Northwind Composites - Status Update

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Northwind Composites
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Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:19 pm

Ladies and Gentleman,

I know I'm a bit overdue on an update for many of you and rather than clutter the sunroof thread I thought I would make a new post.

Mod's, please feel free to let me know if I'm cluttering up the Vendor Forum un-neccesarily.

So where to start. Things have been exceedingly busy since the start of Nov. There have been some critical issues needing addressed with some of my consulting clients and there have been some family emergencies requiring immediate attention. Mix in the holiday's and it's been tough make the forward progress I'd hope for at the shop.

However, I have been working with my new epoxies - my old vendor is going to be out of the picture for a little while unfortunately - and the new systems are working fairly well. Unfortunately, I have been having a little difficulty getting the surface hardness and transition temperatures I want with just the room temp cure. Now that winter is here I cannot get my heat room up to temp without installing permanent insulation and top on it. I cannot add the top and insulation until I get new sprinkler heads installed.

This has led to building plans, sprinkler plans, permits, etc. etc. Getting the permits and people required in place during the holiday's in an expedited time line has been a little difficult. I don't know how many people here have dealt with commercial building expansions, or even residential, but if you have you probably understand where I'm coming from...

That said, I have an appt. on Jan. 6th to meet with my building inspector to discuss a few items and finalize the permit. From there I'm a couple weeks until I have the sprinklers installed and my heat room back up and running.

This pushes the schedule well outside my plans but does have potential for some strong benefits. Primarily, as I work with City Hall I may infact be able to turn my heat room into a 300 deg. F curing oven. This would provide my customers with a much stronger and durable product without affecting price. I have plans and am working with a fabricator to get my higher temp oven, 5' x 3' x 2' and 450 deg. F, up and running by the end of Feb.

In the mean time I have added a 250 sq. ft. mezannine for storage of molds, added some dust/particulate managment equipment, and rebuilt my vacuum pump for greater capacity. I have also formally started a post-face lift hood mold. I will get a formal hood thread started after I get back from the holidays and can provide a few pictures. Long and short is that it will create a hood with an integrated scoop just a hair taller than stock. However, there are inserts I will build to allow for a hood with no scoop or a recess for a WRX, RS, etc. scoop to be bolted on.

So there you have it. It's a bit more of an update with some finer details than I'd normally give but I know many people have been patiently waiting for all of this to solidify and felt you should know where things really are at. I know my schedule slides have impacted the schedule of a few folks I've talked with via PM's and the phone, but I'll be in touch shortly with parts and a deal to make things right for you ;).

Please feel free to ask questions, offer up comments. I'm here to support the BBS and welcome the various ideas I've been receiving.

Thank you,

Lee Skidmore
Owner/President
Lee@NorthwindComp.com
208-290-5585

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Reason » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:43 pm

Good luck Lee!
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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:05 am

Gentleman,

It's been a couple weeks and I have an update for you. The building permit process has been a bit of a learning experience and has taken more time than originally projected... However, I finished the plans and load calculations today for my PE and he'll be signing off the plans tomorrow. So, this upcoming weekend I will be rebuilding my heat room and finishing my other structure. This will let me get the sprinkler guys in the following week and then I'll finally be back in business of making parts.

Assuming all goes well, I'll be making a batch of sunroofs in about three weeks.

Until then, please let me know if there are any questions I can help address and I'll let you know as soon as I'm putting resin to fabric again!

Thank you,

Lee

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by subaru_styles » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:09 am

good luck with everything. eagerly waiting for those hoods!

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by nutcase_sammy » Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:53 am

Hope all is going well, REALLY looking forward to seeing those hoods :-)

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by 93Leg-c » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:20 am

Hey Lee,

I just wanted to congratulate you on getting your permits and other things in place. While I don't personally work with permits, I have friends who work with City Halls in different parts of the US and it can take huge amounts of time, in some cases it can take many months, sometimes over half a year, to get one permit approved. I just wanted to post this in case any on the board may think it's an easy, quick process. It's not. I think you're doing an excellent job in moving forward!

Best to you in getting all of your composite parts completed to your satisfaction!

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:01 pm

Gentleman,

Thank you all for the support and continued interest. We're getting close now.

93Leg-C - Thank you for the kind words as always. You are very correct, the process is not quite as streamlined and well coordinated as one might think. I have a lot more respect now for those in the construction industry that live within this world.


So, last week City Hall and the Fire Dept. came out and provided the final inspections and buyoffs. I have the heat room 95% complete and will have the doors and electrical finished this weekend to finish the project. Ultimately I will have up to 1500W of radiant heat and 1500W of electrical heat with a working envelope of 9'x5' by 6' tall. It will likely take me a couple parts to get the heat profile dialed in but I will be putting resin to production fabric very soon :).

*As of this morning, minus finished doors and final electrical.

Image

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by kimokalihi » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:55 pm

Sweet! Exciting.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by cj91legss » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:07 pm

Looking forward to a hood myself...

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by NICO » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:02 am

wow just seen this so i guess your going to be making hood's now that's amazing.

also could you make a carbon trunk like these japanes guys have a frp one. see how its all one and not a 50lb plastic insert cuts down huge on weight.

http://www.h3.dion.ne.jp/~a_sakita/gara ... CF0013.jpg

http://www.h3.dion.ne.jp/~a_sakita/gara ... CF0014.jpg

http://www.h3.dion.ne.jp/~a_sakita/gara ... CF0015.jpg


my list facelift carbon oem hood factory scoop or non, carbon trunk, your carbon sunroof glass replace,

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by RckyMtnLegacy » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:07 am

I am very excited. I have been following since the rumor of sunroofs came up. How are the rooms coming?

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:59 pm

Sorry for the delay guys. The problem with start up one man shops is, well there's only one man. I consult off-site for a local aerospace OEM 4 days a week and I've had a cold that's been kicking my butt for the last week and half which effectively kills my evenings for working at the shop.

BUT, I should have parts curing this week - the rooms are done, vac pump is back together, and all the construction dust is settled and my layup room is clean again. Once it's running smooth I can turn out a part almost every other day - only one mold and takes a little time to prep for the next pull.


That said, I'm still planning on offering a nice discount on the first 10 orders in recognition of the patience everyone's had. *Don't worry Rcky, you're on the list ;).

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:13 pm

Nico - I am planning on a trunklid for the post face lift. I'm out a bit on that as I still need to finish my hood first. It will be similar to that shown in the picture but there will be a couple differences. One of the larger differences between my parts and those offered by other manufactures is the construction method.

Most other manufacturers make a mold of the inside and outside surfaces, then make two parts, and glue them together. This has the advantage that it helps make the hinge hardware surfaces easier to replicate and is easier for people to make composite parts without understanding stress loads in composites, but it is not ideal in terms of optimum structure or weight. All my pieces will be single cure layups utilizing foam or nomex honeycomb core and reinforcement darts to obtain the structural stiffness. This provides better overall panel stiffness and reduces weight by removing the adhesive used to glue to two shells together. More importantly for the Legacy crowd, it means I only have to make one mold which reduces tooling costs and makes options more available to our smaller market.


I'm probably still a couple months out on the hood too as I want a chance to get mine made and some solid testing on it before offering it to the BBS. I will not sacrifice quality for the sake of getting a product to the market sooner. It unfortunately means you guys have to be more patient but it also means you're going to get an aerospace quality part at non-aerospace pricing.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Legacy777 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:29 pm

Northwind Composites wrote:...it also means you're going to get an aerospace quality part at non-aerospace pricing.


Josh likes this :)
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If you need to get a hold of me please email me rather then pm

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by RckyMtnLegacy » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:36 pm

Thank you. Sorry if i was bombarding you with posts. Just sometimes when really cool things like this come up 90% of the time they go away and never amount to anything. You have mine and I know most everyone on here's support. Keep up the great work. Cant wait to show off your work.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by RckyMtnLegacy » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:38 pm

The wait will be worth it.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by NICO » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:28 pm

Northwind Composites - thank you for the reply, also I love the way you think on making the products light and strong ! Over engineering ! You have two thumbs up from me, also take your time there is nothing like doing it right the first time !

Keep up the good work and hope to hear from you soon

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by RckyMtnLegacy » Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:20 pm

Signed

Your Friends at Legacy Central

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by kimokalihi » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:25 pm

Sounds awesome. Especially if you make pre face parts down the road. ;)

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by RckyMtnLegacy » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:38 pm

He could be very busy once he gets up and running.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:17 pm

Thank you for the continued support and patience guys. Starting up a business isn't easy and it is really nice to have the BBS behind me. The BBS has been a large part of my life over the years and it's nice to be able to feel like I'm going to able to give something back. [/sappy]

Rocky - Don't worry about bothering me, you're not, not at all. I know I'm moving a little slow but you can rest assured that the amount of time, effort, and capital I've invested - I won't be going anywhere anytime soon :). I do anticipate things getting very busy which is why I'm setting the shop up right on the first go through so I'm not stopping production to make changes. And as any good craftsman knows, quality parts require a quality shop.

Besides, I'm also the president of our local Auto-X club (I didn't step back quick enough) and the president's car should be nice... ;)

I'm finishing up a few production pieces this weekend but I ran out of core. I've got more, significantly more, materials on order but my father's getting in town Tuesday from VA for a week so I won't be at the shop much while he's in town. On Monday I should have some pretty pictures of a 2-3 new parts to share though.

Stay tuned and feel free to keep letting me know what you might want next.

BTW, the current mold creation schedule is: hood, S13 sunroof, skid plate (light, not rally use) for us, post-lift trunklid, ?.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by crisco » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:24 pm

+1 111

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by kimokalihi » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:34 pm

Maybe some polls need to be done? Seems more organized than clogging up the thread with +1's and stuff (no offense crisco :) ).

That said I think the skid plate if built solely for aerodynamics is a great idea. Better than a lightweight hood even.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by Northwind Composites » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:00 pm

As always, thank you for the input. I will take Kimo's advice and make a new thread with a poll that is strictly for new ideas. I'm trying hard not to clutter up the Vendor forum. *Mod's, please feel free to clean as necessary, I don't want to disrupt the cleanliness of the BBS.


That said, I got a little work done last weekend. I had to work through some issues with Photobucket to finally get some pictures available. (BTW, their customer support is top notch). Heat room is working like a champ and I need to make a small adjustment to my fabric sizing template but we're up and running finally :). The part that came out has three strands of carbon that slipped under on me and I didn't catch so there's a cosmetic defect. You can't feel them and there's no structural issues, just doesn't look the best.

Therefore I'd like to offer the part at 35% off and prefer sell to someone who's planning on painting it, not clear coating. The PVA (mold release) hasn't been washed yet so it's a little dull in the pictures and it of course hasn't been trimmed yet.

My new material is coming in soon and with the new core I'll be moving to a resin infusion process which will help speed up production. My father's still in town for a week and my time at the shop will be limited while he's in town and the following weekend (31st/1st) is Autosports Northwest's Novice Day/Test and Tune and I'll be managing the event all weekend. Just to give everyone a heads up on my time frame at the shop. However, once that's done I should be back to producing a new part averaging every other day.

As always, let me know if there's any questions and if I can help.

Thank you,

Lee


Image

Fabric sizing the two fiberglass layers at +/-45 degrees.

Image

Part under vacuum and curing.

Image

Three strands that thwarted me.

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Re: Northwind Composites - Status Update

Post by kimokalihi » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:59 pm

Looks good still. Is this to replace the glass in the sunroof and still have it functional?

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