Newly Acquired Sunfish

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by MarkP, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Hello,

    I recently acquired a 1977 sunfish! Very excited about sailing it this summer.

    [​IMG]

    Hull came in weighing about 160lb. That was before removing the drain plug and emptying it out. Once the weather got warmer, I decided to start looking into cutting an inspection port a few inches aft of the coaming (need to reattach the coaming/screws are rusted out/coaming is loose but attached) . As I moved the hull around I heard a few loose items inside. It was either going to be multiple backing blocks or ice. Thankfully, it was ice... so it shed a couple more pounds! (the boat only sat outdoors for a few weeks, not years. Hopefully the initial weight upon acquiring it (prior to draining it) means something positive .

    [​IMG]

    While there are several patches inside the cockpit, thankfully the previous owner did not sand the gelcoat in order to create a good bonding surface. Those ugly patches can mostly be scraped off using a spatula. I will repair them properly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Besides installing a port at the bow so that I can install a new bow-handle backing plate, refinish the rudder and center-board, and some repairs to the gel coat, I feel like a got a project which is just right for the couple of hundreds spent.

    I understand the hull drying topic has been discussed many times on this forum, however, I have a few questions and would also appreciate some feedback from some of the more experienced members.

    Would one port be enough to dry this sunfish? (Since all I need to loose is about 15lb (may be less due to the water/ice I took out), I believe it would be ok, even If it takes a few sessions/I'm about 140lb myself so maybe a bit heavier hull helps with the solo sailing a bit.

    Would a 250w heat lamp be overkill or damage the hull?/I currently have a 60w shop light inside the hull with some air circulation. Any objections about leaving the 60W bulb on inside the hull for several weeks? Let the record show that the outside air temp here in MI is approximately 50 F.

    [​IMG]

    I look forward to your feedback. I hope to document my progress so that other newcomers may benefit from my own experience as well.

    Also, Anyone in the Detroit Metro area?? Lets go sailing this summer.
     
  2. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    28
    The 65 watt bulb is fine, 250 watt is way too much. You might try filling in the
    screw holes with dowels and epoxy then re-drilling.

    I use two ports and a computer case fan to get airflow blowing out one of the ports. Winter
    is the best time for this due to low humidity.
     
  3. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I'll keep the 250W bulb just in case I want to work on any gelcoat/resin before it gets warm enough. I'll try with one port for now as I am a bit hesitant about cutting another inspection port in the stern (as well as the soon to be one in the bow)... although something inside me tells me I'll end up with three ports.

    Regarding the screws, I plan to drill them out and evaluate the current holes. I may try to rivet the coaming in place with some 5200 sealant. If I can get a stainless steel machine screws in there backed by some nuts and washers, that would be ideal. However, the foam blocks seem to interfere with that plan. Can one drill a pilot hole into fiberglass and simply insert a screw? That would only cause delamination if the pilot hole is not sized correctly?
     
  4. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    28
    The fiberglass is too thin to simply drill and screw, you need some type of backing plate.
    There is a alternative called "rivet-nuts" or "rivnuts." This is what they used to attach the
    splash rail with before they simply riveted it on. With the addition of 5200 sealant this might be strong enough for the
    bow handle. There is another alternative by popping the deck loose but this is tricky and
    I'd exhaust other methods first.
     
  5. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    138
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Another 1976/1977 "Anniversary model" Sunfish —$700— sold at auction:
    Auction Price on '76 Sunfish... | SailingForums.com

    The splashguard/rail / combing had been previously knocked off my borrowed Sunfish. :eek: I sailed it without the splashguard in place, but it was clear that the splashguard added surprising strength after kneeling on the :oops: deck. As a favor to my loaner-benefactor-parent-to-boys, I sealed the existing holes in the hull, covered them by moving the splashguard 3/8-inches forward, caulking with a water-soluble caulk (i.e., soluble until dry), and drilling new screw holes for the S/S screws. (In case it got knocked off again). :confused: Caulking is really unnecessary, as the fit is tight against even "blue water" over the bow.

    The Styrofoam™ flotation does interfere with any new outer fasteners. As my winter-damaged deck suffered 3/8-inch holes, I found long plastic mollies —$5 each— that carried a stainless steel attachment plate into which a ¼-20 S/S bolt will thread. (Glue the plate in place, and discard the plastic parts):
    Bedding deck hardware | SailingForums.com

    To replace the bow handle, I'd suggest using the bow handle as a template, and drilling a new aluminum backing plate. Installation by cutting a rectangle through the hull's side will eliminate the need for trying to match new deck gelcoat. :confused: It's tight in there, so cut 'way forward. For a bow handle replacement, I used S/S oval-head bolts, not screws.

    .
     
  6. tag

    tag my2fish

    Likes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Mark P, nice boat! You're on the right track - I'd probably stick with the lower wattage bulb and then add a small fan to get air flowing through the boat.

    I'm in the metro Detroit area, and there is a club of Sunfish sailors as well. I haven't personally had a chance to sail with them yet, but they have several scheduled races on area lakes over the summer, and coordinate a couple longer camping weekends to sail together as well. I'd look into joining their Yahoo message group Yahoo! Groups to get more details where/when they sail.
     
  7. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Noted.
    Rivets seem like the simplest bet. However, the rivnuts would allow for simpler coaming removal in the future, it seems. I'll look into the rivnuts for the bow handle. However, does not sounds as sturdy as a 1/4" aluminum backing plate.

    If that same boat sold for $700, it seems like I didn't do too badly myself.
    I'll look into the mollies. Rivets seem so simple though. Doesn't laser performance simply rivet the coaming to the deck? Or did they change their procedure?

    By cutting the side I'd then have to match gelcoat anyways I guess. Because of that, my plan was to install a 4" inspection port at the bow.

    Now that you mention gelcoat...Does anyone have any experience repairing some gelcoat chips on their hull? Does anyone sell pre-mixed gelcoat in the right tone of white?


    Thanks Tag, I'll look into the group. Maybe we could meet up once the weather is warm.
     
  8. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    138
    Trophy Points:
    63
    If you haven't put a second inspection port into your boat, consider a fan and a long hose—like a dryer hose—to move air deeper inside the hull.

    Cutting access into the side means that bow handle repairs will be more difficult to detect: boat numbers can be strategically placed. :cool:

    OTOH, a second vent to dry the hull is desirable. :)

    Members Webfoot1 and mixmkr have some words on "matching" gelcoat color. ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  9. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Noted. Sounds like a plan to me. I'll reach out and ask for some guidance then.

    Also, found the reason why the coaming is stuck in place. Looks like the drill and rotary tool will be my friends this weekend. Look at the bright side, though... That backing block is dry and also where it should be.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

    Likes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Better yet, cut on the bottom of the hull to access... skip the side...you'll still see that repair, unless you do a professional job. The bottom not so much?? I then took some West epoxy and "glued" in some alum backing plates on the underside of the deck and tapped the holes and used machine screws for the hardware. Probably not a great salt water combo (alum and stainless), but you can patch the hole back up and still remove hardware...should you ever need/want to....not to mention I'd feel comfortable lifting my fish totally, using the traveler and bow handle now...or yank it on to a dock with just the bow handle. But...I sail on the lake, not the docks! ;-D

    I had a thread about this awhile back
     
  11. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

    Likes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    28
  12. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Definitely the first time I've seen someone take that approach. I'll look into it, however, I'm trying to a void doing any more fiberglass work like the plague. The easiest solution which will get me on the water ASAP would be the inspection port a few inches behind the handle.

    Just ordered some hardware today. Will let you guys know if I there is any progress this weekend.
     
  13. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    28
    If you don't want fiberglass work, consider popping the front of the deck from the hull. When it goes well
    all you need is a strip of fiberglass mat in the seam when you clamp things back together. This method
    was my last project choice as I think two inspection ports in the standard locations are enough. I just can't
    handle the atheistics of a third port. I have a boat I might fix up this summer and it looks like
    rivnuts for the Splash Rail. The bow handle will be rivnuts or popping the deck. Since someone
    filled the deck seam with Silicon Sealer it will probably the latter. All other backing plates can
    be reached with the two standard port locations. You could just skip the handle till fall but it's
    kind of a pain to lift and transport without one. Notice how the old wooden Sunfish had handles
    on the transom. I think I might install a couple on my boats as it would greatly help in lifting.
     
  14. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    138
    Trophy Points:
    63
    My aging bow handle disintegrated in my hand, so as a temporary replacement, I used a length of plumber's strap, and short length of outboard starter cord and handle. (Seen on roto-molded kayaks, and actually worked pretty well on my Sunfish). :)

    You're going to need something there. :confused:

    With two handles on the transom, plus some epoxy-engineering, you could fashion a Walker Bay 8 "Wheel in a Keel". Mold the $30 kit into the bow. (Especially those who are replacing a broken-off bow). Reviewers say the wheel works well.

    Could this $30 kit be the answer to building a Sunfish dolly?

    Fullscreen capture 3252017 101256 AM.bmp.jpg

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    28
  16. andyatos

    andyatos Active Member

    Likes Received:
    116
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Having recently refurbished a severely abused Sunfish, that appears to have been manufactured close to the same year as yours, here's some feedback. First, a summary of what I was faced with and had to do.

    - The boat had 3 inspection ports when I got it. One in the stern, one just behind the splash guard and one behind the bow handle.
    - I had to replace every single backing block on the boat, including the bow handle.
    - To fix the pathetic repair to the mashed bow, I had to split the deck from the hull in the bow area.

    I could have fitted a new backing block for the bow handle via the front inspection port but had to split the deck from the hull anyways so I did the bow handle backing block work via the big opening from the split.

    I thought it would be a simple matter of just putting in a nice piece of hardwood for the bow handle backing block. But I discovered that the original bow handle backing block had been squished into some thickened adhesive when the boat was made. The result was that there wasn't a smooth surface on the underside of the deck for my new backing block but an undulation of "hills and valleys" of super hard adhesive that was going to need to be grinded flat... unless I made my new backing block in the exact same dimensions as the original, tiny, inadequate backing block.

    Grinding this old adhesive away wasn't that big a deal because I had the bow area split open but I can't imagine how this would have been if I had tried to do it through the bow inspection port. So, you may want to consider this before you cut a bow inspection port.

    The other thing was every time I looked at that bow inspection port, particularly when I was sailing, it really bugged me. Plus, the dude who had cut it out didn't even cut it out along the centerline of the boat! It was slightly off the centerline, which bugged me even more.

    So, if I was in your situation, here's what I'd do. The loads on the bow handle... when used properly... are almost always in shear. Meaning, pulling the bowline horizontally for example. Also, I never pick up the boat or move it around by using the bow handle, ie, lifting vertically on the handle. That's because the material those bow handles are made of aren't that strong and I've witnessed older ones just break off in a person's hand when they tried to lift the bow using the handle.

    So, I'd consider doing your bow handle work in two phases. First, install rivnuts for the handle and mount the handle. Then baby your bow handle for this season. If you make sure you only apply shear forces to the handle, the deck glass only should be able to handle it and you should be fine.

    Then, next winter remove the forward section of your aluminum rub rail along the gunnel, carefully split the hull from the deck in the bow area, grind smooth the undersurface of the deck if need be, install a nice, large, robust backing block and mount your bow handle. Then close up the deck and hull seem. This way, you'll preserve the finish of your nice deck up forward and won't have to look at an inspection port when you sail.

    Also, I would not use bolts to anchor your handle to the backing block. I would use screws and a hardwood backing block. Why? Because those handles corrode and wear out faster than you think. And they aren't as strong as you think. So, if (when) the handle fails, it's a simple matter of backing out the screws and replacing the handle with a new one. I did this with a very old Sunfish I have back east where the corroded handle... yup... broke off in my friend's hand when he tried to lift the bow with the handle. But it was a quick and simple replacement because there were screws, not bolts and nuts.

    But if you have used bolts, with nuts on the inside of the deck, you've got problems. Unless you permanently mount those nuts inside somehow. Also, by using a wood backing block and screws, you can just move the handle a bit forward or aft and have access to fresh wood to anchor in when you swap out the handle.

    Cheers,

    - Andy
     
  17. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Now ya tell me.... I used stainless steel screws and lock nuts before I sealed it back up. I figured the
    new handle would last longer than me. How about bedding a stainless steel plate in 3M 5100 and
    putting a layer of fiberglass over the plate.
     
  18. andyatos

    andyatos Active Member

    Likes Received:
    116
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I think a stainless steel plate with 5100 would be just fine as a backing device. So long as you can permanently anchor the nuts for your bolts into position. Then if you bust the handle, swapping out a new one is no big deal.

    Speaking of bolts vs screws, I have my halyard fairlead through bolted with stainless steel bolts and nuts. I did this because of the vertical forces involved when I tighten down my vang using that fairlead. But if I had to replace that fairlead, I can still get to those nuts because of the inspection port that I installed in the forward wall of the cockpit.

    It would take some creativity to get a wrench or ratchet the 45 inch distance to those nuts but it can be done. And I can see that backing block and hardware from the cockpit when I have a light inside the hull. But reaching 4 nuts and bolts at the bow handle from the cockpit? That would be pretty hard.

    - Andy
     
  19. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I'm liking the idea of popping the deck open... That would keep the deck looking nice plus doesn't seem like it will take more than an afternoon, assuming I have everything ready.

    I'd most likely install a stainless steel plate that has been tapped for some stainless steel screws. It will never rot and I wont have to worry about it becoming lose (I'll put some thread locker on the machine screws).

    I removed the coaming... I truly dislike corroded rivnuts haha. Had to use a rotary tool to grind the screw heads flat so I could then drill the screw heads out. Once the coaming was off I was able to remove what was left of the corroded rivnuts. I only have one enlarged hole which I will repair with some resin today. I will most likely install it using some rivets today. Rivnuts are way over the budget. Any recommendations on sealant? I'm thinking of using some silicone for the coaming and rivets. I have read some objections to this but the "marine" silicone is sometimes the same exact thing as the silicone that costs $10 less per tube. I'd also use this silicone to seal the deck plate behind the coaming.
     
  20. MarkP

    MarkP Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Update time.

    Here we can see the aftermath of the deck coaming removal. All of the holes, except for one of ones you see in the picture, are within spec and were not damaged by the corroding rivnuts.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Are these cracks below the rub rail anything to be concerned about (found in several spots) ? *I've yet to perform a full on leak test. I.m considering removing the rub rail so that I can inspect the seams and do a good job at doing some gelcoat (also, some rivets are loose)

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page