1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

Questions about boat repairs with our resins and fiberglass: hull patches, transoms and stringers, foam, rot etc.
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VeroWing
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1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

Post by VeroWing »

Hello to all. I'm Mike and I've recently undertaken doing a transom rebuild on my 22' 1984 Grady White Seafarer. It actually started two years ago when I purchased this boat at a very good price with the knowledge that it was going to need some extensive repairs. I have owned a couple other 80s Gradys and they served me well, without many problems, and I like the way they run offshore.
Mine came with a 200hp Johnson outboard that needed lower unit work. I fixed that up quickly, and the next problem was fuel cell cover section of cockpit floor, as well as another removable cockpit floor cover. I did a search on internet, seeking some diy guidance, as well as material and repair techniques. To my surprise, the best place I found was right here. The really great thing about that is, they are located in the same town that I live in. I went to their location, and they had me well on my way to getting those floor covers rebuilt to better and stronger than new.
This year I decided to pull and sell the 200hp Johnson, and replace it with a pair of Tohatsu 115s with only 100 hours on them. I bought them for an extremely good price. I knew my transom had some moisture in it, so I decided after pulling the engine, to thoroughly check it out. I started by removing the dreaded aluminum angle molding hiding the seam of the exterior notched area of the transom. I probed around with an awl and found plenty of soft wood underneath. Next I decided to remove 2 1/4" gelcoated strip on top of transom notch. My thinking was that I would dig out the bad wood, which of course would not be too much, and then maybe fill it with Seacast or similar product.
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Well, this is what I found. Pretty soft wood that I could easily push a screwdriver through anywhere.
Last edited by VeroWing on Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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I knew then that it was worse than I originally had thought. Odd thing was that I would have never known how bad it really was until I decided to go with twin outboards.
Anyway, it was time to get serious and forget about the "Seacast type" of repair. I removed the complete top cap off of transom notch and started digging out bad wood with sharpend crobars and an assortment of other "Rube Goldberg" like tools. This is how it started looking.
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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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No matter how far I dug down or to the sides, I kept coming up with wet rotten wood. Not good at all. I could see it was time to take the gloves off, and really dig in to the project wholeheartedly.
I dug up the number and address for "Boat Buider Central" and gave them a call. Great, they'll at the same nearby address. I stopped by with a couple pics of what I had found sofar and asked their opinion. They told me pretty much what I had known, that all the inside wood would have to come out and replaced with new, as well as new inside fiberglass, possible stringer damage, cut back floor area to gain access, etc., etc., etc.. I bought four sheets of their recommended replacement plywood, epoxy, and plenty of glass.
Back home decided to go ahead and cut floor section out from transom towards bow around 12"-14". This would be a good area that would be the least actual cutting/repairing of visible gelcoat splashwell floor/side area. This is because in this area there is a removeable cover hatch on floor about two foot long, and two battery compartments, one on either side, that have teak covers on them.
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They also told me I should cut section of topsides(cap) off, which would make it much easier to construct transom core as one unit and then install/epoxy it to the existing transom fiberglass hull skin, which is in nice shape. I just didn't have enough faith in my ability to reinstall/repair the visible cap section without it looking shbby, so I elected to build the transom in the boat, one sheet at a time. More on that to follow.

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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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Ok, now I had some room to operate. I took out the Homelite chainsaw, a sawsaw, and some other tools to cut, chip, grind, and remove remaining transom wood. For the record, and my surprise, all wood in transom was wet, rotten, and severely compromised. I think, had I not decided to rebuild this transom, and been offshore in a storm with big waves, that this transom could had actually let go. There was only the strength of the fiberglass. I think I dodged a big bullet.
Amazingly, stringers leading in to transom, as well as subfloors on either side that also went into transom wetre all dry and in excellant condition. I dremel cut glass at intersection points to transom on these.
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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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Next, I cleaned and sanded interior finish of transom fiberglass and all builtup areas of old resins, glass, on sides, bottom, etc.. I also removed trim tabs, transducer, eye hooks, from outside transom.
I did some calculations and searches to determine best locations and heights for newly purchased twin 25" outboards. I concluded, with help from various forums, that I would extend the new transom higher by three inches. This will result in placing the cavitation plates of outboards about even with hull bottom at their mounting locations, an optimum performance condition.
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Last edited by VeroWing on Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

Post by tech_support »

Mike, thank you for posting the pictures and for sharing your rebuild with the forum. I know this will help a lot of other guys who have a similar project.

With the supplies you picked up last week, you should have it about wrapped up.

Joel

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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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I'm getting there Joel. I really appreciate the guidance I received from you guys. Saved me from making at least a few critical errors along the way.
Getting back to the project, after prepping interior transom fiberglass I measured down a few inches from original transom top and snapped a chalk line from one side to the other. Then, about one foot from the starbord side, I squared a line from the horizontal one from top to bottom. These will serve as reference points to get all my measurements for plywood sections. After transferring measurements to first plywood sheet and triplechecking, I cut the first piece. Before I did anything else, I traced this cutout to the next full plywood sheet.
I tried every which way to get cut piece in place, but I could not get it in because I didn't cut the rear top boat cap out of the way. I called Boat Builder Central again and they assured me that I could cut each layer of plywood into two pieces if the cuts are strategically staggered away from each other and properly epoxied, without compromising the strength of transom.
It went smooth after cutting in two, and I fitted pieces in, making sure to maintain 1/2-3/4" around plywood perimeter. On to the next piece, being sure to transfer outlines to next plywood sheet before installing.
After installing two plywood sheets, I made an epoxy mix with wood flour, cut glass, and glass powder, to a mash potatoes-like consistency. I took this paste and filled the void around the edges of plywood and existing boat interior bottom and sides. I could of waited until all four layers of plywood were installed, but then I could not be sure that I might of left voids in this filler. I figured it would be better to do it after each two layers.
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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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Continued installing remaining two layers of plywood. Then mixed another batch of epoxy paste to fill the space between last two sheets and interior hull bottom and sides, being sure to build a radius of the corners.
Note on plywood layer installations. Each layer, when installed, was thoroughly wetted out on edges and side being epoxied to boat. Side not being epoxied in at that time was not epoxied, making working and fitting piece in place considerably easier, and not as messy. This was one of the helpful hints from Joel. It also made it better for tightly clamping layers inplace. Each layer was clamped securely, as well as screwed through existing exterior holes from attachments, and also braced in place, assuring a strong, solid one piece transom when complete.
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After this had set up and dried for a day, I sanded and smoothed the radiuses to accept biaxial 45/45 12oz. 6" wide fiberglass tape. Four layers were applied to all interior transom to hull corners, including stringer connections, and sufflooring. Each layer was staggered 1" from the previous to enhance bonding. When wetting these layers in, each was followed directly by the other, insuring a chemical bonding.
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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

Post by VeroWing »

After sanding down any high spots and roughing up finish, I measured out first layer of 12oz biaxial fiberglass cloth. Actually what I did was, before I installed last layer of plywood to transom, I traced it onto the fiberglass cloth, being sure to add 3-4" around perimeters, and an extra 6 to 8" to go around extended height transom notched area.
Each of the four fiberglass cloth layers were progressively increased around the perimeters by several more inches. This was done by first tracing one layer to the next, and then adding 2-3" to each.
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There was some trimming to be done during the wetting in of these four layers, and I must admit that this was by far the messiest of all the epoxy work to date. I stayed with it though, and managed to install all cloth layers, one right after the other. I was very happy and VERY sticky upon completing this phase.
Another important note is, before applying fiberglass cloth, I used a trimmer(small router) and a 1/4" round bit to round off edges of newly installed corners of plywood in the interior and exterior of transom notch. This is necessary to assure a complete bonding of fiberglass cloth to transom area without voids or air pockets. If left as a square corner, fiberglass will not bond securely. Thanks again for that tip BBC.
Last edited by VeroWing on Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1984 Grady White Seafarer Transom Rebuild

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Decided to clean up the whole bilge area while it was opened up. Since the Johnson 200 was being replaced with a pair of twin 115s with hydraulic steering, all controls, steering, harness, etc., were removed at this time. I also removed an old thru-hull transducer from previous owner, as well as a small 4"square of bad plywood that was used to secure the bilge pump. Bilge was washed with detergent and then acetone, sanded and wiped again with acetone. I picked up some white epoxy paste pigment from Boat Buider Central, and mixed up a batch of whte epoxy to coat the bilge.
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On the home stretch now, started fitting in the removed rear cockpit floor section. Dimensions are ever so slightly different from original, but I would guess they are surprisingly within 1/16" to 1/8" from original. I sanded and slightly trimmed areas that were pressing on each other and temporarily clamped section into place. Looks like a fit. Maybe a little more refining then I will epoxy some strips in place to accept and secure the floor section back in place. It also goes up the transom 10" or so, and that will need to be epoxied in place also.
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Click on page two (2) on bottom right to see latest progress.
Last edited by VeroWing on Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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