Category Archives: Fletcher 170GTO

The second major boat project. 2015 is its third season on the water, and have covered more than 1000 coastal miles in it now.

Err, it August now and engine decisions..

Not quite sure where the year has gone. Weather has been bad and work busy so things got put on hold.
With a bit more time I started looking into the engine itself. For those who don’t know these are refereed to as ‘power heads’. That simply means the engine itself. I had a couple knocking about with damage, and the plan is to make something work on this project.

Some pics:

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Stripped of ancillaries, and crank case cover removed. You can see the intake reeds main bearings and conrod big ends.

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Crank and pistons removed. Quite interesting as unknown to me, there is damage to cyl 3. One of the ring lands has cracked. No bore damage, but some crown and ring land damage.

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The damaged piston. You can see that the rings are stuck in place too. Carbon does this mostly. The rings stick, then you start to loose compression, or they can jam get caught and snap etc..

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The ring land damage.

Everything else looks fine, the bearings are good, and no issues I can see with anything other than sticky rings and a bit of sand getting into the engine, causing I believe this ring failure. Corrosion in the water ways isn’t that bad either. Clearly hardy engines these.

Soo..

I decided to then pull apart the old I6 engine that died on my mate The one in fact that had that propelled us around the IOW with the SBR massive!! This was rather more um interesting lets say.

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Both engines in bits. So I’d always known that the first I6 engine we had, had issues with its bottom water seal. And TBH it should have been fixed as soon as I saw this. I did try to remove the power head (engine block) from the mid section but it was stuck solid. 30+ years of corrosion. It wasn’t going anywhere. In the end I had to sacrifice the mid section and cut through it with an angle grinder and finally managed to separate the engine from it.

Anyway on the bench I pulled the crank case cover of and woah. Now I know what happened, namely THIS:

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On the left is a bearing carrier, the bottom crank one, and two water seals (well they were once) on the right is the old lower crank bearing- what’s left of it. The rest is around my bench and has been eaten by the pistons.. which as it happens look like this:

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Number 6 ouch… water getting into this one has ruined the conrod big end crank bearing surface, con rod and gudgeon pin bearings. Then failure of parts/rings etc has killed the piston BADLY and the bores don’t look great either.

5 isnt looking so good either:
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Notice two stuck rings.

No6 bore:
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Loads of impact marks on the combustion chamber surface.

But at the other end no 1 2 3 4 are fine, and are a perfect fit for my other engine!

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So what will happen now is I shall clean everything on the new engine, get a set of new rings and start re-assembling the whole thing with all new seals! Keypart have rings in stock, and I have everything else so shouldn’t take too long really

Time to think about an engine.

A little fill-in. The origional plan was to fit an old Mercury Tower of Power inline 6 140hp engine. I had one of these from the previous 165 project, but sadly it was in need of a lot of TLC. one of the main issues was the old skool tilt/trim unit I had. The external rams were a headache and I wanted to modernise it. I found a complete tilt/trim unit from ebay USA and had it sent over, all in for about £260. So not too bad. It was promised working and ready to go, and initially it looked fine:

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So I tested it on a battery and it made a horrific noise and seized. Hmm not good. Off cam the motor case and here is what I found:

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Turns out the motor case had suffered some kind of heavy impact breaking a corner off one of the magnets. This had jammed in the windings tearing them apart. Bad!!!

Bits of copper wire:
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So I emailed the seller saying about the problem asking if he had any new motors I could replace with. He said not but would refund $100. So I set about trying to think how to solve this. A new motor is around £150 and I didn’t want to waste even more money. So at this point I decided to do it the old-skool way…

I stripped the armature and drew down how it was wound:
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Armed with this I searched and found some suitable enamelled wire on ebay.
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Then the fun began!
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After only about 20 mins I had finished:
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And now its all back in one piece and is working absolutely fine on the bench!!

Just need to re cut some of the threads and get the correct bolts and I can fix the trim unit onto the transom bracket. After this I can start thinking about the power head!

Awesome :)

Finishing touches

A little more today, the boat is back home now here are some pics anyway:

Rubbing strips back on. They look fine, yes you can see the join but it’s not an issue at all.
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Cable cover things also now on. I didn’t notice until it was time to fit them, but they are slightly different. The height difference is also intentional. I wanted them straight, but they were previously drilled holes (not by me).
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One of the most terrifying jobs so far. Drilling into the brand new transom to fit the motor well drain tube.
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And also the bilge drain plug. I did consider not doing this since the pump would be there at all times, but since its nice to leave open just in case over winter etc, I decided it could go on.
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A perfectly dry core – and long may it stay that way! Obviously this was sealed up before the drain plug etc was fitted.
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Back seats up in position and the drain plug just visible. I didn’t take any close ups just yet.
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Also had a bracket arrive today for the outboard. Need to get a newer style tilt/trim unit. That’s proving tricky at the moment. Hopefully rapid progress on the engine front will happen now the hull is ready to accept an engine!!!

Time for some paint

Decided to get off my backside and take the boat back to the workshop today. Bodywork/paint isn’t my speciality and its so messy, but has to get done.

So with the back end of the boat stuffed in the workshop I started to sand back all the primer from the last coat, and to make the cuts less obvious. I was genuinely daunted by this. It seemed an impossible task with such an obvious cut and slight imperfections where the two top halves now joined. I decided just to be patient and see what I could do. Fortunately filler goes off quite quickly so if I had made any mistakes I could just start again until I was happy.

So after a few hours of sanding filling then repeat, I had it at a point where it looked like this:

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I decided enough and, so now to clean and prepare for the top coat, 1 litre of sprayed paint later:

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Amazing, It actually looks really good. Sure its not perfect, but its good enough that I’m happy with it. I don’t yet know how well it will blend from gelcoat to paint, but hopefully with polishing that will be fine. If all else fails I’ll paint the rest of the top half.

So the bits that really bothered me i.e. the cuts, also came out ok. I took some close ups, see what you think:

The join is where the metal strip ends… You can see my shadow in this, that’s not in the finish
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Again.. The join is where the metal strip ends…
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And finally the pic of what started this in the first place:
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I have a couple of minor runs to deal with, only 3 I think which isn’t bad considering, but for now I need to let the paint harden for a while now, I’m slightly worried that the cover is to heavy and abrasive that it may damage the paint so I’m going to see if I can leave it undercover for a week to let it fully cure, that will help.

So I’m nearly onto the next stage, I can’t wait!!! I’ll fit a new bung and motor well drain as well as a few other bits. Then I’ll start to work on the inside of the boat, this is the bit I enjoy most out of the water I think. I really can’t wait to get all the audio/engine/wiring etc on this – Exciting times ahead!!

Cosmetic chaos

So onto the job in hand. First thing was to prepare all the surfaces and fill where necessary. The top rear is close but not a prefect fit to the top front where the cut was made. Its hard to get a multidimensional surface to all line up after its been cut out, especially when it is under some loading, so some blending is needed and that is very tricky.
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About 5 hrs later after this, the transom is all protected and filled and sanded and its about ready for the first coat of primer. This will show up all imperfections and (of which there are many) and give me an idea of what I need to do with it now. To even get this far took two of us about 7hrs, but at least its beginning to get close. Trouble is I’m busy for the next few weekends so trying to get the final coat on may be a problem before mid April…

So this is how it stands now:

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Not bad when a few weeks ago it looked like this:
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Its beginning to look like a boat again.

So a little more spare time this week. I decided now was good enough to put the top half of the boat back on. Firstly I had to prep it by grinding away all the old material/wood on it. What I didn’t realise is Fletcher used quite a thick layer of built up fibreglass that all came off really easily and left me with a bit of a gap between the inner skin and the transom face. I’ll come onto that shortly however. I don’t have any pics of this, its not that interesting and very very messy.

Next was to replace the wood around the edge of the boat that had to be drilled to remove the top half.
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Then of course the holes could also be filled.
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After this had set the following day I was able to lift on the top half and see how it sat in place. After I was happy with that I secured it in place with wooden battens and screws. I also had to put a strap across the hull to pull it in a little to line it all up.

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Thankfully it sat now just as it did before.
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So with it now held in place I climbed aboard and glassed the two sections back together. This wasn’t too bad really. as well as joining the edges back into one section, I also glassed around the lower part of the engine well where it meets the transom. The reason for this was to enable me to fill the gap between the inner skin and transom without it just landing in the bottom of the hull. It also made the held everything in place really nicely.

So the next tricky bit was to fill in the gap in the transom to inner skin. This varied in thickness of around 4-8mm, and was previously filled with CSM and some kind of resin. I decided to do something essentially the same and used CSM fibreglass filler compound. I mixed it up into batches and then using a piece of wood started to force the material into the transom working from the bottom up ensuring to the best of my ability that I had not left any air pockets out. It seemed to work fine as I had the filler coming out of all the small holes in the transom.

So the end result was this:
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After it had all hardened I could then chop the transom. I measured the height and the old height was fine, so I just went off that.
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One strong transom…
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So after I had done this I gave everything a good clean down. This is now were I’m going to begin to prepare for the cosmetic finishing. I need to seal the top of the transom off but thats not a big job.
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Oh I should also say I’m going to paint this, not gel coat it. Paint for a boat that sits more out of water is fine, and its so much easier to repair, so earlier this week I went to the local automotive paint shop and found as close a match of paint as I could. What is surprising is how much the boats finish does actually vary. With that in mind I did a test. In this next pic is a paint test, in the middle of the picture is an area that has been brush painted for now just to see what the colour is like.
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And also in the middle of this one:
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So I didn’t think that is too bad. As you can see there are now holes etc that need repairing but all being well i can prepare this over the next few days and then all that just remains of this part of the project is filling sanding and painting.

More Progress!

Ok second attempt at this. Just spent an hour creating this post and I somehow managed to press back and delete it all :( teach me not to save it as I went along) so it will probably come across brief now.

Warning LOTS OF PICTURES!!

So the transom repair is done and this is how it went:

Thursday as predicted the weather was good, but after busy morning and a late start I got going early afternoon.

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Materials at hand. 5 litres of marine grade polyester and 6 litres of West systems Epoxy. This along with 5 sq meters of mat (two of CSM and 3 of Woven roving) and a large tub of West systems 406 Colloidal Silica “A thickening additive used to control the viscosity of the epoxy and prevent epoxy runoff in vertical and overhead joints. 406 is a very strong filler that creates a smooth mixture, ideal for general bonding and filleting.” This stuff sets seriously strong!

So the first job was to cut out a piece of CSM to the shape of the transom:
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Then I covered the transom with polyester resin, to give it a bit of protection. Ok – not as good as epoxy, but this is much more than it ever had before as built by Fletcher!
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The next step I don’t have any pics of as I didn’t want to ruin the camera with sticky hands – and time was short. I mixed about a litre of resin and then wetted in the cut CSM onto the back of the boat, then as quickly as I could I put in the wooden transom and secured it in place with screws from the outside of the boat pulling the transom against the boats skin.

After that was done, and panic over!! I could get on with the next stage. This was now using the West Systems Epoxy and also the 406 filler. This works by mixing the resin as normal, and adding 406 until you get the consistency of peanut butter. 406 is really strange stuff it weighs next to nothing and so will get everywhere if given the chance, anyway here is a pic with half the transom filled:
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One thing also to note is that the woven roving mat needs a contoured surface to adhere to properly. It doesn’t like right angle changes, so I made a radius edge on the filler using the hand end of a screwdriver. This worked a treat and made a radius of about 1cm.

So onto what got done today, the boat was moved into the garage as the weather was due to be bad, this was a bit tight, but managed it just!! I also had a helper my long suffering mate Si came along to give me a hand, which does make life a lot easier when working with resins that wait for no one.

So this next picture shows the other side now filled and also new fillers that were made for the stingers that run front to back along the boat, and were cut out to allow the old transom out.
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These were then glassed in place, and whilst myself and Si were feeling proud at our ‘manly’ achievements my OH arrived with some um no so manly lunch lol:
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Still cant beat some home made rainbow sponge coloured cupcakes hahaha

Anyway after that the real fun stuff started. Whilst I mixed some epoxy Si cut a load of 3 inch wide strips of woven roving strips to place along the entire edge of where the transom meets the boat skin. Woving roving applies much nicer in my opinion than chopped stand mat. It really surprised me as its the first time I’ve used it, but it looked great:
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After this was done, we repeated it again this time with 6 inch wide strips:
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All done:
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Next time for the the supports. These are much larger than Fletcher had in place. they will seriously stiffen up the back end. With this all done it should be very very strong. So the supports were put in place:
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Then in the same way all the gaps were filled with 406 filler and all edges radiused again. A three inch strip of woven roving was also applied around all the edges and then a layer of 6 inch around all the joins.

It was now ready for the final covering of roving:
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Finally all covered with expoxy:
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So that’s it for today. The transom is DONE! Sure there is lots of cosmetic work to sort out, and I need to put the top half back on, but the main structural part of the back of the boat is complete. I cant wait to see how it sets and see how strong it is. The fact I can’t even break one strand of roving with my hands, and there are thousands of them on the boat leads me to think this is going to take anything I can throw at it!!

Hope this update was interesting, its taken me ages and I had to do it twice. Worth it though I feel to show the progress! My aim is to have all this done ready for systems to be installed in a couple of weeks given the time.

So a 6 month break, now time to get more done.

Today was my first opportunity this year to properly get hands on with this project. Only 6 months since the last update, not a lot you can do when it looks like this:

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But still things have progressed.

A reminder. This is as things were last year:

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First thing was to grind away all the old wood stuck to the transom. This wasn’t actually that hard just incredibly messy, don’t have any progress pics here, as camera wasn’t to hand.

After this was complete and all of the rotten wood removed, (the stingers fortunately – and amazingly are not rotten) the new transom was again put in place:

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And new support beams made for it. I’ve made these much more substantial than the last ones, would have been mad not to given that there is plenty of room to do so:

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Quite interesting the amount of room behind the seats when seen like this. I’m probably not going to put back in the foam floatation as none of the new boats have it and if it gets to the point where it ever needed it I’d have bigger problems to think about.

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Sunday I hope to grind back all the little holes and fill them, and also remove a bit of rotten floor. Given time hopefully on Monday I shall be getting the materials for the transom which weather permitting I’ll fit next weekend.

Fletcher 170GTO – the beginning.

In November 2009 before I found the Waverider Quantum I was planning on another Fletcher. I picked up this boat for £600 with a new interior and good hull, but knowing it had a rotted transom that I would need to replace. So here we go:

Have to say I love the look of the Fletcher 170 GTO:

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Hull external. All original Gel Coat with very little signs of damage. Its had a vinyl cover over it its whole life, which unfortunately didn’t keep the water off the exposed transom wood as you’ll see in a bit.

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Very recently it had a new interior which you can see here. Its a cream leather vinyl. Still soft and nice and plush. There are some bits that could have been done better, which I do intend to correct, but its not a bad job over all.

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Fuel tank is behind the centre piece, ‘glove box’ opens in a strange direction – they all do that, no idea why?!

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Drivers seat. Finish quite nice and tight.

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Passenger seat. Finish not as good as the drivers side, but will be fine.

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Rear bench seat. A bit of a strange design on this. Not sure I like it so high so I may modify that and bring it down a bit as it spoils the lines of the boat. Also the top bench doesn’t line up exactly with the bottom, I want to sort that eventually too. Notice the brand new marine speakers. Never even had sound played through them yet!

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Another of the rear showing possible hints of the rot on the transom which has been exposed to the elements for far too long.

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And into the danger zone. Your staring at bare wood on the cut out in front. If it was not for that from what I can tell the rest of the boat is totally solid.

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The ply was soft to the touch, and had de-laminated. Although it didn’t look particularly rotted I knew it was really bad.

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The Exterior shows a nice clean hull and the old Fletcher stickers. This one I removed using a heat gun and gave it a polish.

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And it came up rather nice and shiny!

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More nice and shiny.

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Also began to remove the old stickers from the Bow. Some of the gel-coat is quite thin right at the front, too thin to polish it out correctly. I will probably leave that for now, but it looks a lot cleaner with the stickers removed. You can see there is a hole on the bow in the middle right, that’s for the fuel filler to connect to the new tank. I am not sure of its capacity.

And the project beings:

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First of all I cut a sample out of the lower transom to see how far gone the wood was. This ‘core’ sample was soaked through, and smelt like oil or something was absorbed in it. I allowed it to dry out and I could compress the wood between my fingers and it was easy to pull the laminations to bits. Thus totally rotted.

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I also started to dig at the transom (I don’t have a pic) and managed to dig out about 5 inches with no effort at all.

So then I began to ponder how i was going to deal with this. I kind of need more pics to show, bit I can use a pic from another boat of the same model to show what I mean:

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This is the inner skin of the transom on each side there is a foam floatation well, I need to somehow replace the transom at the back.

As I see it I have a few choices.

      Cut the transom out from the back of the boat by removing the stern.

 

  1. Remove the flotation wells etc and try and cut out the transom from within the boat.
  2. Pull the cap of the boat to allow full access to the transom and everything else I want to get to.

In the end I did the drastic option and cut the cap of the rear half of the boat. This was NO mean feat. In fact a complete nightmare. All the ‘stainless’ bolts securing both halfs of the boat must have been of a poor grade and were totally rotten. I couldn’t even drill them out as the coarseness of them instantly ruined the best drill bits I could find. The only option was to get a small hole saw and cut around them.

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i also had to cut the rubbing strip. I wont be replacing this due to the work involved, but it should join back ok with some effort. I made it a neat cut.
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And the cap is off, Look at the state of that Transom. The guy I purchased this from said it would be fine… Who was he trying to kid!!!
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Now after quite a lot of hammering I had was was left of the old transom out:
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Although most fell off in my hands:
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So after a bit of a clear up:
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It was now time to make a new transom. I decided to use 24mm Russian Birch marine ply. The old ply was slightly thicker at about 27mm, but of a much lower quality, It would be easier however to reassemble with slightly thinner wood.

So firstly a template was made from paper. Then cut out in hardboard. This was test fitted and trimmed where necessary then drawn onto the ply and finally that was cut out too.
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Unusually there is an action shot!! A friend visited whist I was working on this and took a few pics :)
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I know I know – I should have worn eye protection.. (I usually do)

Measure once, cut twice! (lol)
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Ok so now I need to get in some fibreglass materials. I’m probably going to clean it all up and use a polyester based system. I had good success with this on my old boat, so I’m sure it will be fine.

Once this is all done I have a 50hp engine to throw on the back and controls to get it all running, then I’ll sea trial it, and sell it

I’ll update more on this as it happens (the Waverider is my priority).