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Took a big bite-and need some help chewing

Itsasave

New Member
Hey all,
Looking for guidance. I’ve looked through the threads and was hoping to get project specific help. I owned a sunfish growing up, and picked up a boat on a whim this weekend at a very low price, because I want to teach my son to sail (and because I miss sailing a lot). Admittedly I did not do my research on my purchase and after a really long drive to pick up the boat I decided I wasn’t turning back empty handed. After cartopping our new addition close to 4 hours home, and breaking the news to my wife, I was surprised to hear her happy that I had a new project to work on (she knows how I get when I don’t have something to focus on). I spent the first few days of ownership with boat still on the roof of my car, while I built a stand for the boat as clearly it needs to have some work done. Stand complete, I got to power washing and taking note of needed parts. I did weigh the boat after washing it and was glad to see that I was not going to be the only one in my house trying to shed a few pounds. Luckily the 203lb boat has more to loose than I do.
My plan is...leak test to make sure I know where this water came from. Then cut my access ports (between the coaming and dagger board) and behind the cockpit and get to drying with whatever much argued over method I’ve read about. While doing this, repair daggerboard and tiller (tiller and extension are cracked/need serious TLC or replacement). Once boat is dried (whenever that is) attack hull and deck cracks/gouges/spidering. Paint. Final hardware swaps. Enjoy before summer is over (hopefully).

Other than my order of operations which I Hope sounds right to you all, I do have a few questions regarding fiberglass repair which I only have a little experience in doing so far to date. As you can see from pictures, whoever has repaired the boat in the past, did not skimp on the resin-is the best method for removal, to heat it up and scrape away? Or am I better off cutting those sections out entirely, since if this is the quality of work done, why not just do It right? For the keep repair, the shoreline method of fiberglass battens actually looks like an efficient means-or am I oversimplifying the process?
In terms of equipment I’ll need, looks like harbor freight will be my friend I have the usual power tools and a dremel. But im guessing I’ll add a disc sander and a rivet gun. In addition to the brushes/rollers/scrapers I’ll need when its paint time. Obviously the fiberglass, filler and gel coat
Stuff as well. Is there anything else I am
Missing or something you wish you had when doing a similar project?
I’m having a lot of fun so far, and am looking forward to the challenge. So glad there are so
many resources available to guide me along the way. Let me know if I’m missing anything major or if you have any advice I should be looking out
for. Any guidance is really appreciated, the pics only hit some of the damage I have to look forward to. Stay healthy.
 

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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Nice storage & work dolly, you'll eventually want to build a much smaller dolly for rolling the boat from your vehicle to the water's edge and vice versa... that smaller dolly will come in handy and allow you to launch from sites other than a crowded boat ramp or dock. If the tiller looks bad, with deep cracks & whatnot, just make another out of hardwood like ash or mahogany. I always liked the telescopic extensions, but that's just my preference. :rolleyes:

That damage and the poor repairs made earlier? Not a big deal, but you'll certainly want to sand down the trash, grind a little if necessary to expose bare solid glass beneath... fair out the glass around those areas so the new glass you lay down will have a good surface to bond to when the time comes. Build up those areas again with good glass, sand 'em to the original specs, and throw down some 2-part LP primer & paint... boat will look like new. :)

More on the glassing process later, it's not rocket science but prep work is important, as are the steps taken in sequence to rebuild the glass that's MIA. This is only mid-April, so you can easily get this boat repaired and have her looking like a million bucks before summer even begins. Maybe let your son choose a name and paint it on each side, since there isn't much room on the transom or stern end of the boat. :confused:

When I refurbished my Minifish and turned her into a Confederate Gunboat, the name "HEART OF DIXIE" was painted one each side, easily read from a distance when the boat was heeling slightly... got a lot of favorable comments upon that name, along with the sail which was altered into a Confederate Battle Flag (of sorts, LOL). No mistaking the 'Stars & Bars'---rig was filmed and photographed by a million tourists in Dago before I went with the Pirate Ship theme. :eek:

Those other problems seen in your photos are minor, folks here will probably direct you to the appropriate threads, as it has all been covered before. Once you're done refurbishing your boat, I'd suggest a quick refresher voyage before taking your son out, if only to pull a few maneuvers off the beach and get back in the nautical groove, so to speak. Once your son joins ya, keep marine safety your top priority... a vest-style PFD will be more comfortable for the kid. :D

OTHERWISE, NOT A BAD BOAT, JUST NEEDS A LITTLE WORK... SHOULD BE HEAPS OF FUN ONCE THE WORK IS DONE. CHEERS!!! :cool:

P.S. You can use filler on all those smaller cracks and whatnot prior to throwing down the LP primer, nobody will ever know they were there, LOL. ;)
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
I agree, and wouldn’t paint the deck. You’re right to do a leak test first. Signal Charlie has some great YouTube videos and lots of info on this site, as you’ve already discovered. Don’t overdo the air pressure.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Nice boat. Get a small putty knife and a random orbital sander (or heat gun) to remove those old polyester patches. Plan on the inspection ports you mentioned. Do an air leak test to see where you need to repair. I think your priority should be to get the ports in and get the boat drying out. Lots of folks here have great tips for fans, low heat, etc...we usually go full invasive and scoop out wet expanding foam, you don't need to do that. Check back in.

Details on inspection ports found in our Rudder Conversion blog

Watch our youtube air leak test videos, there's 4+ of them. Use the search function on our youtube page


Scroll through our blog on WAVE's repairs, starting last June there are a lot of similar things to what you'll be doing: Alcort Sunfish WAVE
 
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Whitecap

Active Member
Itsasav,
in my restoration, I describe and show the leak test process, fairly well. I hope it helps you out.
 

Itsasave

New Member
Thanks all for the advice. The inspection ports are done. Fan has been running 24/7. Slow drying as weather in MA has been chilly. I’ve moved onto the cosmetic repairs for now. Coaming is off-will need some gelcoat love. It was held on with screws and drywall anchors. Also, interestingly, seems like the starboard side of the coaming had a piece broken off from the base so it wasn’t fitting well with the deck. I’ve decided that since there’s so many spider cracks, on the deck id address them as well. Most of them show evidence where they are coming from (rub rails where there was clearly a collision, clam cleat, etc...) so I’m addressing then as well. Planning on taking the rub rails off next to take a look at the seams. Will get a riveter from HF for both the rub rails and the coaming. My neighbor has lent me his orbital sander/grinder and a finish sander so I’ve saved on a few purchases. I did do a leak test twice and couldn’t find the leaks! Will try again on the next hot day as I can’t stand to use the hose again and look in 40 degree weather. I’m sure the water is coming in from somewhere. My goal is to have all gelcoat and fiberglass prep work done in the next week or so, so once warm I can start building things back up.
 

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Charles Howard

Active Member
Only drill out the shaft of the rivet and not very deep. The rivet is only deep enough to be in the glass, it doesn't go through the trim on the other side.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Only drill out the shaft of the rivet and not very deep. The rivet is only deep enough to be in the glass, it doesn't go through the trim on the other side.
Good point. There may not be a shorter 1/8" diameter pop-rivet available than the one to fit the Sunfish rub-rail.

If the old rivet spins (and the drill bit isn't cutting), just tilt the drill a few degrees. Use aluminum, and not stainless steel.

The exact size of pop-rivet needed appears under my name, but I can't see it while I type. :confused:
 

Itsasave

New Member
Thanks all for your input and help. Very excited with my progress. Got a ton of work in yesterday. Removed the rail (thanks for the above advice Charles and L&VW), took off some of the hardware (cleat needs to be replaced). Quick question that I have, since there were so many spider cracks in the gelcoat, that could not be wet sanded out, I did my research and ground them out using a dremel. The areas that were just massive amounts of cracks I sanded down. I'll address the actual structural areas of the deck where there was clear contact. I suspect the areas of cracking around the tub are more likely due to stressors of flexing with use over the years, but who knows? But now that I am planning on painting the boat a new color, does it make sense to repair the gelcoat and then paint, or should I use a fairing compound instead of gelcoat in these repair areas? Will it be clearly noticeable in the patches where I am using fairing compound in lieu of the gelcoat? In terms of the hull, again, I think I will run into the same problem, though I think I will keep the hull white in terms of paint, since I will be using fairing (Potentially) on the deck, should I carry that into the hull? I know the paint wont be perfect anyway since I will be doing the roll and tip, but wanted to have this come out as nicely as possible.
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
If you're gonna paint anyway, I wouldn't waste time with gelcoat, just use filler or catalyzed resin to deal with the cracks. Sand everything before priming & painting... using primer will also help smoothen out any problem areas and fill any small cracks you missed. I'd recommend using 2-part LP or linear polyurethane paint, that's always a good choice for small hulls that flex and work in a seaway. Are you going with a light-colored deck to reduce glare? That's not a bad way to go. Remember this about painted hulls, including decks: as long as they're smooth, you're good to go, nobody is going to notice any tiny superficial blemishes or irregularities from a distance on the water. Not that you'll have any, I'm just sayin'... :rolleyes:

P.S. Picking the right day(s) to prime and paint is also important, weather-wise, ideally you have zero wind, low humidity & fairly warm temps to help cure each coat. If you're in an outdoor area, you can rig tarps as wind blocks to cut down on dust & bugs. Whenever I painted a hull or deck, I'd do the last-minute prep work and get started around 0800 or 0900, after early morning humidity dropped and before any wind picked up... that's not a bad program, but you may be working under different circumstances. If you're priming & painting inside a garage or other enclosed area, it's easier to control the climate. Good luck to ya, be sure to post pics of your boat once she's finished and she looks like a million bucks, aye? Cheers!!! :cool:
 
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