Repairing leaky keel...

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #1
While waiting for the hurricane to pass before sailing again, I noticed several breaks and some old repairs within two inches of the keel's center on my upside-down Sunfish. :(

I couldn't find a local source for West
Systems epoxy, so a major repair will have to wait until Spring. It sails OK, but has water inside after every sail.

To repair [just] the keel from the inside, has anyone cut out four feet of keel from the daggerboard trunk--on back? :confused:
 
#3
While waiting for the hurricane to pass before sailing again, I noticed several breaks and some old repairs within two inches of the keel's center on my upside-down Sunfish. :(

I couldn't find a local source for West
Systems epoxy, so a major repair will have to wait until Spring. It sails OK, but has water inside after every sail.

To repair [just] the keel from the inside, has anyone cut out four feet of keel from the daggerboard trunk--on back? :confused:
If you live in or near any medium or large metro area there is an outlet for fiberglass supplies. An emergency patch is not brain surgery...NEVER NEVER let the fiberglass in a boat get wet and if it does use a heat gun ON LOW to dry it out. . An emergency patch consists of sanding the dry damaged area lightly...removing any fibers ...soaking a strip of fiberglass in risen and puting it over the damaged area. When it drys..repeat the process once ot twice more. If unable to find supplies go on the web and order i them.but keep that damaged area dry until repaired or your boat may be headed for the dump
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#4
Most common location for keel repair is just behind the dagger board. Often part of the break
is over the tub area. I used the Shore Line method of cutting out the keel section, reinforcing the
inside and replacing the removed part. Worked quite well and resulted in a stronger than factory
keel. Not how it would be done on a bigger boat but perfect for a Sunfish.
 
#5
Did a similar repair to mine, but attacked it from the outside with three layers of glass after making sure the glass in the damaged area was dry. For those who may be new to small boats...if you have bare fiberglass it soaks up water and chances are good that water will spread like water in a sponge. You can end up cutting out and replacing a big chunk of fish.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#6
It's the expanding foam used to attach the close-cell foam blocks that acts like a sponge. The closed-cell foam blocks are next to absorb water. The fiberglass itself does not absorb much in the way of water. Getting all the water out of the foam takes about 4 month for the first 75% and about a year for last 25% if you have low humidity conditions such as the winter season. I've never seen a Sunfish suffer delamination since I believe the hull is constructed of single layer of woven roving.

If you want to experiment with a emergency patch before a permanent fix try this, coat a strip of fiberglass with 3m 5200 and stick it on the keel then place boat in water. This is done
as a emergency patch when you need to get control of a hull breach long enough to get back to shore. On flat surfaces sometimes a chunk of plywood and 3m 5200 are used.
There is also a 2 part putty but I've not heard of this as being as effective. Should give you some experience for when you transition to a boat you life depends on.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #7
'Guess the damage was there when I bought this Sunfish :(. Been sailing it two years with a small leak--and no inspection port (yet).

I actually called a West Systems phone number, and was told the nearest dealer was located on the west coast of Florida! :mad: In New Hampshire, I could buy what I needed after a six-mile "round-trip". :rolleyes:

What is the "Shoreline Method"? Is it like slicing off the Sunfish keel like one would slice a tomato? :confused: Especially as the tub would interfere with a saber-saw blade's strokes, I was thinking of using my Skil saw to make the cut.

I suspect that "another undamaged" Sunfish is one I'd want to keep--in its entirety! ;)
 
#8
It's the expanding foam used to attach the close-cell foam blocks that acts like a sponge. The
closed-cell foam blocks are next to absorb water. The fiberglass itself does not absorb much in
the way of water. Getting all the water out of the foam takes about 4 month for the first 75% and
about a year for last 25% if you have low humidity conditions such as the winter season. I've never
seen a Sunfish suffer delamination since I believe the hull is constructed of single layer of
woven roving.

If you want to experiment with a emergency patch before a permanent fix try this, coat a
strip of fiberglass with 3m 5200 and stick it on the keel then place boat in water. This is done
as a emergency patch when you need to get control of a hull breach long enough to get
back to shore. On flat surfaces sometimes a chunk of plywood and 3m 5200 are used.
There is also a 2 part putty but I've not heard of this as being as effective. Should give you
some experience for when you transition to a boat you life depends on.
What you say is true basicaly because sunfish have only a light coat of fiberglass but I have seen,even owned one sailbopat that developed serious delamination below the water line because of wet unprotected fiberglass apparently the result of hiting an underwater object. One of the first signs of trouble is when you haul the boat out and see a bubble in the hull. Back to sunfish: Living in humid Florida I have been placing small packets of Damp Rid in the hull when ever the boat won't be used for awhile. I use the closet hanging type from Home Depot and they soak up quite a bit of moisture from the humidity... and my foam and glue are dry. Might work elsewhere in the USA.
 
#9
:rolleyes:

What is the "Shoreline Method"? Is it like slicing off the Sunfish keel like one would slice a tomato? :confused: Especially as the tub would interfere with a saber-saw blade's strokes, I was thinking of using my Skil saw to make the cut. ;)
Watch this: its the shoreline method. It was very effective for me - and easy to do.


Hope this helps you!
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#12
Use a Dremel with a SMALL cut off wheel to make the cut. It's just big enough to get
through the fiberglass. The tub only sits on the hull at the outside corners, the keel is about
a half inch above the tub. You can also use a Roto-Zip but its a lot easier to cut
straight lines with the Dremel, as least for me.

Pearson boats use to have lots of problems with Gelcoat blisters, I'm wondering if your
delaminated Sunfish was one of their products.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #13
PB290014-001.JPG

No HIN in sight. This Sunfish has a number in the upper-left transom that doesn't correspond to a US-made Sunfish. :confused:

I don't see delamination or blisters in this one layer of roving. (In the photo below, you can see the relatively thin area where the hull meets the cockpit floor at the bailer). I've made a temporary repair until Spring, so I can go sailing when the weather improves. :)

Incidental scraping of the keel pulled off a single layer of paint about four feet long. Besides the obvious dark area—which I've
enlarged—there is a series of fine, curved, fracture-arcs that concern me. (A previous repair, smooth, pink-colored—and now weakened—is likely). Does the pink color indicate a polyester repair? :(

Yes, I'm going to cut this four-foot section out for a Shoreline-type repair, and use West System® epoxy. :cool:

 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#14
The pink stuff is most likely filler from another repair. No problems with the
fine cracks since you will be encapsulating the damage by first applying 3 layers
of mat and cloth to the inside of the keel. Once the keel is fixed/fiberglassed back on the boat
you'll have a stable surface to grind the outside of the keel. The idea behind the Shorline
Method is to retain the original shape of the keel by only having to apply filler to the
outside. I did it a little different by removing all the gelcoat off the keel and applying
a final layer of fiberglass over the outside of the keel before filling and painting. If you
have kids that like to jump in the tub, extra fiberglass reinforcement will not hurt one
bit.

I've found a electric spray washer is good say to clean the hull before repairs. Just enough power
to do the job but not so much pressure that you'll damage the hull. It should be able to
strip off all the old paint.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #15
It's been a couple of years—forgot—but you're right, the pink color is from the red filler I used when painting the hull's bottom. :oops: The dark crack (an old and disguised repair?) must have enlarged since that painting!

The left side hadn't been sanded yet, so the filler appears darker than the right side of the photo.

GEDC0035.JPG

Because of memory lapses, I "document" my repairs with photos. :cool:

.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #18
I would air test. Grind out the bad spots and fix them. I would not cut large sections from the hull, too much work.
On my other Sunfish, I started removing a bad spot, and found the damage went on and on. :eek: Chunks of fiberglass roving fell as I proceeded!



A two-inch crack became a 2-square-foot repair, with much to fare back to normal. Faring is a form of art, and I'm not so good at that. :(

In short, I'm facing "work" either way, and can probably do a better-looking repair using the Shore Line method. For only a small penalty of weight, repairing from the inside will make a stronger keel—possibly a stronger cockpit—and I'm all for that. :)
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thread starter #19
1) The irregular surfaces seen in the above photo are leftovers from an unsuccessful MarineTex "repair". :(

2) 'Just thought of another reason to remove four feet of keel. :cool:

I'll be able to through-bolt the aft end of a hiking strap:

Fullscreen capture 10172016 53130 AM.bmp.jpg

(I think). :)

.
 
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