(surface?) cracks in fiberglass, 1979 Sunfish...

Thread starter #1
Hi all,

This is my first post, so my knowledge of Sunfish boats is minimal.

My dad's Sunfish has been in inside storage for about 20 years, and with my interest in obtaining a trailer and sailing again, we took it out of our (walkout) basement tonight.

Afterwards, I noticed many what appear to be surface cracks in the fiberglass, sort of like crazing or spider webbing-type cracks. Are these normal with a boat of this age? Is there a product to remedy them?

Also, what can I expect from the condition of the sail? It's been inside as well, just rolled up in the cover for most of the years in storage.

I look forward to getting the boat back in the water, and any help or advice would be much appreciated!

By the way, the color of the boat is tan with brown and orange stripe, and the sail is red/orange/brown--tequila sunrise, my dad calls it.

Thanks!
 
#2
Sounds like aging gelcoat. Usually not worth doing any more than waxing and going sailing. If chips are peeling up or blisters are appearing you might need to sand it down some, fix the damage, and paint it.

The sail may have survived storage. Pull at the fabric around the grommets and see if it falls apart. Think about the force it would take to rip up a windbreaker jacket with your bare hands. If you can cause fabric separation with light to moderate pulling the sail has deteriorated.
 
#3
Good question Crazydriving and I hope you don't mind if I jump in your thread and ask a followup question. I got my first sunfish this spring (a 73) and it too has some cracking or crazing on the deck, the hull appears to be crack free.
I've never worked with Gel Coat before. What is the prep work needed if I want to spray on a new coat of GelCoat? Does the existing gel coat need sanded off down to the fiberglass or just sanded a bit to allow adheasion? Any suggestion and/or links are truely appreciated.
 
#4
Gelcoat is colored fiberglass resin without the glass fiber reinforcement. Spraying a new coating takes a special spray gun different from those used for paint and special material handling.

In brief you strip off all the boat’s hardware and the aluminum trim, sand down the old surface enough to remove the majority of aging and damage flaws, fix damage and fill remaining imperfections with gelcoat compatible materials, now you begin building up a new coat in thin layers over several applications.

The process is trickier than paint and usually takes a practiced hand to get good results. It’s a good idea to study the technique and research all the materials before jumping in. My suggestion is to consult with the pros and read a book or two before buying any equipment or materials.


Links for books and advice: http://www.fibreglast.com , http://www.fiberglasssupply.com , http://www.fiberlay.com , http://www.fiberglasswarehouse.com/learning_center.asp

Video on spray techniques: http://www.rayplex.com/tek9.asp?pg=p...cific=jpjoipe0
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#5
I got my first sunfish this spring (a 73) and it too has some cracking or crazing on the deck, the hull appears to be crack free.
I've never worked with Gel Coat before. What is the prep work needed if I want to spray on a new coat of GelCoat? Does the existing gel coat need sanded off down to the fiberglass or just sanded a bit to allow adheasion? Any suggestion and/or links are truely appreciated.
From your description, you don't need to do anything but go sailing.
Why would you go through the trouble gelcoating your deck? If you check out other threads on gelcoating (use the Search feature), you will see that the gelcoating process is not easy, nor inexpensive, unless you have access to the equipment, or a professional buddy....

 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#6
I'll second Wavedancer. It's likely to run you $400 whether you buy the equipment and do it yourself or have it done professionally.
 

Repete

Sunfish1909
#7
I have a 1979 too and I call them "character lines". There is no effect to the performance of the boat. You only see them when you are standing still or really looking for them.

Yes, you don't need to anything but get back out there and go sailing~~~~~~~~~~~~~~/)~~~~~~~~~~~
 
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