Passagemaker Transoms

Is it supposed to be this difficult?  I am trying to install bow transom and I have some gaps between the transom and the panels (about 1/8 at worst spot.)  With only one wire per panel, I don't see how I can get it super tight.  And because it is tilted forward, it doesn't seem like a good "fit" on the bottom.  The whole thing looks and feels a bit iffy.  Am I overreacting to the fact it doesn't snap together like a lego?

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RE: Passagemaker Transoms

I do remember having some concerns like this when we got to this point with our Passagemaker.  First, like in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't Panic!"  Maybe John should put that on the cover of the manual.  Anyway, you can write it on the appropriate pages to remind yourself to sit down where you can see the project, have a cup of coffee, calm down, and think.  At points like this, it's hard to trust that the gremlins didn't get into the CNC machine to make your life miserable, but you need to have faith that the Lapstitch business will work out in the end.

The main trick with the bow transom is to gradually wiggle things into place, tightening up the wire ties bit by bit as you go.  You want to concentrate on getting the upper edges of the planks to mate with the shoulders cut into the transom.  You may need to loosen up the ties on the forward ends of the plank laps a bit to gain some wiggle room if you have already tightened those right up before fitting the bow transom.

Focus on getting the planks to mate with the front edge of the bow transom, being aware that (1) the plank ends will overlap the front edge slightly, to be trimmed off later and (2) the gap on the back side is expected and will be filled with a fillet.

I can dig out some photos to illustrate how grim things looked at first and then how it all finally came together, if that will be of comfort to you.

Don't panic!


RE: Passagemaker Transoms

   Are you building from a kit or from plans?  I had serious problems getting the transoms fitted on my pram that I'm building from plans, but finally figured it out and things went together nicely in the end.  Short story:  when cutting out the panels, I cut too "proud" of my lines, and ended up with panels that needed some planing in order to fit properly.  

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

   Also:  on the Eastport Pram, I needed to use a lot of weight placed in the middle of the boat in order to induce rocker.  This really helped in getting the transoms to fit nicely.  Not sure how much rocker the passagemaker has, but the Eastport Pram has quite a bit.  

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

 Thanks for the replies, guys.  Between a night of rest and that cup of coffee Michael spoke of, I am ready to jump back in.

I am building froom the kit, so no issues with my own carpentry mistakes.

It sounds like I should start from the bottom, work my way up the sides (maybe not getting them perfect the first pass), then go back and work them into place with a second or third pass.  Sound right? 

And thanks for the rocker tip Sean.  I did add some more already because when I first tried fitting it, it wasn't even close.  With the additional rocker I at least got to where I am, which isn't perfect but at least I have some wires in place.  I will see if I need to add more to make my liffe easier.  Well, my life is pretty easy - I am builiding a boat in my garage for goodness sake.

You are right Michael.  No need to panic.  No deadlines.  No lives in danger if it takes a bit longer.

Thanks again for the help.

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

All great advice!  It's nice to see the PM is still getting support after the demise of

On my EP, I actually needed an extra set of hands to spring the transoms into place.  I'm expecting the same on my PM, but will try all of the above first.

On page 40 of the manual, it shows two stitches for each plank on the transoms, where you mentioned only having one.

It's not uncommon to have small gaps when stitching your boat together.  A 1/8" gap is not the end of the world.  Thickened epoxy will easily fill that in, although I would try to close the gap if possible without having a stitch tear out the plywood.  I think I even used a ratchet strap around the whole boat to pull the planks together tight enough to stitch to the transoms.

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

   Nice catch on the diagram on page 40 of the manual.  The kit however has holes pre-drilled and only two for the bottom panel and one for each side panel.  I think I might drill another hole in spots where I think a little tightening is in order. 

I did pull out a strap last night to try and pull it together, but it didn't help enough to close up those final gaps I have.

Thanks for the help, Captain.  It is a relief to know that I can't expect it to be water-tight during the stiching phase.

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

   I think I got it done.  No gaps greater than 1/16" and all the panels fit into the cuts in the transoms.  It just took a few passes pulling a bit tighter on the wires and it worked its way into place. 

Thanks all for the input.  i am sure you will see me again over the next few months.

RE: Passagemaker Transoms

That is good news, Tom.  You are on the path of righteousness in taking your time and keeping it fun.  Our PMD transformed from a pile of prepared, flat plywood pieces into a boat-shaped object in one, long day, with much assistance from my two sons:

Of course, much work had preceded, and MUCH remained, but you can see we had her all snugged up and pretty fair by the end of the day.  Mind you, we hadn't glued anything up yet, and some of the pieces were just laid in to test alignment and to demonstrate to observers where we were headed with it.

You do want to be careful to check the alignment often as you begin sticking it all together with epoxy.  At this stage, it is possible to straighten things out by twisting the boat, loosening and retightening some wire ties as necessary.  Besides checking by eye, maybe sighting along a string taped from the midpoint of the bow transom to the midpoint of the stern transom, you should carefully measure the diagonals from starboard-bow to port-quarter and from port---bow to starboard-quarter.  If they ain't exactly equal, she ain't straight yet.

You should do this at every stage of gluing up, like before you mix each batch of epoxy.  For example, after we got the transoms puttied in, we found she'd developed a bit of a twist somehow.  We ran a length of rope from one corner to the other to pull that out gently before we started gluing up the plank seams, and we kept checking to make sure we hadn't nudged her off plumb at each step.  We were relieved when things remained plumb after the seams cured and the rope was cast off.  Whew....


RE: Passagemaker Transoms

   Thanks for heads up on keeping her true, Michael.  I watched the CLC video on building the kayak, and they made a big deal of it, yet I don't see any such concern in the PM manual.  I will run the string tomorrow and see where I am and adjust where appropriate.  Everything has been "adjustable" up to this point.  Placing epoxy in the joints takes the temporary status away. 

It is fun to see her come together.  I am also glad to have fewer parts strewn all over my garage. 


RE: Passagemaker Transoms

Yes, fun to see the boat take shape.

Keep a sharp eye.

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