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Author Topic:   Repair of "Rotten" Transom
jacrider posted 09-03-2002 10:43 PM ET (US)   Profile for jacrider   Send Email to jacrider  
I asked a fiberglass repair shop to fix some minor cracks on my (new to me) mid 80's 13'. When I received a call back from him, he told me the boat is a write-off as the wood in the transom is rotten. He said the repair costs are far in excess of the value of the boat.

He said the hull needs to be "split" in two, the wood for the transome repaired and then the two halves (top/deck and the bottom/hull) put back together.

Has anyone heard of this problem before?
Is the suggested repair normal?
Am I being sold a bill of goods?
Is this something I can undertake myself?
Is there an easier repair method?

We like the boat and would like to see it repaired, but I only paid $3,000 CDN for the boat, motor and trailer.



Hendrickson posted 09-03-2002 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hendrickson  Send Email to Hendrickson     
Take a look at and their product called "Seacast". You could go in through the top of the transom, or if you wanted to be different, flip the boat over and go in from the bottom. If I try this I am going to fill the area enough to make my drain tube solid glass/composite.
JohnAz posted 09-03-2002 11:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
The shop is snowing you,,,,i just turned a "Jet Boat" into a 2 engine on set backs, center console, and did the work my self,,,it is not impossible to do and not all that expensive,,,
dfmcintyre posted 09-04-2002 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Andrew -

Problem can be found in older Whalers where either the engine mount holes or the drain tube integrity has been compromised.

Your shop probably has never attempted to split the hulls, which I think would be almost impossible, as the wet foam bonds with the inside of both hulls.

Ask the shop about the price of slicing open the stern from the outside, building up the wood and replacing the glass. That was the way it was done on mine, and it turned out just fine.

If you've had fiberglass repair experience, _and_ have a decent shop and equipment to work on it, you could do it yourself.


jameso posted 09-04-2002 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jameso  Send Email to jameso     
GET THE BOAT OUT OF THAT SHOP! They obviously know little of a Whaler, You cannot split a foam filled hull like you do a Sea Ray. If you don't want to do the job and consider it a write off let me know, I will pick the boat up.
DaveNJ posted 09-04-2002 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for DaveNJ  Send Email to DaveNJ     
Get a second opinion. There are probably some other shops around that can make the repair. Even if you have to drive a bit...

hope it turns out alright.

DJS posted 09-04-2002 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for DJS  Send Email to DJS     

To get a better idea of what would be involved in repairing your transom, look at the book titled "Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance" Catalog Number 002-550, available from Gougeon Brothers, Inc., P.O. Box 908, Bay City, MI 48707, 517-684-7286, Fax 517-684-1374. This book is also available at West Marine and costs $2.99. Look at pages 33-39. This may help you decide if you want to do it yourself, or if you even want to repair it.

Hope this helps.


Taylor posted 09-04-2002 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
When we cut apart Chain Saw Whaler (the most pathetic early 70's 13 you would ever hope to see, with a hull completly saturated with water all through the foam) the wood in the transom was fine. It still smelled of tree resin when we cut into it. Tom Clark made a point of checking the transom wood, he even disected the area around the drain tube.

I'd want to know what evidence the shop has that the transom is rotten. It could be rotten, but how do they know? Did they take core samples or sniff at the drain tubes. You can smell dry rot, it has a slightly sweet oder. Or did they just assume it was rotten.

Wayneman posted 09-04-2002 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wayneman  Send Email to Wayneman     
Jacrider, the opinion from that woodshop sounds like it is coming from someone who uses a chainsaw for interior room alterations...
jimh posted 09-05-2002 09:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To temper the experience of Taylor, I think that the Chain Saw Whaler (CSW) hull was probably used in salt water. I believe that dry rot in wood is suppressed in salt water, but flourishes in fresh water.

If the boat in question were used in fresh water, the state of the wood may be different than CSW's transom.

Nevertheless, it is good to double check on the finding of "rotten transom".

jimh posted 09-05-2002 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Administrative post]
Tom W Clark posted 09-05-2002 10:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Actually, one of the remarkable things about CSW was that it was NEVER in salt water until we launched it the one time in Santa Cruz last January. The boat had spent its entire life on Lake Tahoe, a fresher body of water than most.

As an aside, I think that saltwater kept Whalers have an advantage over fresh water boats. If there is any water saturation in the hull, the salt will help preserve any wood that has gotten wet

Taylor is right about the integrity of the plywood in CSW's transom. I was very surprised to find absolutely no rot in there. The only thing I can think of is the temperature at Tahoe being colder than most places. There certainly was opportunity for air to reach the plywood via numerous holes.

I have confirmed with Whaler that they do not use pressure treated plywood now or in the past. It is just two layers of 3/4" fir plywood. The plywood in CSW is Douglas Fir which does have a high natural rot resistance and this may have helped.

I too am skeptical of the repair shop's verdict that the transom repair will "total" the boat. If it were my boat I would consider undertaking the repairs myself along the lines of what Don describes being done to his boat. I do not believe it would be that difficult and I would not use epoxy, which I think is more trouble and expense than it's worth. Whalers are built of polyester resin so why not use that material for the repair?

Jinfun posted 09-05-2002 04:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jinfun  Send Email to Jinfun     
Hi Andrew,

By no means a Whaler expert, but what the shop is telling does make any sense. A agree with the other suggestion of repairing the transom from the outside. I have a good moisture meter (non-destructive) if you want to borrow and check for yourself.

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