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New Life for SCUD (1968 Sunfish)


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.


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.


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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 windline.net 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.....

Link: http://www.windline.net/project2.htm


I'm about to tackle the same rudder conversion procedure, and I had noticed in the directions on the windline.net 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.....

Link: http://www.windline.net/project2.htm
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.



I'm about to tackle the same rudder conversion procedure, and I had noticed in the directions on the windline.net 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.....

Link: http://www.windline.net/project2.htm
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.


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.


I finished installing the last inspection port today, and wheeled the boat outside so I could wet sand the deck. I tried to remove the coaming. It was fastened with bronze machine screws into rivet nuts. All but one screw came out. I was able to move the coaming forward and then aft to sand just about the whole deck.

I started out with fine grit sand paper and it worked out ok. I went more aggressive and that bought out more of a shine--I know that doesn't make sense, but the sandpaper clogged up and the wet sanding turned the gelcoat into a polish. It worked out fine.

The coaming is not attached except by one machine screw outboard on the port side. Can you tell it is not attached?

The main purpose of sanding was to fine a uniform color to try to match the gelcoat. I still have several shades to chose from. I'm thinking I'll go lighter and hope it naturally darkens.

Notice the four holes. The previous owner relocated the cleat. YOu can see that it is much lighter around the outside area--the area with the holes is obviously a little lower and harder to sand.

This pictures give you a good idea of the various shade of gelcoat I'll be trying to match. I'll need a lot of luck to match the color.

Hiking strap is nearly done. I want to reinforce the backing on the front. The kit I bought was better suited to the new style Sunfish. I used the large washers normally used for the front, in the aft end. So I need something for the front. I located a 1/4 thick piece of fiberglass that I'll glue in place and drill out for extra support in front. You can see the front bracket fitted loosely in place here. The back one is firmly bedded and installed. I also noticed a hole I need to patch. Can you see it between the two inspection ports up high? I think I'll just put a patch on the other side.

I just flipped the boat over and spend a few hours with a helper sanding the bottom and sides, and the bottom of my keeboat. On SCUD I want to get rid of the stains-on the sides especially as I have vinyl lettering coming in this week. And I have to gelcoat the transom so I can install the gudgeon and then close up the last deck hole.

Also not the discoloration on the transom. I've been sanding the heck out of this area and it is not cleaning up. I'll try some more aggressive sandpaper next to prep it for gelcoat.

This project is a on the back burner, but I'm glad I have it, so when I run out of things to do on the keelboat, I can stay busy. It would be nice to have it done though, because the water is nearly 78 degrees now. I want to get out on the water with at least three of my boats soon. I'm hoping I can put two boats on my truck roof rack and another in the bed. If I have one strong guy to help I think I can do it.



"I also noticed a hole I need to patch. Can you see it between the two inspection ports up high? I think I'll just put a patch on the other side."

The hole between the two ports is suposed to be there. Im not sure whats its called but it acts like a vent hole. Think about it if the boat were completly sealed and sat in the sun on a hot day the air inside would expand causing pressure to build, the hole eliminates this from happening by letting the pressure escape.



"I also noticed a hole I need to patch. Can you see it between the two inspection ports up high? I think I'll just put a patch on the other side."

The hole between the two ports is suposed to be there. Im not sure whats its called but it acts like a vent hole. Think about it if the boat were completly sealed and sat in the sun on a hot day the air inside would expand causing pressure to build, the hole eliminates this from happening by letting the pressure escape.


OK thanks for the information. I'll leave it alone.


No more pictures for you. I did try to match the gelcoat today and practiced on the bottom and transom. I didn't get the tint right, but the shade is not bad--certainly better than plain white. I slapped a coat across the whole transom with a brush and it doesn't look bad from that side.

However, if I want the deck to look good, I will need to experiment some more. I plan to add a bit more gelcoat on the bottom to fix a couple of areas I sanded through and then I'll flip the boat back over and install the gudgeon.


Ok, I tried mixing up some gelcoat and applied it. The shade is close, and the tint is off. Off-white is hard to match. I'm not terribly worried about the bottom--who will see that when the boat is in the water. The deck will be a problem--to be address this week.

Here is the transom after painting (brushing) on some gelcoat.

I added a bit of gelcoat to some areas I'd already done in white gelcoat along the keel and elsewhere.

Here is the bow area before sanding the new gelcoat.

Now after sanding a bit, but before another coat of gelcoat was applied.

Transom. Rather than sand it smooth I gave it another coat. I do not want to sand through it--thicker is better.

Bow area.

Note this is very fair here. There is some discoloration of the old gelcoat which would not sand out without the risk of sanding through.

The danger is that too much sanding wears through--as in here below.

More Bow shots after further work on this area.

Color differences between old and new gelcoat.

Note you can see few spots where the gelcoat is too thin. I'm not sure if I care at this point. Better is the enemy of good enough. I may chose to come back and hit this again later. The lines that look like long scratches are actually reflections of power lines overhead.

Today I flipped it over and started work on filling holes on the deck and gave the transom another layer of gelcoat. I drilled the mounting holes for the gudgeon, but I'm waiting to finish sanding the transom before mounting that part.


After sanding the deck last week, I used a chisel ti pry off the old drain plug that was frozen in place. I opened up up the hole with a dremel tool.

The Dremel tool with a sanding cylinder is amazingly fast to open a hole. It is a nice tight fit too.

I bedded the new plastic drain with 4200. Here it is before drilling two 3/16 holes for rivets.

Rivets installed and a bit of 4200 dabbed on top to seal out the water.



Time to wrap up the work on the transom.

I brushed on three coats of gelcoat. As I wrote before the color match is not that good, but I don't really care about the bottom as long as it looks halfway decent. I'm more concerned with making the boat functional than perfect. Better is the enemy of good enough.

Here is the transom after my final sanding. It could be better, but it is good enough for me.

I noticed on my other, newer boats there is still a channel in the back, even though the boats came with the new style rudder. At some point I think they changed over to a flat transom. I wonder what year that happened. I like the clean look of a flat transom.

Next I installed the gudgeon with 4200 and clamped it tight with the four screws and locknuts. Two of the screws were longer than the others. These, on top, were double nutted.

Inside the boat--backing plate and nuts.

Now that the gudgeon is attached I can focus on the access hole cut in the deck.



Time to work on glassing over the access hole for the rudder.

Here is my favorite grinder that won't remove too much material. It is not good for fast and heavy grinding but it works well for removing gelcoat and dressing up an area.

Here I have prepped the area for a layer of fiberglass.

I want to put a patch on this. On the last hole I had a plug I could use to support the patch. This time I don't have one. So I decided to make a support from a a piece of fiberglass that was cut out when I installed an access port. I saved all of these thinking they would come in handy at some point, and I had this particular hole in mind.

It was a bit too big. I marked where I wanted to cut it.

My RotoZip tool that I used to cut it.

A couple of spring clamps makes life easier.

Now this piece is too big to fit through the hole. I want to support it from underneath.
So I cut it in half and took a slice off one piece.

Inside, underneath, there was foam on the port side. I used my dremel tool to remove it so the port side piece would fit.

The starboard side needed a notch. Inside there was a support for a piece of wood that I ripped out. You can see it in the above picture. Rather than remove that, i simply notched the starboard piece.

I mixed up some epoxy with West Systems 403--which makes a great glue. This would not hold these in place firmly. So I used screws through the deck to hold each piece in place. The screws can be removed later.

I installed the port side piece first. I put a screw in the middle of the starboard piece as a temporary handle. I forgot to take a picture so you will see where I pulled up a piece of glass cloth to expose my work.

I wet most of the underlayment with glue because I wanted to lay a few pieces of glass here to seal off the crack in the middle.

Here I removed the middle screw I used for a handle to install the starboard piece. It was not needed any more and it was in the way.

One piece of cloth kept popping up. A layer of wax paper and a 4" disk of fiberglass left over from when I cut the aft cockpit inspection port fit the area perfectly. All I needed was a weight to hold it down.

I used a PWC battery that came out of my motorcycle for a weight to displace any air inside. I needed a battery in a hurry so I bought this and later replace my motorcycle battery with a full size one. Does anyone need a PWC battery?

Next up. removing the screws before the glue sets up completely, and once it all hardens up, I'll dress up the area with a grinder to prep for multiple layers of cloth in the patch. it will be similar to the patch I did on the area immediately in front of this one.

There is not much left to do on this project. I have the reinforcing for the front half of the hiking strap to so.

Matching the gelcoat will be the hardest part. I've already tried once and sanded it off.



Before the epoxy could set up completely I removed the screws.
It looks like the wax paper, my old 4" cutout, and battery for weight did a nice job. I don't see any bubbles.

Two minutes gentle work with a chisel removed much of the excess. Working with "green" (not fully cured epoxy) is easy. This avoids some grinding later. Doing it now reduces dust.

Finally, I filled the holes from the original access port and my recent screw holes. I filled in the lip with some extra epoxy mixed with 403 that I was using elsewhere. Once this drys I can apply a 6 or 7 layer patch and start the finish work.


Time to finish off the hiking strap. This boat has a green theme, so I purchased a green hiking strap. The aft end is install. I wanted more reinforcing in the front to distribute the load more.

I misplaced the piece I wanted to use for reinforcing. So I cut a 5 inch piece off this 3/8" thick piece of laminated fiberglass. It was tough cutting and I knew I'd ruin my RotoZip bit. It was on it's last legs anyway.

I place it in position after drilling one hole. I used the existing holes as guides to drill the second hole. I had a tiny bit of epoxy left over from a patch on my keelboat. I used this as glue and scrambled to dab 4200 on the hole, and bolt everything together.

I used Acetone to clean up the excess 4200 and tightened the nuts. I debated putting a second nut, a locknut this time on the bolts. I was worried that the epoxy might make it impossible to get it off. I think the trace amounts of epoxy that got on the nuts should hold. I can always tighten it down more later if needed.

The final result.

This reminds me I need a swivel base and a cam cleat. I have an older one but it is not a ratchet type. I will probably buy another 205 base with a stand up ratchet block like my other boat.


Moving right along. I decided to install my new bailer.

Only it will not fit unless I cut the screw portion. Torresen shipped me the wrong part. Which is not surprising since Chris told me there were many different types.

This one was designed for a gap of over an inch. My hull and cockpit need only 1/4" or so. So the threaded part is way too long.

So I'll need to return this and wait for another one.

If you chose to replace your bailer. Be sure you know the thickness of the gap!


Here is the build up of the patch I'm putting on near the transom.

I thought I'd show more details on how I do it.

I thought I'd get one more job done before turning in. So I'd backed SCUD on it's dolly facing my work bench, right under my work light. I masked off the area to protect the surrounding area. I used 3" blue painters tape and wax paper.

I spent about 3 minutes dressing up the area to be patched. I went over the whole area once with the grinder--lightly. Just enough to take the top layer off. Epoxy can leave a waxy surface that will hinder bonding. I typically sand it off.

Next I laid a piece of wax paper down to work on. I cut three pieces of stitched matt in concentric circles. This is very strong multi-layer cloth sewn into one easy to use material. Three layers of stitched mat is equivalent to 9 layers of mixed random mat and cloth. This is serious fiberglass cloth. I cut this out of some 6" stitched mat tape I bought for my big boat. This is what I plan to use to tab in bulkhead on my 46' sloop. Like I said serious stuff, but a little hard to work with because it is so thick, although it is easy to cut.

Like last time, I want the largest piece on the bottom. Since I'll be flipping over the wax paper with my wetted out three layer patch, I started with the smallest piece first, then middle, and then largest piece of cloth.

Here is my wax paper with a little dab of fast setting epoxy.
The margin around the outside of the bevel I sanded should be 12:1. So the glass looked to be 1/8" thick. 12/8=1.5" margin. I usually go bigger but I don't want to ruin too much gelcoat given it means more for me to finish later. This part of the boat is stronger also, being close to the edge and supported underneath.

Here is the first layer wetted out. The white part means it is not entirely wet. I worked at it a long time with the brush. Thinner epoxy works better with this material, but I find that sometimes parts never seem to get dark no matter how hard I try--it is the nature of the material.

In this picture I've already finished the first and second layer and I've just applied the third layer. It is still a little white in spots. I worked the heck out of it with my brush, and dumped even more resin on there. It doesn't seem to want to get any darker--so it is ready. I think it will be ok once some pressure is applied.

My battery died at this point. So no more pictures. All I did was flip the patch over on the area I prepared, after wetting the surface of the area. You might have notices the largest (bottom) layer was not totally round. This was on purpose and I put that pointy end over the area closest to the transom--which I ground out.

After this, I squeegeed out and rolled as much excess resin out as I could. Resin doesn't make it stronger, it just holds it together. You want to get rid of it. It is excess weight that adds no value. A tighter bond with the different layers with less epoxy is strongest.

I cleaned up the areas where the resin squirted out, and applied another layer of wax paper before putting a huge heavy bag of grass seed on top for weight and pressure.

Tomorrow, I'll peel off the wax paper, or sand it off if any sticks, and prep the area for some fairing material--the next step. I'll also clean up any drips by sanding off any epoxy that found it's way where I don't want it.


Starting to wrap things up. I spent a few minutes caulking the Coaming.

Up forward you can see I reattached the block for the halyard.



It is official. SCUD now has a name on her bow!

Ok she is not new looking. Which would have been difficult without a full gelcoat renewal, or a full repaint, still I'm happy that she looks decent, respectable, and is highly functional.

I have four things left to do.

1. Finish gelcoat repairs to the deck. (I am still dreading this. Perhaps a big vinyl graphic of a missile will cover up this part--my back up option.

2. Install a bailer. I think I can modify the bailer I have to make that work.

3. Install a mainsheet system--on order.

4. Install the main halyard deck cleat--which I suppose I don't really need with the cleat on the mast. I'll put it on anyway in case a rig gets changed in the future it will still be usable.

WASP my newest and best Sunfish is getting new vinyl name graphic in 3" red letters like SCUD. I have a cool logo I'm going to put next to the name--mirror image on each side. WASP is also has a new sail alternating Black and Yellow stripes, that I had custom made. I'm looking for a new rig to carry it, as I want to use WASP's rig for my racing sail.



As my camera batteries wore out I was unable to show the complete series of pictures I intended. After patching the aft hole, I lightly ground it clean with my less abrasive grinder, and then hit it with a 6" random orbital sander.

Rigid 6" Random Orbital Sander. This my second of these. My first I broke years ago. I need to send it back in case this one dies. I need a hot spare, or even having two is nice. I've also got a Ridgid 5" sander that I think I killed it turns over pretty slowly. I think it got wet while wet sanding. I'm letting it dry out before testing it.

So anyway, I dressed up the patch with a light grinding, and then sanding. Following this I wiped it down with Acetone. Then I mixed up some West Systems epoxy, 2 pumps of each along with some 410 fairing compound. I love 410 because it is so easy to sand.

I was slightly tacky so I waited until this morning to sand it down. It took just a couple of minutes. I literally could hold my breath while sanding--it was that fast and save donning a breathing mask. This was outdoors of course. The dolly makes it easy to move the boat around, in and out of the garage and easy to reverse it in the the garage also. I used that dolly so many times it save me hours of work being about to move it in and about.

This morning I hit it with the 6" Random Orbital and it looks like this right now.

Both patches are ready for gelcoat. I think I'll try for a color match right now. I might run over to West Marine--1 mile from my house fortunately and buy some yellow tint.




The day I have been dreading!

Since things have been going so well, and I have a helper working on my keelboat, I decided to run out to West Marine and buy some yellow tint. My last attempt using brown tint did not look so good. I thought the white tended to a blue tint while everyone I asked denied that. The fact remains, that yellow is the opposite end of the spectrum. So I thought I'd use yellow and add some brown to it.

Well unlike the last tube of tint, the yellow squirted out--more than I wanted actually. But wait! When I mixed it up, it started to look like almost exactly what I wanted. I mixed it some more and it seemed to get a little darker. Oh well, it was closer than I thought I'd ever get so I decided to add some hardener and apply it. Here are the results.

Here is the important area--the Patches!

Another View: I put a lot of gelcoat on here, I don't want to sand through. I will take this very slowly tomorrow when I sand it.

Ok, now here, this will be covered up. The 205 swivel base I ordered came in. It will cover this area almost completely. There might be a hole on each side peaking out though. I thought it would be nice to do this part anyway, as I had extra material and it would only be tossed out otherwise.
I forgot to pick up screws to mount the swivel base. Another job for tomorrow. I might actually be finished tomorrow! Certainly the end is in sight and coming up fast. I hope the gelcoat matches well when I sand it. Tomorrow will tell.

These small areas are somewhat important to me, because they cover up what I really hate--deck cleats. Deck cleats are ugly! I took off one on each side and each was a different type. One was a cam cleat the other a sideways mounted clam cleat like on the Superfish. Anything would be an improvement here. This shows the port side scars from two deck cleats. The other side was the same.

I also touched up the coaming in a few spots. The bare spot in this picture was just touched up.

My only worry is the gelcoat won't set up. I've had a few batches that seemed to set up very slowly--despite my most careful measurements. In any event it is dry today, albeit a little cool. More tomorrow.