I was going over the boat a while back and I noticed that the gudgeons on my boat where a little wobbly. I didn’t want to risk losing my rudder at any point so I tightened them up a little bit. At the time I didn’t notice but later I found that the transom had squished together a bit and was looking somewhat concave. I had also noticed when I replaced the drain fitting below, that the wood inside the drain was wet and soft. It was at that point that I became concerned about the state of my transom.
It still seemed to have some strength and I didn’t want to deal with the problem just as weather was getting nice and we were about to put the boat to good use, so I made a temporary modification. I painted a piece of sheet metal I had laying around the garage, I drilled four holes in it and with a little 4200, secured that in place behind the gudgeons to provide some added strength. We then proceeded to use the boat for the summer.
I was still getting water down into the bilge. Quite a bit of water actually, It was my son (#4 Monkey) who noticed some gapping around the cockpit drains, with all of this evidence, I decided that the transom might be in pretty bad shape underneath that fiberglass. Since I don’t want to be out and lose my rudder (or the whole transom) and I’d like to hang an outboard off of the stern as my “get out of jail free card”. I decided to cut into the transom and see about doing this repair during the off season. This write up is what I did to actually fix the problem.
I had intended to do the repair from inside the cockpit, but after discussing with a friend and seeing some pictures online of what others had done. I decided to work from the outside. Now that I’ve cut into it, I can see many reasons why this was the way to go. The main reason is I can access the whole transom, only a small portion of it would have been accessible from the cockpit.
First I removed all of the hardware from the boat (I forgot the data plate initially). The next step was more of a just in case, I taped a large piece of paper to the transom just below the rub-rail and used a crayon to mark the edges. I wanted to have a template of the shape on hand.
Once that was completed I grabbed a piece of scrap 1x2 laying around the garage and used it to make a mark around 1 ˝ “ from the edges of the boat, I actually came down that distance from the rub rail as well.
Once I had the shape of the cutout marked. I used my pneumatic cutting wheel to “follow the lines”. This produced a pretty nasty dust so I made sure to wear my goggles and dust mask.
I didn’t want to cut too deep at first; I just wanted to see if the outer skin would peel away.
I could tell it was loose for the most part, so I ended up cutting through the wood core as well just because.
In some places I stopped using my cutting wheel and used my oscillating tool. It was easier to control and actually made less noise than my compressor trying to keep up with demand of the cutting wheel. Either tool would have been fine to complete the task at hand though.
Once I had the transom cut free, I still needed to remove the brass drains. I used a pair of lineman’s pliers to "unfold" the outside flared edge and just pushed it through into the cockpit. I now had the rear of my boat wide open.
And the fiberglass skin that I removed was still in tact.
What I found was that the wood core was soaked. Keep in mind the boat has been in my garage and not in the water for at least 5 months. The transom was WET! And the layers just completely separated. I reached in to feel around a bit, only to find that the wood core beneath the floor of the cockpit is also soaked and rotting. I can feel about 12” of that plywood before I get to the foam I inserted just before last summer as part of the bulkhead project. Some of that foam was going to have to come out so I could access the cockpit “sub-floor”.
There’s no pretty way to describe pulling this foam out from the stern. I had epoxied the pieces together when I put it in, which I now regret. I pretty much had to cut, rip hack and pull on this foam to get it out and I made a huge mess in the process. I even got some of those lovely scrapes on my arms that only fiberglass can give. I finally got about 4 feet worth of foam out, which is further into the boat than I can reach from back here. It turns out that as far as I can reach, the wood is wet.
I’ll have to see how easily it separates from under the floor, and come up with a plan for how I will replace what I can access. I can say that the first 12" came off with very little effort. I suspect depending on what tool I come up with to help, the next 3 feet will do the same.