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Repairing The Transom Part II (Rebuild)

By clanders - Published May 13, 2014 - Viewed 3508 times

Runabout By Chris Landers

Greetings citizens, I'm back with the weekend boat repair report.

So, with the old transom cleaned out, the destruction is (mostly) finished. In order to pour the new transom, you need a form. Usually this would be walls of the transom, but the inner skin is missing, so I need to make a new one. I have a fair bit of experience with epoxy, but none with polyester fiberglass (other than repairing it with epoxy). Naturally, the transom compound needs to bond with polyester, so it looks like I'll be learning.

The first thing I did was make a form, so I can fabricate the new fiberglass panel off the boat. It needs to be curved, but it's pretty forgiving, so I don't need to be too exact.

I made a pattern of the inner dimensions of the boat, using a piece of plywood I had lying around, then transferred the measurements to another piece of plywood that will be the mold for the panel. I also cut a 2x8 in half lengthwise to bend the form to the right shape, and kerfed one side of the plywood so it will bend easily.

Once that was all assembled, I coated the plywood with mold release spray, and started laying up fiberglass. The original skin was quite thick — almost a quarter inch – so it took a lot of fiberglass, and I'm glad I didn't have to buy the epoxy for it. Polyester resin is a lot cheaper. On the other hand, holy crap it smells terrible. Even a little bit inside the attached garage stunk up the whole house and made my wife angry for days. After the first experience, I moved the operation outside, and let the fiberglass cure in the shed.

Because the new transom will start as a liquid, it's a little tough to get it up in the "wings" on the outside, so I'm doing those with regular laminated plywood. That adds a little bit of a wrinkle, though, as I need to use polyester resin for the transom compound, but epoxy resin for the plywood. I ran my plan past Don Casey to see what he thought, and he agreed – epoxy for the wood, and for gluing the wood to the polyester, but polyester for everything else. The plywood bits run counter to my plan of a finished boat that's as rot-proof as I can make it, but they're fairly accessible if I ever do need to replace them.

While I had access to them, I replaced the drain tubes – one for the boat, one for the space in between the floor and the hull. I used plastic ones, and 5200 to glue them in place. Once the transom is poured, they'll be stuck in there anyway, so it seemed like a decent use of 5200. (Digression: I have a friend who suggests buying two tubes of 5200 and spreading one all over yourself before you even start, just to get it out of the way. I only buy the small toothpaste tubes of the stuff to avoid overuse. (Also, Tom Neale wrote about 5200 this week.)) To use metal transom drains, I would need access to the inside of the bilge space, and even if the seal isn't perfect on the inside, there shouldn't be anything down there to rot anyway.

Anyway, after epoxying and tabbing the plywood and panel into place, the transom is ready to pour. Sadly, the closest Arjay distributor to Baltimore is in Tennessee, and after a little research, it was slightly cheaper to just get the stuff shipped from Florida. So while I'm waiting for that I'll take care of a few other projects, like a new windshield.


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