The transom is the stern area of your boat, the area surrounding the engine. This square-shaped rear of the boat provides stability to the boat and allows the power of the motor to be transferred to the rest of the boat. On small recreational boats, the transom is generally only large enough to house an inboard motor, or is where an outboard motor is mounted. Because the transom is vital to the function of the boat, transom repair should be approached with caution.
The type of boat you own will make a big difference as to how easily the transom can be repaired. Large boats may require that you hire a professional to handle the repairs, but with small boats it is possible to perform the repairs yourself. Most transom repair jobs involve rotten wood inside the transom area. In some cases, though, the fiberglass may also require repairs.
Diagnosing the Problem
Diagnosing the problem doesn’t require a professional. Generally you will see signs of a leak, or the transom area may have soft spots where the wood is beginning to rot. If you suspect a rotten transom, you can try a few methods to further diagnose the problem. Knocking on various parts of the transom may reveal areas that simply sound different, a sign that there is rot. You can also drill small holes in the areas where you suspect rot is occurring and see how the wood appears. If you see sawdust, rot is unlikely. But if the wood comes out in wet-looking chunks, odds are good the transom is rotten. Once you have confirmed the rot, you can proceed with transom repair.
Transom Repair Techniques
There are a couple of ways to go about transom repair. One is to simply replace the wood section of the transom. If you find rot in any section, it’s best to remove the entire transom to be certain all areas of rot are gone. You don’t want to be repairing it again in a few years. You will probably have to cut away and grind down some of the fiberglass during this process. Be sure you are using all the proper safety gear when you are performing the removal of the transom and preparation of the area for the new wood.
The alternative to replacing the wood in the transom is to use a pourable material designed specifically for creating a sold, stable transom area. This requires completely opening the transom, but if you have removed all of the rotten wood, you have probably done this anyway. Pourable materials like Seacast are an excellent option if you have the time and skills to put into this form of transom repair. You won’t have to worry about transom rot in the future.
If you choose to do all of the repair work yourself, try to get a friend to help. You will need to pull the boat out of the water for most of the repairs. Spend some time talking to an expert before you start, and make sure you have a step-by-step outline of what needs to be done and in what order. Once you begin the process, there is no turning back – your boat can’t hit the water again until the transom repair is completed. You will need some specific tools for the job such as a reciprocating saw, and if you don’t have these tools you can rent them at your local home improvement store. You can also ask around to see if you can simply borrow them from a friend.
If you have a large boat or you are not confident in your abilities, you might want to consider taking the boat to a professional. It will certainly cost you more, but the transom is a vital part of your boat and the repair must be done correctly. If you don’t know for sure that you can handle the job, it’s better to let someone else take care of it.
Transom repair is a fairly common job on older boats, and many people do all of the work by themselves. Just be sure you have the right equipment and understand fully what you are getting into! A transom repair job properly done will give your boat many more years of enjoyment on the water!