New (to me) Sunfish, question about interesting number on rudder bracket

Thread starter #1
Hey all,

I am new to this forum and to the Sunfish-owner family, though I learned to sail on a Sunfish (that's about all I know how to sail!) and once built a Sunfish-sized sailboat myself. (My mistake. I thought it would be cheaper. It was not. I learned a lot, though.) I was able to pick up one, with a trailer (needs one new tire, but I got it home) for $500 on Craigslist. It looks to be in pretty decent shape. From what I can tell from reading the forum, this thing is quite a bit older than I expected - pre-1972, as it has the old rudder hardware. I was looking for any other markings that might ID it, and I eventually found this number on the side of the rudder bracket (sorry if that's not what it's called, but I mean the metal piece attached to the hull that the rudder in turn attaches to. I have attached a pic of it.
IMG_0014.jpg

I ask because it looks like it was stamped on there instead of molded onto it like the letters on the top, which read ALCORT Inc. USA, WATERBURY CT., and PAT. 2675775

Is this some kind of proto-hull ID number, or serial number? I have read the PDFs and a few pages about hull IDs, Sunfish history, etc. and nobody mentions a number like this (or I missed it).

Here's a shot of it on the trailer. I think someone painted the hull as the gray is slowly wearing off. It looks like it was white on all of the outside, with a blue wheel well and splash guard originally.


IMG_2679.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#2
Your "new" boat looks very nice (from here). ;)

Does the number appear a little uneven, as though stamped by hand? I could be wrong, but could 479 be a serial number kept by the foundry that cast it?

Just Friday, I sold my pristine '71 ($700, no trailer), so I can't check. :oops: 'My first bronze gudgeon Sunfish, so I didn't know the answer to the buyer's question, "Should the bottom screw be loose?" I suggested a longer screw, and to gently snug it up.

.
 
Thread starter #8
Took it out for the first time today. It worked great! Are those bolt-y looking things deck drains? I was trying to figure out what they were. The bailer looks totally shot (it is the old brass type) but it was no big deal, and overall it really did well today. Seems like someone has been taking decent care of it for the last few decades. I do need to replace some cleats and whatnot, and repair some fiberglass cracks and chips.

I also learned why the old, non flip-up rudder style leaves something to be desired. Yeesh. I guess I'll keep using it because at this point I don't want to change a "classic," but that design is suboptimal.

Thanks, all, for the good info!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#9
Nice boat! I have seen pictures of the early 60s boats that had numbers stamped on the side of the deck plate. 2479 would be a 1959 serial number, when the first fiberglass models were being produced. I'm thinking there may have been a big box of rudder assembly parts that deck plates were pulled from. And I don't know how long it took them to go from concept to production on the fiberglass Sunfish. One other possibility is that the part came off an earlier boat, if 2479 is in fact a serial number.

From the timeline: " Serial numbers as low as the 1200’s have appeared on what appear to be early production fiberglass hulls. There’s no doubt production began on the 1960 model in 1959. Most all manufacturing companies build in advance to have product out to dealers on or before the first of the new year. The number scheme, however, is so irregular with these early hulls the beginning of the serial sequence is uncertain."
Either way you have a 1967 or older boat, she's Fabulous Fifty+. And HOLY COW the rudder pin is still attached!

The rudder works well if the wingnut is tightened appropriately. What issues did you have?
 
Thread starter #10
Heh, the issue was that the wingnut was NOT tightened appropriately, because I am dumb. So it popped up while I was out in the lake and I had to very frustratingly lay all over the boat and get the thing back down in there, and it did NOT want to go. I eventually got it in there, though!

The boat seems to have all the characteristics of a 1959 or 1960, so I don't think it came off an earlier boat. I was sort of wondering if there would be a a way to put on a flip-up rudder without making it impossible to reattach the old hardware. I am now paranoid about losing the pin!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#11
We avoid the pop up feature, by that I mean we put the boat in the water with the wingnut loose, snap the rudder down then tighten the wingnut. If it is too loose to pop out easy then it will in fact pop out easy :)

As cool and old as your boat is I'd stay with the stock system, it worked for 20+ years and is still working. But if you decide to convert, you can unconvert.

I would change up the location of the pin keeper screw, we attach our pin keeper chains to the side of the rudder, so they stay with the rudder and not the hull during storage and especially transport. If you trailer it as is take some blue tape and tape it into the bracket.

More pics requested :)

Kent and Audrey
 
#12
I’d also lean toward keeping your boat original. At least sail it again with that wingnut snug and see if it doesn’t convince you. I think the old style rudders get a bad rap!
You inspired me to dig out a couple of vintage parts, looking for that serial number stamp. I didn’t find it, but did find two letter ‘S’ stamped in one. Super Sailfish, I presume?
I could feel the history in these old brackets as I admired them... CC58D85E-72F1-4550-89D8-86E5DB20359B.jpeg B358DDD2-E003-42DB-8AC0-837944D2FCE3.jpeg
 
Thread starter #13
More pics, you say? Here they are! I am trying to decide whether it would be worth trying to repaint or strip and re-clearcoat in some way the splash guard. Someone before me painted it gray, as they did the sides and bottom of the hull. The paint is holding on OK, sort of. I probably won't bother with the paint on the hull, but the splash guard is pretty conspicuous and rough-looking. I also need to replace some of the hardware. It still works, but it is pretty pitted and I don't know how much longer it will hold on. Finally, the last pic is of the elusive original rudder pin, still hanging in there after 59 years! Good idea with the tape. I also have a 3D printer, I wonder if it would be possible to design a mount for it somehow.
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#15
OMG you just still left the pin hanging there!!! They run about $50 on ebay, when you can find them. One or two pop up once a year, rarely with any part of the chain or the tiny eyelet on the end.

Mask off the area around the splashguard, sand it with a little 120 grit, then pick a nice Rustoleum color that compliments your sail. Stock colors back then were dark blue, red, dark green and yellow.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#16
Agree with Signal Charlie except I’d sand through the gray on the splashrail and see what the original color is and match that. My guess is it’s the same color as the cockpit or else white.
 
#17
Hi rhambus,

In looking at your pictures, I noticed you are missing the rudder tube that prevents lateral movement of the bottom bronze rudder piece. Without that piece the rudder is likely to pop up in heavier winds. The rudder tube you will need is 1/2" OD , 1/4" ID. Mine is made of white nylon I think or maybe teflon, and I purchased it from McMaster-Carr. I just checked the site and they have both. The teflon is for outdoor use and is sold by the foot, so likely that is what I have, but I don't think it matters a whole bunch.
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#18
Good morning,

We have one of those carriage bolt tubes, actually about 4 of them, from Alcort. $10 paypal plus shipping. Message me if you are interested.

Sunfish parts wall pegboard.jpg

Cheers
Kent and Audrey
 
Thread starter #19
OMG you just still left the pin hanging there!!! They run about $50 on ebay, when you can find them. One or two pop up once a year, rarely with any part of the chain or the tiny eyelet on the end.

Mask off the area around the splashguard, sand it with a little 120 grit, then pick a nice Rustoleum color that compliments your sail. Stock colors back then were dark blue, red, dark green and yellow.
Ha! I took the rudder pin out of the holes for the photo. Thankfully, I did not tow it that way, at least last time. When I bought it, I might well have dragged it home dangling like that, as I did not know anything. Heck, I figured this was from the 80s.

Here are some photos of the splashguard. Looks like that blue was the original color. The part that has me a little more worried is the front of the splashguard, where you can really see the fibers of the fiberglass. The blue looks totally worn away there. It does match the blue inside the footwell.

As for the tube, thanks, I had no idea that was a thing. I will likely PM you.
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#20
Ha! Ya got me.

The splashguard looks great, those years were thick and almost bomb proof. So was the gelcoat. You might be able to sand off the failing paint and find mostly decent gelcoat under there. 120 grit, light pressure on a random orbital sander.

The front is fine, we have seen many like that. Not sure why the gelcoat was thin there. Just sand off old chunky paint, don't sand hard on the exposed fiberglass, and paint it.

Cheers
Kent and Audrey
 
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