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Fairladyaffair 06-10-2013 03:32 PM

AMF Puffer Restoration
This is my first restoration so any and all pointers are greatly appreciated. My Grammer and spelling are poor so don't bother correcting. Please and thank you :D

I bought this boat a few years back but do to some set backs I have been unable to take on the project till recently.

I found this boat falling apart behind a house while I was working one of my first jobs after I got out of the Marines. I approached the current owner and asked him what he planned to do with it and he informed me that his wife was breathing down his neck to get rid of it. At first glance the boat was a piece! A normal person who just wants to buy a boat and sail it or doesnt like the challenge of a fixer upper would not have even taken a second look at this boat.

I will admit even with my optimism I was a little apprehensive. It was covered in meldew, mold, and sap from sitting under a maple tree for the past few years. The cockpit was full of brown water, leaves and other nastyness. I was delightfully suprised when I popped the drain plug to discover it to be as dry as a bone. The air that came out after I opened the plug was dryer than the humid Alabama air I was breathing at the time.

The trailer the boat was sitting on was badly deteriated with rust and dry rot and both tires were completely useless. To my good fortune the bearings were both replaced in the past year and the rust hadn't gotten to the suspension enough to make it un safe for use.

I went to Wal Mart and bought a set of trailer tires and a bottle of Dawn soap. When I returned to the owners house that afternoon and replaced both tires with a couple of pry bars, soap, and a little air compressor air pressure in his drive way then hooked up the boat and handed him $500 he was delightfully suprised.

To me the boat was a good deal, everything from the rudder and tiller assembly, dagger board, both the main sail and Jib and all the sheets, a flair gun kit, light kit, some rope gloves, the trailer, boat, mast, boom, a set of oars and owners manual came with the boat. All but the boat, trailer, mast and boom were kept in the garage and all of it was in suprisingly good condition.

I took her back to my parents lake place on Lake Martin Alabama for a sailing trial and was happy to find that she sat high in the water. On her first sail with me she was fantasticly fast but without a hiking stick on the tiller it was difficult to hold a line and hike out. Most of the pulleys and cleats were either seized or sticky and were almost useless.

When I removed her from the water and popped the drain plug again there wasnt a drop of water. This was wonderful news until the improperly adjusted old trailer cracked the hull leaving a 8' crack along the keel.

The boat sat for a few more years due to other more important events and financial strains (I had a little girl and obviously that takes priority). Now I have the time, tools, and facilities to work on her so here we go.

A brief list of what I plan to do is as follows.

1.) Cut out damaged fiberglass and re fiberlass area in order to re enforce and prevent future damage.

2.)Fill stress cracks and any other fiberglass damage with fiberglass resin to prevent future damage.

3.) Sand old paint from hull (it was painted on with a paint brush and looks terrible).

4.) Seal and primer hull with a sandable primer and apply guide coat.

6.) Sand smooth primer, wash and dry, spray with color of choice.


7.) Fill chips and stress cracks with fiberglass resin, sand, tape, primer, sand again.

8.) replace mahogany with suitable replacement. (I am considering using something that is a little more durable as a replacement, more on that later).

9.) replace cleats, pulleys etc with newer models.

Tiller, rudder, and dagger board.

1.) sand off old paint to wood and re varnish all three pieces.

2.) Modify tiller to accept a hiking stick and reinforce to prevent cracking.

Sheets and hiking strap

1.) Already have all new sheets and lines for entire rigging as well as a brand new hiking strap.

This list is simply a overview of what I plan to do. If you have any suggestions about my method of operation as a I go please chime in, all comments are welcome.

Here is a few photos of how I found her and as we go along Ill submit photos of the progress. Enjoy.

Donna_F 06-10-2013 03:48 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Good stuff. A perfect boat to get your daughter involved, too. Three years old isn't too old to start sanding. OK. Maybe a little young.

Alex W 06-10-2013 04:03 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Check eBay for King Starboard drops. You can sometimes get them for very cheap prices and that'll work nicely as your wood replacement.

I'd prioritize work in a way that gets you sailing soonest.

Barquito 06-10-2013 05:14 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Is the keel really cracked deep enough you need to cut it out? Maybe just grind it down a bit, glass and epoxy over, fair, and paint. Agree with the sailing part. Only do work on the boat when it won't take much time away from sailing it.

Fairladyaffair 06-10-2013 07:39 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration

Originally Posted by Barquito (Post 1042267)
Is the keel really cracked deep enough you need to cut it out? Maybe just grind it down a bit, glass and epoxy over, fair, and paint. Agree with the sailing part. Only do work on the boat when it won't take much time away from sailing it.

Bar, the keel crack is not that deep, I plan to grind it like you suggested rather than cut a hole in the hull. I'll probably grind into the fiberglass less than a cm or so and make a fiberglass matt to pack into the resulting indention and finish up with a strip[ of fiberglass over the top. I'll finish up by dabbing out the air bubbles with resin. hopefully I can manage the fiberglass to a point that it does not build up much higher than the original Keel design.

I did a little sanding and used some fiberglass resin to seal the original stress cracks and attempt to seal this crack before it got worse but it wasnt enough. Now surgery is required and re enforcement is a necessity.

I also removed the motor mount block on the back of the boat and sealed the holes with resin. With the oars I do not plan to attach a motor of any kind.

Here are a few photos of the original condition of the other components on the boat.

As I mentioned earlier most of the hardware is useless, broken, or missing

I'll have some more progress photos later weather permitting.

Fairladyaffair 06-10-2013 07:59 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration

Originally Posted by Alex W (Post 1042232)
Check eBay for King Starboard drops. You can sometimes get them for very cheap prices and that'll work nicely as your wood replacement.

I'd prioritize work in a way that gets you sailing soonest.

Alex, tell me a little more about starboard. Is it lighter/stronger than woods. What is its boyancy (spelling?) Ill look it up but I would like to hear from personel experience rather than a paid ad.

Fairladyaffair 06-11-2013 01:36 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Purchased all the necessary materials to repair the cracks and any other fiberglass related damage. Hopefully have some good pics to post this evening of how it all works out.

Alex W 06-11-2013 06:46 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
You can look up the properties of Starboard. It's similar in weight to most marine woods. It is very easy to work with and cuts super nicely. It requires no finishing, but doesn't look as nice as wood.

I think it's a great option for the rudder. It might be a little bit more flexible than similar size plywood, but the rudder on dinghies is usually small enough that this isn't a concern. It won't warp or rot or swell or do anything else the wood core rudders do.

Fairladyaffair 06-11-2013 06:48 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Today I grinded down the damaged area to a thin layer of fiberglass.

After doing so I didnt feel it was going to be as strong as I wanted it to be so I grinded out a couple more inches of the keel but only half as deep to keep some of the existing structure.

After grinding out the fiberglass it is extreamly important to sand smooth the surface around the area of any gel coat or jagged edges that will make difficult air pockets to work out of the fiberglass as you apply it. It is also exteamly important to clean the surface of any debree before painting on the resin.

I cut the fiberglass matt into small easy to apply segments to simplify things a little.

I used acetone to clean the surface before I applied resin

After the surface was clean I painted on resin, applied a fiberglass resin mix into the larger holes, applied each pre cut square working out the air bubbles in each and finally applied the larger square. I ended up cutting two small squares to build up the sides so i can sand the fiberlass down to the original keel shape after it cures.

Its been a while since I worked with this stuff and I accidently added to much catalist to the resin, soo half way through it kicked on me and turned my brush into a stick. Luckily i had already worked out most of the air bubbles but the finished product was not as clean as it would have been if I had a good brush. Just have to work out the details later and if need be build it up with more fiberglass worse case scenario.

I also managed to get around to taking apart the tiller to see what hardware needs to be replaced.

any comments jokes criticism feel free :)

Fairladyaffair 06-12-2013 10:15 PM

Re: AMF Puffer Restoration
Today I started I sanded the fiberglass repair to the as close to the shape of the keel as I could with the tools I have available.

After sanding I could see the air bubbles that resulted from the resin kicking before I could work them out. Luckily the bubbles were minor, will be easy to fill, and will not effect the integrity of the repair.

I started to sand down the hull but wasnt making the head way I wanted. I decided to safety prep the trailer and make the necessary adjustments to the rollers to support the weight of the boat correctly so another crack will not develop in the future.

As you can see in this photo, the boats weight is not evenly distributed. On a boat this size and weight this wouldntthink it would be be a big deal until you decide to rig the boat on shore while the boat is stable (like a sane person would do) and the boats fiberglass cracks (like what happened to me).

While I was inspecting the trailer I also discovered a few items that needed to be addressed. This was so loose that the axle just bounced freely along with the leaf spring.

A little side pic, I got a drop hitch for the truck with the proper ball size for such a small trailer...this should be hillarious, big truck...little boat.
Back to the project.

I also went to lowes and got some of this.

I traced the original wood pieces and made replacements for each. I gently clamped the wood in place with a rag in between each contact point to prevent from scarring the new surface.

I used that cheap skill saw in the backround to cut out each piece.

Once they were cut out I used a sanding black and some high grit sand paper to round the edges and smooth out any ridges made by the jig saw.

Next on the agenda is a couple of cracks and chips and some needed maintenance in the cockpit. Luckily my brother in law has access to some better sanding equipment as well as a paith booth. This weekend I am taking it down to him to do the finishing touches on the fiberglass and hopefully get the bottom painted and the cockpit repaired and resprayed. All goes well I should have the new cleats and blocks I need by the time the paint is dry. Pics will be taken of the progress, stay tuned. :D

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