Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

I'm moving along with my Eastport Pram build. And I'm finishing up wiring the hull together. I've been pleasantly surprised at how nicely everything has comed together and lined up. But there's one problem. The planks do not line up perfectly on the forward transom. 

As you can see also, I've already got the beginning of some cracking along the rabbet of the planks in question. I assume this is some combination of too tight or too loose cinching of the wires along the rest of the hull or perhaps slight mismeasurement of the planks. (I'm pretty sure it's the former since I was extremely precise with my measurements.) 

My question is whether this lack of line of up is minor enough that it will likely be obscured by the epoxy which seals the transom to the planks. And if that's not the case, if anyone has any advice on how I would improve the situation. I guess I could loosen basically all wires on that side. But I'm not sure I'd really know where to loosen or what was likely to improve or make the issue worse. I'm also a bit concerned about putting any more stress on those cracked rabbets. 

I'd be greatly in anyone's debt for some advice.


28 replies:

« Previous Post       List of Posts       Next Post »

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   These pictures give a sense of the line up on the rest of the hull


RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Hey Josh,

The hull looks really nice.  I would probably figure out a way to get some epoxy in that split rabbet now while it's still somewhat accessible.  You probably don't want to undo all the planks to get to the garboard.

It looks like you've got all the planks in the correct order otherwise you'd be much farther off on the transoms.  I had some small gaps that I had to live with but that gap at the "top" of the garboard looks to be over 1/4".  Aesthetically it won't matter because I've never seen anyone leave the edges of plywood "bright".  My biggest concern would be that the other side might not end up with a similar gap so you'd be building a slightly assymmetrical boat, which you obviously don't want.

I'd try to loosen up things on that end of the boat a couple of turns, and try to wrestle that gap closed, then add a couple of twists in the neighborhood to hold it in place until you can tack it with silica-thickened epoxy.  Once you get the gaps less than 3/16" without the wire tearing into the wood grain, I'd mix up a batch of silica-thickened epoxy and inject it into the V between all the stitches.  Make sure it's not runny enough to run/sag down the inside of the boat

I've blogged about my build at if that's of any help.  Here's my EP with a fresh graphite bottom.


RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   Once again, I timed out before I could finish my post...

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Okay, first thanks so much for the advice and help. I really appreciate it. 

It's the front transom where the problem is. But it's the port side. But the stern transom on the port side looks pretty decent to me. Here's what it looks like. 

There are still some gaps. But the strakes are pretty firm against the transom. I was figuring that the arc of the hull just leaves those at the end. But maybe I'm wrong on that?

Here's the starboard side.

I still have some work to do on this side. But I think it's doable. But there still are those gaps in the rabbet. 

I think this means that I probably don't have a symmetry issue, yes? But if I'm understanding this right you think the key is filling that one big gap before I do the regular expoxying process?

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Okay, a bit more investigating and I think I've found at least the cause of the problem if not the solution. The bottom panel of the boat is simply too wide. Not by amount by problem more than a quarter of an inch. I'm sort of baffled by how that could have happened. I have been extremely precise with my measurements. I think when I was planing down the edges after cutting I must have left one part insufficiently planed down.

However it got that way the ruler seems pretty definitive. That's preventing the 1st plank from seating down as snuggly as it should, which is pushing back on the 2nd etc.

I think my only option is to cut that piece down in place. I'm going to come back at it fresh in the morning. Any advice most welcome.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   We're it me, I would unwire those planks, epoxy the split and then try to fit the planks on the notches on the transom as their not being on the notches seems to be the problem. This time when wiring the planks back together, do so loosely so you can adjust them to fit prior to tightening down the wires. 

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

I think I may do as you say and unwire those two planks. An added complication is that I've broken a lot of wires trying to get this to line up. So I'm going to have to order more wire from CLC as I can't seem to find a place local. (Was sure Home Depot would have it.) 

If anyone has any experience with doing this, I'd be in your debt. My main concern is how the rest of the stitch up reacts if you unwire a significant section of the boat once it's all wired up. Does anyone know?

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   I went to Home Depot ang bought 10 feet of 18 ga household three wire electrical wire and stripped it down. It's a little larger diameter that that which comes with the kit but ends up not being noticeable at all. Of course the thinner wire's advantage is that it will break before it damages anything. 

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

I've seen that wire at both Home Depot and Lowe's.  

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem


Hey Josh,

This is too important not to do it correctly.  Definitely undo the wiring.  If your bottom panel isn't right, now is the time to fix it.  If you were building a hard chine boat, it would be one thing, but this boat has such graceful curves, they need to be spot on.  I used stainless steel seizing wire for mine, so it doesn't get nearly as brittle when you work harden it while twisting.  It's also smaller diameter, so smaller holes in the finished boat.  The inside shoulder of rabbets absolutely need to be sitting on the top of the adjacent panel because that forms the "V" where the silica-thickened epoxy goes to hold the boat together.  Make sure to check out my blog at:

With the side panels are designed to be a bit proud of boath transoms.  That way, after they're epoxied in place, you can cut them both flush with the plane of the transom.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem


First, really appreciate your advice and help with this.

So I went back, unwired most of the forward port side of the boat and rewired it. And got it to seat much better on the transom. Lotta work and finger callouses but really glad I did it. Definitely a bit more wear into the wire holes then I would like. And I needed to drill extra ones in a few places. But that's fine. I'll see those blemishes as testaments to the work and experience I got out of this.

Here's where I am now. The lines are very clean. Each plank is pretty snuggly fitted into its adjoining rabbet. The only place thing are not quite as tight and fine as I might like is at the transoms. At a couple places where the two planks and a transom come together the plank is only barely against the edge of the adjoining rabbet. One wire in and it's pretty snug. But in a couple places it's like the the plank couldn't quite bend all the way to keep snug against the rabbet. This is really only the case where the bottom panel reaches the first planks at the stern transom.

Now looking at the directions and how the future steps go, my sense is that these gaps at the transom will be pretty much covered and taken care of by the epoxy that seals the transom to the planks. That and the  fiberglass that reinforces the bottom panel and the first planks. But I'd hate to start the epoxy process and find out that is not true. 

So any advice on that front would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to go and take some pictures to illustrate what I mean.

Thanks to all.


RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Okay, sorry for all the photos. But this is the best way I can illustrate what I described above.

Port side stern transom.

Starboard side stern transom.

This is the main problem. This joint, port side, stern transom, first plank.

General sense of the hull lines.

The inside view of the part of the transom where I noted problems above.

Inside view of the bow transom.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem


I'm very impressed with your results!  Patience is probably the most important attribute of a good boatbuilder.  Taking the time to figure out what's wrong and having the perserverance to get it right pays off in the long run.  Having a willingness to ask questions doesn't hurt either.  As my next project will probably be lapstrake, you've inspired me.



RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   You can't make the planks wider but you could adjust the notch on the transom the plank fits in. I would also put a couple more wires on each plank/transom junction.  Good looking boat. 

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Dick, I really appreciate your saying that. You've clearly done this before. This is my first time. I really appreciate this forum. I'd really be at a loss without folks here to bounce ideas off of and get advice from. Thanks. Josh

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

I ended up holding off on epoxying the joints this weekend. Because I wanted to see if I could get any feedback on the above, whether the joints up against the transoms seem good enough to move to the next step. As I said, my sense is that there's enough epoxy is applied where the transoms meet the planks that it should be fine. But I would hate to find out I'm wrong after the epoxy cures!

Any guidance, advice much appreciated.


RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem


The quarter-inch rule described in the manual is probably a good guideline.

My only stitch-and-glue build was a Peeler Skiff, a much simpler hull form.  When I built a lapstrake Amesbury Skiff in the early 1980s, it was traditional construction and not applicable to your situation.

From your pictures, it looks pretty fair and symetrical to me.  I would go ahead and epoxy the joints if no one comes up with a reason not to in the next few hours.  The only issue I can see is where you're going to finish the boat bright and whether the filler might be unsightly to you.  I like paint for that reason---it's opaque and protects wood better than varnish.


RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   OK, I've done a Sassafras canoe and now a Skerry, so both of those are double enders which don't have the transom issue, but my thoughts would be to get the planks' rabbets and matching edges nicely snugged together first, then worry about adjusting to the transoms.  You will be using the syringe to deliver thinner mix into those rabbet joints, then later applying thicker fillet epoxy at the transom.  The "seam epoxy" will run and dribble all over if you don't have those joints pretty well matched.  I'd loosen the ties to the transom and adjust the plank to plank ties to be nicely together, then snug in the transom, but not too hard. 


I assume this is a kit?  I know from my experience w/ my Skerry that the CNC machine can make errors, but they aren't too likely.  If there's a plank that's just too wide to make sense, well, a sanding block w/ 60 grit or a couple of passes with a plane might be needed.  I followed (mostly) directions for "scary sharp" honing of my plane blade and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the okume plywood planed.  The Skerry kit actually has some gains to be planed so it was good to sort that out.  For this, if you needed to adjust a width, sanding would do.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem


Hey Josh,

Great feedback above.  Sorry about not getting back to you sooner.  In one aspect, you are correct that the large, structural fillets will make up for any shortcoming now.  On the other hand, the faux "lap" the rabbet forms is very important for the reasons stated above.  You need that "V" all the way to the transom(s).  

Looking back, other than flipping the boat, the only time I really needed help was wrestling the side panels and the transoms while wiring them together.  That required some pretty serious torque to get it to align close enough to twist the wire to hold it in its correct, final position.  Twisting the wire does not pull the joint together.  

Also, if you're finishing the interior bright like I did, the radius on the seams along the length of the garboard and the angle of the two panels intersecting will definitely contribute to causing a boo boo to show.  

Bottom line, you really need that rabbet to seat properly on the transom.  Hope that helps.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   I think the anonymous poster above probably has it right.  The rabbets absolutely must overlap the next plank and therefore it would make sense to make sure they are right and when they are then fit the transom. I've looked at all the pictures of Eastports I can find that show the transoms and in all of them the rabbets perfectly overlap the edge of the next plank. The way those planks fit together and with the transom is the most noticeable part of the boat. I think it would look better to make the transom fit the planks than make the planks fit the transom.  As long as everything  is even on both sides.  

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Hmmm. Okay, thanks for the feedback, all. Trying to make sure I understand what everyone is recommending. The only place the lap really does not fit in is on the port stern side of plank 1. Everywhere else the lap joints fit snug. At least I think that's the case. If anyone is seeing something different in the pictures, please tell me. The problem is that it's not a matter of the planks not being in the right place or not arced enough. There's basically not enough plank or more likely too much transom for it to fit around. So if I nudged it tighter to the bottom panel, it would leave a gap against the second plank etc. 

I think what this must mean is that I cut the transom slightly too large. And that small oversize around the whole semi-circle is adding up and creating this gap at the base, though I'm not totally clear how it would have happened that way since the bottom and 1st plank get connected up first. In any case, it seems like the transom must be cut too large.

So I think what makes sense is to fully disconnect the transom, check it again against the plans and plane it down to the correct size as necessary. Then tighten the bottom planks with the transom off.  Then reattach the transom. 

I think this is what folks are suggesting. If it turns out that the transom is sized correctly against the plans, I'll just have to wing it and try to trim it proportionally.

It sounds a bit like major surgery at this point to fully remove the transom since that's a structural component holding the whole thing together. But I assume we think that the wires in place will hold everything together and then I can just reattach the slightly resized transom. 

Sorry for all the questions. Just want to make sure I understand the advice I'm getting before I take the plunge. I can't do any of this until Friday. So if folks can tell me if I've understand this correctly here, I'd be greatly in your debt.

Thanks, all!

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   You mentioned that "There's basically not enough plank" or that the transom is too big.  Is the opposite plank the same width?  Are the port and starboard sides of the transom, measured from the middle, exactly the same?  Anyhow, when you remove the transom everything will basically stay in shape, just maybe spread out a little.  That's what I would do, make the transom fit the boat, making sure both right and left sides of the transom are the same and opposite planks are the same width. If the opposite planks aren't the same width you will have to remake one. 

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Wow!  This had turned out to be a happenening thread!  Usually the EP's don't get as much love on here...

So Josh, when I lofted my parts out, I made masonite templates of each piece so I never have to go through the nails & batten thing again and I can also rough cut and use a router to sweeten up the parts.  I grabbed the template for the forward transom and measured it.

From panel #4 to panel #4 across (not including the little bump outs that fit over the outwales, it's 20 13/16"

From the bottom panel to the top of the transom (above the grab handle cutout) is 13 11/16".

I hope those measurements help with your situation.  I can measure the stern transom if you need it.

FYI, when I stitched my boat together, the planks fit into their notches as if it had been cutout by a CNC, which made me extremely happy after sweating it out for those first few days of the build.  To make it even more interesting, I built my transoms out of two pieces of laminated 1/4" plywood, so there was an extra variable in there.

Good luck Friday!

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   I was the "anonymous" poster above.  I think I took too long to submit my message and the system lost my login somehow.

Anyway, if you have made this one from plans, then I would definitely double check the transom.  A small difference there explains a lot of this.  If you have nice fair curves of the planks relative to each other and symmetric side to side, then you have the planks and rabbets nicely cut, so don't mess with that for the sake of the transom.  The way these planks "develop" a 3D shape when they are tied together means they will closely define the right shape.  You will have to pull the ends down for the final joint at the transom, but again it should be symmetric and not violate the plank/rabbet joints. 

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Hi Guys, 

Thanks for these follow-ups. This weekend I have a business trip down to DC - there's this big dinner event I have to go to. So unfortunately I can't spend any time on it this weekend. Last weekend I went back and forth on what to do and caught up with some other woodworking projects. I had all but decided to go ahead with the cuts as is and not try to take off the stern transom. But now you've got me rethinking.

The one thing I was worried about was whether if there is a slight wideness created by the stern transom that that might cause me trouble when I'm seating the thwarts and bulkheads. Basically whether the whole boat might be a tad wide and those other parts might end up being too small, as it were.

The concern I had with taking out the stern transom was whether I'm going to end up the way you do cutting your own hair, cut here, try to even it out on the other side and then suddenly you've got no hair left. Not sure there's any answer to that. But that's what's making me wonder whether I should just leave well enough alone. 

@wing1561, Yes, the planks are identical side on both sides. And they're the correct size as near as I can tell and yet they just don't cover enough of the transom. That's really the only place there's a problem. Right up to the stern transom, each plank fits snuggly right into the rabbet of the lower one. 

@captainskully, if you could give me those stern transom measurements, that would be awesome. I would truly appreciate it. If I can measure those against a certain measurement and it's off, then I'll feel like I have a clear plan on how to recut. What I'm worried about is just knowing it somehow needs to be smaller and needing to wing it. I would truly appreciate it.

Thanks to everyone, Josh

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

   Hey, Josh.  How did you make out with the problem?  

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Wing15601, I couldn't work on it last weekend and the weekend before that I couldn't decide whether to go ahead with the epoxying or remove the stern transom and resize it down. I think I am going to go ahead and epoxy the lap joints tomorrow. As I said, I've been going back and forth. But I fear that if I start resizing the stern transom I'll maybe introduce new problems since I don't really have a clear guide to know where or just how much to cut. My sense is that even if that gap is unsightly that the boat will be structurally sound even so since the epoxy will fill those gaps. At least that is what I hope.

RE: Help - Wiring Stage Transom Problem

Hey Josh,

Sorry about not getting back to you.  I just moved and had to put a bunch of stuff in storage including my templates and plans.  The good news is that I obviously made the templates right off the plans, so if anyone can measure the plans from the centerline, then double it or top to bottom and you'll have critical measurements.  Hope that helps.  Good luck!


« Previous Post     List of Posts     Next Post »

Please login or register to post a reply.