restoring an old one

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by skute327, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    Hi,
    I am working on an old sunfish and i am looking to remove the foam from inside the hull. now i searched for help on this and found that the mere mention of this seemed to cause anguish in the sunfish community.
    let me explain:
    this boat weighs about 300+ pounds. it takes 3 guys to lift and sits in the water about 2'' from the rub rail. the foam must come out! there must be like 20 gallons of water stuck in there. that would take a decade to dry out. i'd also rather not cut a bunch of inspection holes. this boat has been in the family since it was new in 1962. i would hate to see it go.

    someone else on here mentioned separating the deck and hull at the rub rail and pulling the foam through the gap. this keeps the cockpit, board slot and mast attached. this is the approach i would like to take.

    the problem: i removed the rub rail but the deck and hull are surprisingly well attached. in fact, there is no visible seam whatsoever.

    i attached pictures of the seam under the rub rail.
    if anyone knows of another way or how to break this seam, please help.

    thanks
     

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  2. Geophizz

    Geophizz Member

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    The Yahoo Sunfish Sailor group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sunfish_sailor/) has detailed instructions on how to remove and replace the foam in a Sunfish. It's not for the faint of heart.

    You'll have to join the group, but it's free and easy, and there's a ton of information about fixing and restoring Sunfish. Good Luck!
     
  3. imported_memnar

    imported_memnar New Member

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    Look back thru this forum - it may not be worth it to split the boat.

    It will be a million times easier to cut some inspection ports and do the repair that way, and then it can be dried out after the next sailing adventure.

    If you just split the hull and replace the foam, you might be back to a heavy boat in a year or so if it can't air out.

    good luck...
     
  4. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    thanks for the link, that is very helpful. it is beginning to look like i'm opening a can of worms. it seems the foam has some structural value to it as well. i have worked with old boats before, and once foam absorbs water, it is usually shot. it can be dried but once it gets wet again it soaks the water up like a sponge. especially when it is this old. my plan was to remove and not replace it. it appears i may need to strengthen the hull after removing the foam.


    i'm not going to race this one. the resto is more for sentimental reasons i'm not really concerned with keeping it "legal"

    thank you again for the quick responses!
     
  5. DanB

    DanB Crabber

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    it appears i may need to strengthen the hull after removing the foam.

    They have some pictures over there of a 60s boat with the deck lifted and the foam cleaned out. Ask who’s boat that was and see if they have any insights from the experience. I recall an exchange from last summer where an owner with a situation like yours was considering some sort of honeycomb ribs to replace the lost support and putting in those shipping bladders Lasers use for the backup floats. Race legal looks like it’s probably a moot point. Doubt anyone worth their salt will even bring it up. :eek:

    .
     
  6. cflscorpion

    cflscorpion New Member

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  7. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    so... heres what i did:
    weight= 225 lbs (a lot lighter than i thought but still heavy)
    i used a sharpened putty knife to separate the deck and hull slightly. i started in the middle of the transom. i used a sawzall with a thin fine blade to cut about a foot forward. this allowed me to take a good look at what I'm working with. the block of wood that holds the rudder is rotted and this makes for a good opportunity to replace that. while its apart i will also replace the other two blocks that hold the cable.

    the foam is in remarkable good shape. it is clean and dry. the foam is molded to the shape of the deck. the fiberglass deck is very thin (about 3/32'' ) it requires the foam to hold its shape. if the foam were removed it would be nearly impossible to recreate the original shape.

    i am going to leave the foam in in the back.

    there is still 100 pounds of water in there somewhere. i am reluctant to continue opening the hull. even with a sawzall it is a PITA:mad:

    at this point i am beginning to think drying may be a better option. id hate to put in a bunch of inspection ports in, they are ugly and never seal perfectly watertight.
     
  8. Porpoise2

    Porpoise2 New Member

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    I had a similar problem, but didn't have to remove all the foam. My hull would ooze water for days when stored on its edge. :(

    It may be possible to dry the foam by taping black plastic film on the hull and store the hull in direct sunlight with the drainhole downwards and opened. Inspection ports with fan-forced warm air would speed the process.

    That's been my experience as well. Good or new foam does have structural value. Soaked foam is no better than a sponge. In fact, when removed, it can be used as a sponge! :eek:

    My "other" hull has loose foam blocks and the bottom has an annoying "boing-boing" sound effect when sailing into waves and wakes.

    I'm all for sentiment, but you need to sentimentally enjoy sailing this boat once again. Try drying it in the sun as above. Water will run out fast—at first—through the drain amidships.

    If it's still heavy, add one 6" inspection port in front of the daggerboard trunk for faster drying. If the foam once again shows the problem (loses structural support or acts as a water-sponge), consider stacking pre-glued foam in long, narrow strips through the port until support (and dryness) returns.

    Your weight problem may only be in one end or the other (of the boat :) ). A 6" port will make both repairs and future water removal (due to condensation or undetermined leaks) more efficient.

    Most folks who have installed two ports wouldn't go back. ;)
     
  9. DanB

    DanB Crabber

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    Depends on what foam you are seeing. Yellow color was the pour-foam that set the white float blocks. The blocks are cut in rectangles. The pour-foam makes the contour with the deck. By the many accounts here, Sunfish seems to use higher quality foam than other builders. It recovers without degradation more often than in other boats. With the aft deck open you could put in a center deck plate and have the venting of two ports. Sounds like you’re gonna need the access to put in new backing wood up front too. There’s a guide to drying at that link Geophizz pointed you to that covers several options. At 100# your job looks like a doable one.
     
  10. mike4947

    mike4947 Member

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    Skute, over the years we've dried out a lot of boats using access ports. If you have a leaking port problem it's with the installation. We've never had a 4", 5", or 6" port leak if installed properly.
    One in between the splash rail and dagger board trunk and a second n the rear deck and then if possible a source to blow air into one. Also leave the ports out until you are finished. The extra inch or so of the rough opening makes reaching in a lot easier.
    Water weight will drop like a stone as the outside of the blocks dry out. It will then slow down as it takes as long for the inner water to migrate back to the surface as it did to soak up originally.
    As for the blocks we've gone to stainless plates with appropriate holes drilled and tapped in them rather than wood and epoxied in place.
     
  11. Porpoise2

    Porpoise2 New Member

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    A good observation, Dan. My account was from a clonefish—a Porpoise II—though it's been joined by a '76 Sunfish.

    Looking again at skute's photos, what part of an "actual Sunfish" am I looking at? :confused:
     
  12. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    i must agree on the quality of the foam, as you can see, the foam in the stern appears to be in perfect condition impressive for being 45 years old.
    the weight must be in the bow area.


    stainless plates sound like a good idea.
    sorry if my pics were unclear, heres some more:
     

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  13. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    were these boats always about 120 pounds? is it possible that the older ones were heavier??
    i sent a camera taped to a long piece of pvc and sent it through the hull to take a look at the foam in the bow. the foam up there is clean and dry looking like the foam in the back. there is no water in here!! why does my boat weigh 225 pounds???
     
  14. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    the view from inside
    unfortunately the security cam outputs an analog signal that i cannot transfer directly to the computer. (i don't have a converter) the view in there is cool. i know a lot of people wanted pics of the inside of the hull. i'll see what i can do.
     

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  15. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    i hope i look this good when i turn 47 haha jk
     

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  16. DanB

    DanB Crabber

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    were these boats always about 120 pounds?

    The chart at Sunfish Sailors shows the 1960s Alcort boats were listed in the brochures at 139#. Commentary here and elsewhere say even that was subject to variability due to being hand built. Consensus seems to be + or - 10# is within the norm.


    You sure got a lot of pour foam in your boat. When I was maintaining four family boats of that vintage none of them had quite that much.


    there is no water in here!! why does my boat weigh 225 pounds???

    You were expecting puddles? :confused: . . . It's inside the float cells. :eek:
    Remember all that cell wall transfer stuff from middle school biology? Osmotic passage across a membrane. Read the explanation Geophizz steered you to. It's all laid out in plain language pretty much. Makes understanding what works for drying and what doesn't a whole bunch clearer.

    .
     

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  17. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    i wasn't expecting puddles but 47 years worth of salt water should leave some evidence of existence no? it looks brand new in there. i cut down inti the foam and pulled out the piece i took a picture of. even the inside is clean and dry. give it 150#, that still leaves 75# of water thats about 9 gallons.

    if you could see what i saw on the monitor, you might think i pulled apart a 2002 sunfish
     
  18. DanB

    DanB Crabber

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    I'm stumped then. I was going along with the forward floats being the ones affected. Since you say they too are dry, what then - pig iron in the keel, stones in the cargo hold??

    Maybe you have a geophysical phenomena like at my house. Gravity is stronger in some spots. I know it's real strong right about where I have my bathroom scale situated.
     
  19. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    haha thats quite possible.
    i made an breakthrough discovery while wet sanding the bow. the mast hole leaks into the hull. i will have to devise a way to get the camera between the pieces of foam in the bow to check it out. this may lead to the problem.
     
  20. skute327

    skute327 New Member

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    do you know if in that picture you put up, there is foam missing? i have a large block of foam there it extends from the mast to the front of the CB. and it looks soggy...
     

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