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Sunfish hull repair

Debbie

Member
These are on the bottom of a sunfish I just acquired. They look like someone already tries to repair them. Are they just cosmetic concerns or would they cause the boat to leak? What is the easiest method for repair if needed- epoxy? Fiberglass repair kit? Or something else?
 

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Mashmaster

Active Member
That appears to be all in the gel coat, experts now more than myself but IMHO you'll need to sand away the gel coat in the damaged area, ensure the fiberglass underneath isn't also fractured. next repair the sanded down areas with new gelcoat there. Totally doable, I am currently repairing a hull that had quarter sized holes in it. These are fixable.
 

wjejr

Active Member
I hope not, but I think the second picture could be trouble as well. I had similar looking damage when I first got my Sunfish. When I started grinding away the damaged glass, I found it went all the way through.

i used epoxy and several layers of six ounce glass. After fairing out the repair, I painted gel coat over top.

Good luck.
 

Debbie

Member
So is that the only thing I need to use- gelcoat or Marine Tex? I would not use a fiberglass repair kit or epoxy? And I need to sand down the areas first? Do I use a special type of sand paper? What if the damage goes beyond the gelcoat? I need step by step instructions here- I don’t have a clue.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
The brown discoloration in photos 1 and 2 suggests (to me) that the area can be leaking from the inside. So it's logical that it will leak in the other direction as well. :(

This, being the beginning of the sailing season, I'd put some duct-tape or (the new white) Gorilla tape over it and go sailing. Winter is for repairing, and drying out.

An excellent tutorial in [especially] Sunfish fiberglass repair can be found here, searching for "Starting at the Beginning", by member Whitecap...
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Ummm ..... that brown in the cracks seems more likely to be dirt. And there is no reason to think water seeping out from inside the hull would be brown.

That said the 2nd pic looks worrisome and is the 3rd of the aft end of the trunk? It looks like the damage you see when a boat runs aground and the board slams into the back of the trunk.

I’d do a pressure leak test - search for how to do that here on the site. With a long sailing season ahead, if the boat leaks, it would be best to fix the boat properly. Tape will eventually peel off and you’ll be leaking again, and fixing the boat properly isn’t hard.
 

River Time

Member
I had to repair similar cracks in the gel coat near the dagger board slot on my ‘79. I found that using a Dremel tool with a round metal bit to grind out the cracks was helpful. I was careful just to grind through the gel coat and then I used MarineTex to fill the area. Once hardened, sand flat and then wet sand and polish. Note that it will be a brighter white than the existing gel coat, but it’s on the bottom and not a big deal. Here is a thread where I explained the process I used in more detail. There are pictures too.https://sailingforums.com/threads/1979-sunfish-restoration.38530/
 

Debbie

Member
Ummm ..... that brown in the cracks seems more likely to be dirt. And there is no reason to think water seeping out from inside the hull would be brown.

That said the 2nd pic looks worrisome and is the 3rd of the aft end of the trunk? It looks like the damage you see when a boat runs aground and the board slams into the back of the trunk.

I’d do a pressure leak test - search for how to do that here on the site. With a long sailing season ahead, if the boat leaks, it would be best to fix the boat properly. Tape will eventually peel off and you’ll be leaking again, and fixing the boat properly isn’t hard.
Having trouble finding the info on how to do the leak test. Would using an electric air pump that’s meant to blow up inflatables work or would that be too much pressure?
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Would using an electric air pump that’s meant to blow up inflatables work or would that be too much pressure?
Yes, but.....don't seal up the pump to the Sunfish drain - that would blast the air from the pump into the hull at full blast, which could pop some hull/deck or cockpit/deck seams. Instead, have one person hold the pump nozzle up to the boat's drain, but let quite a bit of the air leak and only some go into the hull.- that should be enough pressure. The other person can run the soapy sponge all over the boat looking for leaks.

Some others will likely weigh in with thoughts too.
 

Debbie

Member
This will be a one person job- just myself. How about a hand pump that’s for inflating balls? Would that be better? Those are still more pressure than what’s recommended. I don’t know what else to use.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Well a hand pump puts out as little or as much pressure as you want. Maybe you can slap a piece of tape over the drain and hope enough pressure remains in the hull for the test? If anyone here has done the test solo maybe they will have an idea. If you can insert the raft pump into the drain but not seal it, most air should escape thru the drain but Enough pressure should remain for the test.

Btw be sure to tape over the hull vent at the top front of the cockpit or all the air will come out there!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Back to taping. :rolleyes:

My TPO (rubber) roof is about 12 years old. Hurricane Irma gave a good
try—to remove it. :oops:

All that happened was some of the edge material got stressed. (Kind of like "spider cracks" in Sunfish gelcoat—you can see about three small horizontal lines in the photo below).

A repair kit is made for TPO roofs, but their minimum order was a bit much in dollars, and too much in material. I used Gorilla tape, which now comes in white.

Applied, this is a very tough tape, and is even difficult to remove from the roll! . :confused:
For this Gorilla product only, I recommend it. :)
Fullscreen capture 512020 100450 PM.bmp[1].jpg
 
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Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Good advice from Beldar B.
I used a very similar method with a foot pump (for an air mattress) on my fish a few years ago.

Don't forget to draw a 'bubble' over the mast step. Or, if the 'bubble' doesn't quite make it across, cover up one half (or more) of the mast step with tape. Same idea for the daggerboard well. Tape the bottom and draw a 'bubble' across the top.

Also be sure to inspect the drain/bailer in the foot well.

The splash guard can be problematic as well.
 

Debbie

Member
Well a hand pump puts out as little or as much pressure as you want. Maybe you can slap a piece of tape over the drain and hope enough pressure remains in the hull for the test? If anyone here has done the test solo maybe they will have an idea. If you can insert the raft pump into the drain but not seal it, most air should escape thru the drain but Enough pressure should remain for the test.

Btw be sure to tape over the hull vent at the top front of the cockpit or all the air will come out there!
I attached an image of the directions for the test on the Sunfish Direct web site. They seem to think the air will stay in the boat if tape is put over the hole after but videos of the test show constant inflow of air so I’m confused. I did purchase a really small ball air pump but I’m terrified of pumping in too much air and blowing the boat apart! How do you do it safely??
 

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