decals a lot over the years, and love them.  Making my own templates and getting them to lay down perfectly smooth will be some work, but nothing that I can't accomplish.  Second, I need to be very careful not to burn through the decals when I start to spray the paint.  I prefer lacquer paints for bodies, and they can be a bit hot.  I also need to ensure an even finish, I'll get some help with this because I'll need to build up several mist coats to ensure the paint doesn't hurt the decals (I'll be doing a test on a scrap hood ahead of time anyway).  Several light mist coats should not only protect the decals, but ensure I'm getting a really even finish without any pooling that will darken a particular spot.  I may need to cut the yellow with clear, to ensure its transparency.  

If anyone has any suggestions on technique, or products I'm all ears.  

 

I intend to keep a full build log of this, more or less in real time, so keep an eye out for that.  I'll address some other plans, challenges, and expectations in the build, or another thread. 

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Sounds like an interesting project. As for paint, what about a very light coat of "Candy" type paint like you would usually spray over a Silver or Gold metallic base ? Do you think that would work ? 

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I like where you're head's at, espo.  The paint needs to be transparent enough, but still be proper Ferrari yellow.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to find a candy yellow that will represent the Ferrari yellow accurately after a couple of coats, but I should certainly start shopping to see what's out there.  

I may just have to find the most accurate yellow I can find, and cut it with clear to add transparency; although I don't know if this technique will work, so I'll be exploring any ideas I can get.  I attempted a Ferrari Enzo build years ago, and if I remember correctly I used Model Master's Chrome Yellow, which was a really good match, and a pain to work with because of how transparent it was (might work to my advantage).  I'll have to figure out exactly which paint I used (not 100% it was MM chrome yellow) and give it a trial run.

If anyone has a paint (brand/color) recommendations I'd love to check them out.  

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Posted (edited)

I'd like to see your reference shots. I've never seen a real F40, but I've seen...and built...a lot of carbon parts (and I've seen a lot of Ferraris). "Print through" is a very common occurrence on carbon parts (and honeycomb core parts) as the resin shrinks over time (even aircraft grade epoxy) and the weave of the carbon or the honeycomb pattern becomes visible on the surface of the paint. I don't think that's what you're referring to as "ghosting" though.

Real racing-weight (or aircraft) carbon parts (as opposed to the glossy, resin-saturated aftermarket or show stuff) have the lowest percentage of resin (by weight in the finished laminate) that will keep the fibers stuck together. This tends to require a filling primer on street parts to fill the very obvious weave prior to the paint going on, and filling primer, even if it's catalyzed epoxy or urethane or polyester, will also shrink enough over time so that you'll begin to see the weave "print through" the surface in some lights.

Sport aircraft built of carbon, like the carbon Lancair planes, will show the same effect.

I find it difficult to believe that Ferrari would not apply enough paint to achieve what's known as "full hiding" in the business. Full-hiding simply means that there's enough coats of finish paint on the car so that the color of the primer or substrate doesn't show through the topcoat, and usually allows enough film-thickness so it can be polished a few times as well.

I'm NOT disagreeing with you on the "ghosting" phenomenon; it's just that I've never seen it myself, and I tend to be a little skeptical what with the internet being awash with people repeating what they've "heard" with no first-hand experience (this remark is NOT directed at YOU).

So...again, I'd really like to see your reference shots. I'm always up to learn something new.

 

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted (edited)

On the F40 and F50 they paint directly over the carbon fiber using one coat of paint. It seems that in photos it’s kind of hard to see, but in person seems to be a bit easier. They say it’s really prominent on the rear wing. Top Gear, the British one, did a piece on it and in the show you could see it I thought. 

This website has some cool info about them. They said that the whole car got only 2 liters of paint sprayed on it. And a lot of them were coated a second time upon delivery by their new owner. So finding a 1 layer car is quite a challenge. 

As far as the original idea brought up by espo, I agree with the candy color. That was a recommendation made on another 1:1 car forum when trying to replicate it. 

Edited by Rusty92

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Posted (edited)

I remember that the "ghost" weave was quite noticeable on the F40 on display in the Ferrari museum in Maranello when I visited the place some years ago, especially on the lower body parts.

Not the easiest job to recreate in scale, but sure sounds like a cool project. Good luck!!

Here's a pic of a red one.

33954044688_5e398c5451_o.jpg

https://aowheels.com/world-icon-supercar-detailed-the-ferrari-f40/

Edited by ATHU

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Bugatti does it deliberately for effect on some finishes:

se-image-2ee408c2d14826605e073367ca799bd

I think the tricky bit is going to be that you're not actually seeing a colour change in the underlying material, but a pattern caused by the way the weave of the fibres reflects the light as the fibres go one way then another. It's going to be hard to replicate because as you can see above, the effect is really about how the surface catches the light at different angles. I have been up close and personal with the ex-Chris Evans white F40 and Nick Mason's red one, and I can tell you that you can't see weave  through the paintwork on either of them...

best,

M.

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You might try Tamiya acrylic clear yellow or red.  They're almost transparent but build up color with additional coats. 

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Thanks for the input, everyone. 

My theory is that even if I don't get the illusion right, I can just spray a bit more yellow and give it a more traditional finish.  It has been tough to find reference photos of this effect, especially in yellow, but I think it's worth pursuing, simply for the challenge if nothing else.  

There are some other challenges that need to be considered.  The body will not be 100% kevlar.  I don't want to risk losing detail, and I'm worried that with primer, decals, and who knows how many layers of paint, that some details (the recessed "F40" on the wing for example) will be lost.  Because of this, I'm carefully shaping my decal templates to avoid covering certain decals, so I'll need to carefully build up the paint in the areas without decals to give an even final finish, where the kevlar weave will still be visible on the larger panels.  

I'm starting to think that scale motorsports clear carbon decals will be the best to use in this case, I've got some scraps that I can practice with.  Again, I'm less concerned with the color of the decal, and more concerned about getting the right amount of weave to show through, this may be easier with a decal that's clear, with just black weave. 

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This is my plan, as of now.  I have some scale motorsports clear/black decals that I'm going to try on a scrap hood.  After putting down a nice white primer I"ll do part of the hood with the decal.  I'm only doing part of the hood, because the entire F40 body will NOT be done with decals, there are a few areas that are just too tricky to worry about, considering the goal is to have it just barely show through, and other areas where I don't want to hide the detail.  I need to test how well I can blend the areas with and without decals to ensure that the effect works, and that aren't darker and lighter spots.  I'm planning on using Tamiya TS-16 for the paint, as it seems a good match, and I know the TS paints well, I'll just need to see how transparent this particular color is.  TS paints spray great from the can, and are great decanted and sprayed with an airbrush.  For the test run, on the scrap hood, I'll spray straight from the can, and if the effect works I'll decant and complete the F40 with my airbrush.  

I'll start a build log in the next couple of days, after my trial run. 

Also, does anyone have any suggestions on replicating the 90 degree ignition wires on the Ferrari engine?  I have an idea that should work, but if anyone has learned lessons the hard way, your advice would be appreciated.

Thanks, 

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Might I suggest using SMS Clear Carbon Fiber over the base color as a start.

1712_bottom_header_final.jpg

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40 minutes ago, Exotics_Builder said:

Might I suggest using SMS Clear Carbon Fiber over the base color as a start.

1712_bottom_header_final.jpg

Yep, I think that's what I decided on.  I was debating whether or not I should put the decal over white primer, or over a base coat of yellow, but I think a base coat of yellow will allow me to get a proper yellow so that I only need to go over the decals with a fine coat or two (or three, haha I don't know).  I think if I put them over white primer I'll need to build up too many coats to make sure I have a proper yellow, and I don't want to have to put on so much paint that the illusion is lost.  Thanks for the recommendation.  

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Another thing I have done to get a colored clear is use the base color mixed into a clear paint.  You need to experiment with it for the amount of transparency, but might be worth considering

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7 minutes ago, Exotics_Builder said:

Another thing I have done to get a colored clear is use the base color mixed into a clear paint.  You need to experiment with it for the amount of transparency, but might be worth considering

Yeah, I suspect I may need to do that, but having used yellow paint in the past, and knowing how transparent it can be on it's own, I want to spray it uncut to give me an idea of what to expect the coverage to be like. I'm fully prepared to mix it with clear if necessary. 

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Tests on a scrap piece are going well.  I'll start a build log over the weekend sometime to show the progress.  So far I'm spraying the yellow straight from the can, but once I decant the rest, I'll need to make a small batch mixed with clear, but overall I think the effect is going to work.  It will be very subtle, and some might say that the effect is so subtle that it isn't worth the effort, and expense of the decals, but this finish was more to challenge my skills and see what can be done than anything else.  I'll get some pictures up in a build log when I have some good sunlight to take some photos with.  

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I'll definitely be interested in seeing your results. I'd really like to try something like the Bugatti Matt Bacon posted. 

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1 hour ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

I'll definitely be interested in seeing your results. I'd really like to try something like the Bugatti Matt Bacon posted. 

I think something like the Bugatti might be a little easier, just because I think there is more flexibility in the amount of transparency that is acceptable.  But, the color choice will play a role, and you may need to use a candy type of color.  I'm lucky in this situation that I'm using yellow paint, since it is naturally very transparent.  

I'll post some progress shots in a build log within a couple of days.  I wasn't able to get a good shot of my test piece last night, the light inside at night just didn't show the effect very well.  

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With the carbon fiber parts that I have had experience with (Drag Cars), it's not that the paint is transparent and you can see the carbon through the paint, but it's the fact that carbon has a texture that shows up. It's the fact that the surface that is painted has a weave texture that shows through the paint. Unless there is a lot of sanding and blocking, then it becomes invisible because the surface is smooth. This is my experience with race cars, no experience at all with exotics.  

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Posted (edited)

I think you could save some money by skipping the carbon decals on the body and maybe just try to simulate the pattern bleed through instead.

 

You could paint the body yellow and then  using a type of mesh(maybe nylon, they have little bags you can by and take apart at hobby lobby) and  put that over the body and then spray light coats of yellow over that with an airbrush. Then remove the mesh and do one more wetcoat. The texture should probably still show through. Just a thought.

Edited by DiscoRover007

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This is only an opinion guess shot-in-the-dark.  It's not that you want some of the carbon color to show through the paint (yellow?), but the texture seen from light reflection?  I would think, that if the decal is not totally snug down, you will have creases, and the edges will show more obviously when painted.  I've painted seats using a brass screen as a mask, to get a fabric pattern.   I suggest spraying the color through a screen, and then a light mist with the same color.  I'm willing to bet that will create more of the texture, than a decal with a very thin silkscreened layer.  It shouldn't be a big deal the sheet of "carbon-fiber" is accurate, would have a few screen pieces prepared for the curves, and of course flat sections are duh flat.

But what do I know, I have a Porsche GT1 that I've wanted to do the prototype of, before it was painted, but am afraid to.

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Thanks for the extra input, everyone!

To clarify the illusion that I'm going for, you're right, I just want the "suggestion" of carbon fiber under the paint.  I had considered the mesh/paint trick, and actually I think it would work really well, but I wanted to get a bit more practice with carbon decals, so that's what I'm going to use.  I'm not at all worried about wrinkles in the decal causing problems, I'm already very comfortable using SMS decals (among others, like Tamiya).  No doubt about it, this is an experiment, but the tests have been successful so far, so we'll see what I end up with!

I decanted the rest of the Tamiya TS-16 last night, so I'll get the base coat down today.  I thought that I had more SMS decals than I do, so I'll have to get another sheet ordered before I start wrapping the body.  

I'll start the build log today, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested in seeing the progress.  

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4 hours ago, gijoe said:

Thanks for the extra input, everyone!

To clarify the illusion that I'm going for, you're right, I just want the "suggestion" of carbon fiber under the paint.  I had considered the mesh/paint trick, and actually I think it would work really well, but I wanted to get a bit more practice with carbon decals, so that's what I'm going to use.  I'm not at all worried about wrinkles in the decal causing problems, I'm already very comfortable using SMS decals (among others, like Tamiya).  No doubt about it, this is an experiment, but the tests have been successful so far, so we'll see what I end up with!

I decanted the rest of the Tamiya TS-16 last night, so I'll get the base coat down today.  I thought that I had more SMS decals than I do, so I'll have to get another sheet ordered before I start wrapping the body.  

I'll start the build log today, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested in seeing the progress.  

Good luck with it. If you do happen to get creases you might be able to just airbrush some  ts-13 or primer over those parts and then sand it smooth for paint.

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