Bottom Strip and refinish?

Thread starter #1
My 1968 Sunfish was acquired at the local dump. Now that I know that it floats and sails well, stays dry and is enough fun that I will keep it, I am getting started on making it look better. The bottom was painted with a brush in something that looks like red primer from a car. I plan to strip that and have no idea what is under it. Is there a "best practice" in refinishing. I've never used gelcoat but am willing to try if that is the best option. I will not be racing at all.
The boat is used in both lakes and the ocean.
By the way, I built the PVC dolly that has been describes on this forum. With the same set of ramps that I use for my snowblower, I can get the boat into my Chevy S-10 pickup single handed and lashed down in about 15 minutes. Boat and dolly wheels came from the dump. I've spent about $75 on varnish, screws, inspection ports and the pipe for the dolly and get a nice a little boat to kick around in. Lots of a great ideas have been found on this site.

Dave G.

Alan Glos

Active Member

Ah, a free, 'fish! Sounds like fun. Some ideas:

Strip the paint off the hull and see what is underneith. Use a regular semi-paste
paint stripper available at most hardware and paint stores. Work in a warn, well ventelated area (outdoors is best), glove-up an wear eye protection and a long sleeve shirt and long leg pants - don't get the stripper on your skin - it is nasty stuff. My guess is that the hull has cracks and dings that will need to be repaired. MarineTex is the product of choice for smaller dings and hairline cracks; exoxy products may be needed for larger damaged areas. Then go to the FAQ section of this site for suggestions on repairs and refinishing. A two-part epoxy paint is the best product but there are also one-part products that are easier to apply, less expensive and almost as durable.

A boat of this type deserves a name and "Junkyard 'fish" comes to mind.

Good luck.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
Thread starter #3
Thanks, I've used MarineTex for a couple of small dings. It's a great product. I hope to get the nasty paint off as soon as it gets a little cooler.

STOP don't make the same mistake I did. Don't mess with gelcoat. will sell you an expensive but well worth paint. The owner Tom Fabula is one hell of a nice guy and you can call him anytime for help. Follow the written instructions and you will have a new boat in no time. It cost me just over $100 for one quart plus supplies. I did the complete job and still have some left over. Sounds expensive but cheaper and less time consuming than Gel Coat.
Go with Alan's advice and don't forget to nutralize the stripper. Hopefully you will have a basically intact gelcoat surface. If so, clean and fill any nick, scrapes, cracks and dings with the Marine Tex and or do a proper epoxy/fiberglass repair as required. On the National Sunfish Class page, under Tips and Tricks is an article titled Gelcoat Repair. Follow the directions and you are good to go with an almost new like surface. Mclube Sailkote helps with keeping the grunge off. Personally I am not worried about the apearance of the hull (hey, it's under water), just a smooth, slick hull. If after removing the paint, you find that you have some problems, you may have to resort to painting the hull. Some others have recomended Interlux (Bright Sides I think). Talk with your local marine repair shop (if you have one) or an auto body shop, they mave have suggetions and either one may be able to spray your hull if you decide to repaint. Look for other posts in this forum about hull, gelcoat repair and wet sanding. Good luck
I used a one-part paint called "Brightside" made by a company called Interlux. It's not necessarily intended for 'below the waterline' but the consensus was that for occassional use it would be fine. It went on real easy (follow their instructions on the website) and while it does 'self-level' I wished i would have followed the advice of filling in the gouges that I thought it would fill in. Sand and clean well between coats.
It is really slick and seems that it will last even being drug across the sand.
Give it a shot.
I wouldn't recommend using "brightside" if the boat will be on the water for more than a few hours at a time. I used it and after just one week moored on a bouy the entire area that was in contact with the water was striped off.
As for painting, remember prep is just as impoetant as paint. It you see a scratch before you paint, you'll see it afterwards. Self leveling paints means the brush strokes will "mostly" come out as the paint settles into the scratches which will still be there in the finished paint.