Looking for advice on cockpit drain repair

Thread starter #1
I recently bought a used 1981 laser (serial ZFS) and the hull takes on quite a bit of water when sailing. There is a bit of hull separation at the bow, but not terrible. The mast step also looks okay. The culprit appears to be the cockpit drain, where there is some obvious separation. I'm interested in trying to repair but not sure where to begin. Can I repair with a filler such as West System 610? I noticed that there is no brass sheathing for the plug. Is this normal for a boat that age? Should I attempt to modify the plug? I included a couple photos. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!


Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
At the very least, I'd fill that bow crack with catalyzed resin, that crack could be adding to the problem if you're shipping quantities of water inside the hull. Make sure it's dry first, and you might have to thicken the resin... clamp the split sections while you're at it. There are other products which would also serve to fill the crack. Have you inspected mast step & dagger well? On older Lasers, those seams in the well are notorious culprits for leakage. Fittings such as eyes, eye straps, etc., can all be cleaned up, along with fasteners as long as they're stainless steel... otherwise, time to toss that cr@p so ya don't have those ugly rust stains everywhere. In the grand scheme o' life, stainless fasteners are cheap. That plastic can also be cleaned up with minor effort, no need to have that funky discoloration to make your boat look bad. Not a safety issue, and it won't slow the boat down much, but it looks like hell... :eek:

Oh, yeah, that ugly line used to secure the hiking strap? Get rid of that junk, unless you like swimming in the center of the channel, a 75,000-ton warship or freighter bearing down on ya and sounding five angry blasts... it's a safety hazard, and I guarantee it will break at the worst & most inopportune moment. Personally, with a Laser that old, I'd replace ALL lines, no matter how "good" they look... as with humans, age doesn't make line any stronger, aye? Aging is best reserved for booze, wine, certain cuts o' meat, vintage cars & trucks, etc., etc. The old lines can always be used for purposes which don't involve marine safety. Apart from that ugly bow crack, that hull doesn't look too bad, a little cleaning and polishing should bring 'er up to speed. Got any pics of the spars, sail & running rigging? Might get some helpful feedback on all that gear with a few pics... :rolleyes:
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Thread starter #4
Thanks! Makes sense about the lines. Here are some more photos. Note the small ~1" hole in the sail. Repairable?

In terms of sealing up the hull, do you recommend West System 610 or 3M 5200 or something else? Same for sealing the separation at the brass cockpit drain? I'm also going to order the auto drain. Any suggestions much appreciated!


Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Hmm, where to begin? Okay, let's start with the sail, since all your drive will come from that bad boy... if it's otherwise in good shape, you can patch that hole on both sides with quality sail patch material. Not duct tape, not freakin' USPS packaging tape, but good sail patch material from a sail loft or reputable chandlery. I didn't check your location, but if you have a sail loft near you, walk in and ask to buy a couple scraps of sail patch material, chances are they'll give ya what ya need, gratis, as there are always scraps left over in a sail loft, and the hole in your mainsail isn't the size of Rhode Island, 10-4??? Always round "corners" on sail patches, though with a hole that small ya might just want circular patches of equal size on either side, port and starboard. I like having at least 2" or 3" of patch material beyond the nearest edge of the tear or hole, so if it blows a small craft warning you don't have to worry about it ripping even further. An extra inch or two won't hurt either, LOL. I only mention corners in case ya ever have a longer tear or triangular hole of note in your sail, aye??? :rolleyes:

Alright, now we'll just plow through the pics in the order they were posted... varnish for the tiller, a no-brainer, check the swivel or fitting for the extension. That rudder head can be cleaned up, use WD-40 if ya gots nothin' better. If that rudder bolt & associated hardware are $h!thouse, replace 'em, nothing worse than losing your rudder when ya need it most. Can't tell if that's a crack in your daggerboard, if it is you want to fill that before it gets worse, you have options there. Both dagger & kick-up rudder show signs of beaching, I simply used to fill all scratches and paint mine using ghetto rattle can action... pretend you're a methed-up taggin' gangbanger & go to town, LOL. Hey, you could put a mini-ghetto gangland mural on the daggerboard, but nobody would ever see it except for when you were launching or landing, aye??? Might get shot for your trouble too, best rethink that ghetto mural, LOL. I can see the headline of the local rag now: "LASER SAILOR CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE BETWEEN CRIPS, BLOODS, MS-13, ETC., ETC.!!!" Not how you want your kids or "grieving widow" to remember you... :confused:

Er... moving on, spars can be cleaned up, and surprisingly, WD-40 works great on aluminum & plastic if you wipe off all excess, but of course that's a cheap solution, there are other products available, I just hailed from a poor nautical family [sob]… WTF, book my gig on Jerry F#%g Springer!!! Tell that clown to have my check ready, and it better be at least six digits, LOL. Motor oil also works great for cleaning up plastic, some oil on a terry cloth towel rag applied to that plastic will make it look like new, and will offer some protection until ya get to the shop & buy the right (overpriced) products, LOL. Damn, I'm having too much fun drinking ice-cold beer while responding to your post, now that the sun has dropped below the horizon and the forest is cooling off... and of course the purists & paint-haters will be seething, LOL, democratic socialists, the lot, no doubt. Uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, I'm a Harken man myself, but those blocks can be cleaned up and used until ya decide to buy something better. Not the vang blocks, they're okay, though you can put a bowline & loop on that line for grabbing purposes, and make sure that loop hangs down from the boom, AYE??? :D

Okay, we need a quick priority list in terms of line replacement, in case you're on a budget and you intend to swap out one at a time. Pour moi, I'd first replace that crappy line used to secure the hiking strap, it looks ready to part under load. Next, what we used to call the "horse" across the afterdeck, since the traveler block rides upon it. Block is cheesy but it'll do for now, a Harken block would be MO' BETTAH!!! Put it on yer Christmas list, LOL. Damn. Third swap, the mainsheet, I only left it this late because the other two lines looked so chumpish... you can go with a larger diameter line under that traveler block too, aye??? Not too large, but you don't need dental floss on there either, I don't care whether it's Spectra or whatever the latest synthetic space age crapline is, I like line that runs freely through the block but also fills the sheave to a certain degree, spreading the load more equally across the sheave and running smoothly under load. Don't make the line too fat, that'll lead to problems, but if the line looks like Twiggy in a brewery vat, well, that's not so good either. Dating myself with the Twiggy reference, perhaps I should say "tweeking anorexic in a brewery vat." :eek:

Personally, I like a little meat with my potatoes, LOL. Er, moving on, the other lines aren't as critical in terms of marine safety: if your downhaul, outhaul or vang line breaks, performance will suffer but ya won't be drowning... oh, yeah, swap out that rudder line, unless it feels strong enough to do the job. If that line breaks you'll have problems steering, or you'll develop lower back problems leaning aft to apply pressure to the trailing edge of the rudder as ya limp back to port, your launching area, whatever the f#%. Don't ask me how I know this. Now, a quick tip with regard to line, and I say this as a technical rock climber: if line which has been stored correctly over time (no direct sunlight, no chemicals, no gritty dust or metal sahvings to work into the fibers, etc.) seems okay to use, it can be gently washed & dried so the fibers contract a bit and gain a little strength. Dry all line out of the sun, I used a wooden rack under the old '50s carport back on the beach. Speaking for myself, I would still swap out ALL the lines aboard the boat, including the bowline for docking purposes, though I tended to beach my boat more often in San Diego Bay... picnic lunch time, you understand, cheaper than bayside whorehouse restaurant prices, LOL. Damn... :oops:

Hmm, what else? I hafta go slash and grab another cold beer (slash = take a phat p!$$), so I'll wrap up this discourse. Ah, yes, the crack in the glass at the upper forward end of your dagger well: THAT needs to be sealed with resin or some other product, you don't need a nasty crack gaping open in THAT location, I assure you. Better check the entire well (or trunk) for similar cracks. As a Laser sailor of decades, I can tell ya that these little boats make for wet sailing, including water slopping up the dagger well on occasion, water streaming aft on deck in sheets or rivulets, water collecting in the mast step tube, heller spray dousing you & the deck as ya thrash to windward, etc., etc. I'm not even counting situations where ya get swamped because ya didn't take a wave correctly, whether it was an ocean swell, wave on the beach, wake of a large powerboat hauling @$$ past ya, whatever. The whole idea is to seal that hull void or cavity so tightly that water will have a hard time making its way in, yeah??? And it WILL eventually work its way in once the seams loosen up, cracks develop, etc., at which point you'll hafta address the problems again. No big deal, it's called boat maintenance, or yacht maintenance if you'd like a prettier phrase, LOL. Meh, you'll figure it out... ;)

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Active Member
Some comments, picture by picture:

1073: looks like the rudder fittings are located a bit low on the transom, which causes the tiller to hit the deck at the gunwale. You can fit the pintles with spacers to fix this.

1078 & 1075: is there really a considerable gap between the two skins? Get the bushing, screw it tight, and use lots of silicone (or whatever your preferred sealant is). Good that you're getting a bailer, too. Makes life easier.

1079: GR already stated the obvious.

1080: get a new hiking strap - the current one will snap sooner, not later. I'd get a new centreboard brake as well.

1077: That looks bad (and should be repaired), but it's above the waterline after all. The bailer hole isn't and is a priority.

1082:The foils look generally nice for their age, but there are a few places where rust from the internal structure is coming through. You probably can't completely stop the corrosion when it has already started, but you can keep it under control by gouging out the affected material and replacing it with fibreglass filler (or anything else not-too-elastic). I'd lightly sand & paint the brown, exposed foam, too, and fix the bottom aft corner of the centreboard.
The tiller extension has been changed to a nicer length than the original; you might want to shorten the tiller if it still extends into the cockpit, or switch to a new aluminium tiller.
The rudder downhaul doesn't have to be low-stretch, and its cleat can be much farther aft on the tiller.

1081: the traveller line is fine if it's Dyneema; if it's not... then it should. 5 mm thick is best in the cleat, and speaking of Clamcleats, you might want to replace the originals with similar ones made of aluminium (the plastics tend to slip).
The original (Holt) Allen blocks are fine, but never unclip the traveller blocks. On the contrary, wrap a large amount of duct tape around the hooks to make that assembly as rigid as possible.
The 4:1 vang doesn't really work. There are many simple and inexpensive ways to update to at least 8:1. The cleat block should be attached to the mast, with a swivel.

1083: I think all sails should have sail numbers, just for aesthetic reasons. (Looks like a car without license plates otherwise.)

1084: strange. Is there really a piece of sailcloth missing here? But do as GR said above.

1085: that sail was made in 1987 or later, because of the 3.8 oz cloth.

1086: looked like normal wear until I blew up the picture and saw the crack. Mat + resin + sanding to the original shape.

In your area, Sturgis Boatworks appears to be the place that sells most things Laser: Laser Parts

I am doing the same project on exactly the same hull (1982). Mine does have the brass bailer tube. I repaired the split on the underside of the rail with thickened fiberglass resin. Baby powder can be used to thicken the if you don't have a brand name filler. My rail seemed to have a thin plywood ring between the top and bottom hull from the factory that rotted away.

I still have some water coming in somewhere and I suspect it's the front crack in the dagger board slot. My boat has the same top deck split from the dagger board trunk to the Cunningham cleat. I've sealed what I could reach, but I think I'll have to install a 5" port and glass it from the inside this Fall.

Replace the old lines ASAP. I left the rudder line and it snapped last night , right before the race start, as I was going through the mooring field in a 20 knot wind. Luckily I was able to point up wind and tie the broken piece back on.
I also shimmed the bottom of the tiller to raise it off the rear deck a few mm. I had to add 4 mm thick gel coat to the rear deck where the tiller was dragging.
Thanks for starting this repair thread.. also just bought - '75 ZFS. First owned sailboat and many years since very minimal sailing - do not know the vocabulary.

1. Can't see through our cockpit drain hole and previous repairs don't appear solid.
2. Ha.. went out the first time without the back bottom drain plug (didn't have one to put in) and did get a bit heavy. Not sure if this will be a replace or repair item.
3. Top right screw (right, I don't know what the piece is called) in pic is loose (can't be good). Two of the screws (type) don't look like they belong there.

The rigging did ok for a rookie maiden voyage, some needs replacing. The sail seemed fine for fun.

Glad I found this FORUM.
..not starting a new thread, but following along..



Active Member
1. Can't see through our cockpit drain hole and previous repairs don't appear solid.
Looks awful. I'd remove all the added material. What to do then depends on what's revealed underneath.
2. Ha.. went out the first time without the back bottom drain plug (didn't have one to put in) and did get a bit heavy. Not sure if this will be a replace or repair item.
Has happened to quite a few of us :D The sealing looks suspect, and this shouldn't be attached with rivets but screws. The complete replacement part is RWO 1/4 Turn Drain Plug, Complete Assy.
3. Top right screw (right, I don't know what the piece is called) in pic is loose (can't be good). Two of the screws (type) don't look like they belong there.
The fastenings do look weird. It's like it's partially through-bolted with the nuts on the outside. There must be an inspection port nearby through which this has been fitted? But anyway, the whole swivel cleat doesn't really belong there. That area should look like in picture 1080 in the initial post, including the centreboard brake.

Thread starter #11
Thanks for all the suggestions, LaLi and GhostRider. The parts are in and I'm hoping to make my repairs today and tomorrow. I got the upgraded mk2 centerboard brake. Hope that was a good decision.

Hoosierben, do you have an autobailer on the underside of your boat? That may explain why you can't see through the cockpit drain. See my photo 1075. I'm adding the autobailer part. Will let you all know how the repairs go. Many thanks!