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Bow Handle Removal


New Member
My recently acquired free ?? Sunfish has the typical bow handle ... ugly and corroded. I have a replacement, but the SS screws removal is giving me a problem. Galvanic action with the or screw or ?? is keeping them solidly in place.

The phillip heads are not 'boogered' yet but soon will be. I've used PB Blaster several times with no results. Afraid to use an impact screw driver for obvious reasons. Any thoughts??

Irish Ayes
Charleston, SC

George Hart

How about heating up the screw, such as a soldering iron. Maybe melt the glue or what ever is holing the threads


Active Member
If the bow handle is already very corroded then you can probably carefully chip at it with a screw driver or other tool until the screw head is exposed. At this point you can use a vice-grip to extract the screw. The metal used for the bow handle is very soft and just covered with chrome.

Be careful not to remove all the screws at once since the backing block could fall into the hull. You'd then need to install a port to add a backing block. Keep at least one screw in at all times.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Does the deck have the aluminum trim? If so the backer block is wood. If it is the newer rolled edge, the backer plate is metal and threaded. Most likely the screw is held tight by corrosion, either in the backer plate or by the handle itself.

I hold a screwdriver, put pressure downward and turn it as I hit it with a hammer. You can also take a chisel and whack chunks of the bow handle loose, it is pot metal.

Leave one screw in the old bow handle and get a screw started in the new handle, otherwise the backer block/plate migh drop inside the hull.

Here are some pictures inside a hull: Small Boat Restoration: Sunfish Foam Repair
and tips for bow handle replacement: Small Boat Restoration: Sunfish Pickin Navarre FL "Lady"

Good luck!


Easy to crack the fiberglass with a hammer...

Use large vice grips to crush the pot metal. It may be slower, but tis far less likely to damage the hull.
Clamp on the vice grips... open, 1/2 turn tighter, clamp again. Repeat until the pot metal collapses.


New Member
Haven't tried, but have ruled out hammers and heat for fear of fiber glass damage. Going to use the Dremel to destroy the area around the screws and then Vice-Grips to twist and remove them.

Appreciate all blog advice and cautions. ;-)

Rob C.

Set the hull upside down on a set of saw horses before you remove the screws, that way the block will not fall into the hull.


Well-Known Member
I'm viewing this predicament with great puzzlement. If the screws won't budge after PB Blaster and a new phillips screwdriver bit, I'd be on the lookout for a previous repair using epoxy; especially, as it seems like a very successful repair. I'd try cutting/chipping away the old handle, leaving just four tiny pieces (handles) to rotate the screws out.