1979 Sunfish restoration

Thread starter #1
Thanks again for all your help with my questions in my previous thread. I thought I should start a new one since my questions/comments have shifted from identifying the year my Sunfish was manufactured to restoration. As a reminder, my 1979 Sunfish was used infrequently during the early years at Virginia Beach, but it has spent most of its life upside down under a wooden deck. I recently retrieved it from my parents house and brought up to my river house on the Rappahannock river, not far from The Chesapeake Bay.

I have identified that the mast step needs to be repaired which I hope to tackle over the next few days I have some Pettit Flexpoxy that I intend to smooth into the damaged areas. I imagine that I will have to do a bit of sanding when cured and hopefully that will take care of the problem (more to come)...
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The original sail is ready to be picked up with all new grommets in place, a few small patches, and they stitched the border of the original “class approved” label which was coming off. I also had them wash the sail since it had some salt residue on it and I am not going to be using it right away. The whole bill was about $180 and $50 of that was for washing, so I think it was worth it to preserve the original sail. I’ll post a new pic once I pick it up.

I had to remove the original drain plug and a new one is on order, as well as a new bow handle. The plug was corroded beyond salvage and the finish on the chrome bow handle has been damaged over the years due to the exposure to salt water. I am going to use a little Flexpoxy to fill the original drain plug pin holes and I will drill new ones when the new one arrives from www.sunfishdirect.com.
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At some point in time over the years, while the boat was stored, the deck above it was stained and no precautions were taken to protect the hull. Consequently, most of the hull was covered in brown deck stain splatter and drips:

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I just finished cleaning half of the hull using acetone and it is working quite well. The guy at West Marine wanted me to use a medium cut compound and I can promise you I would still be working on it a year from now if I had gone that route! I am still going to have to polish the hull, but this will be MUCH faster. Speaking of West Marine, NEVER buy acetone there. A 1 qt. can is $24.99 and it was $4.99 at my local independent hardware store. Here are some half way pics:
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If anyone has any thoughts they would like to share I am certainly open to hearing them. More to come...
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#2
$24.99 for a quart of acetone??? Damn... that's Capitalism with a Capital C, might as well be gettin' mugged in the Lower Bronx, LOL. :eek:

The Depot is where ya buy acetone, sandpaper, etc., get to know someone at a surf shop or boatyard for your glass & resin, and buy your beer on sale at the supermarket, you'll hang onto your money longer, LOL... ;)

BTW, that's a good-looking mast step, thing probably leaks like the floodgates on Hoover Dam, yeah??? :rolleyes:

Well, good luck with all that, time to prep this BBQ material... CHEERS!!! :cool:
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#3
Automotive stores carry a very flexible "cylinder hone" that, at slow speed, would remove the light fragments and rough up the factory fiberglass preparatory to glassing.
 
#4
Acetone is right for your application, just be careful with it. Be sure to wear gloves and use as little as you can get away with. Cap it when not using it. It dries very quickly, but don’t leave a wet rag on the hull- it will eat through your gel coat over time.
Flexpoxy is great stuff. I used a small foam brush taped to a chopstick to paint/fill the chipped areas in the wall/bottom of the mast tube. Your gloved finger makes a good tool for the areas you can reach. Make it as smooth as you can to avoid sanding/filing later.
Looks like you’re well on your way to sailing very soon!
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#6
Once you clean up that boat and fix what needs to be fixed, you're gonna have some fun aboard her... this from a diehard Laser man, but all small craft are fun under the right conditions. Getting out on the water, THAT is the greatest priority, LOL. Apart from the mast step, that hull looks to be in pretty good shape, maybe storage under that house deck limited the solar abuse. Swapping out hardware is easy enough, it'll save you the trouble of trying to clean up heavily-corroded fittings... this from a notoriously cheap b@stard who would salvage ANYTHING just to save a dime, I've been known to grind down chrome & metal to paint it, LOL. How do the deck & rig look with your boat, did you post shots of those in your previous thread? Whenever I overhauled a boat in the past, I didn't mind salvaging fittings, but I liked new line all around and the sail(s) had to be in good shape... if the old blocks looked cr@ppy, they were tossed and replaced with Harken gear. Kind of a marine safety thing, I like knowing that sail gear is ready to go and can handle strong winds & rough seas if necessary. Perhaps your spars, sail, running rigging, etc., are in decent condition. Hopefully you'll post some sailing shots once you're done, especially if you take that boat out on the Chesapeake... that should make for some good scenic shots. :rolleyes:
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#7
I was just watching some cool skate videos at another website, and one bowl was covered in "street art"---which reminded me of a classic saw back in my Aaaarrrghmy Daze (USA INF). It went something like this:

IF IT MOVES, SALUTE IT...

IF IT DOESN'T MOVE, PICK IT UP...

IF YOU CAN'T PICK IT UP, PAINT IT!!!

Just thought I'd share that classic Army wisdom with ya... since I mentioned grinding & painting in my previous reply, LOL. :cool:
 
#8
I have done several mast hole repairs like yours and used a 60 grit drill mounted sanding drum with a 1/4" dia. extension shaft to allow me to sand right down to the bottom edges of the hole. Sand until smooth then lay in fiberglass cloth and the epoxy resin of your choice smoothed out with a 1" wide paint brush taped to a dowel. Let cure, sand again and then apply a flow coat of resin. Let cure and then with deck side up, pour in enough thickened resin to cover the bottom cavity. This should prevent leaks and add strength. Test by sailing in a 30 mph wind and see if it holds up!

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

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Thread starter #9
Acetone is right for your application, just be careful with it. Be sure to wear gloves and use as little as you can get away with. Cap it when not using it. It dries very quickly, but don’t leave a wet rag on the hull- it will eat through your gel coat over time.
Flexpoxy is great stuff. I used a small foam brush taped to a chopstick to paint/fill the chipped areas in the wall/bottom of the mast tube. Your gloved finger makes a good tool for the areas you can reach. Make it as smooth as you can to avoid sanding/filing later.
Looks like you’re well on your way to sailing very soon!
The acetone is working perfectly and your advice is exactly what I am doing. As far as the mast hole is concerned, I have wooden dowels of different diameters which I plan to cut to length and use to apply/smooth the epoxy with the idea that less is more for this application. In my mind I can see how I THINK it will go, but I won’t know until I get in there.
Once you clean up that boat and fix what needs to be fixed, you're gonna have some fun aboard her... this from a diehard Laser man, but all small craft are fun under the right conditions. Getting out on the water, THAT is the greatest priority, LOL. Apart from the mast step, that hull looks to be in pretty good shape, maybe storage under that house deck limited the solar abuse. Swapping out hardware is easy enough, it'll save you the trouble of trying to clean up heavily-corroded fittings... this from a notoriously cheap b@stard who would salvage ANYTHING just to save a dime, I've been known to grind down chrome & metal to paint it, LOL. How do the deck & rig look with your boat, did you post shots of those in your previous thread? Whenever I overhauled a boat in the past, I didn't mind salvaging fittings, but I liked new line all around and the sail(s) had to be in good shape... if the old blocks looked cr@ppy, they were tossed and replaced with Harken gear. Kind of a marine safety thing, I like knowing that sail gear is ready to go and can handle strong winds & rough seas if necessary. Perhaps your spars, sail, running rigging, etc., are in decent condition. Hopefully you'll post some sailing shots once you're done, especially if you take that boat out on the Chesapeake... that should make for some good scenic shots. :rolleyes:
I picked the original sail up today and it is ready to go. All new grommets and a few small patches. I purchased all new lines. The deck is in great shape for its age. There are a few small blisters in the gel coat near the bow (the bow was resting on sand and I believe that moisture over 30 years caused them), but they are not bad. Also I have the standard scratches from the spars across the bow. Otherwise, I just need to wax it and replace the drain plug.
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Thread starter #11
Today I made some repairs to the hull just fore and aft of the dagger board slot on the keel. There were some cracks there that I ground out with a Dremel tool and then filled with Marine RX. I took pics before and after I ground out the cracks (see below). I flipped the boat over so I could work on the mast step repair and I forgot to take pics after I applied the Marine RX, so I will post those next weekend.
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The mast step repair went well. I bought a drum sander and a 12” extension for my drill. I used 80 grit and roughed up all the remaining resin inside the mast step. I vacuumed out the dust and then cleaned the entire area using acetone and a rag wrapped around a paint stick. Per the group’s recommendation I used Flexpoxy which was very easy to work with. In order to apply it to the bottom and sides of the step, I used a 1/2” wooden dowel cut to about 16” long and I also split paint stir sticks in half vertically to make them more narrow. It was kind of like icing a cake down in a hole. 69477209-19F5-4D9D-BA31-1E9A5901D757.jpeg D12907ED-9964-4D96-8A0A-F8C30025D56B.jpeg D58C8E01-AC60-4F13-B9EF-264D0964058D.jpeg 994470C4-3507-4B43-BF77-954796A3E53E.jpeg 9F884EEB-A8B3-4B18-AB9B-98A9C64BC0CA.jpeg
I filled the obvious areas where the resin was missing first and then skimmed the entire surface as smooth as possible. The two “after pics” above make it look a lot less smooth than it actually is in actuality. I will have to do some sanding, but I am confident that I will end up with a nice smooth watertight mast step when I am done. I also found the same problem around the upper portion of the daggerboard slot. I used my gloved finger to apply the Flexpoxy in this area and it worked very well. The first picture below shows some of the area in need of repair and the last two show it after the Flexpoxy was applied. DC23F8D5-55C1-4F40-9796-6FD3DC8EF0AF.jpeg CA5A7429-16AC-4BA0-9595-ED81419F815D.jpeg 25539BDD-6F49-465D-ABF8-979AA14EA530.jpeg
All of this work will have a full week to cure until I can work on it again, so I will post another update next weekend.
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#12
Well, you're off to a good start... won't hurt that stuff to let it cure for a week, sand it and hit it again where ya need it. The little spider cracks in the gelcoat will be fine once ya fill 'em and sand 'em. WTF... "PROGRESS!!!" :eek: LOL.
 
Thread starter #13
I have been focusing on the hull and sail up to this point, but I spent some time cleaning and inspecting the mast and spars yesterday afternoon. Because this boat was used in saltwater back in the day, and laid up for 30+ years, there is some significant pitting of the aluminum, particularly the mast and boom. I am less worried about the mast because the pitting is not located at the higher stress points, but the pitting on the boom is the worst where the gooseneck was attached. I have seen some folks recommend JB Weld for repairs, but is that really improving the strength or the part or is it just a cosmetic fix? I will probably sail these until I can purchase some new ones. Any thoughts/advice one the best way to buy a new set?
 
#15
If you turn the boom around, you may have to re-position the blocks, but that is not a big job.

I have a good supply of freshwater Sunfish spars for sale. Masts re $65 ea, and a set of booms with all the hardware is $75. The problem is that these are pick-up only in Cazenovia, NY (20 minutes from Syracuse) as the shipping costs $hundreds$. That said, if you or a friend are in my neck of the woods, I can fix you up with good spars at a very decent price. JB Weld will plug holes but will not add much if any strength.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 
Thread starter #17
Update: the mast step repair is completely watertight and the mast still fits in the step with plenty of room to spare. I gave the Flexpoxy a light sanding to take down any high spots, but there are still a couple of small areas I am going to touch up with a bit more Flexpoxy and it should be good to go.

I replaced the bow handle using Breeze Bender’s advice to leave one screw in the old handle, swinging it out of the way, while partially installing the first couple of screws in the new handle to hold the backer block from possibly falling into the hull. As an extra precaution to avoid having the block drop into the hull (mine seems to still be in good shape), I replaced the handle while the hull was upside down on the dolly. I was lying on my back and removed/replaced the screws carefully. This way, even if the block were not attached to the hull, it could not fall and I would have a better chance of getting a screw back into an original screw hole in the backer block if it had been loose. All went very smoothly and my new handle looks great and seems to be very secure.

My next big project is polishing the hull and getting it back into the best condition I can. I am going to use a three step process with a Porter Cable DA orbital polisher and pads which I ordered this weekend. I am using Meguiar’s light cutting compound followed by a polish and then a wax. I plan to work on it this weekend, so I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

One last question...has anyone ever thought about installing Sea Dek around the cockpit to keep from sliding in strong winds/rough seas? Thoughts? www.seadek.com
 
Thread starter #18
Update: Earlier in this thread I posted several pics of the bottom of the hull which had been laying upside down under my parent’s beach house deck for 30 plus years. During that time the wooden deck above had been stained and the boat was not covered. Consequently there was stain all over the hull. I removed 95% of the stain with acetone (see earlier pics), but I could see that the the gelcoat had a lot of potential to really shine. Last weekend I sanded the hull 3 times, 600 grit, 800 grit, and 1000 grit. This weekend I polished it with Meguiar’s RV and Marine #45 High Gloss polish and two coats of their #56 Pure Wax. I am quite pleased with the results. Below are two before pics and two after pics:
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Thread starter #20
Dang... "MO' BETTAH!!!" :cool:

"YOU'RE HIRED!!!" ;)

LOL...………. :rolleyes:
Thanks! It was a good bit of work, but the end result is quite nice. It is smooth as a baby’s bottom now. I will tackle the top of the hull next. I am going to try compounding it first, rather than sanding it, unless absolutely necessary. The top is in much better condition. I just may get this thing in the water this year! :rolleyes:
 
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