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Fiberglass Sailfish Restoration

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
I am getting ready to clean up an old Sailfish that I found online.
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Surface- No cracks, just paint chips and some stress fractures. Also some of the screws on the deck have pulled out, and there seems to be a piece missing behind where the mast sits. I plan on resurfacing the top and bottom down to the fiberglass, using West Systems 105 epoxy.
I'm still considering filling any scratches because if I manage to sand down past the gelcoat, I would be able to replace it with layers of epoxy.
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Trim- the trim looks fine, but I think I'm going to remove it so my epoxy job covers the entire surface.
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Rudder- The metal piece that is attached under the boat where the rudder sits on is bent down, which prevents the rudder from "snapping" in. I plan on cleaning up the metal and possibly painting? (Not sure) I would like to replace the entire rudder assembly with something composite or plastic or whatever is newer than wood if the price is right. I will probably refinish the handrails because they seems to be fine as well.
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Two other issues I see are:
1. The mast sits bare pipe into the "cupholder" shaped cutout... I think I want to get some sort of cap so the metal doesn't eat through the hull.
2. A few spots near the "seat" of the top seems to have a fair amount of play going down the center of the boat. In the worst spot it seems to have ALMOST 1/4" of play when I push with a fair amount of weight.

Any insight would be appreciated
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Attachments

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Why would you try to grind away all the gelcoat? If you do that, you will need to paint the West as it’s not UV resistant. So if you feel you want to paint the boat anyway, why not just smooth the existing gelcoat and paint it? Plus the west will end up with drips, high and low points, etc, whereas the gelcoat is already on and smooth.

Regarding your point 2, mast caps are available wherever Sunfish are sold.

The hole behind the mast might be the hull vent. Someone else will know for sure.
 
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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Howdy and Welcome,
Congratulations on your new Alcort Super Sailfish MKII. The rudder dates her to around 1971, if that is the original rudder. So she is around 50 years old. Let's give that gal a chance to breathe and discuss some of you questions.

-She has been painted, the question is usually why and the answer is usually that there is damaged gelcoat underneath, from sunburn or multiple repairs. Once painted they usually get a light sanding and repaint. On one boat we did lightly sand all of the paint off and restored the gelcoat.

Ray leaves dump.jpg

Ray of Hope.jpg

-Which screws on the deck have been pulled out?

-The piece missing behind the mast is the Alcort Serial Number tag, and Beldar is correct, that is the hull vent hole that is drilled right through the tag.

1963 Super Sailfish Mt Vision 5 data serial plate.jpg

-Rudder- That latch plate on the keel looks okay. Do you have the correct carriage bolt? Should be just over 4 inches long and it ties into the horizontal hinge plate and spring plate. If it is bent then we would take it off and straighten it.

Alcort Super Sailfish MKII rudder carriage bolt tube.jpeg

-Play in the hull is not uncommon in older boats, the foam block inside may have come partially detached. I'd go sailing before I investigated that any further.

The other issue to look at is hull weight. ALCORT advertised 98 pounds for the Super Sailfish MKII, though I must say we've yet to find a vintage boat as light as the factory specs, usually 4-5 pounds over, possibly from water entrapped in the internal foam. We get an old bathroom scale and stand the boat on its side to get the weight...hey, maybe our scale is off, it says I am over my specified weight too :)

Specs Alcort Sailfish Sunfish.jpeg

-So over all it looks like you have a relatively unmolested MKII. We'd suggest getting her rigged for Sea Trials aka Dynamic Leak Test, taking her out and seeing what else she may or may not need. Definitely want to do an air leak test on land or a water test, to find and fix leaks before you get too deep into making her purty.
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
Why would you try to grind away all the gelcoat? If you do that, you will need to paint the West as it’s not UV resistant. So if you feel you want to paint the boat anyway, why not just smooth the existing gelcoat and paint it? Plus the west will end up with drips, high and low points, etc, whereas the gelcoat is already on and smooth.

Regarding your point 2, mast caps are available wherever Sunfish are sold.

The hole behind the mast might be the hull vent. Someone else will know for sure.
Good idea, definitely saves me time too
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
Howdy and Welcome,
Congratulations on your new Alcort Super Sailfish MKII. The rudder dates her to around 1971, if that is the original rudder. So she is around 50 years old. Let's give that gal a chance to breathe and discuss some of you questions.

-She has been painted, the question is usually why and the answer is usually that there is damaged gelcoat underneath, from sunburn or multiple repairs. Once painted they usually get a light sanding and repaint. On one boat we did lightly sand all of the paint off and restored the gelcoat.

View attachment 38452

View attachment 38453

-Which screws on the deck have been pulled out?

-The piece missing behind the mast is the Alcort Serial Number tag, and Beldar is correct, that is the hull vent hole that is drilled right through the tag.

View attachment 38451

-Rudder- That latch plate on the keel looks okay. Do you have the correct carriage bolt? Should be just over 4 inches long and it ties into the horizontal hinge plate and spring plate. If it is bent then we would take it off and straighten it.

View attachment 38454

-Play in the hull is not uncommon in older boats, the foam block inside may have come partially detached. I'd go sailing before I investigated that any further.

The other issue to look at is hull weight. ALCORT advertised 98 pounds for the Super Sailfish MKII, though I must say we've yet to find a vintage boat as light as the factory specs, usually 4-5 pounds over, possibly from water entrapped in the internal foam. We get an old bathroom scale and stand the boat on its side to get the weight...hey, maybe our scale is off, it says I am over my specified weight too :)

View attachment 38455

-So over all it looks like you have a relatively unmolested MKII. We'd suggest getting her rigged for Sea Trials aka Dynamic Leak Test, taking her out and seeing what else she may or may not need. Definitely want to do an air leak test on land or a water test, to find and fix leaks before you get too deep into making her purty.
Okay so I have taken her out once already and I didn't notice any issues.
Do you think it's painted even though it has what I thought was the factory stripe on the top?
The screws that are pulled out are a few from the metal piece in front of the mast.
Do you suggest that I sand and paint around the rudder connections on the boat? I would remove them if its not too much of a pain.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
The deck looks original, although the anti-skid area in blue looks to have been repainted. Be careful with the bow handle. It is definitely not original and has the two missing screws, as you’ve pointed out. Don’t take those screws out at the same time or you’re likely to hear that ugly ‘thud’ as the backer drops into the hull. Poke the screw holes and see if there’s any solid material to screw into. You can buy a new bow handle on eBay or amazon or use what you have if you don’t care about keeping it original. Fill the holes with epoxy. It looks like you’ll need a rudder pin- it was once attached to the small partial chain remaining. Also found on eBay, they’re about $20 because they’re hard to find- many are at lake bottoms or roadside. Keep it with your rudder so it doesn’t get lost again.
Fill the mast hole with water and check it in 20 minutes. It should still be full. A leak test is a good idea, too. Lots of direction on this forum on specifics.
Nice that you got a spar bag in the deal. How’s the sail?
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Great! How did Sea Trials go?

"Do you think it's painted even though it has what I thought was the factory stripe on the top?" Yes, and I don't recognize the stripe scheme, most stripes are oriented with the forward edge on the starboard side angling aft to port. and the stripe width isn't standard. There also looks to be some red paint on the aluminum trim.

IMG_20200603_195344.jpg

These photos show areas that look more like paint failure from improper priming, not gelcoat, ref the flaky stuff by the rudder pin keeper chain (which is inappropriately named.)

Paint fail 2.jpg

Also several areas where we can see putty repairs then paint the thick area on the lower point of the bow with pinholes in the repair compound.

putty.jpg

The white may have been spot painted but the blue has obvious paint runs.

paint.jpg

"Do you suggest that I sand and paint around the rudder connections on the boat?" Yes, Breeze Bender had great tips on how to ensure the internal wooden backers do not fall inside the hull if the fasteners are removed.
 
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s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
Also the sail is in good condition, just a tiny hole about a quarter inch across. I would like to keep the bow handle so what's the best way to approach that?
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The best way to approach that... is to keep the bow handle....I'm confused, just keep it. You should replace the screws 1 at a time, #8 x 1 inch marine stainless wood screws will do the trick. While you're there, grab 4 #10x1 inch screws, in case the wood block inside has opened up a bit. Don't take all 4 screws off at the same time, the internal block may fall away. It was originally secures with a fiberglass strip and adhesive putty, but thos bits dry up and fall off in some boats.

If you plan to paint then take all but one screw out, swivel the handle clear of one of the other holes, reinsert a screw to hold the block, then remove the other screw. Take the bow handle off and put a second screw back in in a hole farthest from the first screw.
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
The best way to approach that... is to keep the bow handle....I'm confused, just keep it. You should replace the screws 1 at a time, #8 x 1 inch marine stainless wood screws will do the trick. While you're there, grab 4 #10x1 inch screws, in case the wood block inside has opened up a bit. Don't take all 4 screws off at the same time, the internal block may fall away. It was originally secures with a fiberglass strip and adhesive putty, but thos bits dry up and fall off in some boats.

If you plan to paint then take all but one screw out, swivel the handle clear of one of the other holes, reinsert a screw to hold the block, then remove the other screw. Take the bow handle off and put a second screw back in in a hole farthest from the first screw.
I'm going to start this week, I'll eep updating
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
IMG_20200608_202150.jpgIMG_20200608_202348.jpgIMG_20200609_165940.jpgso This hole is after I cleaned away rotted bit of fiberglass.
The screw on the rudder mount is corroded about 3/8" below surface.
I also started sanding the bottom.
I think I'm going to prime and paint the top and bottom. Any recommendations for paints? I definitely want a color like seafoam green, but I also want it to end up with a glossy finish. I originally was going to add layers of epoxy bit I think it would crack from the subtle flex in the hull.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Our paint choice depends on what color we like. Pettit EZPOXY makes a nice Sea Foam Green

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We have used Interlux Brightside, TotalBoat WetEdge, Rustoleum Topside and Kirby. Check their color charts. Kirby will custom mix. Whatever paint you pick, use their same line of thinner, fairing compound and primer. Mix and match at your own peril.

Did you figure out if you have a backer block left under the horizontal hinge plate?
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
@signal charlie yes it looked like it was from what I could see through my new window. I could also feel it in 2 of the 3 screw holes underneath the plate. I believe the broken screw is helping to hold it.
I did find some water inside, and at least one other board fell inside. The spot on the hull where the mast sits in passed the water test so I think it is just coming in through somewhere in the flange and/or the damaged corner that I found today.
As of right now, my approach is to drill the holes a hair larger, and use epoxy when I screw into the hull. I'll leave the bottom 1/4" of the hole alone so I can get the screw snug while the epoxy dries. Still trying to figure out what to do for the holes that don't have the board behind it.
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
Also, I'm sanding down to the fiberglass; there is only one layer of hard white paint... Should I be concerned with how thin the hull is/will be? I wanted to add coat(s) of epoxy resin for strength but there's a decent amount of flex in some spots and i'm worried the resin would crack. Am I alright to just prime and paint on fiberglass? (Sorry, I'm currently italics locked somehow)
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
The reason I was taking the gelcoat off is because it's already chipped down to the fiberglass in many spots. Am I going to lose strength in the hull if it's just paint and primer on fiberglass?
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
A need issue. There is no reason to remove the gelcoat. It protects the fiberglass. Now all you will have is a thin layer of paint to protect the fiberglass. Gelcoat is a hard, plastic-like surface. I have never heard of anyone doing anymore than a light sanding to prepare the gelcoat for paint to adhere properly.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
You should fill the chips in the gelcoat, not remove the non-chipped gelcoat. But it is your boat so you can try seeing how it goes by removing all the gelcoat.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I think that is akin to asking if there are any structural issues if you remove all the windows from your car. There are no structural issues if you do that, but the windows provide some benefits you may find you miss.
 
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mixmkr

Well-Known Member
Yes as you will likely decrease the thickness of the fiberglass too, when sanding off the gelcoat. The gelcoat is cosmetic only, but is chemically bonded to the fiberglass, when the manufacturer layed up and made the boat. It will also provide a smoother surface for paint when properly prepared. Gelcote on its own is too brittle to provide any strength. Gelcote is typically ONLY removed when it has a poor bond (bad patches or repairs, etc.)....or....repairing blisters on the hull bottom....but that's an whole different conversation.
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
Also as mentioned above...just coating with resin will not provide strength. That said, it is a waterproofing procedure, for boats left in the water for a season or longer, to prevent fiberglass blistering.
 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
rainy day forced me to start on the wooden parts. I'm going to use topside paint and paint the rails, centerboard and rudder assembly in red. The boat will be seafoam green on the top and also red on the sides and bottom. Should be pretty unique :D
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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
For the corner repair you need to put in a backer plate, also called a blind patch. The backer is made of fiberglass and epoxy resin and is inserted through the hole and pulled back tight against the inside of the hull. Once it dries you fill the thin spot with 4 oz fiberglass cloth, several layers, to build back the hull thickness. Then you sand, fair and either spot gelcoat or prime and paint.'

RM 4 Blind Hole Patch.jpg

chine backer.jpg

 

s_y_n_t_h_s

New Member
IMG_20200614_191051.jpgGonna have to get a better brush; I'm losing bristles... Maybe I'll try a foam roller.
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I ended up using a third of a pool noodle, and fishing line instead of string for my patch. It seems to have made a nice bead all the way around and I should have plenty of edge for my resin and cloth to stick to.
 
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