Bow handle fiberglass repair - tips?

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by huttcraft, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. huttcraft

    huttcraft New Member

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    I just bought a Sunfish, I think an '81, in fairly good shape with the exception of significant fiberglass damage around the bow handle. Evidently while stored it was dropped or compressed upside-down with its weight on the handle, crushing the glass.

    [​IMG]

    The handle is still secure but I think the backing wood block has delaminated from the fiberglass. The boat has not been in the water for several years and doesn't feel waterlogged, but what I can see of the wood backer suggests it's seen some weather.

    For the repair I'm hoping I can get away with the following: for access, adding a 5-6" inspection hatch aft of the handle area; dremeling-out the area of glass damage; replacing the original wood backer with a new marine ply backing block wider than the hole; gluing the new backer in place; patching the hole with layered glass and gelcoat, then redrilling and reinstalling the handle.

    Any thoughts? I'm grateful for any words of wisdom. I've never chopped into a Sunfish before so I'm not completely sure where the handle's support comes from or what obstacles I'm going to run into. For instance would it be easier to remove the aluminum trim channel around the bow and separate the hull halves to get at this repair? I'm looking for the easiest, most effective way to do this. Thanks in advance for all assistance.

    Dave
     
  2. minas man

    minas man Member

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    Welcome to the forum Dave. Lots of good information in forum and in the Sunfish KB & FAQ. Use the search in the forum to find specific info for your repair. With a hole that size I would suggest weighing the hull to determine if hull has had water in it and if it is heavier than 130 lbs then another inspection port will aid the drying out.
    The newer boats use aluminum backing for hardware but I do not no which is better. One other thing that I have done to ease forces on my deck is to mount a cleat for the halyard on the mast. This takes the pressure off the fairlead on the deck and puts it on the mast. Still use the fairlead and deck cleat to keep rigging attached to boat if you upset. This link has details on this and other questions
    ><>Don<><
    www.sunfishclass.org/frequent/index.htm#How can I determine the age of a Sunfish
     
  3. fbjru

    fbjru Member

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    I would recommend installing a 6" inspection port aft of the bow handle. Just cut the hole first and cover the rough cut edges in tape so you don't get fiberglass in your arm while working. Actually mounting the port last, when you're all done, will give you more room to work. Unscrew the bow handle and remove bolts. Backing should also fall out. Patch the whole area with fiberglass from underneath. I would'nt remove too much of the original material. This way you can keep most of the original gel coat and it will look better without having to re-gelcoat. When its all done and dry re-attach the bow handle by drilling new holes and using a new and larger backing. I would recommend using a piece of cutting board for backing; It's cheap, does'nt rot, and you can screw into it like wood.

    hope this helps
     
  4. huttcraft

    huttcraft New Member

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    Hi fbjru -- thanks for the tip! One point of clarification: when you say "cutting board" are you thinking of one made of a particular material? ie. wood, composite, bamboo...

    Dave
     
  5. WOP31

    WOP31 Hello

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    I believe he is talking about using plastic cutting board material. I have seen mention of it before on here. Really it is a good idea giving the durability and versatility of the material.
     
  6. minas man

    minas man Member

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    Yes I have used polyethylene cutting board for backing hardware a posted on this forum. You can get it at thrift stores or yard sales.
    Use the same tools as you would for woodworking and treat it like hardwood for screws. Pre drill for threads and shank and counter sinking.

    www.sunfishforum.com/showthread.php?t=32553

    This link is for inspection port placement.
    I used this plastic cutting board for hiking strap backing and mainsheet block.
    www.sunfishforum.com/showthread.php?t=32564

    Superstore has 1 inch made in USA cutting polyethylene boards.
    ><>Don<><
     

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