Starting a sunfish project

Thread starter #1
New guy here. I scored a great deal on a sunfish last week. Well, actually it's probably only a great deal if I sell the sail, hardware, and scrap the hull. But I think I'm going to try to dry out the hull and maybe do a basic restoration on it.

The boat cost $20. The previous owner said the sail and lines are about two years old, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. There is some major fiberglass damage to the bow and the hull is severely waterlogged. First I'm going to dry out the hull and then check for leaks to decide if it's worth moving forward with the hull repair or just scrap the thing.

This weekend I cut a couple of holes in the hull and wired up an old computer fan to circulate air. I pulled out a small piece of Styrofoam and squeezed it...water poured out like a wet sponge. There was also a couple inches of standing water still in the bottom of the hull.

So the plan is:
1. Dry it out over the next several weeks.
2. After it's dry I'll drill the rivets on the front, remove the aluminum trim, and start the fiberglass repair. I'm not an expert on fiberglass work, but I've built three small stitch and glue boats that I fiberglassed so I've got some basic knowledge.
3. The old DePersia baler flange nut is broken and will need to get replaced. The bailer bolt came out easily. I'll try to get the rest of the bailer body unstuck this evening so I can find a replacement flange nut at the hardware store, when the time comes.
4. The daggerboard and rudder are cracked. I think the easiest way to deal with those might be to just throw a layer of fiberglass/epoxy over it.
5. Install inspection ports over the holes I've already cut into the hull.

My goal is to have a working sunfish that costs near nothing. I already have the epoxy and think I can get enough fiberglass to complete the work at the local hardware store for $6. I already have all of the stuff to do fiberglass work. The inspection ports are about $6 each on ebay. The baler flange nut should only be a couple of dollars at the hardware store (assuming they carry it). I'll need to find a new bow handle. The sail, mast, lines, and rest of the hardware are in good condition.
 

Attachments

#3
Interesting that you have both an old rudder and a new rudder.... which one fits on the back of the boat? Storage area in the back of the cockpit means it should be post-1971, I think.

For repairing cracks in the daggerboard and rudder, you can drill and epoxy a threaded rod into the wood to help strengthen it at the cracked area.
I detailed how I did it here: sunfish rudder and daggerboard repair – progress
Here's a pic of the repair (on a Super Porpoise rudder, but same process applies...)
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#4
Looks like you did well. :)

I received a daggerboard that someone had done a nice job of covering with a light grade of cloth and resin. It didn't stay nice for very long. Water snuck under an edge, swelled the board,which popped the fiberglass--most of it. :( I'm still trying to sand through the really adhesive parts, but the mahogany underneath looks fine.
 
Thread starter #5
Thanks. I was thinking about doing that repair as an alternative.

I have no idea what that plexiglass rudder goes with, but it came with the boat. The wood rudder has the correct hardware for the boat.
 
#6
Are you sure the plexiglass rudder doesn’t fit? It is the ‘new style’ rudder- I thought that came out when the rear deck stripe was added in ‘73.
 
Thread starter #7
I'm 100% sure that the boat is setup for the wood rudder, not the plexiglass one. I'll snap a picture tonight. Maybe the plexiglass hardware/rudder was just a spare part from a different boat? Or maybe the boat was upgraded at a later date?
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#9
yeah... a Sunfish that wasn't afraid to T-bone something. Salty and rugged...that's how we like our fish.
Take special care with that aluminum trim around the bow! Renewing it is a major project. :eek:

You'll be better served by buying a used one from one of our Sunfish "organ donors". (Here, at this forum). :cool:
 
Thread starter #10
L&VW - I'd buy a different hull and save myself the trouble of repairing this one if there was something close by. But I don't want to drive across the country looking for one when it will take less effort to just repair this one.
 
Thread starter #11
Here's a pic of the back of the boat showing that it uses the modern rudder setup. I don't see any old patched holes for the other rudder so I have no idea why it's here. I'll probably end up selling it after I get everything put together.

Here's a picture of the baler which I took out yesterday. It's missing the cork ball in it. I'll clean up the threads with a wire wheel and then look for a new retaining nut.

The water in the hull is actually evaporating pretty quickly. It's down about an inch in a couple of days.

I won't have much more to update until the hull is dried out. But once that is done I can start work on fixing it up.
 

Attachments

#13
OK, fixerupper, now I see the issue. I thought your pic of the white rudder (new style) was the fiberglass one, but now I see it is painted wood. My mistake! So ya, no changes were made, your rudder and gudgeon are original to the boat, the first year of new style.
The other rudder you have is from an older Sunfish or a Sailfish. You could probably sell it with the tiller for $50-$75.
You say “the water is down about an inch” Do you have standing water in the hull?
 
Last edited:
Thread starter #15
Breeze, yes there's some standing water in there. You can see it in the pic where I cut the hole in the hull. I don't know where it came from but I'm guessing through that damaged bow. After the water is dried up I'll spray soapy water around the boat to find the leaks. I probably should have grabbed a friend or two to help me flip the boat and drain the water before I started with the fan, but I didn't want to wait. It's drying quickly enough anyway.

Tag, it's too heavy to deal with easily without calling a couple of friends over. It's on a trailer now and my kids aren't strong enough to help move a waterlogged boat on and off the trailer. On a side note...a little bit of Seven pesticide kills mosquito larvae in water within a couple hours.
 
Last edited:

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#16
The inspection ports are about $6 each on ebay. The baler flange nut should only be a couple of dollars at the hardware store (assuming they carry it.)
$6 is a really good price! Are these the 6-inch-diameter ports that most of us have?

If you find a source for this metal (De Persia-made) bailer retaining-nut, would you photograph the part's description or bar-code for those with this bailer?

As for the water, it will still be leaking out from the Styrofoam--perhaps for months!

But most importantly, leaking out from the yellow "foam-glue" that was to bond the Styrofoam between deck and hull forever. Now or later, water needs to be kept from the interior. You're doing well with the computer fan, but sun-warmth will be a cheap and desirable assist.
 
Thread starter #17
Here's my order confirmation from ebay for a 6" hatch. I wanted to try one on my laser sailboat (no water problems yet but figured it wouldn't hurt) and if I like it I'll get more for the sunfish. The total price is after shipping. It's coming from China so it'll take a couple of weeks. I'll see what I can find at the hardware store for the bailer.

Order summary



4/6/8 Inch Round Hatch Cover Non-Slip Deck Plate for Marine Boat Kayak C...

SKU: Size: 6 inch
Total: $6.39
Order number: ************
Item ID: 401783358425​

Bow handles are also cheap if you buy them on amazon as a generic "Perko 1234DP0CHR Bow Handle for Daysailors" are under $15 with free shipping.
 
Thread starter #18
Update on drying. All the free standing water is dried from the hull. I'll probably leak test the hull this weekend and then drill out the rivets and remove the metal on the bow so I can start the fiberglass repair on the bow. I figure I might as well get that done while the boat is still drying out.

The picture is looking inside through the hull where the inspection port is going to be installed.
 

Attachments

Thread starter #19
Just a quick update. I pulled the trim and started work on the nose repair. I ground out the bad area and put some epoxy putty on there to form the general shape then fiberglassed two layers on the outside. There are a few small bubbles to grind/fill. Next step is I'll grind the putty flat and add a few layers of glass/epoxy on the inside. I typically just use a mix of talcum/epoxy as my filler for the uneven areas so the glass lays flat. Hopefully, the epoxying will be done within the next week. Then I can grind everything to shape and lightly sand it so that paint adheres.
 

Attachments

Thread starter #20
Seven layers of fiberglass are on. I had a bubble on an inside layer that I cut out this morning and I'll fill tonight, then she'll be ready to smooth out and fill in the weave in the fiberglass, then do final shaping. I have to replace the wood block under the bow handle and buy a replacement handle. Looks like the Perko 1234DP0CHR should be a match.

First pic is the fiberglass layered on the inside and outside of the bow. The second picture is after I clamped it to a board so it could dry flat and level.
 

Attachments

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#21
Seven layers of fiberglass are on. I had a bubble on an inside layer that I cut out this morning and I'll fill tonight, then she'll be ready to smooth out and fill in the weave in the fiberglass, then do final shaping. I have to replace the wood block under the bow handle and buy a replacement handle. Looks like the Perko 1234DP0CHR should be a match. First pic is the fiberglass layered on the inside and outside of the bow. The second picture is after I clamped it to a board so it could dry flat and level.
You're going to add some expanding foam to the Styrofoam tops just before you close it up?

.
 
Thread starter #22
Yes, but I'm not quite there yet. I have to buy a new bow handle and replace the wood underneath it first, before I close up the hull. I'm also running into problems finding the retaining nut for the bailer so I might just glass over that hole if I'm unsuccessful. On another thread the retaining nut was listed at ace hardware so I'll try that again now that I have a possible part number.

DePersia Bailer Flange Nut
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#23
When I replaced the bow handle, I through-bolted it to a stainless steel "backing-block"—using stainless steel nuts and bolts.

Since then, it was suggested (here) to use a section sawed from a plastic cutting block.

Whatever floats your boat. :)

.
 
Thread starter #24
Thanks for the tip. I'll see if I run into a cheap cutting board at Walmart. If not, then I've got plenty of treated wood I can grab from my shop.

I hit a snag on the retaining nut for the bailer. The diameter of 1 1/4" I measured is not a plumbing diameter. It looks like it actually takes a 1" plumbing fitting to fit on a 1 1/4" diameter bailer. I'll look locally, but would love to know if someone else has tried a 1" plumbing fitting successfully. I can order one pretty cheaply but it will take a month to get in and I still don't know if it will actually fit.

LOCKNUT 1" NPT 304 STAINLESS STEEL LOCK NUT O-Ring Groove Pipe fitting | eBay
 
Thread starter #25
I found a suitable replacement nut at Menards for the DePersia bailer. The only one that fit came as part of a compression coupler set. The part number is in the pic for anyone interested.

Next question is that I thought there was supposed to be a ball in there. What are people replacing the ball with? Maybe it's not necessary if I keep the bailer closed and only open it when underway when I want to drain the cockpit.
 

Attachments

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#26
Thanks for the picture of the compression coupler (union) nut.

When stored outdoors, the bailer can be left open. I'd suggest two or three wraps of (inexpensive) Teflon tape so it doesn't corrode shut again.

As for the ball, it's polystyrene. The size there is suspect, but that's the product to search for. Try measuring a marble that doesn't fit through the vent, but just fits the rubber seal. If there's no rubber seal, a common garden hose seal will fit after trimming the outside diameter. A used one might be better! Use liquid soap to ease the seal in.

The long story is here:
Restoring Metal DePersia Bailer with Plastic Bailer Parts

.
 
Thread starter #27
I got most of the work completed on the bow this weekend. The repair is a mix of fiberglass cloth, epoxy, and some epoxy putty. A few more minor touches and sanding down some raised areas are all that's left. I ordered the bow handle and should hopefully get it within a week. I also spent some time with a file on the inspection ports and now they fit perfectly. I'll attach them this week with stainless steel hardware that I purchased and some silicone caulk.

I think before I close the bow I'm going to hose out the inside of the boat. There's a bunch of fiberglass powder and Styrofoam bits in there from cutting the inspection ports that I'd feel better knowing were washed out.
 

Attachments

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#29
I found a suitable replacement nut at Menards for the DePersia bailer. The only one that fit came as part of a compression coupler set. The part number is in the pic for anyone interested.

Next question is that I thought there was supposed to be a ball in there. What are people replacing the ball with? Maybe it's not necessary if I keep the bailer closed and only open it when underway when I want to drain the cockpit.
While searching hardware on a different mission, I found this 75¢ part (separate from the compression coupler set). But 1½-inch—Maybe the smaller (and correct) part is even less money. ;)

Fullscreen capture 9162019 71330 PM.bmp.jpg
I got most of the work completed on the bow this weekend. The repair is a mix of fiberglass cloth, epoxy, and some epoxy putty. A few more minor touches and sanding down some raised areas are all that's left. I ordered the bow handle and should hopefully get it within a week. I also spent some time with a file on the inspection ports and now they fit perfectly. I'll attach them this week with stainless steel hardware that I purchased and some silicone caulk.

I think before I close the bow I'm going to hose out the inside of the boat. There's a bunch of fiberglass powder and Styrofoam bits in there from cutting the inspection ports that I'd feel better knowing were washed out.
Good idea. :cool: It's annoying to watch those bits clog-up pumps, sponges, and transom drains. :oops:
 
Thread starter #30
L&VW- Menards sold the "correct" diameter conduit locknut individually packaged too, but it didn't fit. I'm not sure why, but I tried all the different ones they had in the store and only the one that was part of the coupler set worked.

I bought a pair of plastic cutting boards at the dollar store and I'll cut those down to use as the backing plate for the bow handle. Thanks for the tip!
 
Top