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1965 Alcort Sunfish WAVE Repairs

signal charlie

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Skipper learned to sail on Sunfish in college, who knew you could get college credit for that? PE, 4 electives! Then she helped teach the class. The College and University used the Sunfish, and that immediately became her favorite boats. After that she let her parents know to keep an eye out for one, and in 1994 they got a Sunfish from her Aunt. The family decided to name her WAVE, after a US Navy ship that her ancestor had sailed back in the days when ships were wood and men were steel. WAVE had travelled around a bit, had made it out to Hawaii and back. We hauled WAVE around from Corpus Christi, TX to Ft Worth and then out to Pensacola, Florida.

Over the last 54 years WAVE took some damage from a cannonball on her chine, and she fell over in storage and hit the edge of some landscape stones. I fixed the damage with a thick fiberglass bandaid and slapped on some paint. Her bow handle came off at one point and Capn Jack fashioned a beautiful and strong stainless backer plate. The parents found a beautiful Rivera sail. A previous owner sheared off the bottom of the metal DePersia bailer and thought best to fiberglass over it. She got painted and striped. We (I) put in a transom drain when she started leaking. And a few years ago we converted the rudder and she got a second rig, a Jolly Roger. Recently I noticed her starboard side foam bow block had come loose, probably from when the whale broached on top of her. So now she has a hodgepodge of paint, patches and holes and she rattles when flipped over. Despite all this, she is still dutifully hauling Skipper over crest and through trough. She is the Flagship, the Favored.

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With CHIP finished there was a space open in the Carriage House, so we put her on the Finishing Dolly and got to work. First order of business was to do an air leak test, we will use the drain plug housing as the airport. Cordless shop vac will provide the air and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid with water in a spray bottle the bubbles. WE bought this screwdriver a few years back specifically for deck drain plugs, nice fat head to fill that screw slot.

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A few bubbles around the bow handle.

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mixmkr

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Is the drain plug picture reversed?...or installed on a Friday on the opposite coaming?
 

signal charlie

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WAVE is special. She has a deck drain plug on both sides. And a drain hole for the cockpit on the deck, placed so if you set the boat on its port side against a wall, the cockpit deck drain hole is at the low point on the port bulkhead. Maybe they new she was going to Hawaii and she was going to be hanging ten.

 
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signal charlie

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Staff member
Now Skipper and I must have not slept well, because we tried the leak test with the shop vac hose on the cockpit drain hole first. I pointed in the general direction and she thought "I don't think that's right, but OK." I sprayed some soap on a known leak area and no bubbles. Hmmm. The I saw the hose and laughed. We then moved the hose to the hull drain and tried again. Still no bubbles. Hmmm. Then it dawned on me that I had not changed the hose around to the vac exhaust. More laughter and a comment that we should avoid power saws for the rest of the day. Tried again and voila! Bubbles from bow to stern.

Time to reseal.

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I was a fan of transom drains until I spent some time inside transoms and saw all of the foam back there, especially on the 70s boats with tons of expanding foam, or in some cases 38 pounds worth. Once we learned to fix the leaks vs drain the boat I wished I hadn't done the drain. It is a big hole right at the waterline, and on some boats it is hard for the water to make it back there. We are going to remove the drain and fiberglass the hole back to factory spec.

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Now this was a surprise.


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signal charlie

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Staff member
The Sunfish have a hull vent hole, to keep the hull from bulging from hot air inside and popping a seam or loosening a block. Most of the time the vent hole is on the forward cockpit bulkhead. On some boats, like WAVE, the vent hole is right through the middle of the Serial Number plate on the deck. Turns out WAVE's was plugged, so we reamed it out with a 9/64th inch drill bit.

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Took us years to notice that there is a Super Sailfish on the data tag along with the Sunfish. Too bad it doesn't come with the bigger daggerboard, it needs it.

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signal charlie

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Skipper got tired of lifting boats and flipping them, so she designed a boat hoist using Sunfish rigging.

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Grapes are coming in.

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While WAVE was airborne I fixed the bunk bungees, they are set to lightly pull the bunks flat when the boat is on them inverted. When the boat goes onto the dolly right side up, the bunks articulate to fit the V shape of the hull.

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signal charlie

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Staff member
1200 degrees ought to do it.

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40 grit on a random orbital sander, getting rid of flaky paint, old adhesive, fiberglass patch bits and top layer of crushed fiberglass. We'll use a file to get the hull trimmed back to good glass.

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signal charlie

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Staff member
SO the bottom of the bailer was sheared off, so someone covered it with a big blob of Never Be Gone glue.


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The inside of the bailer looked like this. I tried twisting, hammer taps and heat. Nothing worked.

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Since I will be repairing fiberglass anyway, I drilled out bits of the bailer and bits of the boat. Finally if came out.

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Removed the trim so we can sand the sides easier. used a 9/64th inch drill bit to remove the rivet head and body.

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We use a small block to tap the trim off. Be careful to not bend or break the trim around the rivet holes.

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norcalsail

Active Member
Skipper learned to sail on Sunfish in college, who knew you could get college credit for that? PE, 4 electives! Then she helped teach the class. The College and University used the Sunfish, and that immediately became her favorite boats. After that she let her parents know to keep an eye out for one, and in 1994 they got a Sunfish from her Aunt. The family decided to name her WAVE, after a US Navy ship that her ancestor had sailed back in the days when ships were wood and men were steel. WAVE had travelled around a bit, had made it out to Hawaii and back. We hauled WAVE around from Corpus Christi, TX to Ft Worth and then out to Pensacola, Florida.

Over the last 54 years WAVE took some damage from a cannonball on her chine, and she fell over in storage and hit the edge of some landscape stones. I fixed the damage with a thick fiberglass bandaid and slapped on some paint. Her bow handle came off at one point and Capn Jack fashioned a beautiful and strong stainless backer plate. The parents found a beautiful Rivera sail. A previous owner sheared off the bottom of the metal DePersia bailer and thought best to fiberglass over it. She got painted and striped. We (I) put in a transom drain when she started leaking. And a few years ago we converted the rudder and she got a second rig, a Jolly Roger. Recently I noticed her starboard side foam bow block had come loose, probably from when the whale broached on top of her. So now she has a hodgepodge of paint, patches and holes and she rattles when flipped over. Despite all this, she is still dutifully hauling Skipper over crest and through trough. She is the Flagship, the Favored.

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With CHIP finished there was a space open in the Carriage House, so we put her on the Finishing Dolly and got to work. First order of business was to do an air leak test, we will use the drain plug housing as the airport. Cordless shop vac will provide the air and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid with water in a spray bottle the bubbles. WE bought this screwdriver a few years back specifically for deck drain plugs, nice fat head to fill that screw slot.

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A few bubbles around the bow handle.

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Love this story about Skipper! Also really like to see all the boats lined up. I just posted about my own Sunfish story (which is a bit of a recap of posts I've written over the last year).
 

signal charlie

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Staff member
Sunfish Archaeology.


Sanded away old epoxy, patch residue, some paint, some more paint, some primer and some gelcoat. It's good to stop there, we're down to the crushed fiberglass on the first patch, where you see the woven roving threads threads and the glass turns from opaque to milky. Time to find the diamond file.

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WAVE telling tall tales...

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signal charlie

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Staff member
40 grit to sand of fiberglass patch remnants and uneven primer/paint. Halfway done on this bit.

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Keel cleaned up.

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Can't remember who recommended it, but the Dust Deputy has been working great. There's about 2 inches of paint, primer, epoxy and gelcoat in there so far.

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signal charlie

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Skipper's Dad Capn Jack had put a red stripe on the side of WAVE back in 1994, a "blood stripe" like Marine NCOs have on their dress blues. It got painted over when we repainted, and we decided to add it back with this restoration, so we took measurements. It is an inch wide, starts 3 feet from the bow and stops 18 inches from the stern.

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Uncovered another artifact, the Hawaii numbers HA 1988 B. They had been painted over years ago, but it looks like WAVE got pretty sunburned while they were on. Also uncovered the old alcort Sunfish sticker.

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Yikes, time to put away the power tools and close up shop! Lightning's on the way and bringing rain with it, maybe cooler temps for a few days, yay!

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signal charlie

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.....annnnnnnnnd it's finally cooled off enough to work on Sunfish again. Filed out crushed fiberglass today

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Feathered the edges with 60 grit on a random orbital sander.

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Made blind hole patches from heavy cardboard, woven roving, saturated with thickened epoxy THIXO.

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Hi Clark: This is really a GREAT post - very informative. Thank you for posting it! So, I did NOT know that Sunfish had vent holes until you mentioned it - makes great sense. Where would I find the vent hole on my 1979 Sunfish? Any idea?

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Took us years to notice that there is a Super Sailfish on the data tag along with the Sunfish. Too bad it doesn't come with the bigger daggerboard, it needs it.

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signal charlie

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Staff member
That's also a spot we use to pump in air for leak tests. The flip side is to make sure the cockpit doesn't fill with water while a boat is in storage, as water will leak inside the hull and soak into the foam.

Insert random boat photo here....Ham and egg taquito cruise this morning. We left the sail rig on shore so I had to use the padook for a backrest. This is how Floridians gear up for 49F and sunshine.

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Very good info, Clark. So, when I had done a few leak tests (and I really like the video leak testing that you posted - much improved process over my own earlier attempts), I had unscrewed the cap to the deck drain (just forward of the cockpit along the starboard rail) and blew air in there ... maybe TOO MUCH air on at least one occasion. I like the idea of trying to use the small vent hole - the small size would seem to reduce the risk of over pressurizing the hull.

49F in Florida looks a lot like 49F here in Phoenix, too. Our club had a race on Lake Pleasant on Saturday - temperatures plummeted all the way down into the 60s, and we had 15 to 18-knot winds for the first few hours, and 2 to 3-foot wind-driven waves. What a fun ride - I was soaked from the git-go and never did dry out all day long. Myself and one other Sunfish sailor got lots of thumbs-ups from the catamarans and sloops that we sailed against. I was surprised how well the Sunfish handled the chop - lots of heavy pounding on the long (~6-mile) windward leg! I needed a long, hot, shower to get my core body temperature back up when I got home! You have a real sweet set-up there in Florida - I love that ”carriage house” for all your boats!

Thanks again for the great info!
 

signal charlie

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Staff member
Hi Barnacle

You're welcome, we are just repeating what we learned from all the fine folks in here, on the SunfishSailor io group and Alcort/AMF/LP employees that helped us along the way.

Skipper was Commodore of the Yuma Yacht Club when we were stationed in Yuma, we were the only folks in town with not one, but two sailboats. We had our Sunfish PHOENIX, no relation to PHX, and our Drascombe Lugger ONKAHYE. We sailed Oceanside Harbor a few times with the Lugger and also sailed Senator's Wash Reservoir, off of the Colorado River. We had toddlers, so short day sails were perfect, let them run around a bit and throw rocks in the pond while I rigged the boat, do a few donuts in the boat and wear the kids out. The Lugger was fun to row when there was no wind.

Glad you're having some nice sails out there!

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L&VW

Well-Known Member
Unless the Sunfish is trailered (and you remember to drain your Sunfish while on the ramp :confused:) or you dock her on a steeply inclined rest, I'd leave off a transom drain. Otherwise, a Sunfish has too much "rocker" to make the transom drain effective or worthwhile.

On some of my five :confused: Sunfish, battery-powered bilge pumps work well through the forward inspection port. At $8, Harbor Freight sells a cheap one, but will caution you it's not guaranteed to work. (!)

While I think a bow handle needs to be absolutely solidly mounted--bolted if possible--your bow handle "fix" is a clever one. :cool:
 

signal charlie

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Staff member
We agree with L&VW about the drain now, but being a Marine I had to learn the hard way. If I lifted the bow high enough to get water to come out, I ran the risk of bending the gudgeon and/or transom where the gudgeon screws on. WOuldn't be good to be stressing the old style rudder system latch plate either.

I forgot to mention that the bow handle fix has an internal metal backer plate as well. I'm not sure how Capn Jack did that, I think he cut a small slot on the deck and shimmied in a long, narrow backer plate, with strings attached to pull the plate into position. Maybe some epoxy on the plate too, like we do the blind hole patches. Then some self tapping sheet metal screws with finish washers. All made of the finest grade stainless, he worked at a chemical plant, the night shift crew would get bored and make boat parts for him. They also got to keep anything that fell on the floor, part of their FOD (Foreign Object Damage) prevention program....I bet a lot of screws got dropped :) Jack was a Navy Aviation Metalsmith (Hydraulics) so he knew a thing or two about how to patch things.

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I wish he'd lived nearby when I started slapping fiberglass on things, around 2000, early days of Sunfish_Sailor and The Sunfish Forum. But we're getting caught up.

Sanded WAVE with 60 grit on a random orbital sander to smooth out the repairs and found that I'd missed a spot on the chime, so I installed another blind hole patch. May have mentioned it before but the patch idea came from a Sunfish Repair Manual put out by one of the manufacturers.

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When you build you carriage house we recommend a double wide garage door on one end or barn style door, and a French door at the other. Keep your outside deck the same height as the carriage house floor and you can roll dollies inside and out. We like to sand and saw outside to reduce dust inside. Today WAVE went out the French doors.

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Transom hole sanded and ready for fairing. We like to use string on our blind hole patches, we can sand it down during prep work and it is easier to manipulate.

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We used wire at first but we had problems removing it once the epoxy was dry. So we clipped it and left it, then the wire rusted. Finally punched it inside the hull and filled the small hole left over. That boat has wire bits inside now. We won't name names but it rhymes with MERCI.

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Fair next or primer next? Primer time, sometimes we put on a "Show Coat" of primer, get everything one color and mostly one texture, to show us where the nooks and crannies are that need to be faired. For WAVE we got some complimentary TotalBoat Topside Primer White from Jamestown Distributors, because we are in their Ambassador program. We rolled it on with Mighty Mini rollers, I like to buy those in inexpensive kits from Jamestown Distributors, the kit includes 4" roller frame, solvent-resistant plastic tray, two 4" foam covers, and disposable gloves. I was out of the trays today, so I ordered some more. If you order more than $50 a year of non TotalBoat items from them, it pays to join their VIP Club and get free shipping. TotalBoat items ship free. One last plug, if you get a free account and want to order TotalBoat products through the Online Store, send us a message and we can give you our 15% Ambassador Code.

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Now back to our irregularly scheduled program.

 
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signal charlie

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Staff member
Mix the primer well, there can be a lot of solids at the bottom of the can if it has sat for a while. I got this roller pan from Lowes, it works but I like the longer, shallow ArroWorthy kit pans.

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mixmkr

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I was the "dust deputy" guy....re-reading this thread. I 've sanded about 50 boats now...27-42 ft, prepping for bottom paint, using the "dust deputy"....and have yet to clean out/dump the ShopVac. (Over the last 3 seasons). I've emptied the dust deputy pail more than several times now however. It's really that amazing.
 

signal charlie

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Staff member
Thanks mixmkr for the Dust Deputy tip, we have saved enough on HEPA bags to pay for it already. We still use the HEPA filter on the shopvac and things are staying pretty clean. And the vacuum pulls full power because the filter doesn't get clogged.

I wrote an article about it for Small Boats Magazine Dust Deputy

It will be interesting to look at the striations in the bucket, should be some sawdust, old paint, gelcoat, epoxy, primer, fairing compound...

Sanded the fairing compound, tried to sand just the compound and not the primer. I started with 120 grit but it gummed up pretty quick, so I switched to 60 grit and kept the pressure light.

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Second coat of TotalBoat Topside Primer. We have had good luck with TotalBoat on a few boats, we also like Pettit EZPoxy, Interlux Brightside and Rustoleum Topside. Our tip is to find the color you like, then stick with the same brand for fairing compound, thinner, primer and paint to avoid adverse reactions between product lines.

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You can see a little dip in the chine where I repaired it, need to build that up a little with another coat of fairing compound.

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signal charlie

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Staff member
Transom is looking better, one little spot to fill.

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Hull under the cockpit is looking great, you could see the patch from across the bay!

Before.

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Now.

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Happy Thanksgiving!
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
I agree...the fact the the shopvac always pulls full power, is basically a huge, unadvertised aspect. Btw...my little Dewalt orbital, like yours I think, works like a champ. I bought two, so I'd never be stranded on the job, but the first one still going strong. At about $60 for the Dewalt, compared to about $450 for a Fein...and 3rd the weight, it was a great choice.
 

signal charlie

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Skipper couldn't stand it, she had to paint WAVE's chine repair. She waited patiently as I painted the port side, then jumped in. We lightly sanded with 120 grit on a random orbital sander, then applied TotalBoat WetEdge BlueGlo White with a Mighty Mini roller. Poured half a quart and thinned it with 2 capfuls of TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner.


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