AMF Alcort Division Sunfish VIPER and SUGAR

08 Apr 2015:
We rounded up 2 Sunfish built by AMF's Alcort Division. VIPER is a 1980 boat that had been holding down a piece of plywood at Coastal Marine Works (formerly Breezy Boat City) in Gulf Breeze Florida. A young man needing some cash had brought in the damaged hull to our friend Jan and he helped him out. The hull had most of the parts stripped, a damaged seam and unsightly fiberglass patches, so it took up residence on a piece of plywood behind the office. Jan sold the business to our friend Allen Pinkston aka "Viper" and we discussed the destiny of the hull several times. The good news was that with all of the holes in it, no water had stayed inside and saturated the foam blocks. VIPER will get a Naval Aviation tribute paint scheme using VF-84's Jolly Rogers colors as inspiration.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

"Sugar 2" is a 1983 boat that was doing an admirable job of leaning against a wall at ICC Marine in Gulf Shores, Alabama. She had most of her parts stripped as well and has a big hole in the bow. We bought her as part of a 2 1/2 boat deal from Jim and our friend Loxley brought her over when he came to pick up "Boo." The hull is actually in decent shape, just need a bath and small repair....and a lot of parts. "Sugar 2" will get a VT-27 Boomers tribute paint scheme using TS-2A Tracker paint as a guide. Capn Jack worked on a few Trackers in the late 50s and Clark flew as an Instructor Pilot for the Boomers in the T-34C, so we both are partial to safety orange.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

Date Unknown:

Split the seam on Viper so we can access the inside for fiberglass repair. Added an inspection port hole forward of daggerboard trunk.

25 Jul 17:

Restoration resumes on Viper. Lots of old fiberglass patches to remove, used a heat gun to soften the polyester resin and then sanded smooth with 60 grit on a random orbital sander. Removed the cockpit trim by drilling out the rivets with a 1/8 inch bit. Removed old paint from the deck with 60 grit on a random orbital sander.

Viper needs a new backer block for the bow handle...and all of the other deck hardware as well.

The little loop is where the factory hooked up a strap to pull the hull out of the mold.

26 Jul 17:

Well it took a heat gun running 1150 degrees F AND an oscillating multi tool to burn and chisel off the blob.

Surprise, there was a hole in the boat, with rotting pieces of wood inside...and a small fire, not to worry...

Removed excess two part expanding foam, it had oozed under the storage cubby. It us used to hold the white flotation foam in place, but you only need a little.

You are looking at the bottom side of the storage cubby. At the top of the photo is the white flotation foam that runs along the keel and under the tail end of the cubby, that will stay. The edges of the hull have been faired back in prep for fiberglass repair, all crushed, loose fiberglass has been removed. A backer patch of woven roving and cardboard will be installed inside the hull, then multiple layers of 4 oz cloth will be stacked in the hole, small to large pieces and the last few pieces will overlap the faired area. Fair. Sand. Paint (gel coat if you have the talent).

Waiting for a patch

That's two part expanding foam and the bottom of the storage cubby, some healthy looking woven roving!

28 Aug 17:

Made fiberglass backer patches, formed to the hull shape. Laid down plastic sheet first, then laid out the 4 oz fiberglass cloth and saturated it with thickened TotalBoat epoxy. Covered with another sheet of plastic to let it dry to shape. Once dry the patches will be epoxied inside the hull to form a base for additional layers.

26 Sep 17:

Laid a strip of 4 ox fiberglass cloth to reinforce the hull flange of the deck seam, bedded in TotalBoat THIXO thickened epoxy. Covered the strip with plastic and clamped while it dried.

01 Oct 17:

Removed some excess expanding foam from the stern.

Built up backer patches from cardboard, fiberglass cloth, string and TotalBoat THIXO.

Test fit the patch.

THIXO holds the backer to the fiberglass.

More THIXO to bond the backer patch to the inside of the hull.

Prepping the inside of the hull with THIXO.

Woven roving for the transom corner patch, saturated with Jamestown Distributors High Performance epoxy then bedded in THIXO.

Placed a piece of plastic over the repair to help smooth the epoxy.

02 Oct 17:

Paint sticks held backer patches in place while they dried.

Cut the strings and sticks loose.

6 layers of 6 oz fiberglass cloth to build up each area, close to the thickness of the hull.

Saturated the fiberglass cloth with Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat High Performance epoxy, stacked up the layers then skimmed the top with TotalBoat THIXO.

Test fit the cypress backer block for the bridle eyestrap.

Backer block was coated with epoxy then fastened to the inside of the hull with THIXO.

03 Oct 17:

The work dolly has worked out great. The bunks articulate to support the boat in a lot of different orientations!

Flushed out a pound of dirt.

Checked out the gudgeon backer plate, it is threaded for #8-32 screws and fiberglassed into the hull.

Upgraded the dolly wheels to solid rubber, 6 inch swivels. We can roll the dolly with ease from the carriage house to the backyard Sunfish Shack now.

Replaced the bow handle backer block with cypress. Sealed it with TotalBoat High Performance epoxy and bedded it in THIXO.

Built up the bow flange with one layer of woven roving then 3 layers of 4 oz cloth, saturated with epoxy.

Epoxy backer patch for the hull, 6 oz fiberglass cloth held in place by a piece of cardboard tied snug with strings.

04 Oct 17:

Shaped the bow patch.

Sanded the chine repair.

6 layers of 4 oz fiberglass cloth epoxied into the hull.

05 Oct 17:

Got our TotalBoat flotation foam today from Jamestown Distributors, it is marine grade, closed cell so it won't soak up water. Hey look, we're in the Summer catalog :) Maybe we'll make the Winter catalog as well....

The foam works as an adhesive to secure the blocks in place and stiffen the hull. It also provides flotation. Mix the foam for 25 seconds and pour it quick. Before we poured it we put a strip of blue tape around the top of the white foam block, it mostly holds the foam in place while it starts to expand. Then we clamped the deck/hull seam tight while the foam did its expanding thing.

Clamped the seam tight while the foam expanded and cured. If not, it will pop the seam and make a mess. We try not to pour too much or it will ooze into the inside part of the seam and seal up the deck. That's bad because we still need to open the seam a bit and fiberglass it closed. With just alittle seam to seal up, you can foam the blocks and epoxy the seam all in one evolution, but not with as much seam as we had open.

Skipper thinks she can use the leftover foam for a hat mold.

Sealed the deck to the hull by wetting the seam and 4 oz fiberglass cloth with TotalBoat High Performance epoxy, then bedded the fiberglass strip into the seam with THIXO. Clamped the seam shut with light pressure, just enough to see the epoxy start to squeeze out.

Skipper sez "Float Test!"

All clamps on deck, we had about 20 feet of seam to seal up. Sometimes we do the bow first, then the stern the next day. But we had enough clamps to handle it today.

06 Oct 17:

Sanded the seam to remove excess epoxy. Be careful, the new fiberglass can be sharp.

A girl and her boat.

Float test was successful, just a few small leaks to chase down!

Took on about 1/2 gallon of water over 20 minutes. Ready for air leak test. Taped over all of the holes except for the cockpit bulkhead vent hole. Then pumped low pressure low volume air into the hull through the vent hole, soaped the hull with soapy water and looked for bubbles. Bubbles indicated an air leak.

We put the boat on its side and soaped over the top and bottom of the daggerboard trunk. Pumped in air,
no bubbling = no leaks.

Filled the mast step with water and it did not leak.

09 Oct 17:

We finished up the Sunbrella cover for St. Jacques. Skipper did the sewing, and got it done even with my help. She has made several covers and we incorporated the features we like to make a simple cover, robust enough to ride down the road as well.

Tie down straps as well as a drawstring pocket. Reinforced bow and oar lock points.

Back to work on Viper. Sanded off more old paint.

Sanded the hull with 80 grit on a random orbital sander. Vacuumed the hull then wiped with TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner to remove sanding residue.

Poked holes in the rim of the can to help primer drain back into the can.

Time to prime, getting on to the fun stuff.

Rolled the TotalBoat primer.

Spilled primer, decided to make another floor Sunfish.

The primer covered great and will make a great "show coat" for fairing. It looks perfect from about 10 feet, but get closer and the little bumps and dips start to appear. More work to do.

No vacancy in the carriage house.

10 Oct 17:

Used TotalFair to fill in gelcoat chips, spider cracks, gouges and uneven areas from fiberglass repairs. It is a 2 part epoxy system, mixed it up 1:1 until it was green and applied it with a putty knife. Now you might ask why we didn't fair first vs prime. We like a coat of paint or primer first so we can see where the hills and valleys are. If the surface is all one color it makes it easier to pick them out.

Looks like a TotalBoat store in here. We have been very happy with the quality and affordability of TB,
and appreciate the customer service that Jamestown Distributors provides. And free shipping!

Sanded the fairing compaund with 80 grit on a random orbital sander. Used a shop vac for dust collection.

Rolled on the TotalBoat Wet Edge paint, thinned with a cap full of Special Brushing Thinner to help slow down drying time on a hot day. Tipped with a chip brush.

The Wet Edge covered great and brushed on easily. We rolled the first coat and continued around for a second time for a "hot coat."

11 Oct 17:

Went out to the carriage house today and it was like a sauna. Paint was very tacky. 100F heat index here in Florida with high humidity. Pulled the boat out into the sun for most of the day and the paint started to dry a bit. At the end of the day we kicked the car out of the garage and moved the boat inside, there are two window units out there that can produce some cooler, dryer air.

17 Oct 17:

Faired a few spot with TotalFair, sanded with 100 grit. Rolled and tipped the second coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Kingston Gray, thinned 5 percent because temp was 80F plus.

18 Oct 17:

Sanded with 220 grit. Rolled and tipped the third coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Kingston Gray, thinned 5 percent because temp was 80F plus.

26 Oct 17:

Dipped VIPER into the bay to see if we chased down all of the leaks. Paddled around for about 10 minutes, no leaks noted. Signed off, OK for floating.

Skipper wanted to check the fit of the deck edge trim after the bow rebuild.

Then we put the first coat of TotalBoat Topside Primer on the deck. White primer, tinted with a bit of WetEdge Kingston Gray.

28 Oct 17:

Sanded the deck with 120 grit on a random orbital sander. Rolled the second coat of TotalBoat Topside Primer, tinted with WetEdge Kingston Gray. (Edit: BAD IDEA, the primer does not like this we found out).

02 Nov 17:

Got a box of supplies from Jamestown Distributors. The paint cans are shipped in protective cardboard sleeves. We ordered paint and primer, the stir sticks, gloves, paint cups and strainers are included free.

Sanded the deck with 120 grit on a random orbital sander, there were a lot of brush marks, more than I like. I'm not sure my idea to tint the primer with paint was a good one.

Rolled and the first coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Kingston Gray with a small cabinet roller and tipped with a decent grade brush. There are a lot of roller marks and brush strokes, so we will need some more sanding and better luck on the second coat. The paint looks good from 5 feet, and we like the color. I like my paint jobs to be 1-3 footers, so I have my fingers crossed that the second coat will flow and lay down better.

03 Nov 17:

An interesting day for paint and primer. I sanded sown the first coat of paint with 80-120 grit to even out some brush and roller marks. I began to suspect my bright idea to tint the primer with paint had messed up the desired characteristics of the primer, causing it to flash too fast and not lay down fully. And as a result the paint could not flow as advertised. The first coat of pure primer a few weeks back had looked okay, so I decided to sand my current concoction flat and start over with a new coat of primer. The boat did not like that! The primer wrinkled immediately when I applied it. Luckily I only put on a foot or so. I stopped and decided to scrape and sand all of that new primer off. In some areas that took the finish all the way back to gelcoat. I've never seen this before, but I'm sure the tech folks at Jamestown Distributors can tell me what happened. Something is not blending with the primer.

Plan of attack version 2.0, I rolled on the WetEdge Kingston Gray and used to roller to "tip" the paint vs a brush. I rolled small 2 foot sections, which left small bumps over the wet edge of the previous section. The paint seemed to be tacking very fast at 80F degrees outside temp. I added two caps of Special Brushing Thinner to the quart can and this slowed down the tack a bit. I then rolled firm over the overlapped section to flatten it out, which left roller edge ridges in the paint. To finish up "tipping" I went over those ridges lightly with the roller and the paint seemed happy, laying down and flattening out the best we have seen so far.

03 Nov 17:

Worked on the 1980 AMMF Sunfish VIPER. Rolled the third coat of WetEdge, kind of the second coat really because the first coat of pant was sanded heavily to remove ridges after I goofed up the second coat primer. Outside temp 80F. Thinned 2/3 of a can of paint with one 2 capfuls of Special Brushing Thinner. I tipped with the roller as well, light passes to flatten edges and roller edge marks.

05 Nov 17:

4th coat of TotalBoat WetEdge Kingston Gray, actually the third and a half coat as the first coat got some heavy sanding to flatten primer ridges. Rolled and tipped with a cabinet roller from Lowe's. TotalBoat WetEdge is a one part polyurethane marine paint, similar to Pettit Easypoxy and Interlux Brightside, so application procedures are basically the same. It was 80 degrees F outside, so we added a cap of TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner to the half can of paint that we had left to extend the tack and dry time. We recommend using the same brand thinner, primer and paint for the best results whether you choose JB, Pettit, Interlux or Rustoleum. Jamestown Distributors sells all of these paints except Rustoleum, plus tools and supplies, and TotalBoat ships free. Great customer service and a tech help line. Have fun painting!

06 Nov 17:

Tried something new, cut out some stripes for VIPER from adhesive backed insignia sailcloth. It turned out great, we really like the fabric feel on the deck.

09 Nov 17:

Jumping ahead, Sea Trials!

06 Jan 18:

We got a call from some folks who wanted to buy VIPER, they had sailed Sunfish up around Hampton, VA and wanted a boat for their Florida home. Dozer and Scooter came by the Casa, we gave them the tour and they decided to buy the boat. We took it over to their bayside home by trailer and it is the first time we have delivered a boat where the new owner was waiting in his wetsuit, ready for sea trials!

The wind was pretty light on Saturday but it gave Dozer a chance to see how VIPER performed in light air. Flawlessly. He liked the higher rig for recreational sailing because it is pretty easy to duck the boom. Dozer has raced quite a bit so he will get the rig adjusted as need depending on how many prizes he wants to capture on the bay that day.


VIPER captured his first prize, a Hobie Holder 12.

The next day Dozer took VIPER out in 17-20 knots!

Dozer and Scooter are thrilled with the boat, and we couldn't be happier to know VIPER has a new pirate family.

07 Jan 18:

VIPER sold! So SUGAR 2 came out from under the Sunfish Shack and reported for restoration duty as the "Moaning Chair Boat". When we restore boats, we have a Primary Boat and a Moaning Chair Boat. The Moaning Chair Boat is essential to have, the place where you stand and ponder what you have either just screwed up or are about to screw up on the Primary Boat. Where you stand to ponder your next moves on the Primary Boat, which in this instance is the Dabber VICTORY. Moaning Chair Boats come in all shapes and sizes and can be found next to favorite beverages.

We slid SUGAR 2 off of the carpenter benches straight onto the finishing dolly, and used the Odyssey to tow her around to the carriage house medicine wheel deck. Took a few photos to document her state before we continue the restoration. We had split the front seam back in 2015 in prep for the bow repair and bow handle backer block replacement. Overall she is in good shape, we might be able to save most of the gelcoat and find a nice sail to match. We have the rest of the bits to get her back out in her natural habitat.

SUGAR 2 is a 1980 boat like VIPER, built in Septmber by AMF.

New bow handle reporting for duty.

Walkaround assessment.

Rain coming, got SUGAR 2 covered up for a few days.

We might use the Sunfish 60th Anniversary sail, if we can find the blue-green version. Got any leads?

21 Jan 18:

Sugar 2's bow was damaged during its yacht club duties, repaired and damaged again! How do you hit something that hard, twice?

We pulled out the random orbital sander with a 120 grit pad and decided to sand off the old stickers and registration numbers first. Also cleaned up the bow handle area, but we went light on the gelcoat, we are trying to save it vs painting.


After. That bare spot was already there, not sure what caused that.

1980 Hull ID Number.

Sanded and diamond filed the damaged area to remove broken fiberglass. We also sanded off excess polyester resin and old paint.

Before we closed up the hull we rolled the boat over a few times to listen for loose backer blocks, we like to remove those when we can reach them. I heard one smaller block rattling around inside, and thought it might be the halyard cleat or fairlead block.

Sure enough, the halyard cleat was loose, held in only by the screws through the fiberglass.

We put in the bow backer block, made from cypress and coated in epoxy and fastened with Pettit Flexpoxy and the bow handle screws. We also rebonded the deck to the hull with Flexpoxy and a strip of fiberglass in the seam, pictures to follow of all the clamps that we used.

31 Jan 18:

Took the clamps off of the bow seam and rough sanded to shape with 60 grit on a Black and Decker 3 inch belt sander.

We also took care of a few other items, sprayed the rudder cheek with Rustoleum Satin Black to match the tiller straps.

Put in the rudder spring pin and trimmed the tiller extension bolt. The bolt was long and we trim it with a metal blade on a reciprocating saw, flush to the top of the stopnut. Trimming with the stopnut in place ensures the correct bolt length and then the stopnut can be backed off to remove any sharp metal burrs. Also made a trip to Ace to pick up more stainless machine screws, washers and stopnuts for the tiller and rudder cheek.

02 Feb 18:

The new Laser Performance Mai Tai Sunfish sail arrived, Skipper picked it out to match the teal stripes.

Here's a peak at the rough sanded bow at 9:07.

06 Feb 18:

Parts starting to accumulate around SUGAR 2, our buddy Alan dropped off some gently used spars and we finished building up the rudder.

10 Feb 18:

The dolphin in the bay like VIPER.

16 Feb 18:

Boy I don't remember SUGAR 2 being so grimy but it has been a scummy season for pine pollen and rain on and off. We needed to do an air leak test so while we had the soap out we decided to clean up the hull. This also gave us a chance to note any areas that were going to need epoxy attention, either THIXO or Marine Tex.

We did the leak test by taping over all known holes except for the vent hole on the forward cockpit bulkhead. Yes, that's a vent hole, don't seal it up. And don't let water fill up the cockpit during storage, or water will get in side the hull through the vent hole. We pressurized the boat with low volume, low pressure air and sprayed all the seams and hardware locations with Dawn dishwashing detergent, then looked for bubbles. We found leaks in the daggerboard trunk, deck edge seam and just over the gudgeon. To get a better leak at where the deck edge seam was leaking, we drilled out the trim rivets with a 1/8 inch bit and gently tapped off the aluminum trim.

Once the trim is off we can usually see an area where dirt has collected, that is usually the leak spot where water is flowing in and out of the boat. The seam gets damaged from collisions and rough handling during storage.

We used a few chemicals next, please read the Warnings and take proper protective precautions before using these chemicals. After the leak test we sprayed the boat with TILEX to get rid of the mildew. Then we rinsed it well and sprayed it again with Iron Out, let that sit a while and wet sanded with 1200 grit to release the stain. The boat also had paint overspray on it, and the wet sanding helped remove that. Once we are finished repairing leaks and cleaning up old repair areas, the boat will get compounded and waxed with 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax.

SUGAR 2 has some interesting gelcoat spider cracks on the bottom, below the cockpit, pressure points from where expanding foam was used to adhere the bottom of the cockpit to the inside of the hull. The fiberglass underneath is fine, we are going to leave those tiny cracks alone, unless we start to see gelcoat chipping off.

21 Feb 18:

Sanded the splashgard with 120 grit and gave it a coat of Rust-Oleum.

SUGAR 2 deck gouges from the boom bolt, almost all the way though the gelcoat.

One of our old standbys, Marine-Tex epoxy putty. We used this today because it will be a close match to the gelcoat on PHOENIX. It will be a little too white for SUGAR 2's cream colored deck, but may fade over time.

Marine-Tex applied.

Fiberglass damage in SUGAR 2's daggerboard trunk.

Mixed up Pettit Marine Paint Flexpoxy to repair fiberglass damage in the daggerboard trunk. Totaloat THIXO is a good product for this repair as well. Used the half wide paint stick to trowel Flexpoxy over the damaged areas, anywhere the outer layer of polyester resin has flaked off. Also injected epoxy from a syringe into the seam voids we found a few days ago.

Inspection port installation between the daggerboard trunk and splashguard. The tape protects the deck from the jigsaw footplate.

The inner plate makes a good template for the inspection port hole.

Marked the hole, drilled a 1/2 inch hole inside the circle to insert the jigsaw blade. Cut on the line with a DEWALT jigsaw.

Inside the Sunfish hull, daggerboard trunk.

Inside the Sunfish hull, mast tube and wooden backer block on underside of deck for the halyard fairlead. White blocks are the structural and floatation foam, yellow foam is the expanding adhesive foam. The fiberglass strip at the top is the strap that used to hold the wooden halyard cleat backer block. It rotted and fell off.

Someone moved the halyard cleat at one point, probably to find better purchase on the old internal backer block. We used the cleat to predrill the 2 screw holes, then epoxied the block and put it inside the hull in the original position. Then we used the drill bit to find one of the screw holes and line up the block for the first screw. Once the first screw was in place we removed the drill bit, swiveled the cleat and inserted the second screw. The epoxy oozing out of the wrong screw holes is good news, means we had plenty of adhesive contact between the block and the hull.

New halyard cleat backer block, made from rot resistant cypress and coated with epoxy. Held in place by thickened epoxy and screws.

We pre drilled all of the machine screw holes using the ring as a template then removed it and put a bead of sealant around the port hole. The port was put in place, then twisted a 1/2 turn to evenly spread out the sealant. Machine screws were reinstalled and secured with nylon stop nuts.

Installed a swivel cam cleat. Test fit the coaming.

SUGAR 2 flew through sea trials, ready for a new Coomodore!

04 April 18:

Well as you may have figures out, SUGAR 2 did not get the VT-27 Boomer paint scheme, because her gelcoat was too beautiful to paint. So we decided she will be called SUGAR, with no 2. SUGAR 2 will be coming soon on another boat. Meanwhile, SUGAR has new skippers, she headed off to a new port just down the street from us. We hope to see her soon, she'll be hard to miss with that Mai Tai sail. Her new owners are seasoned Sunfish sailors and are thrilled to have her.

to be continued...

Learn more about your Sunfish in The Sunfish Owner's Manual.

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