The Rot Doctor


Subject: Surveying a 20yr old hull
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999

Hey Dr. Rot, I have a 23ft Seacraft that has been in my family 20yrs. It has always been on a trailer and has been well drained ie: no stagnant water in the bilge even though it has been sitting since Hurricane Andrew wiped us out 6 yrs ago. My question is how do I survey the transom to see if it has wood rot as Im told the Seacrafts are notorious for this. It would be cheaper for me to renovate this boat with a new outboard and a new gas tank etc and besides it has great nostalgia value to me. There are no visible nor palpable soft spots and I have removed the deck to get at the inside of the transom but cannot get close enough to do a drill sample. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
Thankx, Mark S.


Renovations are good. A little work, but lots cheaper. Good for you.

Initially, there are two things you can do. First, press hard on the exterior glass of the transom and see how much "give" there is. Does the glass flex inward when you press hard? If so, then there is a vacancy there and that means bad wood, or no wood (it sometimes just turns to powder and falls to the bottom.) Secondly, rap the outside of the transom with the butt of a screwdriver or something and listen to the sound. Sound hollow? Do you hear a different sound from one part of the transom to another. If so, then that means you have different densities inside, and is another indication of probable bad wood.

Beyond the above, you test drill through the outside of the transom (you can go back later and fill the holes with Epoxy Filler). Get a 1/4" drill and bore through the glass and see if you hit wood. You may hit nothing -- the drill will just punch through. If you do hit wood, what does it look like coming out on the drill bit? Pretty solid? Kind of rotten? If you hit a vacancy or bad wood, drill no further because you have something you're going to have to fix. And it is fixable. You can plan on spending anywhere from about $200.00 to $500.00 on epoxy materials to repair, depending entirely on how you solve the problem. As usual, more work = less money, and visa-versa.

Make the tests/drilling and then get back to me on what you find. There is also some info in our letters section on how these repairs are made.


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