196? Sunfish, bring it back to life!

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Texsunfish, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Hello everyone! New here and new to sailboats in general. In fact this is the first boat of any kind I've ever owned. My dad had a 420 that we sailed a few times and I've been on some other small boats, but that's about it. How I came about owning this Sunfish is actually kind of a neat story.
    I am into VWs (beetles, buses, anything vintage) and happened to score a free '66 beetle (for parts) off craigslist. The car was in an empty lot maybe 2 miles from my house. When my father and I arrived to drag it home we noticed a small sad looking boat covered in layers of old tarps and soft swimming pools. The guy had sold the property and was trying to clear everything out. So he literally said to us, "Hey, do you want that old Sunfish too?). I thought about it while we prepared the bug, and before we left told him that yes I would give it a new home. Turned out his parents had bought it new back before 1966. He didn't know the exact year, but guessed between 1963-1965. The tag is missing, so I may never know what year it is. They purchased it in Corpus Christi, along with the trailer.

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    I have always wanted a small boat, but it was never a very high priority for me. I have a 7 year old son, so now seemed like a great time to get into the hobby. About a week after we saved the beetle I went back and with the help of the owner cleared away the tarps. We also had to re-locate lumber, bags of hardened concrete, logs, 5 gallon buckets full of who-knows-what, and various other items. It had been there for a long time. The cockpit was full of water. The owner siphoned it out with an old garden hose. Then he removed the rear inspection hole cover and we dumped about 10 gallons of water out. I'm hoping it comes in somewhere under 140lbs, but I haven't weighed it yet. The inspection port has been open for a few weeks to let it air out as much as possible.

    Finally got it empty and clear. I put an inner tube in one tire (temporarily just to get it home). The other tire held air. But just long enough to get it home, glad I live close! Hooked it up to my dad's truck and with many sincere "thank you!"s we were off!

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    Got it home without any issues. My side gate is too small for the boat or trailer, so we couldn't just wheel it through. We had to tip them both on their sides and take them back individually. Glad these little boats/trailers are so light! But, I am planning on a larger gate in the near future.

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    The next day my son and I started on the cleaning process. Hot soapy water followed up by a spray of 10% bleach/water solution. That got it pretty clean.

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    I didn't get before shots of the cockpit, but it was nasty! Old leaf sludge 2 inches thick. It's missing the metal bailer cap and the drain was so clogged the water wouldn't even run out. Lots of scooping and dumping to get it relatively clean.

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    And we discovered that it originally had two bright blue racing stripes on the front. We plan on maybe using professional Rustoleum and bringing it back to it's (close to) original colors. In fact I like keeping things original, so we'll be attempting to restore as much as possible. I even plan on keeping the metal bailer. Those plugs are hard to find! There may be some "hardware store" solutions used until original parts can be sourced.

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    The bleach solution didn't work as good as I had hoped, so I got a little more aggressive. 100% bleach sprayed over the entire boat and let it soak for a few minutes. That really helped! It's getting close to being clean enough to paint.

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    We also noticed that the original "Alcort Sunfish International" stickers are still on the hull. I'd love to find replacements for these. I searched online and couldn't find any available. I do have a graphic design artist friend, so if nothing else he can make reproductions for us. If anyone has any decent pictures, please let me know!

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    And what looks like a "Sportsman Trailer" sticker on the trailer's fender.

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    My dad is a retired fine wood worker and I have all the wooden parts separated and ready to refurbish this weekend out at his shop. All the brass hardware is bagged and tagged.
    Thankfully everything but the boat and trailer were stored in the previous owner's garage. Lots of dust, but serviceable after a refurb.

    Before cleaning.

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    After.

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    There are some pieces in need of repair and a couple of small things missing.

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    So there it is. I would like to get this out on the water soon, so hopefully work will go quick. We live in Central Texas, so there are lots of lakes around and the weather should be nice many weekends out of the year. I welcome any comments and/or constructive criticism!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
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  2. jaas75

    jaas75 Member

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    congrats!!!!! great finding.
    First of all sailing is a seriously addicting sport so embrace your self:p. The boat seems in a decent shape and looks like all the parts are there, rudder,daggerboard, mast and sails, so you essentially "beat" the folklore of "theres no such thing s a free boat";).
    If you are handy with wood working you can either fix the rudder blade or just make one from scratch. (fixing it would be my preference) , you can get brass screws and nut at your local Hdepot. after restoring all the external parts focus on the hull (boat), try to blow some air inside thru the inspection port, or just let the port open to dry up the inside. Then try to do a leak test (refer to wiki in this forum), then a maiden voyage, and last go for the cosmetic stuff (painting, restoring gelcoat etc)
    ABOUT all please read the wiki as theres tons of guides and great pictures from far better sailors than me :p
     
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  3. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Thanks! I hadn't checked out the FAQ, looks like a lot of good info!
    It is only missing a few small things. The base cap for the mast, front cleat, and the pin that holds the rudder on.
    Yesterday we put the sail up for the first time. There are a few very small holes, but nothing major. Looks like it will be usable at least for a season or so.

    On the wood working, it should be relatively easy with my dad's help. I plan on repairing the rudder with epoxy or good wood glue and re-mounting the upper bracket back where it belongs. The dagger board is missing one of the top stops, we'll fab a new one to match the existing one. The bottom of the dagger is pretty rough. I think we'll scribe and then trim off about an inch. A good sanding on everything and 4 coats of spar varnish and we'll be set!
     
  4. JohnCT

    JohnCT Active Member

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    Sort how I started, mine was a little cleaner.
    My first small sailboat, tons of fun so far.

    I still have the brass pulley from the deck if you need one.
    I replaced all my deck hardware.

    If you do get those "Alcort" decals made, put me down for a set.
     
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  5. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    I have the pulley, but I am missing the front cleat if you happen to have that.

    I just need to find a better sticker so I can get an idea of what is on the left and right of the sticker. From the one other image I found online, it looks like it was maybe red with a blue "wave" in the middle?
     
  6. JohnCT

    JohnCT Active Member

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    Ok, that part I reused.

    I'll try to get a decent picture of mine, it's faded but mostly complete .
     
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  7. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    No big deal. There look to be used ones available. I'm just looking for metal not plastic/vinyl.
    Cool, I'd appreciate that! My sticker guy is pretty good and can probably make a nice repro.
     
  8. danpal

    danpal Active Member

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    The Sunfish Sailor yahoo site has images of the logo.

    upload_2016-2-22_16-30-2.png

    Here's the link - you have to be a member but anyone can join.
    Yahoo! Groups
     
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  9. JohnCT

    JohnCT Active Member

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    That is about what mine looks like.
    I'll take some square on pics with a ruler
     
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  10. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Thanks! I'm really wanting to keep it original though. The one I posted above has the three stripes (or whatever they are) on either side of the text.

    I've found these picture posted elsewhere on on this site.

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    You can just see a bit of the blue on the center stripe that is possibly a wave.
     
  11. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Ah, joined the yahoo group and found this image! Thank you for the heads up!

    decal from yahoo.jpg

    Still not perfect, but shows that the blue is just solid stripes.
     
  12. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

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    I'm in north austin, PM me. I've got a hand buffer and a couple pads you can borrow, and also a whole mess of butyl tape (to secure fittings) or if you prefer the 4200 glue ive got that as well. Do not buy any sealant if you want mine for free (i found i prefer the tape)

    What i am going to recommend is this: Get the boat sail-able and get it out on the water ASAP. Save any non-critical refurb till the August doldrums. It will be hot as blazes then and you'll be sailing in a cockpit of your own sweat. This is prime sailing time now in Texas, i was out a few days ago in 80 degree temps on Travis.

    -Greg
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  13. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Hello Greg! I'm North central, near Airport and Guadalupe.
    Sorry, what is the tape/glue for?

    I'd like to get it out and sail, but I don't have a hitch for any of our cars yet. My dad has his truck, but he lives out in Elgin. Also the trailer is not in good enough shape for long hauls. I plan on getting some new wheels/tires when I get a chance. The axle and leaf springs are pretty rusty, so I need to make sure those are safe. I know what you're saying though. I tell VW people the same thing all the time when they want to tear into a project instead of getting it on the road and enjoying it first. One of the nice things about these little boats is how simple everything is. Kind of a nice break from working on relatively complicated oily old VWs!

    I'll shoot you a PM too.
     
  14. fhhuber

    fhhuber Member

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    A little different car vs boat...

    Car: if the brakes don't work or the steering has problems then the engine doesn't need to run.

    Boat: As long as the hull doesn't leak its good.

    I've never used the tape... I spent a few hours removing tape from my Minifish. (half a roll of duct tape was used on the mast for no discernible purpose...)

    Already sailing Sunfish Lake Travis? Have to haul my boat down. Nobody on Lake Belton.
     
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  15. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

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    I almost joined the Belton Yacht club; couldn't decide if it would be worth it for me.
    Travis will fill up with power boaters soon enough, once everyone realizes its full of water again ;) So i'm gonna enjoy it while i can.

    Yeah butyl tape isn't really tape -- its a bedding compound, like a rubber putty. I use it to seal inspection ports, mast cleat, mast base.. Here's an article about mounting using it:
    Re-Bedding Deck Hardware With Bed-It Butyl Tape by Compass Marine How To
     
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  16. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    BTW, I believe the twin racing stripes dates the boat as a '69 or '70. Nice find! BB
     
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  17. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Nice VW pickup. I'm restoring my old '71 camper.

    While you search for the original metal bailer (good luck), your local auto store can provide an "adjustable freeze plug". The opening should be 1¼". I suggest you add an oversized washer for the opposite side, so the plug can't unexpectedly be pushed out or in. Thanks for the multitude of photographs. :)

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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
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  18. oldpaint

    oldpaint Active Member

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    As far as the sticker goes, I recall red stripes above and below the blue ones on both sides. The red faded very fast. You can see that its not as white as the area around the word Sunfish.

    Does the word international mean this particular boat was originally from another country, Canada forinstance, or were all pre-AMF boats labeled this way? After AMF bought Alcort the AMF red triangle logo was on the sticker to the left of Alcort. (This too faded to a barely visible gray).
     
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  19. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    Thank you sir! Those stripes are confusing. All of the vintage ads I've found for the 1969-1972 boats have the two stripes, but all of the white boats have a colored cockpit and wave guard. I'm yet to see another all white boat with just the two painted blue racing stripes. Also mine has the "Alcort" Sunfish sticker. Wouldn't that make it at the latest a '68? Didn't AMC buy Alcort in 1969 and change the logo? The story from the original owners son is that his parents bought it pre-'66. The father bought the mother a brand new 1966 beetle (the one I was picking up). He told me that they already had the Sunfish at that time. Making it no later than '65. Of course this is all from memory so far so who knows how accurate it is. He did say that he has some old pictures of the boat and beetle that he would try to send me copies of. Ther is a slim chance that might clear things up. Oh, and while we're at it, what is the deal with drain plugs? I read that if there is only one it is a post '66 boat. Any truth to that?

    Thanks!, great idea! If I can find a brass threaded fitting I might use that in conjunction with a rubber washer. I've also been searching McMaster Carr's online catalog for something that will work. I read somewhere that the threading is 7/8" straight and the plug about 3/4" long. I have a '76 Westfalia that I've been rejuvenating for the past 4 years.

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    Good to know. So just basic red and blue stripes. I'll get my guy on it soon. Maybe make 20 or so to share. I'd like to recoup my money, but not looking to make a profit.
    Apparently the previous owner's bought it new in Corpus Christi. I'd like to know what the "International" means as well!
     
  20. Texsunfish

    Texsunfish Member

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    I did find this price list that originated in 1965. In the text it shows that there was an "all white" boat that came with red and blue racing stripes on the foredeck. It doesn't specifically say 2 stripes, but maybe a clue?

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    I cleaned up the rear inspection hole cover last night. Same deal, hot soapy water followed by 100% bleach. Cleaned up good enough to be ready for paint. Also we had a front headed our way, so I broke out the ol' tarps and wrapped her up for the night. Good thing because not long after it began to rain. I like the idea of a form fitting cover, so I may get one of those before too long. I've had it sitting with the inspection port open for a few weeks and don't want to risk getting water inside.
    And y'all like pictures so here are some exciting ones. :p

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