Resto Project - Morey Pope Sopwith Camel

I stumbled across this forum while researching a potential project.  I appreciate the wealth of information about restoration technique, strategy, and most of all the historical context & useful opinions about this particular board.  I’ve done a bit of reading, and, while acknowledging I’m in way over my head, I’ve decided to try to bring a board that was left for dead back to life.

The board is a Morey-Pope Sopwith Camel (CA 1969).  I haven’t taken a tape measure to it yet, but it’s roughly 6’7” in length.  If I hadn’t driven an hour to pick it up I probably would have passed on it once I saw it in person.  I figured it was hard to go wrong for $50…under the assumption it needed lots of shoddy repairs corrected and that it hadn’t been broken (it had been broken).  From what I’ve read, these were mass-produced boards in their heyday.  If it were something more rare/valuable, or even in somewhat decent condition I’d probably leave it to a pro to restore.  Since this board is far from original and was essentially left for dead, I figure it’s worth a shot trying to put it back together so I can ride it.  I’ve sold a few boards in the last year and am down to just my fish & my log, so something like this could be a fun addition.  I live in Florida and a board like this is well suited to my local break.

Would it be easier and cheaper to just go and buy a used single-fin?  Yes.  Do I think I’ll spend more on materials than this board is worth?  Likely…I’m guessing I need $150 on cloth, resin, and a finbox?  Will I spend twice the amount of time I expect on this project? Absolutely, my eyes are wide open.  I’ve done my own glass repairs, but nothing close to this.

Current Condition:

The board was broken about a foot from the nose and the nose was re-glassed with something way too rough to be surfboard cloth…it looks more like paper mache.  These boards didn’t have a stringer, so breakage was common.  The nose deck that was repaired is a bit wavy. I hope it’s from too much resin…not a bigger issue with the underlying foam. Based on the look of the glass around the rails, I suspect the entire deck may have delaminated either when it broke, or at some other point.  It looks like someone added glass along the upper edge of the rails at some point.

The board had been painted and was likely a piece of outdoor yard-art, because the tail was leaking and there’s about an inch of discolored (black) foam at the tail.

It looked like the fin had been glassed-in.  Upon closer inspection, it appears the fin box is missing (?) and somebody poured a few quarts of fiberglass resin into the fin box to set fin in place (crooked).  That explains why the board was so heavy.  I started to chisel the resin out, but the shards were flying everywhere…not something I’d want to step on.

Anyhow, I’ve developed a tentative plan on what/how to (hopefully) bring this thing back to life.  I plan to first sand the paint from the nose and examine the nose repair.  I just pray that the foam on the nose deck is original to the board and can be reattached.  If they used something other than the original blank (definitely a possibility from the looks of the handiwork), I’ve probably hit a dead end.

Assuming I can reattach the nose, I figure it’s probably best to completely re-glass the board.  Due to the look of the current glass and amount of repairs, I think that’s the only way it’ll ever ride halfway decent. 

I’m thinking of using a 7.5oz + 4 oz cloth on the deck and 7.5oz on the bottom.  I’m wondering if I use a darker resin tint if it will do a decent enough job of hiding the nose repair & discolored foam.  I’d rather not paint the board, but I suppose it’s still an option if the foam is too discolored and the nose repair is too noticeable.  Too much ugly isn’t a good thing.

As far as originality goes, the board number is still visible and intact by the fin, so I’ll try to preserve it and incorporate it in the repair.  Due to the yellowing etc, I’m not sure it’s worth trying to incorporate the original deck logo into the new glass.  It might look OK if I add pinstriping around it…but I probably need to walk before I run.  I’d prefer to focus on the structure before cosmetics. I like the newer style Morey-Pope logo much better, so I may just find a way to add that instead.  I’m debating finding a local shaper to take a look before I try to glass it myself…it may be the better route, but I suspect it may be cost prohibitive.  

Any advice you have to share is appreciated. I’ll add more pictures as I make progress.  

I’d say you paid about $50 too much. Even if it was free,  it isn’t worth touching. It is a total mess.

I had  a 6’9" Sopwith in 1969. They were not “massed produced” as compared to 60s popouts, or even when compared to more popular brands like Hobie, Weber, or Noll. They were glassed pretty light and did not hold up over time. I rode mine to death and sold it for $25 in 1971.

If you insist on trying repair this sad case you should use 6 oz cloth (5.6) as that is what they were made with.

Just my .02 - 

First off you’ll need a decent sander and pad.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive one… Harbor Freight will do.  Next you’ll need a stack of coarse sanding discs to fit the pad.

Get one of those Tyvek haz-mat suits and a mask and get to work.  You are correct, those patches are pretty crappy.  Grind that stuff off and take a better look at what’s going on underneath the paint and patching.

Take the grinder and get rid of any loose or delaminated material.  You’ll want to use micro-balloons mixed with resin to fill any defects.  If the nose repair has any low areas, you’ll have to decide if you want to use the micro-balloon mix or add some layers of cloth in those areas.

Once the low spots and defects are filled, opaque glass both sides (use plenty of white pigment) with some 4 ounce or 6 ounce cloth, hot coat, sand and maybe even gloss it.  A trick for the label and the numbers is to mix some clear resin and dab it on those areas first as you’re wetting out your cloth.  Leave it thick where it’s clear and pour your pigmented resin around those areas.  Once you squeegee the pigmented stuff around, go back and spread out the clear.  The excess will be invisible and the log and numbers will remain visible.

I wouldn’t go so far as to strip the entire glass job that’s on it and I’d just leave the fin even if it’s a bit crooked - just pour on some clear resin to even out the top of the box.  The fact that the fin is crooked won’t make much difference when you ride it anyway.  

Seriously - those old repairs are making it look worse than it is.  With a decent cleaning up and smoothing out it might be a fun rider.

Thanks for the input.  The board is a total mess.Worst-case scenario is that I screw something up and learn from the experience…even if that lesson is not to take on hopeless projects.    

JohnMiller, I appreciate what you’re saying about not needing to strip the whole board.  The idea of just doing the nose & fixing patches is probably a better approach given my experience. I already own a vibrating sander.  Are suggesting I use a grinder w/sanding pads or an orbital sander?

Thanks for the tip about using opaque resin & adding clear resin over the logo and number.   

I did find a local shaper supply shop, so I’ll have to stop by once I finish sanding. 

Yes, I’ll be wearing a mask & suit.


I’m with Sammy on this one. I think you could find a better use of your talents and resources, with a much better chance of success / reward for your troubles. Not to discourage you, but to encourage you to look around at other possibilities before you get too invested in this one. John Mellor could do wonders with that board, I have no doubt. Not too many others who could / would, tho. But as they say, knock yourself out! Have fun :slight_smile:

Yeah, go for it. If you do get it finished, you’ll either be super stoked or ready to throw it off a bridge. And add pics of the process.

My very first board was a Morey -Pope (“Richard Deese Original” - 7’10" deep-vee nose transition-era board) so my perception is undoubtedly skewed.  Plus, it kind of sounded like ErikT had made up his mind to forge ahead.

With that in mind, I would advise a decent sander/grinder with a good sized medium hard pad. You can get by with an orbital I just never feel like I have as much control with one. One of my favorite ‘ding repair’ grinders is a 3/8" angle drill with a 3" Rol-Lok backing pad with the shaft cut short.  For large areas I’d go with a larger diameter pad.

PS - That little finlet is something I found in a box recently… 

As I recall the decks on the Camels were not hot coated, just lamed.  I think the train of thought was to keep things light.  I remember the decks being sticky.  John gives a lot of encouragement.  Follow his advise, what do you have to loose?  You can only gain experience.  We should start a “Rat Board” thread.

A little while after the Camel series came out, M-P offered textured decks as an option. It was not a standard feature of the Camel models. Off the rack boards had a hot coat, gloss and polish. The textured deck versions had no hot coat on the deck, per se. Just a light filler coat that allowed the glass weave to remain evident. None of them were “sticky”

The Camel hump?

Alone worth savin’

A stab at the norm

so very like MP.

The thing outta strip down EZ.

see video at end for more…

The first exposed weave job I had was a Liddle.

And the deck did get sticky,

Once I rubbed on some Surf Reasearch wax (missin’ the smell of dat purple bar).

And BTW waxing up was a breeze.

Getting the old wax off, ah…


Randy Rarick on Surfboard Restortion from Arico Productions on Vimeo.

Hi Matt -

I would have liked to see more on the “glass off” restoration process.  I know how it’s done and have seen a number of boards in progress but not by him.

Some that I’ve seen have been carefully sanded down to the bare foam but the glass around the labels is feathered out to maintain the original I.D.  It looks like he might do a repro label and insert during lamination.

A stripped board can be spackled to fill holes and sprayed off white to cover discoloration before being re-glassed but it’s a lot of work. 

Anyway… he didn’t really show any trade secrets in the video.

Here are pics of a balsa redo of a Velzy Jacobs.  It was completely stripped and reglassed with a new fin and water slide decal logo.

There are lots of ways to do a glass-off restoration, I’ve tried several and never had a result I was really happy with.  Always ended up losing too much foam and the shape gets altered a bit. New shape, new glass job… more of a rebuild than a restore.

Good advice from John, plunge in and enjoy it.

it was near this pont in time that Morey-Pope brought in an “engineer” to aid them in building boards that did not ding as easily, so they went with a lighter glass that dented instead, it was the final nail in the coffin, a Texas dealer returned the entire order.

Jim that is still an issue today with some builders. I’m trying to pay attention to what some are using for weaves and fibers and I am often surprised how little is understood. I understand the production pressures but I scratch my head over the misapplications of some otherwise good materials. 

“We should start a “Rat Board” thread” - That would be cool, find the shittiest, beat up board you can find and show what you can make with it.

I know that my Sopwith did not hold up well. The whole right side of the deck in the tail delammed badly.  But, I did ride the board a lot and put it through the wringer, so to speak.

I will say that it remains the one board in my life that allowed my surfing to improve by a large degree. It was a magic board for me.