Wooden Sunfish Restoration
Where we found it
We were driving around looking for a good place to fly our camera kite when we saw this boat on a trailer on
the side of the road with a FREE sign on it.  We stopped to check it out and were surprised to find it looked just
like the Fiberglas Sunfish we sailed years before, this was a wooden Sunfish.   The paint was in poor shape, a
section of the gunwale was so rotten it broke away easily and the tires on the trailer were flat.  However all the
parts were there and the sail was in great condition.  Being unable to turn down such a project we knocked on
the door and asked the owners to hold the old Sunfish until we could return the next day to tow it away.  The
fellow at the house said it was Sunfish kit, they were popular in the late 60's and early 70's.  He said he bought
the boat from the man who made the boat in 1974.  
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
You can see from the photos of the bronze in
the pictures at the top of the page the bronze
was all very tarnished.  The surface of the cast
bronze parts is not smooth enough to give a
nice shine, but they certainly could look better.  I
tried hand polishing and decided there had to
be a better way.  I ended up making a
homemade polishing machine using an old
treadmill and a large plastic pretzel jar with
crushed limestone as the media.  I let the parts
tumble every night while I was working on the
boat.  The tumbling did 95% of the polishing,
that saved me a lot of work.  I didn't tumble the
treaded parts figuring the threads would be
damaged.  I put duct tape around the thread,
chucked them in my drill and polished the face.  
Dagger board and Rudder
The dagger board and rudder were simply
sanded and refinished with polyurethane.  They
came out real nice.
Resurfacing and painting
The boat was sanded until it was 95%
paint-free with a buzz sander.  The top
surface of the boat had very tiny splits in the
surface that looked to be caused by exposure
to the elements.  All the tiny cracks were filled
along with dings from years of sailing.  The
boat was sanded flat and painted.  

Funny color!  I wanted to paint the boat white
on the bottom and hunter green on the top to
look like I think the boat looked when it was
fabricated.  Since the boat will removed from
the water after each use and not be moored, I
decided exterior paint would fit the bill. I
bought a gallon of white exterior paint and
finished painting the bottom.  I carefully
measured out one quart and put it back in the
original paint can, keeping the rest in another
container.  I returned to see my friend at the
paint counter, I explained that I wanted the
green added to make the hunter green with
the remainder of the paint.  He mixed in the
other colors and he could not get the hunter
green color to come out right.  He added
more and more of the components, but the
color didn't come out right.  Then he realized
the problem, when you buy a quart of paint to
mix with other colors you don't get a quart of
white.  The can would be partially filled,
leaving room for the other colors.  Since I
careful measured out exactly one quart of
white the recipe was off.  I chose to paint the
boat the color we had concocted, while it is
not my favorite color it will be OK.  I can
always buy another quart of Hunter paint and
go over the paint I have.
This boat was finished, but trailer lights
were not completed in time to sail this
season.  . I'm thrilled to have a
treasure like this wooden sailboat. I'm
looking forward to the first voyage.  I
hope it floats
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