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Esteemed Member
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Discussion Starter #1
Well is it?










Actually, its not. The first is original, the second pic is a REPLICA. Now before some of you go off on one, there's a reason and a story to this.

I had some problems with the original GHO bumper fitted in May: this was the pukka item. It fitted really well. Then we had a hot summer. And one hot July, this appeared:



And within a few days, a lump fell off



If you look carefully, you can see whats happened. In the second image, you can just about see the woven glassfibre section. Unfortunately, there's not enough of it. GHO, presumably for expediency (so they don't have to reject too many bumpers out of the mould) have used a lot of a filler-like chopped fiberglass layer. It has no real strength. The other problem is the way GHO chose to mount the bumper. It uses the existing brackets that go through the wings. But whereas the original bumper (and some other aftermarket bumpers, like the RS Aizawa bumper) makes use of a support bracket to mount the bumper to the slam panel, GHO decided to replace this all by a single fiberglass piece. So the bumper is only fixed by the side brackets, and 4 highly stressed bolts on the slam panel. That in itself isn't such a big issue. But its not helped that a bare GHO bumper clocks in at a hefty 7kg; and remember, most of that mass is concentrated to the bottom, for the lamp housings. This produces a fulcrum effect on the fixing mounts. So its prone to vibration. Hence lump broke off.

So what to do? Didn't really want to go through this again with a fresh bumper. So I thought about a remade bumper; addressing the problems of the original. Paul at http://www.mx5roadsters.com agreed to this route, and offered to make it in kevlar and carbon fibre, thus addressing simultaneously the problems of strength and weight. It took a while; this is the first bumper he has made (and probably the last; he says he doesn't really want to make any more of these as they are so labour intensive), so purists can rest easy; this will be the only GHO 1001 copy bumper about.

I went over to MX5roadsters in Ireland, to get a fit and to return the old bumper (these are big things to ship). MX5roadsters has an impressive facility; dedicated workshop producing all manner of parts. Paul also sets himself high standards in finish. It was interesting to see how much work went into producing even little items. The bumper was the biggest car project he had tackled, and a cracking job was done.

The bumper he had made in Kevlar and carbon fibre, with unidirectional strands set into particularly high stress areas. He had put some meat into the driving lamp bowls, as I intend to put in some slightly different lamps into this (as soon as I've done modifying the mounting brackets). From the copy, it was clear where else GHO had skimped. For a start, the original is resin-rich; again, to achieve a low reject rate,, GHO used a bit too much resin in the bumpers. Paul also used black dye in the resin and a british racing green dye in the gel coat. The result was a bumper that if you had a brg car, wouldn't even need painting. For me, it means a bumper I don't need to get repainted on a annual basis; GHO use a plain ass white gel coat, and even with plasticiser in the paint, chips showed up really bad. Also, when they are popping these out of a mould, they are mass producing them, and using an airline. So on the original bumper, you have little airline marks. The replica bumper was taken out by hand; a painful, slow experience. Eye watering when you hear the creaks. A little bit of sanding was needed to get a perfect finish; nothing major, just the mould marks. Then a rattle can finish just to seal it, until it goes into the shop (which actually doesn't look too bad considering its Montego Blue, Satin Black, and some left over Ford Green all mixed in).

The other cool thing about the construction; even with the extra layer around the lamp holders, this bumper weighed in at 4kg. A stock dressed bumper is 5kg. A very useful saving over the original GHO bumper (but this is at a cost; that Kevlar and carbon fibre isn't that cheap).

So there's a lesson to be learned there, somewhere. Reputations can sometimes be a matter of perception and myth....

If anyone is handy with glass fiber, and fancies a challenge, the original bumper is now on ebay. Will be a bargain, if you can get it shipped.
 

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Andy, thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about your troubles with the GHO front bumper. Was it a factory 1st GHO nose sold at full retail price? Or was it a GHO factory 2nd sold at lower price?

It took a while; this is the first bumper he has made (and probably the last; he says he doesn't really want to make any more of these as they are so labor intensive), so purists can rest easy; this will be the only GHO 1001 copy bumper about.
I can agree with the labor intensive part. Not too long ago I decided that I hated doing composite work. It's simply too hard! I can't be bothered and would much rather pay someone else $1000 for a high-quality piece than try to do it myself. I've already sunk about $1500 and 150 hours into a composite seat project (my friend has invested about the same, so $3000 and 300 man hours total) and we're not even close to having reasonable quality parts. Plus every time we work on the thing it's physically exhausting. Carbon and Kevlar are especially difficult to work with in wet layups due to their bulk, loose weave that always wants to come apart on you (making it very difficult to get perfectly even "show quality" weave alignment), and it doesn't drape very well. Plus seams don't disappear like they do with fiberglass. There's patterns, core support, vacuum bagging to deal with. Not to mention the mess it makes!

GHO use a plain ass white gel coat, and even with plasticiser in the paint, chips showed up really bad.
I wonder what formulation resin they originally used. I know that it is virtually impossible to find epoxy gel coats. Polyester gel coats come in a few stock colors and can be custom tinted. The paint chips do get really annoying, especially noticeable on a dark colored car.

Also, when they are popping these out of a mould, they are mass producing them, and using an airline. So on the original bumper, you have little airline marks. The replica bumper was taken out by hand; a painful, slow experience. Eye watering when you hear the creaks.
Again I can relate. This is the most agonizing and the most exciting moment when doing composite work. Will it come out okay? Will it get stuck and destroy the mold in the process? Good stuff. We always used popsicle sticks, plastic wedges, and warm water to assist the process.

So there's a lesson to be learned there, somewhere. Reputations can sometimes be a matter of perception and myth....
True that. Just goes to show you that its a myth that all Japanese parts are of the highest quality. Even GHO, which has a reputation for making quality composite parts, can have problems. I would've been disappointed even if the part was just for a race car. I'd be seriously pissed off if it was for my show car. I hope other GHO customers don't experience what you went through. What did they have to say about the situation? I think it would be beneficial for you to contact them and share your story by linking them to your thread here (how cool would it be if GHO became a CR.net forum member!)

I admire your resolve and the effort you and Paul put in to rectify the situation. It was a lot of work but hopefully you'll have a durable part now that's even better than the original.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This was a 1st quality bumper; they didn't send any seconds over. Surprised they would even sell seconds. Why would they do that? Of course, if I was cynical, they might sell any rubbish to a Gaijin, safe in the knowledge that they are safe from foreign consumer laws, and that shipping costs meant nothing will be returned to them. I got burnt in a similar way when I brought a top from a US supplier with a "international 5 year warranty", that was proved to be worthless, given I was responsible for shipping costs to and from the US.......

The bumpers arrived with "instructions" that were merely the stock factory front bumper diagram. Photocopied.

Though the bumper arrived as part of a batch of 10; all seemingly identical. So I don't think this was a second. Have you heard of GHO and other Japanese companies pulling a fast one like this? From what you say, it sounds like you know practices like this may go on. Any other companies to watch out for?

I wonder how GHO have got this good reputation for composites? They only do 3 different bumpers, and not much else as far as FRP goes. How many GHO bumpers in the US? A handful at best.

I've not been in contact directly with GHO, though I know their response to a question was a predictable "never seen that happen before". All my dealings have been with mx5roadsters, who are is of pocket over this. Top service. I hope he can recoup some of these costs.

TBH, not bothered about taking this up with them. I have a bumper now that, hopefully, should do exactly what it says on the tin.
 
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