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Finally bought a Sunfish - now the work starts

aborgman

Member
Now the work starts... repairing the Sunfish, and improving my sailing skills up to the level of "semi-coordinated 5 year old who has never been in a boat before".

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1974 Sunfish on a trailer for $200, basically complete.

The good:
Everything is there
Rudder and daggerboard in good condition
Daggerboard trunk looks good, and mast step seems to have no leaks in a short leak test
Hull and deck in good shape - only a few small fiberglass fixes needed

The not so good:
It's waterlogged... I'm guessing at least 200lbs+
There is a loose foam block
Needs new lines and bridle
Sail is in bad shape(and repaired with duct tape)

The odd:
Depersia metal bailer
Spoon tip daggerboard

Of course - I didn't let any of that stop me from taking it out on the water. Improvise a mainsheet out of some polypro I had hanging around (only about 18') and lets go.

The first day went ok - horrible tacks, and a couple almost capsizes. The next day I went out again, and the wind was less cooperative. It was swinging from North to West, and varying in speed/gusting. Even worse tacks, and actually managed to capsize it - in front of an island of pontoon boats with about 100 people watching.

I think being the boat being overweight with a rolling around saturated foam block didn't help, and me being really bad at sailing was the final nail in the coffin.

Managed to get it back up no problem... then spent 10 minutes trying to re-rig the mainsheet (oops, no stopper knot).

She's sitting upside down now on some supports, wrapped in black landscaping fabric, to try to get some water out.

Just ordered inspection ports and some new lines to try to get her dried out.
 

aborgman

Member
Another "MC" Sunfish. Great to see another Michigander on a Sunfish. What lakes do you sail?
I wouldn't go so far as to call what I do "sailing"...

Grew up in Muskegon (well, Norton Shores) and sailed occasionally on Muskegon Lake 30+ years ago.

Picked up this Sunfish after 30+ years of no sailing to use at our cottage on Cranberry Lake in Harrison (Clare County).

That would be the Cranberry Lake next to Budd Lake (44.058271756008885, -84.74328956387117)

...as opposed to the Cranberry Lake near the Clam River (44.16336395779166, -84.97815094049899), or the Cranberry Lake off 10 by the Mystic River YMCA camp (43.883024135475914, -85.03902852047928).

Yes... there really are THREE Cranberry Lakes in Clare County.
 

tag

my2fish
Funny/crazy story about Muskegon Lake… I sailed that lake one Father’s Day a few years ago. After I finished sailing and was driving back to our campsite, I called my father to tell him “happy Father’s Day” - and that’s when he told me about the time when he was growing up (1950’s or so) and his dad, my grandpa, would go fishing in the early spring. They lived near Scottville and Ludington, but that early spring day my grandpa drove down to fish on Muskegon Lake.
So as my grandpa paddled his boat along and was fishing, he found a dead body floating in the lake. I think my dad said grandpa towed/dragged it to shore and then drove into town to get the police to come investigate. They figured it was likely an ice fisherman that fell through the ice and drowned.

I haven’t sailed there since!
 

aborgman

Member
Funny/crazy story about Muskegon Lake… I sailed that lake one Father’s Day a few years ago. After I finished sailing and was driving back to our campsite, I called my father to tell him “happy Father’s Day” - and that’s when he told me about the time when he was growing up (1950’s or so) and his dad, my grandpa, would go fishing in the early spring. They lived near Scottville and Ludington, but that early spring day my grandpa drove down to fish on Muskegon Lake.
So as my grandpa paddled his boat along and was fishing, he found a dead body floating in the lake. I think my dad said grandpa towed/dragged it to shore and then drove into town to get the police to come investigate. They figured it was likely an ice fisherman that fell through the ice and drowned.

I haven’t sailed there since!
One of my dad's co-workers found a body while fishing in Muskegon Lake...
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
….. She's sitting upside down now on some supports, wrapped in black landscaping fabric, to try to get some water out….

If there are not any inspection ports, this isn’t going to help much. Not much airflow thru the little drain holes.
 

aborgman

Member
….. She's sitting upside down now on some supports, wrapped in black landscaping fabric, to try to get some water out….

If there are not any inspection ports, this isn’t going to help much. Not much airflow thru the little drain holes.
Yeah, I don't expect it to help a lot - but since it was going to be sitting for a couple weeks before I get a chance to cut the ports, it seemed like it might help a little and couldn't hurt any.
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
One of my dad's co-workers found a body while fishing in Muskegon Lake...
Yikes. Two bodies!!
My wife and I sailed our 71 Sunfish (Ruby) on Muskegon Lake four years ago late September and discovered the ferry boat that goes between Muskegon and Chicago. It creates a massive wake. The two of us were sailing and all the sudden her face turned white as she’s looking aft at the big wake coming at us. Fortunately that gave me time to adjust our direction so as not to be capsized by that massive wake. Otherwise, we had a great time sailing Muskegon Lake. No bodies discovered.
 
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Weston

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't go so far as to call what I do "sailing"...

Grew up in Muskegon (well, Norton Shores) and sailed occasionally on Muskegon Lake 30+ years ago.

Picked up this Sunfish after 30+ years of no sailing to use at our cottage on Cranberry Lake in Harrison (Clare County).

That would be the Cranberry Lake next to Budd Lake (44.058271756008885, -84.74328956387117)

...as opposed to the Cranberry Lake near the Clam River (44.16336395779166, -84.97815094049899), or the Cranberry Lake off 10 by the Mystic River YMCA camp (43.883024135475914, -85.03902852047928).

Yes... there really are THREE Cranberry Lakes in Clare County.
And another Cranberry Lake in White Lake Township. (42.6560300, -83.4809120). Your Cranberry Lake is about a mile long. With the prevailing westerlies in Michigan, you should have perfect wind for long N/S reaches most of the time.
 
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aborgman

Member
Yikes. Two bodies!!
I also know of a number of other bodies pulled out of Muskegon Lake - just not by folks fishing. The father of one of my HS girlfriends ran the dive rescue team for the county. It mostly involved pulling dead bodies.


My wife and I sailed our 71 Sunfish (Ruby) on Muskegon Lake four years ago late September and discovered the ferry boat that goes between Muskegon and Chicago. It creates a massive wake. The two of us were sailing and all the sudden her face turned white as she’s looking aft at the big wake coming at us. Fortunately that gave me time to adjust our direction so as not to be capsized by that massive wake. Otherwise, we had a great time sailing Muskegon Lake. No bodies discovered.
Ice fishing on the lake when the coal freighters would come in to fuel the BC Cobb plant was always fun....
 

aborgman

Member
And another Cranberry Lake in White Lake Township. (42.6560300, -83.4809120). Your Cranberry Lake is about a mile long. With the prevailing westerlies in Michigan, you should have perfect wind for long N/S reaches most of the time.
Somewhere between 30 and 40 Cranberry Lakes in Michigan - Alcona, Alger, Arenac, Cass, Chippewa, Clare (x3), Iron, Jackson(x2), Kalkaska, Lapeer(x2), Livingston, Luce (x2), Mackinac(x2), Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Montmorency, Oakland (x4), Ogemaw(x3), Ottawa, Schoolcraft, Washtenaw.
 

aborgman

Member
Finally got started on some work...

1) Weighed it... 245 pounds. It's definitely VERY waterlogged.

2) Cut two 5" inspection ports -1 rear, 1 between daggerboard slot and splash guard, have a fan blowing through hull 24/7 now.

3) The loose foam rolling around WASN'T a foam block - it was two pieces of the two part foam holding the outside forward foam blocks to the bottom. There is still enough under them to hold them in place, even after a 2'x6"x3" broke off each side.

4) This is definitely a foam gun produced boat - the rear deck inspection port had to cut through about 2" of expanding foam, which covers the entire under side of the rear deck. The channel between the center and outside blocks in the rear is all of about 3" wide by 1" tall due the expanding foam top/bottom mostly filling in.

5) Backing block for the deck cleat has fallen off (and previous owner re-attached the cleat with drywall anchors :rolleyes:), halyard block backing block is still in place.
Couldn't see the backing block for the bow handle, and DEFINITELY can't see the backing blocks for the traveler eyestraps... so no idea what condition they may be in.
 

aborgman

Member
A few questions -

1) For any backer blocks I replace I'm thinking aluminum plate with threaded holes.

Any issues with that?
Adhesive for attaching plates?
Plate size?
Anything else?

2) Considering replacing the halyard block with a bullseye fairlead, or at least a new block on the current pad eye.

What is the center to center spacing on the current pad eye?
What size block for replacement?
Anything else?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
The old bronze halyard block has scant friction, making it easier to raise the sail.

Bullseye fairleads, under the stress of raising the sail, offer increasing friction. The only benefit was reducing the cost-per-boat to the manufacturer.

For no noticeable gain, I replaced the standard bullseye fairlead with one lined with stainless steel. :confused:

We're not discussing a lot of metal, but any metal inside fiberglass or plastic containers will condense moisture from humid air. (Usually overnight).
 

aborgman

Member
The old bronze halyard block has scant friction, making it easier to raise the sail.

Bullseye fairleads, under the stress of raising the sail, offer increasing friction. The only benefit was reducing the cost-per-boat to the manufacturer.

For no noticeable gain, I replaced the standard bullseye fairlead with one lined with stainless steel. :confused:
It's an issue running a line through it twice - so you'd argue for a double block over a bullseye fairlead?

We're not discussing a lot of metal, but any metal inside fiberglass or plastic containers will condense moisture from humid air. (Usually overnight).
Anything that warms more slowly than the air inside fiberglass or plastic containers will condense moisture from humid air.

That is going to be true for both wood or metal.

Heating time will be proportional to mass and specific heat capacity, and as long as there is a differential and humid air there will be condensation.

A 4"x4"x1" Mahogany block will take LONGER to reach air temperature than a 4"x4"x0.125" aluminum plate, and thus should actually condense MORE water out of equally humid air at a rough calculation.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
It's an issue running a line through it twice - so you'd argue for a double block over a bullseye fairlead?
Yes. I'm so convinced, I have a toolbox loaded with double-sheave blocks, and use one daily to pull my Sunfish up a ramp. I haven't priced double-sheave blocks lately, though! :(

Bullseye fairleads should be restricted to loadings "in shear" and not near-vertical loads.

Condensation is a 24-hour cycle, and wood is extremely slow to lower its core temperature. It would be an issue for me in Florida, anyway.
 

aborgman

Member
Yes. I'm so convinced, I have a toolbox loaded with double-sheave blocks, and use one daily to pull my Sunfish up a ramp. I haven't priced double-sheave blocks lately, though!
Right on. I'll definitely go with a double block.

Condensation is a 24-hour cycle, and wood is extremely slow to lower its core temperature. It would be an issue for me in Florida, anyway.
As a string instrument player living in Michigan, I have lots and lots and lots of experience with condensation on wood (and every other material in existence). I've probably spent a thousand hours in my life wiping condensation of wood.

...and while I can certainly see aluminum being worse, I wouldn't expect it to be significantly worse - I mean aluminum plate has been standard in Sunfish since 1986, and it's used over wood in probably 75%+ of new boat construction. Do you have issues in Florida with post 1986 Sunfish because of condensation on the aluminum backing plates?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Do you have issues in Florida with post 1986 Sunfish because of condensation on the aluminum backing plates?
Fortunately, all my five Sunfish are aluminum-free. ;) However, fiberglass--all by itself--"sweats" on the interior and exterior. Where I can, my Sunfish are stored with the drain downwards, and the drain plug loosened or removed. Pushing a short piece of clothesline inside will "wick" excess condensate out (for those where freezing damage is a consideration). Replacing the deck drain

Backing plates can be made of sections cut from one polypropylene cutting board--$1 at Dollar Tree stores ($1 for now). :rolleyes:

While none of my Sunfish have had fairlead failures, fairleads usually have a limited application--from Wikipedia:

"the angle in the line created by the fairlead must be shallow to minimize friction. For larger angles a block or pulley is used as a fairlead to reduce friction".
 

aborgman

Member
Fortunately, all my five Sunfish are aluminum-free. ;) However, fiberglass--all by itself--"sweats" on the interior and exterior.
Of course... EVERY object that heats more slowly than the surrounding air will get condensation in a humid environment.

...but all of that seems to fall into the worrying about 0.001" when cutting with an axe frame of reference. None of that condensation by itself, is going to amount to much of anything.



Backing plates can be made of sections cut from one polypropylene cutting board--$1 at Dollar Tree stores ($1 for now). :rolleyes:
I'm not sure polypropolene would be any better - it's notorious for having manufacturing problems when being converted from pellet to finished plastic.... due to condensation on the pellets when being shipped in plastic bags inside Gaylord boxes.

If I was going to use a plastic, I think I'd be more inclined to use HDPE - it'll hold tapped threads a lot better, whereas polypro will require use of wood screws.
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
I cut holes in the bottom where needed, epoxied 1/4" alum plates on deck undrrsides, and tapped all hardware into them. In saltwater locations, being inside the boat, I'd give it an easy 25 year lifespan if not more. Oh...yeah, I glassed up the holes afterwards and no inspection ports on the deck of my 69 fish.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The key with the aluminum backer plates is that they are marine grade, anodized. The drawback is that the fasteners are usually marine grade stainless, so over time there is dissimilar metal corrosion, faster in salt water environments.

When we replace wood blocks we put a couple of coats of epoxy on the blocks before we install them. The wood will last a long time at the "Goldilocks" correct moisture level, if left saturated it rots, and if it dries out it cracks. So a little moisture in a hull doesn't bother us, for the same reasons that we prefer to store our wooden boats where moist air can get to them, but not let water collect in bilges, etc...over a wooden floor, dirt or gravel vs over concrete.

Zip Madison Lagniappe Beach.JPG

1. We'd use thickened epoxy or PL Marine to attach the plates. The factory glassed them in place. Most plates we've seen are 3-4 inches wide and however long they need to be. Copious amounts of sealant were used around the hardware holes.

2) We think the bronze halyard block falls under the KISS Principle, and if it works, why change it? Most were made by Wilcox and Crittenden, they will be around several lifetimes beyond us. And they are cool.
 

aborgman

Member
1) Two weeks of fan assisted drying, and the interior is definitely less moist... but the white support foam still has a long way to go.

2) Pulled off the deck hardware -

Coaming: SS 10-32 raised countersunk philips machine screws into plastic inserts. I'm assuming this isn't stock, think it should be rivnuts (and probably originally brass slotted screws). Not sure what I'll replace it with, might just leave it as is... otherwise rivnuts or rivets? Aluminum backing plate?

Halyard Cleat: as noted previously, backing block is gone. Will replace with aluminum plate. Might replace cleat, but can't find much with same (1" center to center) spacing.

Halyard block: turns out this backing block is also trashed. Will replace with aluminum plate. Want to go to a double block like this (https://sailingforums.com/attachments/20210624_181608-jpg.46816/), but don't want to trash a perfectly good vintage block/padeye.

Bow handle: Backing block is solid. One of four screws is broken off in block. Might see if I can shift the handle slightly to put in new holes while still covering old ones. Otherwise might try to drill out broken off screw and fill hole in block with epoxy and re-screw. Handle has a some pitting, need to replace.

Bridle eyestraps: one has good backing block, other held in with rubber well nuts. Going to replace both backing plates with aluminum. Don't want to split the deck, so going to try and carve through the foam. Already ordered replacement eyestraps.

3) Still something clunking around when you tip the hull... doesn't sound like the one still missing backing block, sounds like foam. Thing is - there is no loose foam between the transom and back of the storage compartment, and there is no loose foam between the front of the footwell and the bow. So whatever it is - it's in the gap on the side of the footwell/storage compartment - and is basically trapped there by the foam blocks.


Foam Block Layout.jpg

4) There might be other leaks... but the big one is definitely the port side of the footwell at the front. After I peeled the attempted past repair off, there is a major crack/missing fiberglass in the radius of the footwell.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
-For the coaming, rivets are easier or get some new non stock plastic anchors and use a marine grade stainless wood screw. If they work, they work. BTW machine screws into plastic anchors is not stock.
-For rivets, you'll have to hope that the remnant fastener holes are a good size match for new rivets. Otherwise you're doing fiberglass repairs IOT redrill new fastener holes.
-Rivnuts may have been stock on your boat, I don't know the exact year they switched to rivets. For new rivnuts you need the special rivnut gun and the correct diameter/depth closed end rivnuts.
-No backing plate needed if you go with rivets or rivnuts.
-Most likely clunking by the cockpit is the remnants of any one of the missing backers blocks, with our top guess being the eyestrap block.
- Where your bow handle screw is broken off, I drill a pilot hole with a metal bit right through or next to the old screw parts. The old screw itself could act as an anchor for the new marine grade stainless fasteners.
 

aborgman

Member
-For the coaming, rivets are easier or get some new non stock plastic anchors and use a marine grade stainless wood screw. If they work, they work. BTW machine screws into plastic anchors is not stock.
-For rivets, you'll have to hope that the remnant fastener holes are a good size match for new rivets. Otherwise you're doing fiberglass repairs IOT redrill new fastener holes.
-Rivnuts may have been stock on your boat, I don't know the exact year they switched to rivets. For new rivnuts you need the special rivnut gun and the correct diameter/depth closed end rivnuts.
-No backing plate needed if you go with rivets or rivnuts.
Cheapest option would be sticking with current plastic anchors/screws. They were holding just fine.

Backing plate is a bit more of a pain, but would be also be free because I've got plenty of aluminum sheet around.

Holes are almost certainly too large for rivets without glass/re-drilling.

Rivnuts probably fit the existing holes, and I have a Rivnut tool... but stainless 10-32 rivnuts run about $1 each for open ended thin wall. I don't think there is really a need for closed end rivnuts, as long as you seal the screw holes.


-Most likely clunking by the cockpit is the remnants of any one of the missing backers blocks, with our top guess being the eyestrap block.
The eyestrap block is the only one not accounted for - so if it is a backer block, it's that one.

That being said - it really doesn't sound like the other loose backer blocks did, it sounds like the broken off pieces of two part foam that were rolling around did.
 

aborgman

Member
1) Halyard cleat replacement - suggestions for a horn cleat with 1" center-center spacing?
Sunfish replacement part is the only one I've found, but I don't want black (plus the casting lines left on that part are ugly).

2) Pad eye for double block. - suggestions for a pad eye with 1-5/8" center-center spacing?
Don't want to cut the existing block off my good vintage pad eye, but want to keep hole spacing stock. Vintage one with a broken block?

3) Bow handle - source for a replacement that fits original hole pattern?
 

aborgman

Member
1) Three weeks of fan assisted drying... still wet, but between the drying and removal of a bunch of waterlogged expanding foam we're down 40 pounds... to 205 lbs.

2) Decided to go with aluminum backing plate for everything, including coaming (well, 2 backing plates + 3 nut/washer for the coaming). Cut gap between deck and white foam to make room for coaming backing plates. Still need to cut similar gap for access to bridle backers.

3) Loose clunking in the gap on the side of the footwell/storage compartment found - and it wasn't the missing backer block, it was a piece of loose two part foam. How it got there I have no idea, since it was too big to get out. Managed to get it up to the front of the footwell, pinned against the gap between the footwell and the white flotation foam and hack it into pieces with a drywall saw and yank it out.

4) Crack/gap in footwell radius - is approximately where the black line is in this picture:

footwell_crack.JPG

It is ~4" long, and probably 1" wide of trashed fiberglass... with an open gap of ~1/8" in the center.

Getting at the back side to get a backing support in will be real difficult, so it may have to be an almost completely front sided repair. Suggestion are welcome!

5) Bow handle... are the new ones the same hole pattern? Quality good? Better off buying an old one?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
It is ~4" long, and probably 1" wide of trashed fiberglass... with an open gap of ~1/8" in the center. Getting at the back side to get a backing support in will be real difficult, so it may have to be an almost completely front sided repair. Suggestion are welcome!
Here, we have hopeless-case Sunfish being sent to landfills. :(

However, you may request a larger section cut out of a "donor" boat and epoxy it to the back side. It can act as a strengthener-backing, and then fill the remainder with layers of cloth and epoxy, sand, and fair it. (A sanding disk might be best here).

I'd go to all this trouble, because the cockpit's footwell can take a beating, and you'll likely not want to do another repair in the same place. :oops:

Member Alan Glos may be able to help.
 

aborgman

Member
Here, we have hopeless-case Sunfish being sent to landfills. :(

However, you may request a larger section cut out of a "donor" boat and epoxy it to the back side. It can act as a strengthener-backing, and then fill the remainder with layers of cloth and epoxy, sand, and fair it. (A sanding disk might be best here).

I'd go to all this trouble, because the cockpit's footwell can take a beating, and you'll likely not want to do another repair in the same place. :oops:

Member Alan Glos may be able to help.
I can easily build up a backing - the problem is access to install the backing is almost impossible without cutting more holes, which I'd rather not do.

So basically looking for repair suggestions achievable from the exterior side of the cockpit.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Where I cut the forward cockpit bulkhead to install the "Ultimate Inspection Port" there was little room remaining for the repair you want to do.

At least on my one specimen of Sunfish (the ex-racer), the port Styrofoam block was in the way. :oops: (The starboard block had broken free of the factory's glue-foam bedding). :(


Given your 1-inch of "trashed" fiberglass, leave it in place temporarily, cover the patching area with Saran Wrap, and build a new backing with a couple of layers of cloth and resin. After it's cured, remove the new backing from its Saran Wrap "release medium". Trim as necessary the "trashed" area, allowing enough space to slip the new backing patch behind the formerly "trashed" area.

Prepare a bed of thickened epoxy, install a screw-eye to the middle and bungee the new backing firmly into place.

Fill, Fair, and Finish.
:)
 
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