1950's Wood Sailfish restore...

Thread starter #1
Hello, I'm in the middle of restoring a 1954 Sailfish. Over the past few days I have stripped and sanded the boat down to bare wood, and have found no rot. I am fixing the little keel strip and am wondering what to paint the boat with. I have never worked on any boats before, but am fairly handy with wood.

However, this means I don't know what kind of paint to use. I want something that goes on thick, but not too thick as to reveal the brush strokes. Also, I have the original red and white sail, and I was wondering if anyone had any idea what the original color scheme was?
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#2
Hello, I'm in the middle of restoring a 1954 Sailfish.

I don't know what kind of paint to use. I want something that goes on thick, but not too thick as to reveal the brush strokes.
If you are restoring a pontoon (fully enclosed) style hull you'll need to inspect the whole inside to be sure there's no dry rot or failing joints ... in the same manner Chip Foose (Overhaulin') restores collector cars. What you have described so far is a repaint.

Painting a wood boat benefits from making sure the wood is not dry, as in devoid of natural oils that keep the grain from dry splitting. You may want to read up on "drying oils" such as Linseed and tung oil to see which type suits your project best. If you decide to treat the bare wood before painting, I believe you want the boiled rather than the "raw" variety.

Sailfish were built from the marine plywood of the day. Most likely originally painted with oil based paint. Today, the modern marine finish of choice is polyurethane topside paint, though phenolic (oil base) marine finishes are still in use too.

Most modern paint is pretty good at self-leveling (brush strokes smooth out). The "roll and tip" application method can create a finish that looks close to a spray job.

This site gives a good look at the variety of marine paints available ... no endorsement ... just an example.
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/main.do

Each brand will have pointers at the manufacturer's web site for getting a good job using their paint on different surfaces. Success is mostly in the prep.


Also, I have the original red and white sail, and I was wondering if anyone had any idea what the original color scheme was?
In 1954 the sail supplied by Alcort (kit boat or pre-built) was an all white cotton sail made by Ratsey-Lapthorn.



Restoration by Judkei

This was also about the time there was a transition to a Nylon sail and those were available in solid white, solid red or solid blue. In the 1940s the Sailfish was a plan boat built by DIY back-yard builders. During that period owners had the option to make their own sail or buy a ready-made through Alcort.




Alcort supplied sails in a striped pattern didn't appear until around 1959.


Sailfish Brochure c1960

An owner could ... and still can sew any pattern they desire.


.
 
Thread starter #3
Thanks for the response. The wood is in mostly good shape. There are a few soft spots I plan on patching with fiberglass. Pulling the top on this boat would be more trouble than it's worth, and it doesn't seem too necessary given the condition. It's good to know the original paint was oil based, and hopefully unleaded. Conventional paint stripper did quite a job on the several layers of recent paint, but didn't even touch the base red. I sanded most of it off.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#4
Pulling the top on this boat would be more trouble than it's worth, and it doesn't seem too necessary given the condition.
Ah. . ., you'd know best, having the boat in-hand. Sounds like a fun project.


It's good to know the original paint was oil based, and hopefully unleaded. Conventional paint stripper did quite a job on the several layers of recent paint, but didn't even touch the base red. I sanded most of it off.
Be cautious with any old paint. No telling what people used. The probability of oil based paint is high, but that doesn't preclude other types ... epoxy paint has been around a long time too, but quite an expense in those days.

I've seen a Blog about using Latex house paint because it's formulated for exposure to weather, however the article neglects to mention how long the person immerses their house each day, nor does it follow up with photos showing the success over a period of years.

Lead was common in paint through 1977.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_paint#Regulation

.
 
#5
I am a huge fan of two part primers and two part paints. Fill in all voids, apply two coats of 2 part primer, like Interprotect 2000, sand very smooth, and then 2-3 coats of Perfection paint ,using roll and tip method, and it will look like it was sprayed on. I tend to put the paint on very thin with as much as 40% thinner. It requires more coats but comes out nicer. If you are working outdoors, you need a day without any dust in the air, like after a rain shower. A conditions vary you may find other ratios work better.

This is a hard paint, if you screw it up--get bugs on it or drips, sand it down and re-apply. I've bashed into pilings covered with barnacles and the damage was minimal.

On the other hand, a wooden boat looks very nice varnished--probably my choice unless you are covering up some repairs.
 
Thread starter #6
Originally, I was planning on varnishing the whole boat, but there has been some fiberglass repair of the wood on the underside, and the top is just plywood. I will varnish the sides, but the top and bottom will be Interlux 4359 Brightside white...(I think, haven't entered my credit card data just yet) It's only a one part paint, and some of the video I have seen of painted surfaces using the roll and tip method look pretty nice.

I guess the drawback is it scratches pretty easily, which will be important, especially where the tiller touches the boat.

The one picture is right after I bought the boat last fall. The other two are of it in my barn this morning.





 
#7
I really like the Interlux paints, and used it for the deck of my Super Porpoise sunfish clone. However, I made a mistake and accidentally spilled about 1/3 of the container on the concrete in front of my garage. Two powerwasher sessions, and a couple gallons of mineral spirits, bleach, etc. and my concrete is still a bit blue!

I rolled the paint on and then touched up with a brush, I found that as long as i used enough paint, the finish came out really nice. Areas of the boat were I was low on paint (due to the mishap), look a little more "amateur" in quality.

The biggest recommendation I would have is that the preparation is the most important part of any painting job is in the preparation, so make sure you've got it sanded just how you want it!
 
Thread starter #8
Sounds like an expensive mistake. Not to mention a bit messy. I've been sanding by hand and filling all old screw holes and nicks to get a perfect finish. I can't wait for my order to get here...if we have more days like today, this will be done before May and I'll be left twiddling my thumbs waiting for the lakes to warm up.
 
#9
You know, it's been three years of misshaps and things going wrong with this restoration, but the end is in sight, so I feel good about it. I suppose the trials and tribulations make it all the more worth it in the end.

Let the lakes warm up? Psh, I watch videos of those guys out on the east coast braving the chilled waters, and I decided that the day mine is done she's going in the water. But, it's a little different with a sailfish, I can at least attempt to stay dry. ;-)

Best of luck with your refinishing. May it be less trying than mine has been!
 

HWD

New Member
#10
I have an old 1950s Sailfish that was sitting on someones lawn and I just picked up. I know next to nothing about boat restoration, or sailing for that matter, but am interested in carpentry and thought it would be a cool project.

Turns out its pretty rotted so I may have to abandon this all together, but I really have no idea. The keel strip is entirely rotted, I went to chip it out and its so soft that I just poked through. There was even a little water in the hull, which I drained. Its a bit damp on the inside but not totally rotted. Should I give up or are there ways to restore/fix this? I know that this is a mammoth question and a mammoth undertaking but if anyone has even little shreds or bits of advice--or if you know now that this is doomed to fail, a heads up would be great.

Thanks!

Devin
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#11
I have an old 1950s Sailfish that was sitting on someones lawn and I just picked up. I know next to nothing about boat restoration, or sailing for that matter, but am interested in carpentry and thought it would be a cool project.

Turns out its pretty rotted so I may have to abandon this all together, but I really have no idea. The keel strip is entirely rotted, I went to chip it out and its so soft that I just poked through. There was even a little water in the hull, which I drained. Its a bit damp on the inside but not totally rotted. Should I give up or are there ways to restore/fix this? I know that this is a mammoth question and a mammoth undertaking but if anyone has even little shreds or bits of advice--or if you know now that this is doomed to fail, a heads up would be great.

Thanks!

Devin
Hi Devin

Got pics? The good part is that the boat is made of wood, and every piece can be recreated with relative ease. You can make a new keel. The question is do you already have the tools, time and talent for the restoration? And some $$. If not, you can learn along the way and it will be fun, it is a great feeling to bring a boat back to the water. It can be dried out and when you put it back together and reseal it. You can paint it or clear coat it with epoxy, or do a combo. The Sailfish will take Sunfish parts and if you can't find the older parts for a rudder, you can adapt the new style rudder. The boats are a blast to sail, you WILL get wet :)

Plus you have a great group here to pass along tips and techniques.

Good luck
Kent
 

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