Wooden Sunfish restoration questions

Thread starter #1
I'm just starting the process of restoring a 1963 wooden sunfish that I purchased this past August (SN 12328). I've removed all the hardware and side trim and have just finished taking measurements of the deck dimensions (I will post them later along with other measurements as I disassemble my sunfish). The deck is in bad shape with several small holes and I plan on replacing it. What is the best way to go about this? Also, what should I use to fill in the nail holes in the mahogany sides that were left when I removed the plastic side trim? My wooden sunfish did not come with the floor boards, does anyone have dimensions for them? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Jim
 
#2
Kent Lewis (aka Signal Charlie) is the current reigning wood Sunfish guru. Hopefully he will see this post and weigh in.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 
#3
I'm just starting the process of restoring a 1963 wooden sunfish that I purchased this past August (SN 12328). I've removed all the hardware and side trim and have just finished taking measurements of the deck dimensions (I will post them later along with other measurements as I disassemble my sunfish). The deck is in bad shape with several small holes and I plan on replacing it. What is the best way to go about this? Also, what should I use to fill in the nail holes in the mahogany sides that were left when I removed the plastic side trim? My wooden sunfish did not come with the floor boards, does anyone have dimensions for them? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Jim
Hi Jim,
I also have '63 wooden Sunfish. Mine didn't need any restoration, but I agree... Signal Charlie can probably be the most help on restoration. If no one else has the dimensions of the floor boards handy, I'll be glad to measure mine for you. Also, if any pictures would be helpful just let me know...
Andy
 
Thread starter #4
Hi Jim,
I also have '63 wooden Sunfish. Mine didn't need any restoration, but I agree... Signal Charlie can probably be the most help on restoration. If no one else has the dimensions of the floor boards handy, I'll be glad to measure mine for you. Also, if any pictures would be helpful just let me know...
Andy
Hi Andy,
Thanks for the feedback. Your wooden sunfish looks great! Jim
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#5
I'm just starting the process of restoring a 1963 wooden sunfish that I purchased this past August (SN 12328). I've removed all the hardware and side trim and have just finished taking measurements of the deck dimensions (I will post them later along with other measurements as I disassemble my sunfish). The deck is in bad shape with several small holes and I plan on replacing it. What is the best way to go about this? Also, what should I use to fill in the nail holes in the mahogany sides that were left when I removed the plastic side trim? My wooden sunfish did not come with the floor boards, does anyone have dimensions for them? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Jim
Hi Jim
Congrats on the Sunfish. Check out our thread on Zip: http://sailingforums.com/threads/wooden-sunfish-pickin-grand-island-ny.28771/#post-133965

To replace a deck you'd have to put on new pieces of 1/4 inch marine ply (6mm). You'll have to scarf it together to get the length or buy it from a vendor who might do it for you. What part of the planet are you on, I have a few plywood sources.

The repair depends on the finish you want. If you want the coffee table look, you'll have to replace the deck. One benefit of that is you could seal the interior of the hull while inside with epoxy, and make sure there are limber holes. If you plan to paint, you could scarf in sections, seal it up, fair, prime then paint. Same for the nail holes on the side, thickened epoxy will do the trick for most of those, I like West System. If you finish sections bright, I like West System 105 Resin and the 207 Special Clear Hardener. I wouldn't worry about a few nicks here and there, that just shows the history and character of the boat, aka "patina" :)

The floorboards fit in the bottom of each 1/2 cockpit, 1/4 inch plywood. You might see where there is a lip around 3 edges, for and aft bulkhead and along the keel. That gives you 3 dimensions. And the floorboards are no wider than the edge of the cockpit lip, so that is how wide they will be. On the bottom of each floorboard, outer edge, is a block about 4 inches long that supports the outer edges of the floorboard. All that said, I can take measurements in a few days.

Let's see some pictures!

Kent
 
Thread starter #6
Hi Jim
Congrats on the Sunfish. Check out our thread on Zip: http://sailingforums.com/threads/wooden-sunfish-pickin-grand-island-ny.28771/#post-133965

To replace a deck you'd have to put on new pieces of 1/4 inch marine ply (6mm). You'll have to scarf it together to get the length or buy it from a vendor who might do it for you. What part of the planet are you on, I have a few plywood sources.

The repair depends on the finish you want. If you want the coffee table look, you'll have to replace the deck. One benefit of that is you could seal the interior of the hull while inside with epoxy, and make sure there are limber holes. If you plan to paint, you could scarf in sections, seal it up, fair, prime then paint. Same for the nail holes on the side, thickened epoxy will do the trick for most of those, I like West System. If you finish sections bright, I like West System 105 Resin and the 207 Special Clear Hardener. I wouldn't worry about a few nicks here and there, that just shows the history and character of the boat, aka "patina" :)

The floorboards fit in the bottom of each 1/2 cockpit, 1/4 inch plywood. You might see where there is a lip around 3 edges, for and aft bulkhead and along the keel. That gives you 3 dimensions. And the floorboards are no wider than the edge of the cockpit lip, so that is how wide they will be. On the bottom of each floorboard, outer edge, is a block about 4 inches long that supports the outer edges of the floorboard. All that said, I can take measurements in a few days.

Let's see some pictures!

Kent
Hi Kent,
Thanks for your reply and the info on epoxy for the nail holes, etc., and the thread link you sent, your work looks great. I plan on replacing the deck, still undecided on the bottom. I also plan on the coffee table look rather then paint. My Dad built a sailfish kit, it had a natural finish and was outstanding looking. He added oak trim strips to cover the edge of the deck and bottom plywood which gave the natural finish a nice contrast. I also plan on adding two inspection ports in the cockpit one to the front and one to the rear. Dimensions for the floorboards would be much appreciated as I'd like to make some simple mockups before I remove the bottom (if I have to). My '63 sunfish did not come with a rudder or daggerboard, so I've been watching ebay and craigslist looking for a deal. Is it possible to adapt the new style rudder to the wood sunfish? The transom sizes I belive are different. I'll get some pictures posted soon, I'm on a trip right now and away from my main computer. Cheers!
Jim
 
#7
Hey Jim,
Just fyi, on my boat there are three inspection ports in the cockpit.. Two fore, and one aft. I'm not certain, but I always assumed this was for safety. I'm pretty sure the whole area behind the cockpit, and the area in front of the cockpit which is divided into two sections side to side, are totally separate. Since the boat has no foam for flotation, I'm speculating that this is so if one of the compartments is breached, the boat would stay afloat.
Andy
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#8
Hi Kent,
Thanks for your reply and the info on epoxy for the nail holes, etc., and the thread link you sent, your work looks great. I plan on replacing the deck, still undecided on the bottom. I also plan on the coffee table look rather then paint. My Dad built a sailfish kit, it had a natural finish and was outstanding looking. He added oak trim strips to cover the edge of the deck and bottom plywood which gave the natural finish a nice contrast. I also plan on adding two inspection ports in the cockpit one to the front and one to the rear. Dimensions for the floorboards would be much appreciated as I'd like to make some simple mockups before I remove the bottom (if I have to). My '63 sunfish did not come with a rudder or daggerboard, so I've been watching ebay and craigslist looking for a deal. Is it possible to adapt the new style rudder to the wood sunfish? The transom sizes I belive are different. I'll get some pictures posted soon, I'm on a trip right now and away from my main computer. Cheers!
Jim
Hi Jim

Our 1953 has 3/4 inch oak strips, about 1/4 inch thick, covering the deck to chine seam. The original boat was painted red with natural oak deck edge and mahogany coaming. We reversed part of that, painting the deck trim and coaming attachment strip Fire Red.

Our 1953 Sunfish has open holes into the fore and aft cockpit frames, not a good 1.0 design in my opinion, but maybe that let it dry out and it is still here 60 years later. Definitely not optimum if capsized. Our 1963 hull cockpit frames are sealed up, and there are drain plugs on the deck, fore and aft of the cockpit frames. I like your plan.

Floorboard dimensions, made from 1/4 inch marine plywood:
24 1/2 inches long, forward edge is slightly narrower than aft edge.
Forward edge 10 7/8"
Aft edge 11 1/2"
All edges are slightly radiused.

There is a bottom cleat that is used to help hold the floorboard in place inside the support framing. It is 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch, 6 inches long. It is placed 9 inches back from the forward edge, just inside the outer support frame.

Just inside of the cleat are two finger size holes, used to remove the board.

As for the rudder, you want the 2nd generation blade, not the elephant ear. The vertical plate on the wooden Sunfish rudder hardware is 4 inches vs 7+ on the fiberglass boats. You might be able to find the older hardware, the wooden Sunfish used the same hardware as the older Super Sailfish. For the daggerboard you want an oval tip or Barrington board, as your wooden boat does not have much keel. And you might be able to use the new gudgeon, but it will be taller than the transom. I have seen it done on a Moonfish where the builder added a wooden shim/plate on both the deck and hull.

Cheers
Kent
 

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Thread starter #9
Hi Jim

Our 1953 has 3/4 inch oak strips, about 1/4 inch thick, covering the deck to chine seam. The original boat was painted red with natural oak deck edge and mahogany coaming. We reversed part of that, painting the deck trim and coaming attachment strip Fire Red.

Our 1953 Sunfish has open holes into the fore and aft cockpit frames, not a good 1.0 design in my opinion, but maybe that let it dry out and it is still here 60 years later. Definitely not optimum if capsized. Our 1963 hull cockpit frames are sealed up, and there are drain plugs on the deck, fore and aft of the cockpit frames. I like your plan.

Floorboard dimensions, made from 1/4 inch marine plywood:
24 1/2 inches long, forward edge is slightly narrower than aft edge.
Forward edge 10 7/8"
Aft edge 11 1/2"
All edges are slightly radiused.

There is a bottom cleat that is used to help hold the floorboard in place inside the support framing. It is 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch, 6 inches long. It is placed 9 inches back from the forward edge, just inside the outer support frame.

Just inside of the cleat are two finger size holes, used to remove the board.

As for the rudder, you want the 2nd generation blade, not the elephant ear. The vertical plate on the wooden Sunfish rudder hardware is 4 inches vs 7+ on the fiberglass boats. You might be able to find the older hardware, the wooden Sunfish used the same hardware as the older Super Sailfish. For the daggerboard you want an oval tip or Barrington board, as your wooden boat does not have much keel. And you might be able to use the new gudgeon, but it will be taller than the transom. I have seen it done on a Moonfish where the builder added a wooden shim/plate on both the deck and hull.

Cheers
Kent
Kent,
Thanks for the feedback on floorboard and rudder hardware size. Attached are some photos of my progress (or lack of). Once I double check my deck measurements, my next step will be to remove the deck and inspect the interior for signs of rot. I'll post more photos showing the interior.
Jim
 

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Thread starter #11
All,

I finished removing the deck this weekend from my wooden sunfish. It took about three weekends. I still have to sand/plane off the plywood remnants from where the deck was glued on. Most of the nails came out with no problems, but the screws were troublesome. About 90% of the screwheads snapped off. I still have a small number of screws to extract. After taking the deck off I discovered that the sunfish had been punctured several times as there were three nickle to quarter size holes in the deck that had been repaired with wood filler and one dime size hole on the starboard side near the deck interface that had also been repaired with wood filler. Once I remove the plywood remnants from the top I will be recording the location and dimensions of all the frames. Then I'll flip it over and start on the bottom. Attached are some photos.

Jim
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#12
Hi Jim

Good work and thanks for sharing the pictures. Where did you get your boat?

If you decide to flip it and remove the hull, you'll need strongback to help maintain square. There are some pictures in the kit building guide. Otherwise a 16foot long 1x10 over some 1x6 or 2x4 would work

It looks like some of the frame tops do not come all the way up to the edge of the oak chine, is that the case? Alcort sealed up the cockpit frames with your model boat and added deck drains, one forward of the cockpit and one aft, to drain those compartments. Are there limber holes along the top and bottom of the frames fore and aft of the cockpit, or is there a gap there to let water through?

Now is the time to take a good look at the mast step and daggerboard trunk. For our 1963 I plan on sealing it up with a couple of coats of West System 105 resin and 207 Special Clear hardener. For that matter I'll do the entire interior that way or epoxy paint it.

Were the screws you mentioned in the stringer, or did you find them somewhere else? And luckily your stem and deck support are in great shape, our Super Sailfish project's stem is toast and the deck support is split.

Cheers
Kent
 
Thread starter #14
Hi Jim

Good work and thanks for sharing the pictures. Where did you get your boat?

If you decide to flip it and remove the hull, you'll need strongback to help maintain square. There are some pictures in the kit building guide. Otherwise a 16foot long 1x10 over some 1x6 or 2x4 would work

It looks like some of the frame tops do not come all the way up to the edge of the oak chine, is that the case? Alcort sealed up the cockpit frames with your model boat and added deck drains, one forward of the cockpit and one aft, to drain those compartments. Are there limber holes along the top and bottom of the frames fore and aft of the cockpit, or is there a gap there to let water through?

Now is the time to take a good look at the mast step and daggerboard trunk. For our 1963 I plan on sealing it up with a couple of coats of West System 105 resin and 207 Special Clear hardener. For that matter I'll do the entire interior that way or epoxy paint it.

Were the screws you mentioned in the stringer, or did you find them somewhere else? And luckily your stem and deck support are in great shape, our Super Sailfish project's stem is toast and the deck support is split.

Cheers
Kent
Kent,

Thanks for confirming the need for a strongback, I was wondering about that. Regarding the frames, there is about a 1/8 to 1/4 inch gap between each frame and the bottom for water to drain through. The deck drains were located just where you stated. The screws that I still have to extract are in the stringers and also the screws that hold the hooks for mounting the traveler. I live in Maryland, but found the boat on the Boston area Craigslist.

Cheers,
Jim
 
#16
Hi, I was pointed here by user "kentblair" at the sunfish yahoo group in reply to my question about reverse-engineering sunfish bulkhead and deck dimensions to use with the assembly instructions posted on that site. I'm really excited you are undertaking this and will closely follow this post, so please DO post measurements when you get them! I'm not sure, but I hope you are intending to post enough so that someone else can replicate the boat, (i.e. dimensions of each bulkhead). Wish I had something more to contribute than that, but anyway good luck.
 
#18
Restoration
The first order of business was to
smooth the surfaces of the boat and
repair the damaged gunwale. The
missing section of the gunwale was
sectioned out at an angle to allow the
replacement section to apply a load
against the remaining good section.
The replacement section was cut to
length, but the shaping was left until
installation was completed.

The replacement section was Gorilla
Glued and screwed into place. The
replacement section was then shaped
with a straight blade hand plane. The
gaps were filled and the screw heads
filled. You can tell the section was
replace if you get the light in the right
spot, but you can lift the boat from the
replacement section, so it is plenty
strong.
 
Thread starter #19
Hi Everyone. Here is an update on my wooden sunfish project. My last post was in November. With winter over, I finally got some preliminary work done. I've made a set of 2 feet high saw horses as recommended in the Sunfish kit instruction booklet. The lower height will make work alot easier. I also made a slide-on cradle for each sawhorse to hold the sunfish hull securely. The cradles are for hull station 52 with a 12 degree angle and hull station 120 with a 14 degree angle. I used a swimming pool noodle cut into eighths for padding. Attached are some photos. I plan to start sanding off the deck remnants and glue this weekend. Once that is done I will sand down the sides and finally (after building a strongback) flip the hull over to remove the bottom. I have a couple of questions... Should I fill in all the nail and screw holes with wood filler? or leave them be? If I fill them with wood filler, what is the best kind/brand to use? Thanks.
Jim
 

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