What's new

Shark bite in bow...help!

dougd

New Member
This is a 1983 Sunfish. I acquired this boat at no charge. Can this be fixed? I have no experience in such matters, but I am eager to learn. All comments welcome!

IMG_20160912_163028.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the good close up photo. That bow has taken quite a hit! :eek: Another photo from above of the foredeck might help in figuring-out where to start. It looks like a "seasoned" bow handle, so keep in mind a new bow handle can be bolted on during this repair process. (No screws to pull out under extreme lifting circumstances).

Could this bow receive similar damage from where this Sunfish was stored when it got damaged? (A marina or club dock?) My repair would look different, if that's the case.

Since this particular repair is above my pay grade, :( I'll hand this one off to members experienced in major repairs: Webfoot1 and/or Mixmkr. I'd be tempted to install a bowsprit (for a jib) or a docking light! ;)
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
Of course. The better the job, the more invisible the repair becomes. So...a "10" looks like factory new. (but the experienced eye will still always see the repair unless the entire boat is painted, etc)
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Deck photos or not, the pop-rivets holding the bow rail need to be removed. Use a drill bit of 1/8" or larger. Drill the center/top of the pop-rivet and when it spins, tilt the drill about 30 degrees, keep drilling, and the pop-rivet will drop out. Store the rail any place it won't get stepped on! :eek:

Start to locate a store that has those 1/8" (diameter) new replacement pop-rivets, and buy a box of 1/8" lengths. That size never seems to stay in stock! :confused: You'll need to start with a West Systems® epoxy kit—at Amazon for less than $40—so might-as-well start one in transit.

I forgot several other repair experts, here—Sorry! :oops:

This photo, by a member here, may show the extent to which you'll need room to operate!

 
Last edited:

JohnCT

Active Member
Being an outside non compound curve, I would be tempted to make a mold and create a patch panel of one or 2 layers of cloth. Grind back the edges to get some taper. Fit the patch panel, then apply several more layers of cloth getting larger as you go.
This way no backer is required.

It looks worse then it is
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
First, you can ignore the above picture - for some reason he is trying to scare you - as said before, it is a pretty easy fix. Here is some help - go to the punctures/fractures section at this link Sunfish Sailboat Repar Notes Note there is one critical step missing - between 4 and 5 it needs to say "push this in thru the hole, then pull back tight." Here is what you are trying to do:

1) grinding away the loose glass is important - you need to get to solid parts of the boat for a good repair
2) you will grind the edges around the hole to give a 1.5 to 2 inch lip and it should be VERY thin right next to the hole, tapering over that 2 inches to full thickness.
3) the cardboard with the wire you are pushing into the boat forms the backer, so when you pull the wire tight, the cardboard presses the saturated glass up against the inside of the hole.
4) once the glass in 3 is cured, you will then cut layers of glass starting from small to up to the full size of the hole plus the lip you ground. You will soak the glass in resin,, and put the small piece on, then the next larger size until you have all the pieces on there. You will do all these at once and let them cure.

The instructions at the link mention using mat or roving. Those are coarser grades of fiberglass cloth. Regular cloth should work, but either mat or roving are probably better for the internal repair. One or the other should be fine - you do not need both . For the repair in step 4, use regular fiberglass cloth. Regarding the resin, pay the extra for West system resin (you can get it at West Marine or by mail - West marine and west resin are different companies. Someone just posted recently where to get it by mail cheaper - use the search box to find it.) Polyester resin really does not cut it for this type of heavy repair.

Once you are done, sand it smooth and use a can of Krylon to paint it white. If this sounds complicated, it really isn't.

BB
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
..........Polyester resin really does not cut it for this type of heavy repair.
Once you are done, sand it smooth and use a can of Krylon to paint it white. .....

BB
Not to be confusing, but what do you think the rest of the boat is made of? Of course Poly resin is just fine. The resin basically has no strength to it anyway. It's the fiberglass cloth, the type and way the strands are oriented, that really are the lions share of what makes the repair strong. West Systems has other advantages for sure. And you have to know Rustoleum is far superior to Krylon!! Actually gelcoat doesn't stick nearly as well to West System epoxy as it does polyester.
....finish with Krylon, eh?? ;-/
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Not to be confusing, but what do you think the rest of the boat is made of? Of course Poly resin is just fine. The resin basically has no strength to it anyway. /
As an FYI to all potential boat repairers, West or other marine epoxies are widely preferred to polyester for repairs. For mass production polyester has a cost advantage, but for repairs epoxy becomes affordable. 'Nuff said!!
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
Epoxy is preferred for adhesion and water resistance. But if you cant get good adhesion by mechanical means...iow sanding, your repair abilities are definitely suffering. If you're using a rattle can for your finish work, why spend tbe bucks on West System? You,ll also reget gelcoat over epoxy, should you want an invisible, professional finish that will match the rest of your boat, unless you don't mind tbe graffiti appearance of your efforts using patio furniture paint. yes epoxy is good for repairs but if you think poly on the bow of a sunfish wont cut because of strength, tell him about the wood screws used to mount the deck hardware or tbe foam blocks for hull/deck rigidity.
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
Yes it can be fixed and I list 3 options from worst to best, by the way the trim rail has to be
removed whatever you do but that is super easy.

1. The Band-aid patch. Never used on any boat you life depends on and not a stable fix but
lord knows the Sunfish is the king of the Band-aid patch. Grind back the gel coat and apply
a mat and cloth patch to the outside. With no backer patch to stabilize the repair first this will
get you in the water fast but is really Mr. Ugly.

2. If you can't get at the inside of the boat, you're going to apply a fiberglass backer patch through
the hole opening. I will not go into detail but you're hull has a big problem with this method, one is
it's right on the bow and your trying to pull a patch around a steep corner. The second is that the
bow handle backer block is in the way at the top of the repair. I see frustration looming with this
method.

3. Method three allows for proper repair.
You're going to lay-up glass on both sides of the repair, starting with the inside to stabilize the
damage. This involves wedging/popping open the front deck with a hammer and sharp putty knife.
If you can get the deck popped the rest of the repairs are going to be really easy. This also gives you the
option of replacing the two pound bow-handle backer block with something lighter and removing what
may be about two pounds of mud and silt that sits inside the hull. However, if the deck refuses to pop
at some point you will not be able to use this method. The seam has to split cleanly, I got stuck and tried
cutting with a Dremel tool. There is not enough material on the lip of the hull and deck to use a saw.
Forcing it will crack the deck!

4. There is an option four of molding another bow section in fiberglass off another Sunfish but I don't
think you're damage is extensive enough to go that way.

5. Ok, you got me, the fifth way is to put an inspection port on top the bow behind the bow handle but
#@$% bow backer block is still going to be in the way of you repair at the top of the bow. Maybe a good
option if third method is not possible.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Repair #6 ;) :

See if Alan Glos has a sacrificial Sunfish, and ask him to cut off a 9" bow section. Sand off nearly all remaining deck from this "transplant". Cut back your Sunfish's damage to match that section. Replace that weak, :oops: ugly, :( bow handle plus your existing backer-blocks with aluminum or stainless backer-blocks. Foam-in the forward ends of the Styrofoam blocks now that you can actually touch them! :cool:

Cut and epoxy a half-dozen 4" paint stir-stick sections to the inside, taper all outside edges to paper-thin, sand all areas that fresh epoxy will touch, epoxy some previously-made (flat) 2-layer glass cloth sections to the inside for strength—doubling up at the keel—fit the new "transplant" with fresh-mix epoxy, epoxy 2-3 layers of new cloth to the previously tapered edges. Sand to match the existing sides and bottom. Paint to match.

You'll need an orbital sander, two grades of sandpaper, and that $40 repair kit. :oops: (Now $30)!

You'll have replaced a backing-block with a lighter metal one—foamed-in inaccessible places—and saved hours of trying to sculpt the exact contour of the bow. :)
 
Last edited:

Webfoot1

Active Member
As ugly as it looks, if he can get to the inside of the bow six layers of mat and cloth will bring the bow up to 100%
strength. He can then grind the outside back adding one layer of glass and cloth to the outside. Then it's
simply filler and gel-coat. Should leave a flush invisible repair. Some prefer to use what the boat was originally
constructed with and will use woven mat on the inside.
 

dougd

New Member
Wow, it appears that I came to the right place! As requested, this is the view from above. The bow handle is indeed in rough shape! This boat had been stored outside on a trailer at my father's house for the last 25 years. It has only been sailed a handful of times during that stretch. The damage to the bow came during one of those voyages, I suspect fairly recently.

bow handle.jpg
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
The metal trim strip is in usable condition and that's worth a lot. They were built
with 8 foot long strips and you can only buy 5 foot now at $25 each. I've searched
for a cheaper identical replacement with no luck. Remove trim with great care
cuz bending a new one around the bow without some buckling is difficult. After
drilling out Rivet Heads with #30 bit, tap off trim with edge of a wooden block and a hammer.
Even if damaged in removal, save the trim as you will need sections to fill in the
gap on each side with the new shorter trim strip.
 

Whitecap

Active Member
First, you can ignore the above picture - for some reason he is trying to scare you - as said before, it is a pretty easy fix. Here is some help - go to the punctures/fractures section at this link Sunfish Sailboat Repar Notes Note there is one critical step missing - between 4 and 5 it needs to say "push this in thru the hole, then pull back tight." Here is what you are trying to do:

1) grinding away the loose glass is important - you need to get to solid parts of the boat for a good repair
2) you will grind the edges around the hole to give a 1.5 to 2 inch lip and it should be VERY thin right next to the hole, tapering over that 2 inches to full thickness.
3) the cardboard with the wire you are pushing into the boat forms the backer, so when you pull the wire tight, the cardboard presses the saturated glass up against the inside of the hole.
4) once the glass in 3 is cured, you will then cut layers of glass starting from small to up to the full size of the hole plus the lip you ground. You will soak the glass in resin,, and put the small piece on, then the next larger size until you have all the pieces on there. You will do all these at once and let them cure.

The instructions at the link mention using mat or roving. Those are coarser grades of fiberglass cloth. Regular cloth should work, but either mat or roving are probably better for the internal repair. One or the other should be fine - you do not need both . For the repair in step 4, use regular fiberglass cloth. Regarding the resin, pay the extra for West system resin (you can get it at West Marine or by mail - West marine and west resin are different companies. Someone just posted recently where to get it by mail cheaper - use the search box to find it.) Polyester resin really does not cut it for this type of heavy repair.

Once you are done, sand it smooth and use a can of Krylon to paint it white. If this sounds complicated, it really isn't.

BB
Listen to this man! He knows what hes talking about.! Here is another example of what he's trying to explain. (Pictures are always better).
http://sailingforums.com/attachments/rm-4-blind-hole-patch-jpg.15360/
Here is also a youtube which shows it all! (From west system - its long, but answers tons of questions!)

Good luck with the fix!

You can do this!

-Whirecap
 

dougd

New Member
Thanks, Whitecap. I think I am starting to understand the process and what may be involved. I have been reading up on fiberglass repair. I am concerned about the blind technique using a backer and wire/string due to the location of the damage. Most of the examples I have seen, involve a relatively flat section of hull, whereas my damage is in a section of the bow that is curved in two dimensions. I'm also unsure about the top of the repair where it seems to be cracked all the way up to the rail. Additional considerations are the type of resin to apply - differences of opinion evident even in this thread. If I try to get at it from the inside, is it better to use a port up front, or to attempt to peel back the deck (note this was * I think * originally a joke, but seems to be a serious contender). Webfoot1, I appreciate the tips on removing the rail. I will start on that now while I consider my options moving forward.
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
Cut a 6 inch bole on a flat section of tbe bottom for access, then you can easily address tbe handle backing block and the inside of the bow. The access hole on a flat surface will be an easy fix. Uze whatever resin your wallet allows but I'd caution use gelcoats over epoxy. Also you arent cutting the deck, etc
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Here is also a youtube which shows it all! (From west system - its long, but answers tons of questions!)
That was a great video Whitecap. Thanks.

When I'm finished with everything on The Betty, I'm going to pull off the 3... count em... 3(!) inspection ports on the deck (previous owner), create some laminate and "remove" those holes so the deck is complete again. I'll be using this video you shared as a guide.

- Andy
 

Whitecap

Active Member
Thanks, Whitecap. I think I am starting to understand the process and what may be involved. I have been reading up on fiberglass repair. I am concerned about the blind technique using a backer and wire/string due to the location of the damage. Most of the examples I have seen, involve a relatively flat section of hull, whereas my damage is in a section of the bow that is curved in two dimensions. I'm also unsure about the top of the repair where it seems to be cracked all the way up to the rail. Additional considerations are the type of resin to apply - differences of opinion evident even in this thread. If I try to get at it from the inside, is it better to use a port up front, or to attempt to peel back the deck (note this was * I think * originally a joke, but seems to be a serious contender). Webfoot1, I appreciate the tips on removing the rail. I will start on that now while I consider my options moving forward.
As some of the guys said above, instead of using a flat backing plate made from a flat surface (like in the video), you will make your backing plate from the shape of the undamaged bow (the area of the bow that is just below the damage). Tape some plastic sheeting or Saran Wrap to the good part of the bow, then lay epoxy and fiberglass over it, let it dry, remove it from the bow - now you have a 2 dimensional backing plate that will fit perfectly in the hole of the damaged area (because it's a copy of the existing bow).

Trust me - you can do this. I am very new at this as well, but these guys helped get my boat up and running.

Veterns here - keep me straight and make sure I am giving him good advice.

You got this bro! Keep researching and soon it won't seem so scary. Take it from me! (I've been sailing my boat for two weeks now - life changing!)

Warm regards,
Whitecap
 

dougd

New Member
The trim is off. Seam looked OK except for one spot port side up near the bow handle. Looked to be a small split that I could press closed with finger pressure. I also snapped some pictures through the bow hole of the interior. The bow handle backing block looks metal to me. Is that expected?

IMG_20160914_110344.jpg IMG_20160914_110357.jpg IMG_20160914_110709.jpg IMG_20160914_111010_hdr.jpg IMG_20160914_111019_hdr.jpg IMG_20160914_111027_hdr.jpg IMG_20160914_111215.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
The deck doesn't show any damage to the gelcoat. You're off to a good start. :)

The trim is off. Seam looked OK except for one spot port side up near the bow handle. Looked to be a small split that I could press closed with finger pressure. I also snapped some pictures through the bow hole of the interior. The bow handle backing block looks metal to me. Is that expected?
That's been "the word" here on the later Sunfish. If there's been saltwater use, check it for corrosion, as you could certainly continue to use it. See if the screws back out without breaking off. I'd go up one screw size—in stainless steel of course.

Over all, the interior looks well constructed! What is that thing that looks like a discarded snake skin? :confused:



That small split could be the start of peeling back the deck. As you have seen, not everyone here is in agreement! :oops: Otherwise, the split is begging for epoxy resin to seal it shut.

Your original photo showed a crack in the gelcoat (port side) that tells me that the hit was severe enough to consider something other than a "quick fix". The starboard side is somewhat worse. :( From what is shown in this photo—except for the rough condition of the bow handle and aluminum trim—this Sunfish looks like it's worth saving, for sure.

Around here, the sailing season is shutting down, so a few weeks of decent Autumn weather would allow for a more extensive repair. If you repair from the inside, as suggested, consider a mix of fiberglass weaves. "Roving" is the coarsest—with "mat" used to take up space, as it has no real structure. Don't use mat. :confused: "Cloth" makes for a smooth, strong, finish, and is the only weave that is included in the $30 West Systems repair kit. If this wasn't such a relatively small area, I'd consider locating a "chopper gun" to start a repair of the inside. Cool fiberglass "spray" tool, but became outmoded with rises in oil prices.



Cracked gelcoat—port and starboard:


Anyone else here reminded of the huge, but harmless, Basking Shark of the North Atlantic? An adult Basking Shark is nearly three times the length of a Sunfish!




:eek:
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
Yep, the split is the deck/hull seam. Sunfish split apart on their own without any help, a lot! If you are going to seal the split you have to widen/lengthen the split first to get a layer of mat and epoxy in the seam.
If you are going to open her up, well, you've be given a place to start. Generally we always work with mat under cloth as the mat keeps the cloth from cracking. So, for three layers to about equal the thickness to the hull we go mat/cloth mat/cloth mat/cloth. I think the woven roving used by the factory is so they can lay it in the mold and get the air bubbles out. Not usually used for repairs. Those spider webs in the are a good indication that the underlying fiberglass is compromised farther back than the edge the hole. I'm not seeing a good candidate for a backer patch but other with a wider skill set then me might. Lots of good suggestions on which way to go,
at this point I this the easiest way to go is to stabilize the damaged area first with three layers of mat cloth laid up behind the damaged area extending past the spider cracks. It will give you a stable base to start grinding back the gel-coat around the damaged area. By making the repair from the inside you've basically completed the structural phase and the rest of the outside work will be cosmetic. The final filler coats should let you reshape the bow back to factory contour. Not uncommon damage for a Sunfish, happens a lot. If your trailer did this get one of those big rubber V bow stopper blocks, I use them on all my trailers.
 

dougd

New Member
Well, we're in it now! I split the deck. Starboard side went great, port side not so much. It started splitting too high, into the deck layer. I had to saw down a bit to correct. Very damp inside. The yellow foam is saturated.

IMG_20160915_162444.jpg IMG_20160915_162418.jpg IMG_20160915_162409.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
No posts today? :oops:

We can't have that! :confused:
________________________________

Edit: I see dougd has logged in while I was typing. :confused: :( Not to worry...
________________________________


OK, there wasn't a general approval of my suggestion for a transplant from a "donor" Sunfish so :( how about this?

Widen the existing seam-split at the deck back about 10-inches. Do both sides, and leave the deck alone for now.

Take a Sawzall, and, under the deck, cut the bow section completely off. :eek: Trim the damaged bow back to where it's solid again. Repair the piece from the inside as above, using a sandblaster to completely roughen the inside's original (and uneven) roving fiberglass material. Build up layers inside of mat/cloth mat/cloth mat/cloth—as above. Be generous with repairing the keel area of both sections—bow and hull. Replace the bow handle. Foam-in the part of the Styrofoam blocks that can be reached.

Optional: Bolts (with washers) can be used at this point, with the head epoxied inside. The threads can be measured for an "acorn" nut outside. This, in those cases (like mine) that the Sunfish's weight is carried by the bow handle.

Remove the snake skin. ;)

Go find another Sunfish, and sculpt your bow section's outside dimensions to the contours of an original Sunfish bow. Sand inside and outside back about three inches, tapering the margins to paper-thin. Roughen-up the deck's contact areas. Use the batten/stir-stick technique on both sections to align the new bow to the hull. Align deck and "refurbished" bow section, tap into place, borrow extra clamps and epoxy forever. Sand and paint—add gelcoat if you must have it. :rolleyes:

Woe to befall any dock this repaired Sunfish might hit! ;)
 
Last edited:

L&VW

Well-Known Member
You're still logged-in at 5:48. So there is some good news here. Access is easy now!
 

dougd

New Member
It seems like I'll need much more than what comes in the West System repair kit. What's a good place to buy these supplies (epoxy, resin, fiberglass, etc.)? No marine stores nearby.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I'm presently in rural New Hampshire, so I go to my local True Value hardware $tore.

Not much left of a $100 bill! :eek:
 

dougd

New Member
I found a local hardware store just down the way that is a West System dealer according to their website. I'll head over tomorrow and see what that have.
 

dougd

New Member
The "snake skin" looks and feels deliberate. Possibly some kind of handle, maybe from the original manufacturing process?
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
There was a thread on here a few years back about fixing the same kind of damage. The original poster went with molding a new
bow piece off his other Sunfish. There are some pics on this site somewhere. Anywho, the first copy you make off the good Sunfish will be the mold
for the final product. The mold is slightly bigger than what you are copying. You can make the mold out of plaster and use Vaseline
as the release agent. The plaster mold will be for one-time use. After removing the mold from the good Sunfish you can lay-up fiberglass
inside the mold. This will result in a original size duplication of the bow. You can use release agent or break the mold apart when you are done. Oh, I forgot to say that if making a mold you have to remove the trim strip from the copy boat so you can mold the flange.

West Epoxy with 206 Slow Hardener seems to work good. Micro Balloons seem to be a good all purpose
filler.
 
Last edited:

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Well, we're in it now! I split the deck. Starboard side went great, port side not so much. It started splitting too high, into the deck layer. I had to saw down a bit to correct. Very damp inside. The yellow foam is saturated.
A Sunfish that is very damp inside? :eek: Never happens! ;)

Is the yellow foam saturated to the point that it feels like a sponge? "Saturation" takes a long time to happen—and to undo—so what you're seeing may be the result of that one-time bow damage. Open ports, if you have any. Using the highest setting, set a small fan off to one side so the damp air runs a circuit to return the bad air back out the opening.

Molding the bow with plaster:

repair ? | SailingForums.com

A search is MUCH easier if the title includes something that refers to the exact repair. :rolleyes:

I liked the alternative mentioned of using Great Stuff :)

If you go the plaster-mold route, press a layer of [galvanized] hardware-cloth into the soft plaster to keep the mold from breaking apart while you're working with it.:confused:

 
Last edited:

andyatos

Well-Known Member
The "snake skin" looks and feels deliberate. Possibly some kind of handle, maybe from the original manufacturing process?
That is very interesting. Because when I opened up the deck from the hull at the bow to do some repairs on my Sunfish, I found the exact same "snake skin" loop of glass. I thought it was some kind of half assed job from the previous owner but now I'm thinking otherwise. Anyone know what this loop of glass if for?

- Andy
 

dougd

New Member
On the cloth/mat suggestion, I am reading that epoxy doesn't play well with csm on curved surfaces. Should I be using poly resin or a combination of poly and epoxy in different locations? I had sold myself on epoxy because of the reported superior strength and bonding. So, where to find a sunfish to make a bow mold?
 
Top