New to me Sunfish hulls

Thread starter #1
Yesterday my son and his friend scored 2 1998 hulls. They are pictured here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/zLVJ5giWeFJZg44B6

They are going to work together to fix the hulls up and try to make them look like new.

  1. Embedded in the top decks are what appear to be raised bumps, like years of cedar pollen. Is it ok to wet sand the deck with 600 grit paper to knock it flat? I tested that in a small corner and it worked like a charm. I was thinking of going up to 1500 grid to get rid of any scratch marks. Washing and rubbing compound didn't work.
  2. For the small gouges in the deck and bottom, I was thinking of using white marine tex. Pre-sand the areas with 120 first, right? Or would it be better to learn how to use gel coat and repair the gouges with that?
  3. For the holes, I plan on following Signal Charlie and Skipper's blog to fix those with blind repairs. Then fill with marine tex.
  4. For the areas where there used to be stickers on the stripes, what is the best way to remove the peeling stickers.?
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#2
If you want it to look like new you need to go the full gel coat route. This is a investment in equipment that
will exceed the value of both hulls. The good part is there is nothing better to learn on than a couple
of low cost sunfish hulls. You could split the difference and go with Marine Tex on one hull and
full blown gel coat on the other for the learning experience. Please note that spraying gel coat takes
some serious protective gear. That and you'll probably brick your gel coat spray gun the first time
as you only have a 20 minute working window. If you are new to spraying best to go with something
like Rustolium Top Sides to gain experience.
 
Thread starter #3
If you want it to look like new you need to go the full gel coat route. This is a investment in equipment that
will exceed the value of both hulls. The good part is there is nothing better to learn on than a couple
of low cost sunfish hulls. You could split the difference and go with Marine Tex on one hull and
full blown gel coat on the other for the learning experience. Please note that spraying gel coat takes
some serious protective gear. That and you'll probably brick your gel coat spray gun the first time
as you only have a 20 minute working window. If you are new to spraying best to go with something
like Rustolium Top Sides to gain experience.
I was thinking about the gel coat repair kits that west marine sells not re-spraying the whole thing. Seems like sticking to Marine Tex is the way to go.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#4
I had a problem with West Marine as gel coat only has a shelf life
of about a a year. Best to go to a paint supplier to try and get some
fresh stuff. You can brush on gel coat to the area after you do the repairs and fiberglass filler,
you just will not get a exact color match. Trying both methods might show what
will work best for you in the future.
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#5
Check out preval sprayers. I've used them with great success, even on larger jobs. The West Marine Hi-bond brand gelcoat changes color after a year or so...not recommended. The "difficult" part of gelcoating is color matching. You can apply gelcoat with a shovel, as you can just sand it down when finished....application doesn't matter...just makes for less sanding. I spray waiting between coats a bit so it won't run on vertical surfsces...carefully...and sand with #400 grit (If I had a smooth spray) and then buff with Aqua Buff 2000, which takes out scratches from 400 grit and finer. Doing this for 30+ years, I've learned what works and doesnt. Some just use Marine Tex filler, as it is in the "same" color family. But you'll quickly learn there are a zillion shades of white. Rattle can paint is ok if you really don't care that much and would rather go ssiling.
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#6
A couple of other things, while talking about gelcoat. I doesn't feather. In other words, when you're done spraying, it needs to be sanded and buffed, no matter how good you spray it. Spraying just reduces the amount of sanding. That procedure will do away with any "feathering". However, you can feather the edges and then spray a clear coat over that, which sometimes is a solution. ...but not for the faint of heart if they are new to this. Like I said, it's all about the color match. Gelcoat is NOT like paint, in that after application with many paints, you're done. The smoothing and repairing of damages is by far the easy part. That's why when you scratch a car door, they paint the whole panel, rather than feather it in, as that's much easier and a color match risk is avoided. A scratch on the side of a hull or topsides, you may have to go quite a distance until you get to an "edge". Lastly, you're applying new gelcoat to "older' gelcoat. What matches today, may not match next year as they colors will age at different rates. Buff a good area, and you'll see that that is even a different color than the "un buffed/compounded" parts. Sides of a boat that have lived more in the sun will have different shades from side to side as well. It's a battle sometimes to get a good match. The Sunfish is so inexpensive comparatively to larger "yachts" that a "quick and dirty" fix is usually the route and FUN is the operative word on these types of boats....not aesthetics. Not to ramble on...but I could type another essay or two..or three... ;-)
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#7
Marine tex will be a fine repair for a Sunfish. To get those stickers off, I'd peel as much as possible, then use acetone to get the goo off. Goo Gone would work but gelcoat stands up to acetone, and acetone will work faster and better. Lacquer thinner might work too. Wear gloves and work outdoors when using these two products.
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#8
Yeah...acetone will work...although not super quick, but with some elbow grease and a roll of paper towels, you'll conquer it eventually. You can use stuff like Interlux 216 Special Thinner...it takes it off quicker, but makes the glue a gooey mess in the process. I just usually cut it off with a chainsaw.
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#9
Beldar is really correct, in the overall. When you're sailing, I find I'm not really looking at my Sunfish and how nice it looks. I'm more wrapped up with the sailing. It's when it's sitting on the trailer in the backyard, that you like it looking nice.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#10
For removing stickers, start with a heat gun and a putty knife.

A Marine Tex repair two years ago (and stored outdoors) has turned to an ivory color. :confused:
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#12
I think that gelcoating these hulls is overkill. These boats will be sailed by novices and are likely to get damaged in many ways.
While I tend to agree with this, gelcoating is a skill that can be learned to achieve results to make repairs invisible....with no extra effort. I repair both the day sailor fleets at the Boy and Girl Scout camps here in my area. I use gelcoat from the manufacturer (but unfortunately not for the Sunfishes) and don't bother extra tinting because the match is actually pretty close. Keeps the fleets looking new rather than a bunch of patched up, banged up boats. I find SeaRay Artic white gelcoat is pretty close for the Sunfishes....depending!...sometimes minor tinting or lightening it up with pure white. I've made repairs on my '69, that you don't even see without the right viewing angle and light. A matching sheen is as important as a close color match too.
 
Thread starter #14
That was a really good video. I think I will follow the steps outlined with 3 differences.

1. I will use the west marine epoxy fiber repair kit rather than polyester.
2. I will use white marine-tex to fare it.
3. After sanding, I will carefuly dab white epoxy paint over the marine tex.

Does that make sense? Am I missing something that won't work. I am assuming for the two holes that are quarter sized, I will have to do the blind repair for a layer on the inside and then a layer on top. Is that over kill?
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#15
1. Epoxy is a good substitute for the polyester, it will bond to the polyester and several boat repair folks I know say that the epoxy is stronger for the repair, in fact required by some insurance companies. On a side note we've been told that polyester resins will not bind well to epoxy. Polyester is cheaper, we hear it is smelly so we have never worked with it.

2. We have "faired" with Marine Tex but it dries very hard and is tough to sand. For the small areas you are talking about you will be okay but for larger repairs we'd do the epoxy resin/hardener/glass repair and then fair it with TotalFair, Pettit EZFair or mix some 406 Colloidal Silica into West System epoxy. The "fairing" compounds are softer and easier to sand, but they are not structural. A note here is that while we have mixed and matched a lot of repair products in the past, it is nice to find a system of epoxies, fillers, fairing compounds, primers, thinners and paints that all belong to the same family.

3. Epoxy based paint over the epoxy based repair will work.

4. You'll do the blind patch and let that dry. Then you'll want to either put in 6-8 quarter size layers of 4 oz fiberglass cloth, going smaller to larger as you build up and have the top layer overlap the existing hull a bit, feather that in. We have also filled silver dollar sized holes with thickened epoxy, so you might do the same with the Marine Tex epoxy putty.

IMG_5346.JPG

We put a piece of poly sheeting (painters plastic) and try to make it as smooth as we can. You could smooth the Marine Tex with a putty knife or paint stick to reduce the amount of sanding to be done later.

IMG_5347.JPG

We did some fiberglass backer patches on our Alcort Catfish SMEDLEY


Your goal is to end up with a smooth hull surface with no fiberglass patch bump, unlike what I did on WAVE 20 years ago :)
 

andyatos

Active Member
#16
That WAS a great video from LaserPerformance. I sure could have used that, "Gelcoat Putty" trick when I had to fix a good sized, crappy repair on the bow of my Laser that a previous owner had done.

I had to do multiple applications of gelcoat with a brush followed by multiple sandings to get all the compound curves in that area fair again.

- Andy
 
Top