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1981 Robalo R2020


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Ok, its been a few days but making progress. I have the core material removed as far as I can and have cleaned up the majority of the fiberglass expect some detail cleaning in the side edges. The inside skin down to the hull is all clean and really looks good. The hull edges have been sanded, tapered and ready for the outer skin when I get to that point. I have measured the spacing between the inner skin to outer and found from the hull up roughly 12" it was 1 5/8". From there is decreases quickly to 1 3/8" and remains at that distance so reinforcing the inner skin will decrease the spacing a bit further. The photo below shows the work to date and has a tan area (it is actually fiberglass even though it looks a bit like foam) that was so bad that when grinding, it just kept peeling off. I ground back until I got to decent fiberglass. So here are some thoughts and questions.

1. Where I ground the fiberglass back I was going to build that back up by laminating 1.5 oz CS followed by 1 or 2 layers of 1708.

2. If the spacing will not allow for Coosa board, etc. I will need to raise the height of the inner and outer skin as you described before. Should this be done prior to rebuilding the inner skin?  

3. To rebuild the inner skin, what is the best way to get the inner skin on the sides to lay flat (see yellow clap in photo below)? Should it be tabbed in around the side of the transom? 

Hope this makes sense.

 

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As an update, I have cleaned the inner skin and have some final cleanup on the sides but in general looking good. Nice to see green polyester color coming through. The photo below is an update and I had to grind the center of the transom until I got to good fiberglass; the middle section just kept peeling away. There is fiberglass present even though it does not look like it. I have beveled the out edge in preparation for adding the outer skin. As for the outer skin, I should have it cleaned up in the next couple of days. A few points to clarify below:

  • Along the sides of the hull, I have measured the spacing between the inner and outer skins. Along the bottom of the hull, the spacing is 1 5/8" but moving up the sides by roughly 12" the spacing drops to 1 3/8" and remains at that distance to the top of the hull. Since the inner skin needs rebuilding the spacing will be reduced a bit further and seems tight to use 2 plies of 3/4" Coosa, etc. ?
  • The next order of work I have aside from finishing detailed cleanup is:
    • Rebuild area I ground out in the center of transom so FG is the same thickness (1.5 oz CSM/1708/1708?)
    • Repair/fill stringer and other areas
    • Rebuilding inner skin FG (1.5 oz CSM/ 2X 1708?) Should the existing skin be tied to the inner side of transom (see photo below with blue tape)?
  • After the above, depends if going with a pour or Coosa but looks like it might be pour?
  • Any other prep or items I am missing?

Also, I wanted to pass along a tool idea. I recalled on BoatworksToday youtube channel that he used a small hand held belt sander. I believe it is the Makita #9031 1 1/8" X 21" which goes for +$240. Needless to say, I would really like to have the Makita but I am not spending $240 for it. However, at Harbor Freight I found the tool in the below photo for $39.00. The belt is only 1/2" wide compared to the Makita's 1 1/8" and I have to fuss with it a bit but for the price and getting into the tight areas along the side and bottom of the hull it has been invaluable. No mistake, it is not a Makita but thought others might be interested if looking for options.

 

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I saw his sander last week and was thinking it would be something handy, too!  Let us know how it holds up.  As you say, it is not a Makita, but those crappy brushes in the HF tools seem to never wear out, regardless of how dirty the work area is.  I found the switches are what go first.  But for this kind of work, HF tools do the job and you don't feel bad if it gets trashed!

Where the transom pocket narrows from bottom to top and you want to go with the Coosa coring, I would probably install the first layer of coosa to the inner skin, then let it set up.  Be sure to use wedges to push it up against the inner skin to insure as good  a joint as possible.  Some 2x4's temporarily attached to the transom across the open areas can be used for something to push against.  Once this is set up, fit the second piece the best you can to the existing hull.  Doing this piece a s 2 or 3 separate pieces may be the best approach.  Don't worry about the joints not being level just yet...just get the material in place with a thickened resin and one layer of csm between the pieces.

Once this second piece is set up, fair it in the best you can at the joints using an 8-12 inch board and sandpaper (the rougher the better).  Finish up with a straight edge to see if it is flat all the way across, then it will be ready for the outer skin.

Glassing to the inner skin:  Don't worry about the csm on that.  Get it rough, blow the dust off, then go with 2 layers of 1708.  The 1708 has a layer of csm on the backside to hold resin; just be sure to roll it out to get as much of the air out as possible.   

As for where the skin is currently loose, the following comments are from a backyard hack (me!) and not a certified fiberglass repair technician!  This is a suggestion that I would consider if it was my boat.  I think it would be more difficult to work that area with that piece of skin removed.  Leave it and see if you can use some hot glue or construction adhesive between the skin and foam to hold everything in place.  Try to get it as straight as possible.  Once you glass over it, everything should tie back together as one piece as long as the old glass is prepped and clean.  Think about doing this layup using laminating resin instead of resin with wax.  If you go this way, it is important to get it as smooth as possible so no additional sanding is really necessary before the first piece of coosa goes into place.  The thought process behind this is the resin will still have a tacky feel to it and allow for a better bond with the csm and coosa board instead of having to sand and prep the surface again.  Nothing wrong with going with waxed resin if you are more comfortable...you will just need to sand and prep prior to the coosa install and will be relying more on a mechanical bond between the layups instead of a partial chemical bond with the laminating resin.

If you go with a poured transom, a lot of the fairing issues due to the change in transom thickness will be eliminated.  I think CarbonCore recommends a layer of csm and laminating resin in the transom so their material can get a good bond to the underlying fiberglass skins.

Prep work looks good so far.  Keep plugging away...it will all come together fine in the end!

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I believe overall the Coosa board will be easier since I need to raise the transom 2.5" to 3.0". My only concern has been having sufficient space for 2 X 3/4" thick boards. As for the resin I like the idea of having more than a mechanical bond so will go with the laminating resin. If I needed to cap it off for some reason I will get some PVA or wax additive. Any thoughts on PVA vs wax additive?

So based on the above, will the outer skin be needed or am I looking at building up layers of 1708 to the outside of the Coosa board and tying it into the hull. I ask mainly that if I am not going to use the outer skin, I do not want to spend time finish cleaning it up when I can be doing other prep work. Also, I am looking to start ordering materials and want to plan accordingly so I can keep moving.      

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If you are concerned about adding height to the front and back skins of the transom and relying on the coosa for a base to work against versus laying up skins to be glassed back for a poured transom, the work and effort are going to be the same.  You are still going to have to deal with tying in the front skins to the sides of the wet well area.  The joints will be identical and same applies for doing the rear skin. 

I made new skins for my transom by laying 1 layer of csm and 5 layers of 1708 biax cloth on a waxed piece of tile board so I had a flat panel to work with.  Once set up, cut it to fit the opening on the back of the transom, beveled the edges and glassed in place.  If you were to go poured transom, fit the front transom skin in place using some wood in the transom pocket fastened to the hull with wood screws.  Bevel the edges of the new skin and hull in the wet well area, having at least 6" of ground glass in the wet well. 

Do not try to glass into that 90 degree corner...it will be a royal pain!  Instead, make a nice filet out of unwaxed resin and cabosil thickened like peanut putter (go a little low on the hardner as the cabosil will hold heat and make it kick off faster than normal).  Load it into a plastic zip lock bag, cut a corner out of the bag, and use your improvised pastry bag to lay a decent bead of the thickened resin where the two pieces meet.  Take a section of 3/4" pvc tubing and drag it down that bead of resin, making a nice smooth filet.    Scrape off any excess, then let it set up.  Return the next day and do your progressive layers of 1708 over the joint and done.  Repeat same concept for the outer skin.

Kind of jumping around now...

The reason I keep leaning towards the poured transom is the fact that the width changes in the wrong direction.  If it got a little wider, no problem adding a few layers of fabric to make the thickness.  Grinding coosa is messy!

Since additional material will be needed to make up that void on the back skin, I would not bother with the old piece and just lay up a new one as described above.  But, that back skin may be big enough for the front transom skin.  Don't throw it out yet.  If it looks ugly, no problem as long as it is structurally sound.  It is all going to get painted in the end.

Install the skins an inch or so higher than necessary, then cut them to the correct height after all the work is done.  Better to have to remove material then having to figure out a way to add to the height.

I prefer shooting PVA over unwaxed gelcoat or resin versus adding wax.  The PVA can be easily removed once finished with a water washdown.  Getting rid of the wax for additional layers is a little more complex.  This was also part of the reason I went with vinylester resin instead of polyester...to avoid the wax and get the added bonding strength of the vynilester.

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Looks like Carbon core is going to be roughly 100 lbs based on the volume of the core area. The outboard has a dry weight of 380 lbs. I cannot find any information on transom weight loads except not to exceed 200 hp. Any idea if these weights are ok?   

 

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One other thing about the poured transom that I thought about after my last reply; that area on the inner skin where it looks to have delaminated from the original woven roving, the poured material would be able to "lock" those loose areas in better than a solid material as the poured material would be able to work its way into any areas that may have a crack or opening in the laminate.

Where did you see the information to not exceed 200 hp?  

1 1/2" Coosa Bluewater 26 weighs 108 lbs for a 4x8 sheet.  Coosa 20 weighs 80 lbs for the same size sheet. 1 sheet of 3/4" marine fir plywood weighs 60 lbs, so figure 120 lbs for comparing to the composite solutions.  Based on this, really any one is fine as there would be no significant weight penalty for any of them.  What I feel is one of the important things is fastening the new skins to the core material where the 5" transom height increase is going in.  As long as the skins are properly bonded to the core material and old skin, the overall structure will be as good as new.  This applies to any transom core; not just carbon core.  Those skins will stiffen the underlying core tremendously by eliminating potential flexing.

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We never published a max weight for the transom Per say. The 200 hp figure is made by a measurement calculation under NMMA and U.S. Coastguard standard . ( another  story on the formula And calculations )  We used the weight of the largest outboard at the time on our static water testing . However the boat is set up for twin outboards and at the time your boat was made twin 70 hp OMC motors were the best to use as the area they had to be mounted would allow room to work on the motors.  ( years down the road Twin YAMAHA 90hp would work The best)  a single 200 hp OMC was app. 380 lbs and a set

of Twin 70 hp. Is 460 lbs App. (230 lb ea) so you could put on a Yamaha 200 hp 25”  4 stroke As it weighs 489 lbs app. or the newer Suzuki 4 cylinder 200 hp weighs  498 lbs app.

So a newer 200 hp 25” shaft is going to be a lot heavier But if you move things around ( like batteries under console (150lbs )
but with the light weight materials your using in transom will help .Hmm maybe one of the new 30” leg motors just build the transom taller and beef it up with the stringers ??? 

Just my 2 cents worth . 

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Greatly appreciate the information. The 200 hp max came from an owners manual I saw on line for a 1981 R2020. I did not print it off but wish I had. One issue I have had with the wet well drains. If two adults (average size) are in the rear of the boat water starts pouring in the wet well and into the boat. Maybe their location changed when the transoms were rebuilt. The batteries have always been located in the forward compartment of the center console and I plan on leaving them there. I do not have many photos of the boat in the water but have attached one to give you a feel for how she sits.

I will be going forward with CarbonBond and will post updates and photos as I go.

Again thank you for the information.    

Robalo R2020_LI.jpg

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Ok...that makes sense on the hp question.  I thought you were referring to a carbon core transom maxing out at 2oo hp.  That is why I was a little confused.

Please take lots of pictures of the pour process for others to see.  As for the scuppers, get a set of ping pong scupper valves.

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This will cut down tremendously the amount of water coming back in.

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I have the majority of the materials on order. I was planning to use vinylester resin for the transom area given better general properties for water resistance, strength etc compared to polyester resin. However, I have read about the following for VE:

  • Limiting sequential layups to 1/8" due to excessive heat-on the inner skin of the transom there is an area (12"X 20") where I plan to use 2 layers of 1708 then 1 to 2 layers of 1708 over the full area of the inner skin to build it back up. In the one area there will be 4 layers of 1708 which I would expect to be over the 1/8" thickness. 
  • Sensitivity of Vinylester to temperature and humidity

Any suggestions, feedback experience is appreciated. 

 

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My rebuild was all vinylester.  Transom layup was 6 layers of 1708, all done at one time with air temp around 82-85 degrees.  Two things I did to hold down the heat; 1 - cut back some on the catalyst to slow the reaction and 2 - mixed small batches of resin (around 24 ounces) and poured catalyzed resin into a disposable paint pan.   #1 can also be achieved by refrigerating/cooling the resin prior to mixing.  The reason for #2 was to spread the resin out to dissipate the heat generated by the chemical reaction over a larger surface.  If the catalyzed resin was in a cup for the same volume, the heat would not dissipate as fast and end up raising the temp of the resin, thus speeding up the catalyzing process. 

My experience with vinylester is getting that last 2-5% cure takes a little effort.  Post curing takes care of this.  Seeing you are in Florida, drape a piece of black plastic over the transom layup and let the sun heat it up for a day.  I would cheat since I am a little further north.  I would build a temporary tent over the immediate area with a tarp or plywood, then run a small electric heater over the enclosed area.  Get the temp up around 110 degrees for an hour or so is enough to get a good post cure.  This will also help in excessive humid environments.

If you are still concerned about playing with post curing, the polyester resins will give good results, too.  These old boats were built polyester resin that was nowhere near the quality that is available today and they held up darn well.  Plus, lots of repair work done by fiberglass shops are done with poly.  Vinylester is a little better on the bonding aspect and very good water and chemical resistance.  Since you are going with the poured transom, either choice will be fine.

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All very interesting and helpful. I’m going to be in the same boat so to speak. I had a verbal quote of 6k plus from a reputable local fiberglass shop. I have an inquiry into another shop and I’m waiting to here back, although he sounded too busy to take this on over the winter. Of course, there is my boat guy too, I’m just not sure if he is up to the task of a transom rebuild this winter. Or his cost.
 

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

Sorry for the radio silence; since my last post I was very busy gathering materials and waiting for a break in the weather before beginning the transom build. I started back working on the transom a little over a week ago and have just been pushing through. If there are details not covered where you might want additional information/photos let me know. I will give an overview of the key parts which follows chronologically pretty close to the order that I worked. I have included photos below the write-up and hope it makes sense.  

1. To raise the transom height to 25" I laminated two panels roughly 59" long X 4" wide each. Each panel has 5 layers of 1708 that got me just shy of 1/4" thick. I wanted  the length to extend beyond the opening on each side and the 4" height was more than needed but I felt it is better to be too high at this point. I had a dead flat piece of oak that I covered with wax paper. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the panels but there are photos below with them being installed. In general, the process went without any issues but I could not believe how much polyester resin the 1708 sucked up.

2. FG panel lay-up on outer and inner skins: Just for info, the panels were laminated to the inner/outer skins before #3 and #4 below. I cleaned up the two panels to make sure I have straight edges. To fit the panels, I placed the panel on the skin and scribed skin profile on the panel which is why I wanted the panels longer and wider than what was needed. I used a flap disc to work back to the scribe line; it fit like a glove. For the lay-up. I tapered each side of the panel and skin to allow for two layers of 1708 on each side of the panel/skin. On the inside of the inner skin, I formed fillets using thickened poly with milled FG fibers. The 1708 widths were 2.5" and 4". So on the inner side of both skins the panel will have a total of 4 layers of 1708 and one layer of CSM. 

3. Outer skin: When I started cleaning up the outer skin, I found that is was in worse shape than I realized. I ended up grinding all the gelcoat off the out side layer except for the area that has the boats ID#. I found an incredible number of holes that had been previously filled. At this point, based on what I have seen from previous work I was not taking any chance so I drilled out the holes just slightly more than the original hole to expose fresh FG (looked like a piece of swiss cheese). Each hole was slightly dished and filled with poly/1708; the backside was taped with heavy duty packing tape to keep the resin in place. On the core side of the outer skin, I filled each of the holes as described above then laid two layers of 1708 and one layer of 3/4 oz CSM. The CSM will be the tie layer to the Carbon Core pourable transom compound (PTC). 

4. Inn skin: Removed gelcoat down 8" and across entire inside width of transom to include the storage boxes. Filled holes as need (same as above).The inside skin was bowed out and needed to be drawn back straight. I screwed a 2x4 across the inside of the transom down roughly 12" from the top; I slowly drew the skin  in until it was as straight as I could get it. In the center of the inner skin (facing out) I needed to build up an area where I removed original or previous FG that was not even attached. I laid up two layers of 1708 to bring it back to the same thickness. Because I was using polyester without wax I let this set up and came  back over the entire area with two layers of 1708 followed by 3/4 oz CSM.

5. Reattaching outer skin: I did a dry fit of the outer skin and was elated that it fit! 🙂 My biggest concern was that it might not fit or require a lot of propping up but it actually stood in place and I only needed to add some clamps at the top to hold the skin in place. The outside surface had been tapered to allow for three layers of 1708. The widths of each layer were 3.0" 4.5" and 6.5" across the cut line. The lay-up went without any issues.

6. Carbon Core PTC: Once the outer skin was reattached, I drilled the holes for the new brass tubes for the wet well and sealed around them to prevent any leaks. Since the transom has a "U" shape, I wanted to have a continuous pour of the PTC to maximize the strength across the entire transom. I looked at a number of ways to dam the transom but ultimately went to the heavy duty packing tape. It may not be the best way but in the end it worked very well (maybe I just got lucky 🤪. I left holes at the very top of the inside of the transom to insert a funnel and feed  in the PTC needed to fill the upper portions of the transom. In the end, it all worked out; this is my first ever transom so I have nothing to compare what I did to a more traditional approach using Coosa board/ply, etc. but hear are some thoughts having gone through the pour process:

  •  First and foremost, I found the Carbon Core company and personnel extremely helpful and very prompt on shipping the material and coordinating its delivery. 
  • The product is very user friendly.
  • I have two heavy duty 1/2" drills and they took a beating; pretty much burned one up. When they say to get a heavy duty drill, if you do not own one rent one if you  do not want to buy one. 
  • I am used to doing things on my own but felt that I would need assistance for this part of the transom and luckily my wife agreed to assist. If you have a fairly straight forward transom no "U" shape you might be able to do it alone but I would find a friend just in case things do not go as smoothly as you expect.  
  • One thing I would do differently is to leave the transom open across the top. I relied on pouring in the center and the material flowing to the sides. The PTC product does flow but not to the extent that I through it would. My transom is 86" wide and that is too wide to expect this material to flow out and continue to move all the way to the edges. So, I (my wife) end-up needing to take a long stick and work it to make sure it was getting all the way to the transom's edge.
  • The calculated amount of PTC needed for my transom was around 2.75 five-gallon pails. The working time was not an issue with the first two pails as I was mixing and pouring but as I started filling the upper/sides of the transom where I was dipping out of the pail and pouring into a funnel, it took longer than expected. I was on the ragged edge towards the end of the pour.
  • The air temperature was 82F with humidity (Florida weather) and I probably should have backed off the MEKP a bit further. I was concerned about working time but also not going too light on the MEKP. By the time we finished, it was kicking off...could not have cut it any closer!! 
  • The PTC heated up quite a bit but it was a good way to tell if the material got to all the areas. I was pleasantly surprised it got across the transom fully and all the way to the top on the sides.  
  • If I had it to do over again; I would still use Carbon Core PTC!      

I still need to cleanup the transom and prep for glass work. I am planning to round over the edges of the panels and use 2 or 3 layers of 1708 along the top edge coming over the sides to cap the PTC and tie the inner and outer skins together...comments welcome on this thought process. 

 

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I screwed boards to the inside to allow the panel to follow the contour of the skin and be in plane with the skin

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Panel on inner skin glassed in. The fillets are just visible. 

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Outer skin dry fit.

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Outer skin glassed in

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Prepped for the pour...

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Cardboard funnel worked great! 

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Top  view of tape dam and clamps to hold the top. I had a 2x4 ready if I needed to span across the middle of the transom to prevent a bow but the outer skin did not budge. Funnel and scoop bucket are in the background.

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The pour is over and cooled off. All clamps and tape are off; ready for the next step to cap the PTC with 1708 tie the inner and outer skins together. 

 

 

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Not a whole lot to say other than DAMN GOOD JOB!  Sounds like you owe the wife a dinner for her help, too!  All the steps you did leading up to the pour look like what I could have done.

Glad you got the pour done on that third batch.  Was it starting to kick in the bucket or in the transom.  If the transom, the heat from the material already in there caused your last batch to start kicking faster.  Also, nothing wrong about cutting back a little on the catalyst.  I am kind of suprised the instructions did not have a base temperature for the catalyst rate and any suggestions for higher ambient temperature.  But, as long as you got it all in one pour, that is what counts.

1708 can make the resin disappear.  In a perfect world for a hand laminate (no vacuum bagging), figure 1 yard of 1708 is 25 oz weight, so the same weight resin would be required (and I know industry standard is a 60:40 ratio fabric:resin, but we are not that good!).  Using the bubble buster roller does get a little more resin utilization after the first layer of fabric since it compacts the fabric stack and excess resin will flow to the dry material.

How do you plan on doing the roundover edge on the top of the transom; just hand sand to a rough shape or use a router bit?  Whatever method, just be sure to grind a taper on the new glass for the joint.  Cut your fabric strips as needed, then wet out on the transom.  Give it your best effort with the roller.  Now cut a strip of plastic so it extends past each side of the wet fabric 4-6 inches and lay over the fabric.  Tape one side of the plastic to the inside of the transom.  Pull the other edge of the plastic tight over the top of the transom and tape it down on the other side, pulling the fabric tight to the transom.  3" wide tape works great for this and don't skimp on the amount of tape needed.  Try not to cover the plastic over the fabric so you can see it and use the roller to help get a good bond.

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First I am so appreciative for all the suggests and helpful tips provided here as I would not have been able to do it otherwise!! 👍👍

For the transom pour, I noticed that transom was already getting very warm after the first tow pails so I believe you are correct the heat from the first 2 pails was kicking off what I was added in the sides from the third pail. From start to finish the pour took about 40 minutes.

The instructions that came with the PTC/MEKP were very good and provided a catalyst dosing chart based on air temperature. Just to be sure I had it right, I called and spoke with a technician at Carbon Core about the amount of MEKP to add per 5 gallon pail. He suggested 180 ml/pail based on our air temperature but I was closer to 190 ml. I could have probably backed off to 165 to 170 ml/pail and still be fine but the last thing I wanted was uncured material somewhere in the transom.      

On the hand laminate, I did use the bubble buster and applied light pressure to remove air bubbles and excess resin. I wish I would have taken photos of the panels as they turned out well. 

For rounding over the transom edges I was planning to use a grinder but using a router with a round over bit sounds much better. Woodworking is my first passion and I have a couple of older routers and round over bits I can use...great idea! Also, for glassing over the top of the transom, I understand what you are describing about the plastic which is a good idea; my question concerns the fiberglass strips. I was thinking the 1708 would run length wise along the top of the transom extending over the inner and outer skins by say 2" each side then would be followed up with a 2nd layer of 1708 running the same way but extending 4" over the inner/outer skins. Should it be done differently?

Once the transom is capped and faired in, I will be tackling the deck (numerous stress cracks in the gelcoat) and hull (some scars from a couple of oyster beds) and paint for the hull and topside. Still a ways to go!     

 

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Reverse the layup; go wider first then narrow strip on top.  There have been more debates on going small first or large first.  A boat builder pointed out to me if you go widest first, the build up with narrower strips when using a fabric similar to 1708, you tend to have longer fibers in the laminate as the bottom layer will extend the furthest and have the least amount of sanding on it, not compromising the fibers in the fabric.  The narrowest strip will get most of the sanding and fairing.  Reverse the order, starting with the narrowest strip first, that top layer with the long fibers is going to end up being the sacrificial layer.  I don't know if anyone has ever done joint failure testing on the two scenarios, but what old man said did make some sense.  It would probably be fine either way, though, as long as the fabric is completely wetted out, rolled out to get rid of the trapped bubbles, and the underlying glass was rough sanded for a good mechanical bite.

Be sure you use some of the trashed router bits!  I even used one when I made the windlass mounting pad on the boat.  Had a piece of 1/2" aluminum plate cut with a water jet and forgot to tell them to round the edge.  Had a fairly used up bit at the house...worked good for the purpose but it was junk after chewing through aluminum!

You kind of sound like me about the pictures of those panels once rolled out!  Few people can appreciate when what you are working on turns out like a text book picture.

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