Just Bought a 1979 Laser - Help!!

Thread starter #1
Hello Everyone:

Our small club just purchased a 1979 Laser. We did this because it came with one new sail and one that had only been used a couple of times. The sticks and blades are in pristine condition as well. Lastly, the price was about the cost of a new class legal sail.

Unfortunately, the hull is another matter. There are the usual spider cracks around the centerboard trunk, and some scratches here and there. There are also some real bad spider cracks (you can feel them with your hand) at the turn of the bilge on one side amidships. Osmotic blistering is prevelant in the area under the cockpit. The hull appears to have been left on the ground unsupported and uncovered.

Worst of all is the separation between the cockpit drain and the hull. I have read about how to repair this and it seems like an incredible amount of work for a hull this old and in poor condition.

My friends and I just race among ourselves for fun. Therefore, I have a couple of questions:

1. From what I have described, is it worth trying to repair this hull, or can one obtain a used hull-only somewhere? I am thinking that we could sail this boat for a couple of seasons (we're in Maine and the seasons are very short) and then try to find a new hull.

2. As I said before, I have read about the separation problem. Is there an easier fix(i.e. just use epoxy to try to glue the bondo back to the hull and/or cockpit bottom)? What are the ramifications of just putting in a bronze drain plug?

Any assistance/advice will be greatly appreciated.
I am not sure how bad your separation is. If you put the bronze piece in there with a ton of sillicone, that would mostly work. However, if there is a distance between deck and botton, there might be another problem (I have never seen this though).
I would not worry about the spidercracks. Almost every boat has some of those eventually. You can wetsand the bottom, or just the crakcs, and you will not even feel them, unless the gelcoat chips off. if that happens, you can put some new gelcoat on in those areas. It is a bit of work, but I have succesfully repaired blisters by just adding some gelcoat and using a squezee, to level it out, and put some waxpaper on top, so that it cures. You will be left with very little sanding that way.

A picture would allow us all to make a better judgement

Thread starter #4
Here are some pics:

So It Begins

Cleaning Up Nicely

All Clean - Note, the boat is on a foam pad and not the concrete

The rectum shot. The boat is on its side and notice that the holes don't line up. It originally had a P.O.S. plastic bushing

This pic I found on the internet showing the inside of another similar vintage boat - Note the Bond (circled).

The boat is now in a cradle in my garage. The cradle supports are properly spaced so that the boat is held at the aft cockpit bulkhead and under the mast step. In this position you can see an aprox. 1/8" gap between the hull and the liner when looking down into the cockpit. The gap does not appear to be uniform, and I can only stick a knife edge in a little bit.

After consulting with some of by powerboat rebuilder buddies, I may consider pre-weighting the cockpit to force the gap closed (or use the bronze bushing) and then use woven and layered glass mat to re-bond the two structures together. I would then bed the bushing using 5200.

Any advice from your end will be greatly appreciated.
That does not look bad at all. I wonder if you actually want to fiberglass this together. I am thinking that a little flexibility might be good at that point. I would go with the 5200 and the brass bushing. I think you can get it pretty waterproof that way.
I also wonder: is this really a 79 boat? I have never seen a 79 white boat with the laser logo next to the transom and with plastic grab rails. Maybe I am mistaken, but it might be about 5 to 10 years younger. What is the hull number?
How is the bottom looking?

I once fixed a laser with a similar problem when I was in college.
It leaked like a sieve between the cockpit to hull joint at the autobailer thru hull. If you don't wish to replace the autobailer, I used a 1" (i think) PVC thru-hull fitting and bedded it with 3M 5200. I had to shave the fitting flanges to match the contours of the cockpit, but the PVC is soft and easy shave. Worked great and I was even able to continue to use the original bailer bung. I used 5200 instead of fiberglassing it in because the cockpit and hull joint needs to flex some. Fiberglassing may have been too stiff and subject to cracking and leaking again in short order.

Good luck and have fun :D
Thread starter #8
The hull# is 71687 and the last part of the HIN reads "M79I". According to what I have read on varoius Laser sites, this makes the boat a 1979. That's about all I know. The bottom is OK considering the age, with the usual spider cracks. I componded and gave it a couple of coats of Starbrite teflon polish and it cleaned up pretty nicely. I am a rec sailor so if I get the thru-hul issue sorted out, then it will be fine for me.

Interesting approach to this problem. I had considered something like that at first, however a couple of things I read cautioned against it. Apparently the cockpit glass is not strong enough to pivot only on one small spot. But when the boat was built, the cockpit was firmly adhered to the hull in that one spot. My plan is to simply reattach it but with a reinforced bond radially versus just the two faces butting together. I will be very careful not to get too carried away with the glass so the hull and cockpit can flex on either side. I will also not be using anything other than a bronze thru-hull

Thanks for your interest and I will keep you posted.
Thread starter #9
Performed the exploratory surgery this afternoon/evening.

As mentioned above, I brought up one of the beach cradles I made last year so it would be at waist level.

Then I cut the first inspection hole on the foredeck. Precise location was not an issue, so I thought I'd make this the practice hole.

There was a little water inside and everything was generally damp and a little slimey. What do you expect for something which has been closed up for 28 years!

Next, I measured for the two after inspection ports. I wanted them to look good when finished and the location is based on a picture I saw in an old Laser racing book.

Here the holes are done, along with the tool of choice. The hole saw was definitely the way to go. BTW, the core was slightly damp, but no sign of delamination! :D

Now for the first look at the repair area.

Having seen the previous picture, I knew what to expect. I was also able to insert a block of wood between the cockpit and the hull. Using this as a lever, I could easily move the cockpit up and down. Little bits of the bondo or whatever it is can be chipped away with a screw driver. It is certainly wet.

The next step is to dry out the inside as much as possible. To get things started, I took an old vacuum, removed the bag, and stuck the hose in the forward hole and fed it towards the bow as much as possible. I then shoved a rag in the hole around the hose. When the vac is turned on, it pulls air in from the after two holes almost the entire length of the boat
. Cool if I do say so myself.

I am still planning to use epoxy for the repair due to the superior adhesion. What sort of cloth would you recommend? I saw a link on another thread to a place called Merton's. There I found something called Double Bias Stitchmat. Would this be good? Bad? The wrong Stuff? Overkill?
Attached ( I hope) is a picture of what a Laser is like with the cockpit sole cut out. Note the floor is supported at both rear corners and all along the center wooden stringer as well as at your cockpit drain. If you epoxy only the drain and the rest of the bond points are loose I think that the rear wall might crack. Certainly I would not only insert a bronze fitting. My floor was very soft so I took this route. I replaced the stringer, epoxied and glassed new foam to the bottom of the sole, epoxied the floor assy. back in and glassed the cut with 5 or 6 layers of glass tape. Turned out well and is solid as a rock. I have also epoxied the daggerboard trunk-to-deck joint, the mast step and the deck to hull joints. The putty the Laser used dies after many dry / wet cycles and eventually the bonds fail. My boat cost me nothing so it was worth it. Besides what else are you to do when the lake freezes??



Thread starter #11
Hello Bill and thanks for the information.

I am glad you mentioned the supports in the two corners. I was wondering about that, so I stuck a little probe under the cockpit deck, and sure enough it caught in two places. I cannot tell if the bond is broken, but I can lift the deck by the new access holes and shove 3/4" blocks under there an inch or so. Based on this, I'm betting that the corner bonds are gone (due to the problem with the thru hull) but the rest might be in OK (sailable) shape. When I glass in the joint between the cockpit and the hull, I'll make up a couple of corner supports as well.

Tonight, I managed to remove all of the "bondo" from around the cockpit drain and clean the joint. However, despite putting weight on the afterdeck right over the drain, I cannot get the holes to line up such that the thru-hull will go through. I'm pretty sure that the P.O.S. plastic thru-hull was of a smaller diameter. I'm going to retreive it tomorrow and verify. Nevertheless, have you ever heard of this problem?
Thread starter #12
Thought you might like an update as to what I did to resurect this old Laser.

As you may remember, here is the joint before I started.

I was able to prop up the cockpit a little bit and remove all of the bondo (with the help of some special tools). The two holes look farther apart than they actually are.

Special tools (now I know how a Dental Hygenest feels :D)

Here is the area all ready for the repair. Note the PVC tube cut in half for limber holes.

Next, we sealed the joint from the inside with one-part closed cell insulation foam. Thickened epoxy was used to create a fillet and seal the thru-hull hole from the outside. Lastly, the entire cockpit bulkhead was joined to the inner hull with three layers of 18 oz. woven roven.

This is most certainly overkill, and I really don't know if it violates any class rules. Frankly, I don't care about the latter as I am mostly a rec sailor. If I had to do it again on another boat, the repair would be far less elaborate and would allow for more water to move under the cockpit. In this case, I was learning from a couple of powerboat repair masters and they like to overbuild everything. The bottom line is that this joint will never fail or leak.

The acid test will be when we splash in a couple of weeks. Hope you find this informative.
very nice work!
One thing... while you are back there you might replace the plastic traveler fairleads with aluminum ones. As they are probably original, UV most certainly has weakened them. One or both will break while you are sailing & it will make things "un-fun" getting back to the dock. been there done that.
$13.50 each, but worth peace of mind.
Yes i would replace any original deck fittings. i just finished restroring my 73 laser, and she looks real good. i jus wondering hows the mast step i know mine was in pretty rough condtion.
Thread starter #15
Thanks for the compliments.

As for the fairleads, they appear to have been replaced, so I decided to throughbolt them and call it good for now. The jam cleats were also relatively new anodized aluminum ones, so I throughbolted them as well. I think someone at one time took an interest in this boat, but then either moved on or entrusted it to someone else who neglected it.

This boat has already consumed the cost of three inspection ports, a new drain plug, thru-hull bushing, mast step wear plate, mainsheet block and spring (the original was broken/missing), rudder downhaul cleat, clew hook, a tube of Life Seal, a bag full of screws/nuts and bolts, and all new lines. And I haven't even sailed it yet!

As for the mast step, I really lucked out. I did the watertight integrity test (24 hours) and no sign of moisture at all! I am a little concerned about the bottom forward half though. The gelcoat has worn away at the corner between the bottom of the mast step and the side. I can feel an indentation with a piece of wire. Is this normal? I would think so. In any case, I got some of that teflon mast tape from APS and hopefully this will cut down on both the friction and the wear.