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Surf Tips

Saving a Longboard

Photo by Ashley Beth

Is it wise for a non-professional to try and fix a longboard that has snapped in two?  Probably not.  Therefore, I knew I had to go for it.  She was a nine foot Iron Cross longboard shaped by Peter Cross.  I bought her from someone on Craigslist for $100 and I could see that some patchwork had already taken place across the middle of the board.  Otherwise She looked pretty good for the money.  It was only day two when I felt the bottom give out under my feet as I dropped in on a tame three foot wave.  A quick glance at the guts of this stick and a rotted stringer told me that she had already been in for some serious surgery, but all they gave her was a band aid.

I spent the first six months ignoring the two useless pieces as they sat in my garage mocking me with the magnitude of this repair.  Unfortunately I had bragged to all my friends about how I was going to attempt this unwise venture…..and of course, write about it.

Normally I would have talked with people who fix boards professionally, but they would talk me out of wasting my time, so the first step was to look up information on the web.  Of course every website had to start off with the warning “Do not attempt this repair.  Contact a professional.”  Okay, ignore that and move forward.  I found a guy named Moura on Youtube.  This guy is really talented.  I watched a video of him reattaching a tail.  Good enough for me.

Step 1.  Clean the wound

Assuming that the board is dry at this point, really get in there and clean out all the sand, seaweed and junk.  I also used a Dremel to grind off the parts of the stringer that were rotted.  Peel off loose fiberglass and anything else that looks like it has been compromised.

Step 2. Sanding

The original fiberglass was one layer on the bottom; two on the top.  The board will  be built back up with two layers of six ounce fiberglass and one layer of four ounce fiberglass on both sides. This might be more than necessary, but I don’t want to take any chances.  Because I’m adding all this material. the board needs to be sanded down to make room without creating a bulge in the middle of the board.  This is tricky because the foam sands very fast while the stringer takes time.  Luckily I had a plan to cover this mess with bright red paint.  If I dig in the foam a little too much……I’ll just pour in some filler.

Step 3.  Glue them back together

Scary, right?  You bet.  I mixed Cabosil powder in with some resin to form a thick paste.  I like a consistency that can be poured, but doesn’t drip from the site of the repair.    Put in on thick and make sure it runs into all the nooks.  This is not the time to skimp on resin.  Spread it like peanut butter when you are super hungry.  The clock’s ticking while the filler starts to harden.  Weather and catalyst are deciding how much time you have to set the pieces.

In my usual foolish ways, I am working on some old rickety saw horses set up on an uneven driveway.  Sounds like a great recipe for a crooked longboard.  Never fear.  I placed  the reunited surfboard upside down on a nice flat uniform piece of plywood to create my operating table.  Then, while focusing mainly on the critical “performance affecting” bottom of the board, I ran a long straight piece of wood held in place with bungee cords to show any visual gaps along the line of the stringer.  Lastly, the eyeball test.  If I saw anything that looked uneven, small weights would be placed on the board for corrections.

Step 4.  Mind the gap

Do not go surfing!  I don’t care if a tropical swell found it’s way to your local break and the water is 70 degrees.  You will return to a ruined project.  Hang out and check the board every five minutes to see if anything has moved.  If so, make small corrections with the weights.  Keep doing this until the filler sets.

Step 5.  The substitute stringer

You didn’t think I was going to completely ignore the fact that this area of the board has a broken stringer, did you?  Someone made a comment online about strengthening the area around the stringer by cutting grooves and filling them with glass roving and resin.  Sounds good to me.  I cut my grooves a foot long right up against the stringer on both sides of the board, laid the glass roving and poured some resin in until it was level with the foam.

bring in the subs

Step 6.  Build Her up and sand Her down

Using fiberglass and resin (or more filler for large dips), I proceeded to build up the repaired area until it was even or slightly above the rest of the board.  I treated myself to an orbital sander at Home Depot for this project.  Lots of sanding my friends. Eventually (hopefully) you end up with an even surface across the board.  Mine came out surprisingly good.  Even better after a couple coats of candy apple Krylon gloss paint over the repair.

Step 7.  Go surfing

Don’t waste the materials and labor unless you plan on getting her in the water.  Either go surfing or give the board to someone who will be stoked.  I went out as soon as the paint was dry and had a great time.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would pull off this repair.  It’s not near professional standards and maybe I got I little lucky, But I’m really happy to see this old Iron Cross back out catching waves.

So I’ll give you one  last thought.  Don’t attempt this repair.  Contact a professional.  Uh huh, you are going to do it anyway, aren’t you?.  Have fun and always wear a mask.

Dave Christensen

Dave Christensen is a surfer/musician/artist based out of Laguna Beach, California.

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13 years ago

Awesome article. I have an old longboard I might try to repair. It would be nice to save some money.

13 years ago

AWESOME WORK DC, We were stoked to see you riding the not so Iron Cross out the other day. Keep up the board healing and let us know when you are ready to play with our wounded SUP’s.

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