Posts Tagged 'sunfish repairs'

a DIY Sunfish rudder build [video]

saw this video posted on the Sunfish Forum.

thoughts? it certainly is pretty creative.  also quite simple and fairly low cost.

I didn’t realize you could flatten PVC like that – but I’d worry about it’s long term strength. pine and plywood also don’t strike me as the best suited for exposure to water, or having very much structural strength and stiffness.

it seems like old rudders are pretty readily available if you look around, so I’m not sure I’d try to recreate something that works if I can find an old one nearby to buy and maybe refinish if need be.  plus, I sail enough on the Great Lakes that I don’t think I’d trust sailing in heavy wind and waves with a home-made creation that might not hold up under the heavier loading from heavy sailing.

Sunfish hull repair method

here is an excellent video created by Shoreline Sailboats on Sunfish hull repair.  Shoreline Sailboats is an authorized Laser Performance dealer in western New York.

as an aside… it is nice to see Shoreline using the Total Boat product line from Jamestown Distributors.  I’ve purchased some of the Total Boat Thixo, but have not used it yet.  the Total Boat product line seems like a good alternative to West System products that is perhaps a little easier on the wallet!

pimp my boat: 1970 Sunfish restoration

the following is is from a contest put on by Jamestown Distributors (JD).  the contest was called “pimp my boat” and the contestants would post before and after pictures of boat repair/restoration projects that they had completed (presumably using some supplies from JD).  this particular contestant was repairing a 1970 Sunfish sailboat.

his “before” picture is downright frightening! but I guess it was only $50.

pmb_As-it-arrived

but after I’m sure quite a bit of work, the final result is mighty impressive!

pmb_IMG_1514

stop by the website for his project to see more pictures of the process and final results.  maybe it will give you an inspiration for a repair project this winter.

do you have any projects planned for your Sunfish during the winter months ahead?

the solar fish (a frankenboat)

fellow blogger Earwigoagin posted this gem on his blog a few days ago.  he was attending the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival and stumbled upon a modified Sunfish sailboat (or maybe a Sunfish clone? – it’s hard to tell).

the boat has had major modifications: the normal lateen sail on a Sunfish with the upper and lower boom and a triangular sail has been replaced by a single furling sail.  the cockpit has been chopped up and totally rebuilt – I’m pretty sure the daggerboard slot has to have been removed, and the cockpit enlarged, so that the driver can sit down inside the new larger cockpit more comfortably.  as Earwigoagin mentioned, this appears to be “a sit-in, non-hiking day sailor with a small cabin.”  there is also, a little solar panel up on top, which powers a small trolling motor.

overall, a pretty neat little bit of creative work to make a unique little boat for messing about on the water.  I’m not sure that a Sunfish would have been my 1st choice to start with for a project like this, but he seems to have done a great job and I’m sure has a lot of fun with it.

be sure to check out Earwigoagin‘s blog for more small boat & dinghy sailing topics.

sunfish inspection port & hull drying fan

this weekend, I decided to put an inspection port into my new(er) Sunfish. I’ve done this before – cutting holes in my older Sunfish.  this time, I wanted to avoid adding a port on the deck, so instead opted to put the inspection port in the wall of the cockpit.  this would also give me access to the back of the hiking strap attachment, so I could change that out as the current one in the boat was a bit worn out and nasty looking.

I first roughly traced the port onto the wall – this was more difficult than I had imagined because it was tough to get a Sharpie marker behind the lip of the inspection port at the right angle.  I ended up just tracing the inside of the port, and then roughly drawing an outer ring by hand.

some people use a jig-saw to cut in their inspection ports, but I feel that the jig-saw is just about the most worthless power tool known to man, and prefer to use my Roto-Zip, a rotary cutting tool.  I probably should have bought a better cutting bit, but I was able to cut it out no problem.

before I installed the port, I unscrewed the forward attachment for the hiking strap.  I didn’t want the backing nut or whatever the attachment could be to drop off into the hull and be lost.  in my case, though, the backing plate must have been threaded, because I couldn’t find any loose attachment, and it was a machine screw – so I probably could have probably changed it out without the port. oh well.

I installed a new hiking strap from Intensity Sails – at only $13 it is a great deal, and I’ve been very happy with it on my older Sunfish. (and if you look at the link above – the picture on their website is my older boat! – you would think I could get them for free!)  here’s the hiking strap installed in my newer Sunfish:

after that, I installed the inspection port.  you can buy various sizes of ports or deck plates at just about any sailing or boating website – I usually use the 5″ ports.  for installation, I usually run a small bead of 3M 4200 sealant behind the lip of the inspection port.  for fasteners, I used stainless steel oval head #8 x 3/4″ long screws with a nylon locking nut inside.

my newest creation is a drying fan that can be used to help dry out an older Sunfish that might have minor leaks and you come home from sailing with a little bit of water in the hull. for parts, you’ll need a small fan – you can usually find a decent one in an old computer tower, a power converter to get electricity to the fan (you might be able to use batteries, but I’m pretty sure the constant fan running would drain them way too fast), a small piece of screen, and an extra inspection port cover.

first, I cut out a hole in the extra inspection port cover for the fan.  the dimples in the cover for the handle are kind of in the way, so the cut-out isn’t exactly matched to the fan diameter, but it’s not a bad 1st attempt for a home-made job.  a co-worker gave me an old computer fan to use, and we also found an old cell phone charger converter that was close enough in voltage and amperage to the fan.  I mounted the fan to the port cover, and then used Super-Glue to fasten a small piece of window screen to the back of the cover to keep bugs and critters from getting through the opening.

if you’re not able to find an old computer fan and power converter, you can buy the fans pre-wired for a normal plug for about $15 to $20.  you can also buy one of these hull drying fans pre-made from Intensity Sails, but it’s pretty pricey at $80.

sunfish rudder and daggerboard repair – progress

a long while back I posted about refinishing my Sunfish and Super Porpoise rudders and daggerboards.  I proceeded to sand down a bit of the finish on the Super Porpoise parts, but sailing seasons got in the way, along with various other winter woodworking projects, and I never got back to finishing them, or even starting on the Sunfish wood parts.

so this winter, I bit the bullet and plunged full bore into refinishing the wood parts from all (3) of my boats – (2) Sunfish and (1) Super Porpoise.  here is a look at the (2) Sunfish rudders.

the lower rudder is from my new(er) 2000 Sunfish, the upper rudder is from my 1960’s Sunfish.  strangely the older rudder seems to be in quite a bit better shape, and the newer rudder appears to have some type of finish glooped onto it, some sloppily gumming up the rudder spring as well.

step 1 was removing the hardware and inspecting the condition of each piece.  the older rudder has a couple cracks up near the head, and the drilled holes for the rudder pins are all misshapen from years of use.

the newer rudder is in similar condition at the rudder pin holes, with no noticeable cracks.  but the finish that was used is all gummed up and just looks horrible.  pretty severe were is noticeable at the one rudder pin hole.

the daggerboard from the newer Sunfish was coated with the same finish, and was likewise a sloppy mess.  step 2 would be to strip the finish from the wooden parts.  since I would be working in my make-shift woodshop in my basement, I opted for the Citristrip (“safer”) Paint & Varnish Gel.  after brushing the orange stripping agent on and letting it sit for a while, I then used various scrapers to remove the finish.

the Citristrip gel worked pretty well for the older wooden parts, but the (2) newer pieces with the strange finish were hardly phased by it.  I hit them with a 2nd coat, and let is sit and soak longer, but it didn’t work much better the 2nd time around.  after consulting with some a Sunfish expert (thanks Alan!), I think we determined that the sloppy finish was some type of epoxy, which made it that much more difficult to remove.

step 3 was thus my process to get each board to a stripped and ready-to-finish condition.  I used my random orbit sander, and worked my way through several grits, carefully starting with 40 grit.  normally, I wouldn’t use 40 grit, as it is quite rough, and even then I only used it for the flat portions, but extreme measures were required to get through that sloppy epoxy. 

I then would work my way up to 60, 80, 100, and 120 grit papers, and by then the boards felt pretty smooth.  I used a bit of 60 grit paper by hand on the edges, and then jumped right up to 150 grit to finish out smoothing the edges.  during the power-sanding, I wore a sanding mask, and had my large shop dust collector running right near the workpiece, as well as my air cleaner that is hanging from the floor joists to help keep dust down as much as possible.  every once in a while, I would empty the small bag that collects sanding sawdust on the random orbit sandpaper into a plastic jug – as I will be re-using some of the sawdust later for repairs.

I didn’t try to sand out some of the deep gouges, as you can see above, but will use a filler later on those areas.  some of the leading and trailing edges of the boards had some dry rot that I removed as best I could.  I used a block plane to slightly re-shape the daggerboard edges by hand.

step 4 is various repairs.  the upper ends of the daggerboard have holes of various shapes and sizes from the hardware that had kept the handle in place.  some were just stripped nail holes, some were bolt holes that had pulled right out of the board end grain.

I used some blue painter’s tape to dam off the end, as well as to close of the bottom of the board.  I then mixed up a batch of West System epoxy (I buy mine at Jamestown Distributors or US Composites).  I have the 105 resin and 206 slow hardener as shown above.  to this I mixed in some of the 404 high-density adhesive filler (white in color), and I added in some of the saved sawdust (in the plastic container on the left in the picture above) to get the epoxy mixture colored similar to the wood.

this picture is the end result – from the side the blue tape was on.  the other side needs to be sanded and smoothed down some as I didn’t apply the epoxy perfectly level.  but I was impressed at how well the simple blue painter’s tape worked on the bottom and end grain areas.  I will probably use this same mixture to fill in the out of round holes in the rudder heads, and just re-drill new holes after the epoxy has hardened.

for the cracked sections, I am going to try to reinforce the cracked area by drilling a hole and inserting a dowel, set in place with some epoxy.  I cut a small notch in my Super Porpoise rudder to create a flat area to start drilling.  I’m sure it would help immensely to have a drill press, or create some sort of jig – but I don’t have either, so I just free-hand drilled the 1/4″ diameter hole.  I had bought an 18″ long drill bit at the hardware store that worked well. for the dowel – I am using a stainless steel piece of 1/4″ diameter threaded rod, cut to length after I’ve drilled the hole.  it is shown below, only partially inserted into the drilled hole.  it won’t be visible after I’ve filled the hole with epoxy.

again, I just mixed up some of the West System epoxy (which with the metered pumps is a breeze to get the ratios correct).  this time I didn’t add any filler (although I probably could have used the 404 for added strength), and used the dowel to insert as much as I could down into the drilled hole before placing the threaded rod in there for good.  I will use this same repair on the cracked Sunfish rudder head.

with the remainder of the epoxy I had mixed up, I added some 407 low-density fairing filler (the 404 sets up really hard and is difficult to sand, the 407 is softer and easier to sand into a nice finish).  the 407 filler is already a brown color, but I think I added some sawdust anyway.  I then just applied this to various small gouges and nicks on the various rudders and daggerboards to fill any spots as required.

after this has dried and hardened, I will sand the patched areas smooth, and do a final check on each board before the finishing process can begin.

I still have some work to do (dowels in the Sunfish rudder head, epoxy the Sunfish rudder pin holes to then re-drill, etc), but progress has been made.  now the weather has been crazy warm in Michigan this late winter(?) and early spring, so I’ve got to get in high gear to make sure the parts are ready for sailing as soon as possible.


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