Transom Teak

Above the transom there is a teak cap rail.  This teak is split down the middle into two pieces and ours had seen better days.  Here are a couple images from 2016 when I first removed the wood:

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As you can see, a lot of work was needed to restore this teak so I set it aside for a couple years.  Eventually I decided that it just wasn’t worth salvaging with all the holes that had been drilled into it over the years and the corner that had cracked off on the starboard side.  I also didn’t like how it was split in half – I would prefer a solid piece of wood from starboard to port.

Going out on a limb, I sent an email with some measurements to Kevin over at Diamond Tropical Hardwoods and asked him to keep an eye out for a solid piece of curved teak that could be cut to the dimensions I needed.  Kevin got right back to me and said that he could ship out the required piece of wood no problem.  Awesome!

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A few weeks later a big heavy package arrived and as I peeled back the layers of tattered cardboard I found an absolutely beautiful piece of teak with the pencil line of the cap rail already drawn out in pencil for me!  How cool is that πŸ™‚

Just to make sure, I traced out the old caprail onto the teak giving a wide margin for error.  I then cut the inner section out, removing much of the wood from the slab.

I took the wood out to the boat to make sure it would work and quickly found out why the Alberg was made with two pieces back there.  The shape of the transom is such that there is a very defined curve and there was no way I was going to be able to bend this wood down to a form fit.

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As you can see, I would need to steam bend this wood before installation.  There is no way to steam bend it in place as there is no spot to clamp it down so I would need to bend it remotely.  This requires a mold that the wood can then be bent over.  I wanted to make sure my bending mold was accurate so I created a fiberglass mold of the aft section of the boat.

First I laid down some vacuum bagging cloth so the epoxy would not stick to the boat.  I then used a large roll of woven fiberglass to cut out an appropriate sized piece of fiberglass cloth.

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I wet out the cloth with lots of epoxy and then laid the old wood on top with some weights to press the fiberglass into place while it cured.  Once cured I traced the wood into it so I knew exactly where the cut lines of the new wood should be.

The fiberglass was not very rigid so I figured I would repeat the process with a second layer just to make sure I was getting an accurate radius once I pulled the mold off.

I then peeled the mold off the boat and brought it home:

Once home I got a piece of plywood that would become the base for my steam bending mold.  I traced out the shape of the fiberglass mold onto the wood and then recorded height measurements at different places along the line.  The height measurements were guides for the vertical rise that I would need to bend into the wood while the traced fiberglass replicated the curved radius of the back of the boat horizontally.

At this point I had four separate transcriptions of the shape that I needed: the old wood, the fiberglass mold, the plywood mold, and the traced shape on the teak.  I made sure that all four will still agreeing with one another 100% and cut the new teak, leaving a wide margin for error.  Ultimately, I want to shape the teak in place to make sure its perfect.  It can be a very rough cut for the bending process.

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I then began building the mold by cutting scrap 2X4’s to the appropriate heights and fastening them to the plywood base.  The 2X4 in the center is the height of the outer measurements that I took of the gap out on the boat.  In other words, the center 2X4 is the exact height of the gap created by laying the flat board on the back of the boat.  This is how much it would ultimately need to be bent for it to lay in sync with the boat.  Each 2X4 outwards from the center are smaller and smaller until there is no 2X4 at the edges of the mold, just the plywood base.  Each measurement corresponds exactly with the curve of the boat.

As you can see in the image above, I cut slits into the plywood that will allow me to slide clamps in and clamp the wood in place once it is steamed.  Here is what the mold looks like with the teak and clamps in place:

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At this point I’ve been working on this project for over a month and just wanted to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to. Hopefully some time soon I will have time to build my steam box and get this wood bent! πŸ™‚


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