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Thread: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

  1. #1
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    Default Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    I have the sail, 75 sqft lateen. I have a couple of boats that might use it, a 17' Swampscott or a husky 10' pram. I don't have the spars, though the dory has a traditional rig whose mast will serve. I'm keeping an eye open for a yard and boom, but it strikes me that I could simply make solid DF ones with a few cuts on a clear plank. Can anyone suggest a formula or reference for the dimensions?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Kent Lewis recently documented the Sunfish spar and mast dimensions and materials in his blog. Look for the May 17, 2018 entry: http://smallboatrestoration.blogspot.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    I'll check that out, thank you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Do you need to meet class specs for racing? Otherwise just build something close and try it unfinished, then plane / sand off excess wood if you find it too heavy -- the joys of solid wood DF spars! ;-)
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    My thought too Thorne. In fact the aluminum tube to make spars would cost as much as a used rig, so I'll either buy used, build, or both!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    I've made yards and booms for lateens just from carefully selected Home Depot SPF 2x4s.Some were even left square-sided with the corners rounded off (which was sometimes done on old canoe and dinghy spars) and they worked fine.

    morris-022.jpg

    mo-lat-008a.jpg

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Thank you Todd, that's very straightforward. Helpful pictures too.

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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    I considered wooden spars when building the Moonfish (Sunfish clone) and also looked at bamboo as an option.
    In the end, I went for aluminium tube. When you look at how the Sunfish rig is meant to flex in gusts, I wasn't sure that wood would do so enough and that the variable density of bamboo would do so unpredictably. I would still like to try bamboo, though.
    Nick

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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Bamboo is my own thought too! It has been working for nearly two thousand years in China! Cheap, light and strong, it does not need to be glued up! What more could you want? If you are not class racing, a full batten bat wing sail might be an option. Your little boat is a platform for experimentation.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 06-14-2018 at 11:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Your spar (and your sail) will have better and much more predictable shape with a cut and tapered wooden spar than with either bamboo or non-tapered aluminum. The reason Sunfish spars are aluminum tubes is not because that make for the best sail shape or performance. It is because they are tough and maintenance free, fairly inexpensive, quick to make and infinitely repeatable. With a little work you can do better.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Thanks, I'll use CVG Doug Fir if I don't find cheap spars on craigslist. I still have a lot of work to do on the big boat, the house and the car. But I was sailing the dory the other day, and looking at the pram, thinking about that lateen sail. I'll report my results when I get to this project.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Your spar (and your sail) will have better and much more predictable shape with a cut and tapered wooden spar than with either bamboo or non-tapered aluminum. The reason Sunfish spars are aluminum tubes is not because that make for the best sail shape or performance. It is because they are tough and maintenance free, fairly inexpensive, quick to make and infinitely repeatable. With a little work you can do better.
    I'm about 6 or more months behind Whameller in my Moonfish build. Todd, what kind of taper would you recommend on the spars?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    For a lateen that size I might go as much as 2" maximum diameter on the yard and boom and taper their heel ends down to 1.5" or so and the peak ends to the 1"-1.25" range The maximum diameter spot is usually about 45% aft of the tack corner. On a lateen, this makes for a fairly beefy, sturdy spar, and you could probably go a bit lighter (thinner) if desired. It's one of those things with no clearly best answer. There is an obvious benefit to reduced spar weight aloft. At the same time, a spar that is flexing a whole lot makes it hard to trim the sail properly, and even hard to build the sail properly to account for all the potential spar bend. Without some reference based on someone's past experience with the boat, it's not out of the question to build sturdy, test sail unvarnished, and keep the option open to thin them down a bit before final-finishing them.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    I made all the spars and mast fort a Ballanced Lug on a Macgreghor canoe from a big broken Douglas Fir boom, but now it sails with a dipping lateen cut from an old jib on a bamboo spar.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    The wooden Sunfish and Sailfish boom and gaff are the same dimensions as the aluminum and they work great. 1 1/2 inch diameter. 13' 9" length.









    As Todd mentioned, a clear DF 2x4 or piece of spruce would work. If you buy a 2x6 you might be able to find better grain and less chance of softwood, as 2x4s usually come from the smaller trees.

    Cheers
    Kent

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Kent, thank you very much for the specs and the beautiful pictures.
    This may all wait until winter when I dock the big boat and spend more time in the small ones.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    Hi Johng

    You're welcome. We were very excited when we were offered the 1953 Sunfish and the previous curator sent us this photo. Our eyes went immediately to the wooden spars and the sweeping coaming



    Todd, that is a beautiful sail, the Skipper spotted it and wants to know if there is a pattern

    Cheers
    Kent and Audrey (aka Skipper)

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Wood Spars for Sunfish Sail?

    It was scratch built to replicate the sail in a photo in an old Morris Canoe Company catalog from 1908. In Dacron we need to make the corner patches larger due to its lack of stretch, compared to those on the cotton originals, but it captures the basic look pretty well.

    morris 002.jpg

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