Advice needed on various hull repairs

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by brianZ71, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    I'm working on fixing up my '91 (i think) sunfish. This guy has had a rough life. I could really use some input from more knowledgeable folks on some of this stuff. Let me start out by saying that this is a very low budget project. I'm a college student, so my labor and time is free and plentiful, but money is not. I want to do it right, but cheaply. Everything will be painted over.

    this is the big one that's got me stumped. some previous owner did a.....unique.....patch on the bow. Anyone got any suggestions for fixing this with something a little better looking? I think with enough effort I could make a wooden mold to match about what the shape of the hull should be. I wish I had another sunfish to make a fiberglass mold off of. Also, is the "point" on the deck supposed to be square like that? i always thought it was more pointy.

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    i've got lots of little nicks like these in the fiberglass. Can i just fill these with fiberglass resin and sand down? Do i need to get some marine tex?

    [​IMG]

    another previous owner repair...I guess the deck separated from the hull, so they riveted it together. I really don't like the rivets and would like to remove them. Any suggestions on how to hold the two halves of the boat together? This boat has rolled gunwales and does NOT have rivets and a rub rail going all the way around. The rivet's don't extend past what's seen in the pic.

    side view
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    top (bottom) view

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  2. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    Wow. Looks like it's just been beat to Hell. If you're trying to bring it back to clean you're probably using the wrong boat to start with. I'd love it for what it is and sail it ugly until you can save up for something in better shape.

    Anything can be restored, but at some point the time and money is better spent starting with another core.

    You can pick up used Sunfish hulls in better shape at just about any YMCA or college sailing club for cheaper than it'd cost you in just the materials to bring that back.

    I'd sand it all down as smooth as you can, fill in the scratches and dings (unless they are actually holes, in which case you'll need to get a little epoxy and fill them in) with fairing compound and paint it with outdoor house paint. I'd sell it and take the cash, throw another $100 on top, and get one in better condition structurally.

    If you are eating Ramen, epoxy the holes, use bondo to fair it, and paint it with house paint. Sail it for the year and save up the two hundred bucks for the new hull.

    No one cares what the bottom of your boat looks like. You're not winning any races with that boat regardless of what you do so who cares?

    I'm restoring a '76 with just the dings yours has and I'm about $150 in on fairing compound, topside paint, etc, etc from West systems. That's not counting hardware/rigging/etc. I'm bringing mine back to family heirloom condition though.

    Boats of any size require a guy to be really in charge of his emotions. Boats are like women. We tend to get blinded to the fundamental problems when we first encounter them.

    Get this one functional and enjoy it for the trooper it is.
     
  3. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    haha yeah I hear ya. My problem is I love projects that others would just write off. Mostly just for the challenge.

    I have been keeping an eye out on craigslist for sunfish hulls, but sadly sailing isn't popular at all here in Texas, so options are slim. I just sail for my own enjoyment, and like you said this boat won't be winning any races. I sailed it ugly all summer, and am taking some time during our unusually warm winter to pretty it up a bit.

    I've already sanded down the bottom side, and most of the scratches came out. I'm gonna take your advice and epoxy the small holes.

    Have you used outdoor house paint before on a boat (fairly) successfully? I've been trying to find a paint that will hold up decently without spending $30 on a quart of real topside paint. The catch is I want to paint it yellow haha. I had my eye on some Rustoleum paint at home depot.

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    It's $10/qt and i have a home depot gift card. I'll look into exterior house paint though.

    I'm thinking about glassing over the rivets and blending it with the rest of the deck. We'll see how comfortable I am with fiberglass after i patch the big crack. Oh yeah I didn't mention the big one........this is the reason i'm doing all this. The boat had two shoddy patches, one had cracked, and the other was just lousy. So i cut em both out and got a big ol hole! Now it really looks like a lost cause!!

    [​IMG]

    for that I will be using a technique similar to douglas_zargham in this thread: http://sailingforums.com/threads/sunfish-hull-repair.22416/

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  4. sailcraftri

    sailcraftri Well-Known Member

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    In my area Lowe's sells a Rust-Oleum Topside paint and primer for marine use. The primer is around $17-$18 and the paint which comes in colors is around $14. These are quart prices. I highly recommend the primer. In the past (I have painted three Sunfish) I didn't use primer and eventually some of the spider cracks would show up again. By using primer, the final paint came out much better.

    Craig
     
  5. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    The other big problem you have is that boat looks to have been built by Pearson. Those boats were very poorly built and that could be why it is held together with rivets. THey are also notorious for the hull and deck coming loose from the DB trunk. So you could make these repairs and have another part of it fall apart. I'd keep my eye open for another hull and save the $$ you'd be putting into this to spend on a better hull. BB
     
  6. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    I'm at exactly the same point in my restore as you are on yours, so I'll chip in. I finished my epoxy last night and it went well! The holes are exactly in the same spot also wierdly (bunks I'm guessing). Mine were only about 3-4" long though. What I did was epoxy a wooden paintbrush handle (roughed with 100grit) to the backside of the holes as backing structure for the glass. Worked perfectly.

    On yours, since the holes are so big, I suspect you'll need to build a backing mold first. This guy does one pretty easily


    I'd make a fiberglass backing mold from the other side of the boat into the hole. Drill some holes in the mold, then run some screws through drywall anchors and use some dowel rods to hold it tight against the inside of the hole. Just replace the bolt with a screw, and invert the direction of the anchor to point away from the boat, and as you turn the screws it'll draw the mold tight against the inside of the hull. I drew you a picture with my awesome mspaint skillz.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    As far as the paint goes, the rustoleum should work fine. My kid sister is the paint dept manager at Lowes, and she says the puddleduck/plywood boat guys use the heck out of it and like it a lot.

    I'm going with epifane orange on mine from West. Am pretty stoked because my inspection port and fat bag came in from Intensity and it's EXACTLY the same orange color bag as the paint color is. Weird fluke cuz I didn't specify a color when I ordered it.

    My factory paint colors were white hull with orange stripes and combing. I'm doing orange lower hull and white topside and matching the epifane over the existing combing and stripes. I was going to dupe that cool '76 restore the other guy here on the forum did, but the yellow and blue would have added another $100 in paint. $45 for the orange Epi is already pricey not even counting primer and thinner.

    The reason I'm going with real boat paint is that I am using the Sunfish to practice on since I have to do a bottom job on my keelboat ('79 22' Buccaneer/USyachts) and want it to come out right. I'll be using real bottom paint on it. If I screw up the job, I want it to be on the little boat I can easily redo, not the big boy with a PITA haulout.
     
  8. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    They don't sell it at Lowes or Home Depot in my area, which is a bummer. I was planning on ordering it for my deck though. I'm gonna do that either oyster white, semi-gloss white, or gloss white. I think gloss white would be the best looking, but way too bright. Anyways....I think i'll order this stuff from Amazon as I can get it shipped free. I wish they made it in yellow.

    Yep, if I remember correctly, it is one of the dreaded Pearson boats. I've read that they are to be avoided, but never heard why. Thanks for the info. I do think that mine has had issues with cracking at the bottom of the daggerboard trunk, because someone along the way smeared some marine tex or something in there. My plan is to put an inspection port in the front of the cockpit and add some reinforcement fiberglass around where the trunk meets the deck and hull.

    Like I said earlier, I'm keeping an eye out for another hull. Slim pickins around here. I only payed $200 for my boat with a brand new Neil Pryde sail and new rigging, and I sailed it all summer. I more than got my moneys worth, but I estimate I'll put under $100 into this (not counting tools that I'll have for other projects) and should turn a decent profit if I end up getting another hull and selling this one.

    Good idea on the drywall anchors/dowels. I was thinking just some screws through it tied off to other crap around the garage, but that would be way easier.

    Are you talking about the rustoleum topside paint, or the one I posted?
     
  9. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    The topside paint is great if you can get it, but I was talking about the regular protective enamel that you spoke about. The puddleduck guys use that for their boats inside and out and it works great and lasts pretty well.

    Behr's garage floor paint is supposed to be good too.

    I paint my hardware with rattle cans of appliance paint (super durable fridge/washer/etc) and have had good luck with it. Lasts years and stands up to abuse.

    My dad is really hard on his dollies/wheelbarrows/etc and that appliance paint is the only stuff that can take it. He leaves them outside the shop in the rain after carrying rock/etc and it just destroys lesser paints.
     
  10. mike4947

    mike4947 Member

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    I had a 91 Pearson. The problem was they had lousy quality control. Most Fish weigh in at 125-135 pounds. My boat was 108 pounds. Got me protested at one of the regionals until I mentioned to the class measurer that it was a Pearson. I was lucky. Sailed it for 10 years without a leak, but I did baby it.
     
  11. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    Hate to threadjack, but almost every vehicle I've owned I've been warned not to get. My mom to this day won't ride in my '01 Jeep Wrangler because "They flip over". I bought a '79 Bayliner Buccaneer keel boat and every sailor in the harbor told me Buccs are well known death traps. My motorcycle is a '97 TL1000s, aka "The widowmaker". Not once has any of it turned out to be correct.

    It's like a game of telephone, some incident happens, it gets blown out of proportion, and then everyone chimes in. I'm with Mike4947. Enjoy what you have, be intelligent/responsible. Understand and maintain your vehicle.

    I love taboo vehicles because the price is low, and they work great. The local YMCA sailing school has several Pearson hulls and they're in rotation with the others in no better or worse condition.
     
  12. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    I've made pretty good progress on the large hole in the hull. I made a backing mold from the other side of the boat and epoxied it to the inside of my hole. I was originally going to use screws through the backing mold tied off to various points around the garage to hold it in place while the epoxy cured. However, this piece was way too big for that. So I cut it in half and did the larger half by reaching my hand in through the other side of the hole and holding it in place. I wanted to do the small side by reaching my hand through the freshly cut inspection port in the front of the cockpit, but my arm was too fat, and the girlfriend's arm was too short. So I used screws and fishing line for the small half. It ended up pretty well.

    mold in

    [​IMG]

    I glassed over it with 5 layers- mat, fabric, mat, fabric, fabric of increasing size. I used the mat, fabric, and resin from home depot. It feels damn solid. The top layer was a little bumpy in the pics because the resin kicked a little faster than I expected and I boogered a little of it up. But I have since sanded it all down and laid down another coat of resin to smooth it out a bit.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I actually managed to use resin fairly successfully as a fairing compound. I cut up some scrap cloth into very small pieces and mixed that in with the resin to give it a little extra strength. I figured it would be pretty similar to the "bondo-glass" stuff they sell haha. It worked well and smoothed out fine, but kicked super fast. not sure if the glass fibers caused that or if I messed up my ratios. Who knows if adding the chopped glass did anything, but it can't hurt I suppose. I'll grab pics of that later.

    I think I've decided that I'm going to replace the rivets in the gunwale with fresh ones and just glass over them and blend it with the rest of the boat. It can't get any uglier.

    more pics later :)
     
  13. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    Nice job. I'm at "taped off and ready for primer" on mine. Jamestown was backordered on West primer, but should be here today or tomorrow.

    I used 180 grit on a palm sander to knock down the epoxy level with the hull, then put in some body putty (West fairing compound), let it cure, then sanded it down again last night with 300. Smooth as the regular hull now. With my eyes closed, I can barely tell it's there when running my hand over it.

    Actually, varnishing all the woodwork on the fish is taking a lot more work than the hull. Finished a third coat on everything (dagger/rudder/tiller) and it's glossy and pretty. Sanding between coats was the big improvement. And using a foam brush instead of a bristle.

    I'm going to flip it over and remove the combing tonight and prep/fair it.

    Great job doing the two piece backing mold. Makes sense on one that big. You say it's "damn solid". I'd like to thump on it and see how it feels. It's amazing to me that fiberglass mat and epoxy can be so strong across such a large span.

    Guess you'll know when you take her out for a maiden voyage! Keep up the good work and updates. Really enjoying following this.
     
  14. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    What makes the varnishing so difficult? I made a new tiller and have been slapping a coat of varnish on it every time I'm out there working on the boat. It seems to be coming out really well and I haven't bothered sanding between coats. The key I've found is to do VERY thin coats. I'm using a small can of interior varnish though, so maybe it's different. I just couldn't justify spar varnish for 3x's the price. All my boat stuff is stored indoors, so I really think it'll last as long as the bending of the wood doesn't make it crack. I was thinking about redoing the rudder and daggerboard, but I think I'll just give em a wetsanding.

    I was very surprised at how strong it was. When you thump on it, it sounds stronger than the original glass on the hull elsewhere. We'll see how it holds up though. Sailing season will be here soon. High of 76° today!
     
  15. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    Warm here too! Until the moment I get out of work that is, when it drops thirty degrees in thirty minutes. Grr. (Oklahoma).

    I've never varnished anything before, and I am in Pettitt spar varnish. I believe it has a little tint and a lot of UV protection in it. My keelboat tiller has never been maintained, and was tired. I am learning as I go, and the process supposedly is that you should sand between coats. It's turning out really nice.

    If I don't sand, the varnish has almost a sandy feel to the top of it. Looks glossy, but feels a little rough. I didn't know if that would translate to a cloudy finish if I just varnished over it. I figured why no give it a little sanding.

    The sanding takes me about three or four minutes per piece if that. The cleanup of varnish takes longer. I have to clean the brush/mixing cup with thinner, wipe it out, etc.

    I switched to varnishing the pieces as they are hanging from string in the garage. That's helped with time now that I can do all sides at once.

    I'm also hitting them every time I go in the garage like you said. Just a matter of time.

    Glad the patch turned out so strong. I really need to get off my ass and take pictures of my restore to add to the content on this build like you are.
     
  16. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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  17. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    Supposedly my year they switched to aluminum backing plates, but good point.
     
  18. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    I've been reading a lot about fiberglass repairs, and read that polyester resin (ie the 3m stuff from home depot) is air inhibited. This means that it doesn't fully cure when exposed to air. While this stuff I have will cure when exposed to air, it cures crazy fast if you slap a sheet of wax paper over it. Just something I figured out and thought I'd share with the class.
     
  19. ssshield

    ssshield Member

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    Brilliant tip. That needs to go in the FAQ.
     
  20. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    Should I put in a bailer or no? A previous owner removed it and I think glassed the hole with some marine tex over it. Either way it's not there anymore and the patch is solid (on the bottom side at least). I've read a lot of people say they're more trouble than they're worth. But I also like to sail aggressively and tend to get some water in the cockpit.....especially since I'm missing a coaming! Eventually I plan on buying a coaming, supposedly intensity will be selling one for $100. Although that won't be for a while......too many hobbies, not enough $$$.

    Anyways, just wanted to get opinions from those who have owned bailer equipped boats. Thanks!
     

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