Introduction: Repair Termite Eaten Dinghy Transom
We haven’t really used this dinghy much in Vizag, the water here is just too polluted (and smells of ammonia and sulphur) to want to go sailing in harbour and the beach surf is too rough to risk putting to sea from the beaches. So most of the time, our dinghy remained in storage in our garage. While I did spray anti-termite over it at regular intervals, a long holiday away from home left it at the mercy of the little buggers and this is what happened to our dinghy when it was attacked by termites last year.
Step 1: Scrape the Dead Material Out
To start the repair, use a sharp pick (I bent a cycle spoke into a hook shape and hammered the end to make a scraper like tip at the end). Gently scrape out as much dead and damaged wood as you can. If your transom is made of ply, you will notice that the termites have mostly eaten alternate layers of the ply.
Make sure you scrape out as much dead material as possible. This can take several hours to do correctly, so don't get impatient.
Step 2: Fill the Gaps
Once all the dead material has been scraped away, use wood putty to fill the gaps in the wood. I mixed my putty to be slightly more liquid in appearance....this allowed me to pour the stuff into every little crack in the ply. Leave the putty to dry for at least 48 hours. The putty will shrink as it dries and so you may need repeat this step several times till you are satisfied that the inner structure of the ply is strong again.
Step 3: Reinforcing the Transom
Cut two sheets of thin, strong wood to shape. I used 1/2" teak. Once the wooden sheets are cut to size and match the upper contours of your transom, glue them in place wood glue and clamp in position. Allow at least 48 hours to dry.
Once the glue is dry, drill holes (I used 5 holes) as required and bolt the two sheets together, gripping the transom firmly between them. When drilling the holes, try to make countersinks that will allow the bolts to recess into the wood. Ideally the bolts and nuts should be flush with the surface of the wood. If you need to, cut the bolts down to size (I used a hacksaw to do this).
Finally, paint the transom and you are ready to go!