New Life for SCUD (1968 Sunfish)

Thread starter #1
Scud participated in the 1972 North Americans. Decals show is was used up through at least the early 1980's.

I've removed the deck cleats. Two different types, and one of each was missing. I tossed one out and kept the other as it was a decent cam cleat. The deck has been sanded with a random orbital and 220 grit, which cleaned it up OK. The coaming is in nice shape. I've already removed the old drain plug and will order a new plastic one soon.

Here is the problem area. Two holes in the back. One was put on to update the rudder. The forward hole was held in place with some cheap stuff. It looked like the cut the hole in the wrong place and did a crappy patch--without any fiberglass! When I later sanded this down, the plug fell through. Almost nothing was holding it on. I'm sure it leaked.

This rudder mount didnt' look too bad until I removed it. Massive amounts of silicone sealant was used and covered up much of the problem. One of the two holes had a rubber plug in it. The other filled with silicone. This boat must have been a leaker. Also notice the holes to secure the rudder bracket were too big. One of the holes had a crack because a backing plate was not used. That is worth fixing properly.

The halyard cleat was moved--probably because it came loose. The old holes were not filled in--more leaks there. This alone is a good reason to instal a racing clam cleat on the mast with two (2) 3/16" rivets. That has already been done. The rig has been repaired, has a new set of sail rings ready, and is awaiting a new sail already picked out.

This shows the area around one hole ground back with a grinder in preparation for fiberglassing. I next cut fiberglass cloth in circles of decreasing size--6 of them, from the full width of the area prepared, down to about 3.5" across. I masked the area off with wax paper to keep things neat. I layed another piece of wax paper down on the deck and used that to build up my patch. The idea is to make a pyramid of cloth to fill the hole, for maximum bonding. A bevel is cut in the deck, and the base is laid in there with smaller patches on top. Only I have a fast way, I developed for working on hulls. I make the whole multi-layer patch at once and slap it on and force the excess resin, and air bubbles out.

Here is how it works. I mixed some epoxy and poured a bit on the wax paper and laid down the smallest circular patch of fiberglass cloth and wet it out, then a bit more epoxy and the next larger piece of cloth, and so on until I had the largest piece all wet and ready to go. My pyramid is upside down on the wax paper.

The largest piece goes next to the hole--that is why I started with the smallest piece, because I flipped this patch onto the hole--which puts what was the top piece, now on the bottom.

To keep the middle from sinking in, I used the piece of glass and foam that was there originally, and propped up with a paper cup to keep the middle from sinking when I flipped the patch over. I spent a few minutes working the bubbles out and then I placed a large paperback book on top of another layer of clean wax paper, and then a heavy bag of turf building on top for weight--sandbags, or bags of anything that will put even pressure on the book ensures a tight bond with minimal resin. Resin doesn't make it strong, it just holds it together. The Fiberglass cloth makes the patch strong. I made sure the turf builder sack was also on the bridle so the whole patch wouldn't slide off.

Here is most of my prep work for the rudder mount repair. I need to dremel off some more gel coat before I begin this repair. Once this is done and the mount is back on, I can repair the other hole, or install a new access port. If I can stand this boat on it's nose that would make it a lot easier to work on this area. I'll have to make some form wood to apply pressure since gravity won't help me like in the last patch.

I am not very good at matching gelcoat colors. I'm thinking I might try it anyway. realistically, I will probably paint a racing stripe, using two part epoxy paint--tough stuff, from the coaming to the stern to cover up the repairs.

This is what is needed to support the rudder bracket. I am about to order one of these.

Here is the patch with it's form, and weight setting up. After this dries, I will hit it lightly with my grinder (with a sanding disk instead of a grinding wheel) and see how it looks. I might lay another patch on it if it needs it. If it moved a little off center, that will be the case. If it is fine, I'll fair it and try my hand at color matching the gelcoat.

I really like this off-white, light cream colored deck. If I didn't have the two stripes on the bow, I'd just do a green racing stripe from bow to stern. The maroon and steel blue stripes on the boat will be hard to match in two part epoxy paint--so I will think about a complementary color. Black, grey, or white go with anything. I'd like to pick a green though.

To install a hiking strap, I'll need another inspection port in the back end of the cockpit. I don't like deck mounted inspection ports. I prefer them in the cockpit where they are not so noticeable. That will help with drying the boat out a bit. I might do that tonight.
Thread starter #2
My make shift patch worked rather well. One pocket of air on the surface making a gully, about 5 O'Clock in the first picture--easily filled. And one tiny pocket of air that I can drill and fill--not very visible, about 6 O'Clock in the first picture--the lighter patch next to the rough looking gully at 5 O'Clock. The second picture is cocked with respect to the first. Use the tape for reference.

If you ever wondered why they sell syringes at West Marine--it is so people can drill holes in voids and inject epoxy in to fill them. Voids left empty can cause gelcoat on top to crack--Not a good thing. It is easy to fill them. Another option is to grind a cut down to the void and then fill it--this is a weaker option, but somewhat easier. I'll drill two holes (one to let the air out) and inject some epoxy in through the other.

If you look carefully, you will notice the grain of the fiberglass cloth running several directions. This is the only way you can tell more than one layer was laid in here. It looks like the patch slipped down and to the left--i.e. in the 8 O'Clock direction. Not a bad way for it to shift and this puts more layers of cloth over the exposed foam.

It is quite easy to see through fiberglass and epoxy. That is why many wooden boats are so strong, there is a hidden layer of glass on top, that looks like a layer of varnish.

Normally I start with a layer of matt and switch to cloth, and then back to mat to help distinguish the layers when I'm sanding or grinding. I was out of matt.

One danger is the patch might have slipped off center a bit. I'll study it closely to determine if this is a problem. If it is not centered, then I might have fewer layers over the foam visible in these pictures. 4 layers might be ok, but just two might not. Another reason to add a few more layers of glass tomorrow. Also of concern, the areas with the voids are right at the foam boundary. If this was a keel joint, I'd be more worried. It is probably fine as it is.

Another even better product is stitched mat--where the manufacturer sews alternate layers of mat and cloth together to form a very thick piece of cloth. It requires the use of a thinner epoxy--I use a different brand for this sort of work. The material is marvelous though and shortens your layup time, at the risk of the epoxy running everywhere. I build dams of tape and wax paper to control the excess.

Stitched Mat might be overkill for a Sunfish. I put a full layer of it on the deck of my 30' boat after making other deck repairs with mat and cloth. I have zero deflection anywhere on my deck now, at the expense of some added weight, which I can live with--I'd rather have robust in this application because I want that boat to be able to take some abuse.

Tomorrow I dress up the edges and overflow, and lightly buzz off the top to stripe off the Amine Blush. I think it will be ready to fair, although I may add another layer or two of cloth. Notice the tan colored arc running around the outside edge of the circle--that is foam. I cut away a bit more than I planned with my grinder. The center circle has a nearly full layer of fiberglass from the original deck, plus six (6) new layers of cloth.

Only four (4) layer of fiberglass cloth cover the exposed foam. I'll put some pressure on it and see if there is any deflection. It seemed solid to me tonight. I could press on with fairing. I'll decide tomorrow. If the repair is is a bit low, it is fine to add more fiberglass. The cloth is what gives it strength; the resin just holds it together.

One problem is I'm out of West 410 powder. That is the filler I prefer for fairing. I do have some cabosil that I could use. Some people use sawdust.

The 410 both mixes and sands very easy--great stuff. I faired a 46' sloop once and I've tried them all. The 409 or 408--the purple stuff, sands easy, but is somewhat hard to mix--it flies off and you need a mask to mix it. I only use it when I need the color to find low spots. Other stuff like 403 is very hard to stand, but makes a great glue, and works fine for filling small holes, as it is made of small glass fibers

I am leaning towards glassing over the inspection port that is open in the above picture. Once I fix the rudder mount, what do I need an inspection port for here? I have a six inch circle cut out of the cockpit of another boat. I'm going to cut that in half and attach it underneath by screwing down through the deck. Or I'll come up with some other way to support the patch while it sets up. The main point being to that patch from falling through. I'd remove the screws after it has set up. Other than that, the process will be the same.

After fairing, I'll have the more serious problem of making it look good with gelcoat. Paint is much easier to work with. I like two part epoxy paints. I never use one part paints.

Time required:
--removing hardware--15 minutes and I was loafing
--grinding--10 minutes
--Fiberglassing--20 minutes

--Total about 45 minutes or less for what you see here.
Thread starter #3
Transom Repair

Here is the initial prep work again.

Here I've filled it with epoxy and West Systems 105 or 104.

Pretty nasty looking. Should I leave it like this?

The idea behind filling this area is to make it solid to apply a patch flat across. I won't leave it like this...

Ok, here I've ground down the filler material. I tried to fill in all the holes including the two bigger ones at the bottom. The disadvantage to that is I'll have to use a dremel tool to clean up the inside. But I was planning on doing that anyway. I want to place a few small patches on the inside before gluing in the backing plate. Once I drill my mounting holes and bed the rudder plate on the outside, I'll have a rather solid repair with no possibility of a leak. There are a few small cracks underneath, but the extra re-enforcement, both in glass and metal on both sides will make up for that small weakness.

Here it is with final prep for the outside.

Now it is time for some unthickened epoxy. I chose to put two layers of glass cloth down.

I pour a bit of epoxy on some wax paper after cutting the cloth to size. Then I wet up both layers, one at a time. Then I slapped it in place and wrapped the wax paper around the gunwhale and through two clamps on it.

I wanted to put some pressure on the patch. The less resin the better. I wanted the patch to be as flush as possible. I used a 1x4 board and a brace, plus I massaged the patch with my fingers to push out as much epoxy as possible. There will be a little mess. I'll just sand it off like I did on my other repair.

I feel pretty good about this side of the repair. I will just fair it a bit after sanding it down, and turn my attention to the inside.

I found a little chip of gel coat that I thought I'd use to match the tint. Only most of the boat is darker than this. I will have to sand the deck a little more aggressively to try to bring the lighter look back.

Th fiberglass work is pretty easy. I dread the gelcoat part.

Total time for all this? 5 minutes to mix the filler and dab it in with a brush--I could not find my applicator, 5 minutes to push the boat outside and prop it up. 5 more to grind it down. 5 minutes to cut the glass and throw the patch on. Perhaps 20 minutes for all the work you see here.

Thread starter #4
Varnishing my boards

This is the second time I've been disappointed by Torresen Marine.

They do not post pictures of their parts. If you want to purchase their products call them to be sure you get what you want. Ordering online will likely lead to disappointment. I have had good service on the phone from Chris. But I had more bad luck. Just a few minutes ago I received a delivery from Torresen meant for a guy in Maine.

What I wanted in my last order.

What I got. A flat plate.

I also ordered three drain plugs. I goofed in ordering something that looks the same but is quite different--my mistake here. I'm trying to standardize on one type so that if I lose a plug I can replace it easily.

Back to the photo's. A fellow called me up wanting to buy a sail, rudder and daggerboard. He never showed up, but it was good motivation for me to spruce up my boards. I'd rather do this now and not have to worry about it at all later. So I took apart two rudders, and painted these plus one elliptical daggerboard with epoxy.

I also touched up my other rudders and three tillers.

The daggerboard was perfectly functional as it was, but I wanted to make it nicer. I just bought a fourth Sunfish, and this daggerboard came with an elliptical board--shown partially next to it. So I will have another nice board, plus a spare. I want all four boats to be as similar as possible.

I have a plastic racing daggerboard, so I don't need a spare daggerboard. I will probably sell this elliptical board--although I may try it out first--it looks like it has more area. Before the plastic boards came out, I've read these elliptical boards were in demand--perhaps I can get some money for it. I'd rather pick up a beat up one cheap and fix it up, and sell the nicer one. A spare can be beat up--who cares if I don't use it. And I will always have time to pretty it up later. I like the idea of having at least one spare rudder and blade.

The elliptical board needs two strips of wood on either side of the top edge for stops and a spring to finish it off. I have some spare teak at my Mom's house in the workshop left over from a cockpit deck I built. I will shape, glue and bolt and epoxy it to finish the job. Some people use rope to secure these to the boat. I use a small bronze cabinet handle to lift them up. Plus it gives a nice place to hook on a shock cord to hold it in place when raised.

Daggerboard Fill Repair. At the same time I filled the transom notch, I filled this daggerboard. I ran out of material here, but I knew I'd have to go back and work on it again. So at least I have a start on it.

I'm pretty careful about not hitting bottom at any speed--you should be too. When you do and your board is partially up, this is what happens.

This is the second daggerboard I've bought that had this problem with although the other was not as bad--it occurs when the daggerboard hits bottom and it is jammed repeatedly into the daggerboard trunk. I did a similar repair when I bought my first Sunfish about six years ago.

Judging by it's location, the board was raised partially when this happened, like someone approaching shore to haul out and hits bottom on the way in. I think the extra play where the board as not as wide allows it to slam into the truck rather hard.

You all know what is like. You have to go in and you don't really want to, so you sail as close as you can to shore. Bad idea. Get off the boat in deeper water and protect your boards!

So back to the notch worn in the blade. I used thicked epoxy to fill the effected area. I will put a layer of cloth around it to strengthen it some, and possibly fair it a bit. It is always good to use a little glass. The white in the picture is tape used to make a dam to prevent epoxy from running everywhere--not needed this time--it got in the way.

Oh my god! This is ugly! What did I do?

My last daggerboard notch repair, done about six years ago, is not noticeable. I would have to look carefully to find it. In fact, I’d have to check all my boards to find it. So I guess that means it is holding up very well. The only difference in the repair technique is I used 103 filler last time, which has glass fibers, and is stronger filler. I probably should have gone out and bought some, but I had this 105, and it is nearly as good.

I just ran out and took a picture of the first part of the fill. It has been ground down somewhat here.

Not to panic. Once it is cleaned up, you won't be able to tell it was done. See, already it is starting to blend into the board. It will look like a dark section of wood when it is done.

And here is the back side. I used tape to make a dam, but it wasn't needed. I mixed up the thickened epoxy so that it was thicker than peanut butter. It stuck. I didn't make enough anyway, so I knew I'd need to hit it again.

Next time, and that may be tonight. I'll mix up some more filler and gob it on, making sure it sticks out farther than I want it--it is easier to grind off than to add more. The last step will be some careful sanding. My long board is with my other boat. I'll probably forget it again. What I'd prefer to do is long board the whole back edge so I match the bevel perfectly.

Note: I left the varnish on here because I wanted a good bond for the tape. I'd sand that off prior to gooping more thickened epoxy on here.

Once I have it pretty close, I'll take a bit more off and lay one thin layer of cloth in there. Or maybe not. Last time I didn't and it has held up well. I'll decide later. I'm leaning towards a bit of cloth since I used 105 instead of 103.

The important thing is to fill in all the gaps and to blend the shape perfectly. Here you can see this side and the bottom need a lot more material. I ground off a tiny bit everywhere, which eliminates the amine blush and provides a strong bond with new material.

Rudders and board were sanded with a Ridgid 6" random orbital sander and then got a thick coat of epoxy. I've used varnish in the past, but it doesn't hold up as well as Epoxy. I use varnish for things like teak used on deck applications on keelboats--where I want it to look really good. For boards that need to take some abuse, I use West Systems epoxy.

I like to start by applying as thick a first layer as possible, then I sand it out the bubbles and drips. This epoxy was a bit too thick for what I want, but I don’t feel like digging out my thinner stuff for a small job like this. Next I applied a couple layers of varnish. When it was just about dry, I laid on another coat. I want it thick before I start sanding. With a little luck, I can sand once and carefully apply one more layer and I’ll be done after some ultra fine sandpaper for the final sanding.

I also varnished a couple of small pieces of teak for my 30’ keelboat.

Better is the enemy of good enough--you can varnish forever if you are a perfectionist. With varnish 6-7 layers is about my max, for epoxy, I use three layers at most and shoot for two.

Here are the two rudders after painting with a thick layer of epoxy. But wait..there's more.

I also painted the rudder cheeks at the same time. Those lasted pretty well but despite meticulous preparation, sanding the surface, priming and painting, my beautiful metallic painted aluminum cheeks started to bubble last year. I just scraped off the bubbles. I've decided that bare aluminum with a little steel wool to polish them is how I'll keep these in the future, unless I can find a good deal on anodizing everything at once.

With epoxy, on this first coat you can see some bubbles which I'll have to sand out. On subsequent coats this is less of a problem.

Now this is after sanding the drips and a coat or two of varnish.

All this is rather easy work. I"m still dreading the gelcoat work. I'm taking my inspiration from Minifish, who did such a beautiful job on his boat's gelcoat restoration. I will not be able to do such a good gelcoat job, because I'm going to try matching the gelcoat instead of re-doing all the gelcoat, and I don't think I am as talented as he is with that sort of work. Time will tell. I'll need some patience for that part, and I'm a bit weak on long tedious work like that.

Thread starter #5
Another layer of glass on my earlier patch...

Picking up from here. This is what my last repair looked like--just about perfect. Not yet cleaned up. Some of the tape is glued on. I put pressure on the patch. It was plenty strong enough as is, but there is a depression in the middle, and I though it wise to fill it with more glass.

Here is my last patch cleaned up.

In these two pictures you can see the layers of cloth, now that it is sanded. I thought I used six layers, I count seven--even better.

I found a small piece of stitched matt cloth. Wonderful stuff. One piece of stitched mat is equivalent to 3-4 layers of matt and cloth. I decided that since I needed to fill my last deck patch a bit more, that I'd use this piece. It was a little small, so I cut up 5-6 pieces of cloth to fill up the extra area.

This looks ugly! Ah! Too much resin. I'm using up scrap cloth so this one will not be neat. I should not even show you this.

And, you can see the area I filled with 5-6 pieces of thin cloth because my stitched mat piece was not big enough. Definitely not my best work. But it will make a very strong patch even stronger.

In any event I need to get rid of that excess resin--UGLY!

I laid a piece of wax paper on top of the patch and used a full tube of caulk as a roller to squeegy out the excess resin. It work, but there were a few drips. I ran out of tape to protect area around the work area, but it won't be a problem. I wiped up most of it, and I'll be sanding it down more soon anyway, prepping for fairing the area. I'll need my long board for that--for sure.

This last picture shows both my transom repair--with clams and pressure boards, and the second patch on the deck.
Thread starter #6
A few more photos. I'm still awaiting parts. While doing some work on my keelboat I had a little left over fairing material so I started fairing the hull repairs I started earlier. Unfortunately, my last gelcoat application did not set up on my keelboat, so I'll be removing what I can with acetone and starting over. Things are going ok there, but that is another topic.

Back to Scud:

Here is what the top patch looks like after being dressed up with a 5" grinder:

My parts order with the wrong parts was returned long ago, and the new parts are still not in. Torresen has been great with the many changes I've had in my order. So the delays are not a problem for me--it actually worked out better in the long run. Still I won't be able to close up the aft inspection hole until I get the rudder backing plate.

So here goes:

After mixing up the fairing compound I applied it with a plastic trowel, and then sanded it with a random orbital sander with a moderately fine grit--220.

Before sanding:


This looks pretty good. The circular patch might be ok for gelcoat--I'll have to give a couple of strokes with the long board to see if there is anything obviously low or high in this area. I might mix up some West Systems epoxy with 410 filler (Peanut butter color) to find out how flat it really is. Using two colors of fairing is an old trick to find problem areas that need to be filled in. Generally, the flatter the better before gelcoat or paint, but better is the enemy of good enough.

Here is what my fiberglass patch on the transom looks like before fairing

Here is the inside of the transom. A few drips need to be cleaned up with a dremel tool. I'd already cleaned up the inside. These drips are from the fairing material I applied. I may put a couple small pieces of fiberglass cloth against this side to beef it up. Remember those small cracks where the rudder mounts to the hull? Well once I close this up, I won't be able to make any other changes. So a little more reinforcing here is time well spent.


Here is the transom area gooped up with fairing. I filled the pintle hole on the deck also. I did not spend a lot of time filling the area on the flange. To tell you the truth, I hvae not given that area much thought. I was going to leave the notch in there, and then it just started to get filled in. Now I will probably throw some gelcoat on it, but I don't plan to spend much time on it because it is not that important to me. I could cover it with a piece of trim.


You can see I missed sanding a few spots on the transom area--on purpose. I need a new sanding cylinder for my dremel tool to prep this area properly. I wore out my other one deburring my keelboat. Hand sanding is what this area needs after I knock off a few obvious bumps. It is better to take your time in the tight areas. A power tool can take off too much.

Flipped over, with the daggerboard dolly through the deck side, loaded with a sandbag on the bow, I'll have this end up in the air with easy visibility on this end. So to make it easy on myself, that is how I'll work on this area next week.

I also mounted my new sail on my rig. I also installed an adjustable gooseneck fitting. I'm selling these now on eBay for $15, and already I'm out of stock they have been selling so fast. I also installed a racing clam cleat for the main halyard.

In any event, the rig is ready to go. It does not have a Cunningham or outhaul. I don't think I need that for these recreational boats. I have one boat with these features and that rig will become my racing rig.

I want to start a few trial patches of gelcoat, but as I'm off for some sailing and diving for the next few days--that will have to wait.
Thread starter #7
I took a few days to make my garage into a workshop. I posted this earlier. Since then I've made a few changes.

Two more shelves--needed to give me space on my workbench. There is actually a loft even higher up. I am thinking about building stairs from the upper shelf up to the loft so I can get up there easier. I've been cleaning out and selling boat parts for weeks. One fellow got a good deal on a nice alcohol stove and anchor. If you need any sort of boat part--mostly keelboat, racing and cruiser gear, email me. Chances are good I have it.

A chest of drawers, dragged up from the basement makes a handy place to store misc blocks and deck hardware.

There you go. Three shelves and a workbench, and I added still one more shelf not shown, plus I plan to add one more on the left side for charging batteries.


NS, great photo documentary of your progress and workshop. I looks like we share similar "galley" type work spaces. You still have more space than me. Thank you for sharing your comments on fairing your blades (rudder, dagger). I up against the same fairing project too. Get back on the water! Cheers.
Thread starter #10
The correct rudder backing plate I ordered finally came in. I didn't know there were two types. I ordered the newer type by mistake and had to return it and order the older style which has a bend to it. Just as a refresher, here is what the inside of the transom area where the rudder plat is supposed to go.

Notice the funny looking tab on the top. I used my dremel tool to cut that up a bit and then a chisel to break off the rest. A sander on the dremel cleaned that up, along with the entire area where the patch would go. Earlier, I'd cleaned up the red drip marks--filler used to fill the holes on the transom.

Unfortunately for me, the new plate did not fit. To solve the problem I cut 7 pieces of fiberglass tape in half so that each was 1/2" wide and about 5 inches long, to build up each side of the bump in the middle--14 pieces total.

I used my usual method of laying the pieces on a piece of wax paper, wetting each layer with West Systems epoxy. 5 pumps of resin and 5 pumps of fast hardener. It was a cool day, so I had time to wet up two strips of seven layers each, with a little epoxy left over. I added West Systems 403 filler--which has glass fibers in it, as a glue. This is not just a glue, it is a great glue.

I pressed each strip of glass on each side of the bump to make the bump less prominent. A little pressure seemed to hold them in place. After that I dabbed on all the rest of the thickened epoxy on the backing plate.

I have a couple dozen spring clamps I use to hold things like this in place. I only needed one to clamp the backing plate in place. I used a narrow paint brush to use up the rest of the glue to fill gaps on the edges. Some dripped out the bottom--not a lot.

Here is what it looked like while it was setting up.

With the clamp removed.

I may take a bit of time to clean this up a bit more. The lighter the better! grams count.

A higher priority is matching the gelcoat. My first attempt at that did not work very well. It has been raining here for weeks. I'd like to do some gelcoat work on my 30' boat, but the rain has thwarted me. I can do the work on the decks later, but I have a few areas on the hull that have to be done before I put the boat in the water. So if this keeps up, I'll have more time for the SCUD. Scud is indoors, and I have a hair dryer to speed things up and reduce humidity, so gelcoating indoors is not a problem. It will be nice to finish this boat up and get it out of the garage.
I'm about to tackle the same rudder conversion procedure, and I had noticed in the directions on the website that one needs to put similar hunks of filler behind that plate. Was there anything in Sunfish conversion kit that made any reference to that 1/2" gap behind the plate and the back wall?

These pictures are great - thanks.....

Thread starter #12
I'm about to tackle the same rudder conversion procedure, and I had noticed in the directions on the website that one needs to put similar hunks of filler behind that plate. Was there anything in Sunfish conversion kit that made any reference to that 1/2" gap behind the plate and the back wall?

These pictures are great - thanks.....

I don't know anything about a conversion kit. I was given the boat and it had the new rudder setup--but it was done poorly, causing the boat to leak badly--probably why I got it for nothing.

I did read somewhere--I forget where, to use lots of filler behind it. That is an understatement. There would have been nearly 1/4 of space on either side without filler.
A huge pile of thickened epoxy might have worked, but I wanted to reinforce the transom and make it strong. So I chose to put in the 7 layers of cloth to build it up. If I had to do it again, I'd do 10 or 12 layers of cloth, or else cut up some stitched mat which is much thicker--perhaps 5 or 6 layers of that.

One other thing worth mentioning, is attaching the gudgeon. I was thinking about drilling and tapping the backing plate, and putting a lock nut on it too. I plan to glass over the hole on the deck and I don't want to ever cut it open again. Tapping threads in the backing plate would help in the event a nut ever loosened or fell off.

Right now I'm wondering if I should put one last patch of stitched mat across the whole backing plate and locknuts, just to ensure the plate will stay there if the gudgeon is ever removed in the future--for bottom painting or gelcoat repairs for example. If I had any welding skills, I'd braze the locknuts to the backing plate.

Thread starter #13
I'm about to tackle the same rudder conversion procedure, and I had noticed in the directions on the website that one needs to put similar hunks of filler behind that plate. Was there anything in Sunfish conversion kit that made any reference to that 1/2" gap behind the plate and the back wall?

These pictures are great - thanks.....

I just reviewed the url you quoted. One thing I did on SCUD (you can see it in the pictures) was I ripped out the block of wood that was there. Some of the tabbing remains--I'll probably remove what is left when I start patching that hole.

That "wood" would interfere with the backing plate--the author mentions cutting 1/2" off the plate--I assume the top. And that requires drilling new holes in the gudgeon. Who want to do that?

The access port on SCUD was missing when I got the boat. Nothing but a few remnants remained. The wood was almost all gone. I wiggled the remains of the wooden piece around until it broke off. I don't see the need to replace it. When I glass over everything, I'll put enough glass on there to stiffen it up sufficiently--plus it is close to the edge. In fact, I recommend removing this piece for anyone interested in doing the rudder modification.

One final note: I've never sailed a Sunfish with the old style rudder. I want all my boat to be identical, simply because my students don't need to be confused--they like it when all the boats are identical. However, I'd think that a good sailor would have no trouble using the old style rudder. I would not change it simply for the sake of changing it, unless the old style rudder falls off continually and is a real problem. Does anyone have experience with the old style rudder? Perhaps I'll start a new thread on that.
Thread starter #14
More supplies just in. Nothing too exciting here. A new drain plug that matches my other boat. Only I ordered two and only got one--I wanted one more for a spare plug--I'll pick another up in my next order.

I have been using my dremel tool more and more. With a sanding cylinder, I can open up a hole in no time. Yesterday I installed 9 fairleads, feeding 9 cam cleats on the coaming of my Etchells. These holes were a tiny bit too small. Using the dremel tool, the edges and nice and smooth and I can make the fit really tight if I test as I go. In any event, this drain plug took less than a minute to open it up--most of that time was spent being cautious.

Also found during my workshop makeover, was my tube of 4200.

I install two of my three access ports. These two are 6" ports. I need a few more screws to finish this off.

Here is the 4" access port on the back of the cockpit. I spent a few minutes cutting the nut on the bronze bailer. A few notches and a bit of hammer and chisel, and off popped 1/4 of the nut, and I was able to spin it off an pry the last bit off. Another job that turned out easier than I expected. This one had to go--someone plugged the bailer and it was useless.

I wish I took more pictures. Some of these jobs went so fast I was done before I though of taking pictures!

Just more great pictures.

The old style rudder system is a horror show. As mentioned in the other posts, the brass gets worn out at pressure points, and the rudder constantly pops out as the slightest hard breeze.

And even with the web, it's a constant battle to find parts. Most of these old rudder OEM parts were not well made either - lots of sharp edges and down and dirty manufacturing.

The only downside to the new rudder system is that the blade can snap in two when you are coming in and beaching the boat. This happened to one guy I know - he was able to fix the blade by squeezing the two pieces back together with two large hose clamps. I don't think he even applied MarineTex to the pieces beforehand. Amazingly, this makeshift repair has lasted for over 3 seasons now. I'll see if I can get some pictures of this makeshift repair in the coming weeks...
"The old style rudder system is a horror show"

I have 2 sunfish one with the old stylerudder and one with the new and dissagree with everyones claims that the old style is so bad. On my 69' sunfish with the old style rudder I have slightly modifyed the system to eliminate the problem of poping out when you dont want it to. I'll admit this old style set up is less convienent than the new style but woks fine and in my opinion the slight inconvience dosent justify spending the money to change the rudder and i dont want to put a port in my nice shiney perfect 40 year old deck.
Don't forget that wonderful pin. You know, the one that falls out of your pocket, the one that gets lost around the house, the one whose end loses its chain and starts to fall out while you are on the water!

If you've got the old system, and it is working fine, all the best to you. I have a '72, and from 1972 to early 1990, there wasn't any world wide web. Getting parts was a nightmare. Finding a replacement blade(s) bordered on ridiculous.


Member Emeritus
Don't forget that wonderful pin. You know, the one that falls out of your pocket, the one that gets lost around the house, the one whose end loses its chain and starts to fall out while you are on the water!
The pin is an easy item. A bolt and wing nut from the hardware store makes a quick replacement. Lightly squeeze the wing nut in a pair of pliers to oval it and it won't vibrate off.

A new pin can be fashioned from anything from brass welding rod to stainless steel bar stock. Trim to length and add holes for keepers. Put a stainless steel split-ring on one end and tether it to the upper plate. Keep the other end with another split ring, a safety pin cotter, or a hairpin cotter.


If you happen to have a good hardware store near you, you can do this and get on the water. I've tried key chains and other assorted end links, but they'll rust out and break off at the most inopportune times.

Before the internet, one of the problems with the Sunfish dealer network is that most were very small dealers, and thus did not carry a wide range of parts. And by the mid to late 1970's, Sunfish discontinued manufacturing replacement blades for the old rudder system (same for tiller handles). So you were at the mercy of a busy seasonal business for any type of rudder repair or part, a good many of which treated the old rudder system like the plague.


Member Emeritus
I've tried key chains and other assorted end links, but they'll rust out and break off at the most inopportune times.
These days I use stainless steel split rings. As a matter of fact, everything I suggested comes in stainless steel.
If all else fails, $10/100 McMaster-Carr

Before the internet, one of the problems with the Sunfish dealer network is that most were very small dealers, and thus did not carry a wide range of parts. And by the mid to late 1970's, Sunfish discontinued manufacturing replacement blades for the old rudder system (same for tiller handles). So you were at the mercy of a busy seasonal business for any type of rudder repair or part, a good many of which treated the old rudder system like the plague.
Yup, I was around back when too and for part of it sailed a Catfish... talk about scarce parts, but that was then, and this is now. No more nothin from the dealer so you gotta get creative these days... or fork out for the upgrade.