Alcort Sunfish CHIP

We picked up CHIP, a 1963 wooden Alcort Sunfish, in Marshville, NC in 2013. Here is a link to the road trip when we found picked him up.




We float tested CHIP and he leaked. I planned to remove the bottom for repairs and to take measurements, but got distracted by life and 20 other boats, so we put him in storage until we could get to him. Fast Forward to 2018.

01 May 18:

We moved boats around today, the Dabber is finished so there is space in the Carriage House for the SUper Sailfish ZSA ZSA and the wooden Sunfish CHIP. CHIP has been stored for 5 years, patiently watching other projects come and go and it is her turn now, we will be able be taking lines off of both boats and repairing the plywood bottoms, then fair, sand, prime and paint.

Skipper pulled the finishing dolly around to the Sunfish Shack so we could retrieve CHIP.



I was going to try and wedge CHIP out of the storage rack with the dolly set to the side, but Skipper suggested just putting the dolly under CHIP and removing the rack crossbars instead. Brilliant! CHIP gently lowered down onto the dolly, a little worried about the recip saw but that was used to cut away the crossbars.




So now we have the Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA and wooden Sunfish CHIP together again, ready for bottom work.


We also moved the Catfish SMEDLEY up front, so we can work on all 3, repairing the hulls, sanding and cleaning up gelcoat.


05 May 18:

Removed the bottom from CHIP, cut the outer edge loose with a reciprocating saw and then peeled the panels up with a crow bar.


The scarf joint was pretty interesting, kind of a lap joint.









06 May 18:

Started taking the lines off of the Sunfish, used Alcort Super Sailfish plans as a guide to figure out what measurements we need. Today we measured the length, deck width and found the Stations (frames) in inches. Most measurements are 1/16th, but there are a few 1/32.



Stations in inches, with Station 0 at the bow. The offsets will be in Feet-Inches-Eighths.


Also measured the width of the deck every 5 inches from the bow out to 20, then every 10 inches to develop Half Breadths. Gathered measurements on stringers, cleats and keel and deck beam (upper and lower longeron).



07 May 18:

Verified that there is a gap between the frame and the deck/hull.


Took measurements from the frames.




09 May 18:

CHIP will have a V shaped coaming, this one will be used as a pattern and we'll cut a new one from mahogany or cypress.


We also have a really nice rudder, it needs the shorter vertical plate because the wooden Sunfish have the short transom like the Sailfish.


10 May 18:

We have plans for the Alcort Super Sailfish and are using those as a guide to gather measurements from CHIP. To validate our measurements we will make patterns of the frames and other key components.

The frame measurements include width, outside height and inner height. There are also measurements for the longeron cutouts and lightening holes. We also took another measurement of spacing between the deck and keel longeron, to account for the keel bevel.


Cut not one, not two, but 3 frames to get one that fit for Frame 17 (17 inches aft of the bow). The problem was with my line drawing, not the measurements.


Checked the outer height then worked on the outer edge bevel. It is important to measure the frame to the widest face, which is the aft face on the forward frames. Then there is material left for a bevel.


Crosshchecked the measurements and transferred information to the pattern for frame 17.


We're happy with the pattern!





03 Jan 19:

Prepositioned the Alcort Super Sailfish ZSA ZSA out to the Sunfish Shack for Sea Trials, borrowed Sunfish PHOENIX's dolly. Skipper suggested rigging another hoist using Sunfish eyestraps, sheet, halyard block and halyard cleats. ZSA ZSA will find a permanent spot in the collection after Sea Trials.


1965 Alcort Sunfish CHIP moved from the temporary dolly onto the Finishing Dolly.



11 Jan 19:

Picked up 2 sheets of 1/4 inch marine grade plywood for CHIP's bottom. A/B Fir.


15 Jan 19:

We took measurements of the frames a while back, today we thought we'd try out making a tape pattern of one of the frames with blue tape.


Worked pretty good, now we can trace it onto some plywood for a restoration pattern. We'll use that top, center cleat notch to orient the pattern when we flip it to trace the mirror side. The plywood is not marine grade, the Skipper picked out some nice, pre-sanded 2x4 pieces at Lowes. We like the smooth feel of this type plywood for patterns, it cuts nice and the edges sand well.


Holler at us if Frame 2 on your wooden Sunfish needs to be replaced :)

17 Jan 19:

Traced the stem, keel longeron and planks.



19 Jan 19:

We received some free goodies from Jamestown Distributors to try out on CHIP. We will use the TotalBoat THIXO thickened epoxy to fasten the new plywood bottom, dispensed from a caulk gun to make the job go quick. JD also sent some of their new Elixir paint to try out, Fire Red for CHIP's hull, to be applied over the gray primer. I'm most excited about the soap and water cleanup for the paint! If the Elixir red is close to the brilliance that their WetEdge was, we have a winner. The cap and bag storage should help the leftover paint to last longer too. We also got some aluminum paint, in case we need to paint SCOUT again any time soon.


JD always adds free cups, stir sticks and latex gloves to the order, TotalBoat ships free in the US with a small surcharge sometimes for hazmat.

21 Jan 19:

Laid out the tape patterns on plywood, cross checked measurements and traced the edges.


The red X areas are where stringers and longerons are placed, those areas will be cut out.


Tried the pointy stick method next. It worked pretty good. Best method would be to use hot glue per Scott's suggestion, but I wanted to be able to reuse the sticks, 7 more frame patterns to go.


We took measurements a while back, and we are checking them against the patterns. For example, we measured the width of the frame in the boat as 3-5-6, decoded as 3 feet, 5 inches and 6 eighths. Then we checked the pattern to see if it was close. It was, so we proceeded. Where anything was off than more than a 16th of an inch we resolved the difference, sometimes the measurement was off, sometimes the pattern, sometimes both a little. The reality is that the frame does not have to be perfect, what is used to fair up the lines are the cleats that the sides, top and bottom are screwed to. Those can be moved in and out a bit, in fact we don't want the frames tight against the inside of the structure so that water doesn't get trapped in a compartment.


Nice sunset tonight.


22 Jan 19:

Our friend Chris had a great tip about using business cards to take the edges for patterns. We tried it out and it worked great. Worked on the transom and the frame just ahed of it.





About half the frame patterns are done.






01 Mar 19:

Finished the frame patterns, back to work on our 1963 wooden Alcort Sunfish CHIP. We picked this chippy boat up at OLDE TYME MARKETPLACE in Marshville, NC in 2013, CHIP is finally getting some attention!

Alcort INC, makers of Sailfish and Sunfish. It took me years to notice that the logo had both boat's logos on it. Serial number 11501 makes CHIP a 1963.


For measurements we wanted CHIP to be deck up, a nice flat surface for the tape measure and straight edges.


This horizontal hinge plate is the wrong part, the proper part for a wooden boat would have little ears on either side for screws back by the transom. The old screw holes are visible. We have the proper part! And check out the lonely keeper chain for the hinge pin, another pin lost on the shoulder of the road somewhere.


Popped out the wood plugs and removed the screws for the mast collar. We need a flat deck to measure the boat and we also need to reseal the mast step.


Interesting stripes underneath.


The official term for the bow is "chowdered up." But we can see where the starboard side plank overlaps the port side plank. Just behind the planks are the inner stem, the point of the stem is Station 0 for measurements, because the frames have to be put in place and stem, transom and deck/keel beams attached before the planks.


Taking a line from the aft face of the frame from the bottom up to the deck. This frame is one of the 3/4 inch frames on the cockpit bulkheads, the others are 1/4 inch thick. Because of how the side curve and how the frames are beveled, we took lines to the aft face of the frames for those frames that are forward of the widest beam. Aft of the widest beam the lines are taken to the forward face of the frames.


For our lines we are using the Feet-Inches-Eighths (+/-) format. As an example this measurement is 4 feet, 3 and 1/8 inches or 4-3-1. If it is a little over or under then the (+) or (-) is added.


Going to need some coffee for this! First Station, 1-5-2, aka Station 17.


We brought the frame face line up to the deck on both sides, ran a straight edge across, then measured inches aft from the stem, deck width and side height. Where we didn't have a frame, we lined up the square as a reference for the tape.


Stations, Breadths and Heights.


Position of daggerboard trunk.


Position of mast step.


Hiding under the deck panel is the point of the stem. The planks, deck beam, deck panel, keel beam and bottom panels attach to the stem. The frames attach to the deck and keel beams, so we use the point of the stem as the zero inch point of reference to measure where to place the frames.


03 Mar 19:

Metal De Persia bailer screw cap. They seize up enough on their own, without help from a coat of paint. First Gen Sunfish did not have a bailer, that might have been the best tack.


Cross section of a DePersia bailer, bow od boat to right. The knurled cap is supposed to be unscrewed while the boat is underway and let water be pulled out of the cockpit by venturi.


Old hull panels used as patterns. There was extensive checking (flaking) in the plywood. These are the aft sections.


Lined up 2 layers of 1/4 inch marine grade Douglas Fir plywood and used hull panels as a pattern. These are the forward panels.


Cut the ply with a DeWalt jigsaw. Stayed just about 1/8th inch outside the line on the outside edge and we'll plane that down once the panels are fit on the boat. The inner edge we cut to the line.


We beat the rain! For our Northern friends, that green stuff is called grass. 74F today.


Keel strip is rabbeted to cover and protect the edge of the hull panels. We'll make a new one.


The Supervisor flew by to check on things.



2 pieces of 4x8 plywood required to make the 4 bottom panels. Next we need to cut the scarfs to join the panels together. They will be attached with thickened epoxy and silicone bronze ring shank nails.


Put a barrier coat of TotalBoat WetEdge on the interior of the Douglas Fir plywood. That interior face is where any wayward moisture would end up and the open grain needed to be finished to protect against moisture. Used a Mighty Mini roller kit and Redtree Fooler double chip brush to carefully smear the paint around, a flood coat. All supplies available from Jamestown Distributors.


1963 wooden Sunfish had a V shaped coaming, aka the Mustache, cut from mahogany. Attached through the deck with screws at the end. Held together in the middle by a cool bronze bracket made by Wilcox and Crittenden Co, Inc.


1963 wooden Sunfish had a V shaped coaming, aka the Mustache, cut from mahogany. Attached through the deck with screws at the end. Held together in the middle by a cool bronze bracket made by Wilcox and Crittenden Co, Inc.


to be continued...

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