Plywood is a great material for marine construction. It does not suffer from fatigue as does polymer panels, nor loose strength with age. In fact, wood gets harder as it gets older.
The problem is that most boat manufacturers do not use treated plywood.
Like the boat manufacturers, we use plywood made for exposure to wet environments. It's made with a waterproof structural adhesive to bond the plies together.
The key is that we use pressure treated plywood to resist decay. It is much longer lasting than the original wood in many boats.
Pressure treating adds quite a bit of moisture to wood, so our plywood is kiln dried. After pressure treatment, the wood is dried in an oven at the mill to drive out the moisture and make it dimensionally stable. Treated plywood that is not kiln dried cannot be used for decks and transoms because it will warp.
If you prefer polymer panels over plywood, we can obtain any type of polymer panel stock. We prefer treated plywood because we think it's better in marine use, but if you have other ideas, we will be glad to accommodate you.
Some companies use plastic materials as the load-bearing material in replacement transoms, reasoning that the plastic will not rot. While it is true that plastic is more water resistant than bare wood, treated wood encased in fiberglass will resist decay almost as well as plastic.
Wood has a tremendous advantage over plastic materials: Wood will not form stress fractures. Under the constantly fluctuating forces experienced under load, a transom will flex and bend. This movement will cause fatigue in plastic materials but not in wood. As time and usage accumulate, a polymer transom grows weaker but wood remains as strong as ever, perhaps even strengthening with time!
A properly installed wood transom made with treated marine plywood and encased in fiberglass can outlast a plastic one.
A piece of honeycomb panel
We make fiberglass honeycomb panels. These panels consist of a lightweight honeycomb core sandwiched between a pair of fiberglass skins.
The result is a panel with great stiffness and surprisingly little weight.
A different view of the same piece
We obtain bare honeycomb core material without a fiberglass sheath. We cut the core to the size and shape needed for a panel, or combine cores to make panels as large as necessary.
Then we apply fiberglass cloth and resin to each side of the honeycomb core to to give it strength and produce a finished panel. Adjusting the thickness of the fiberglass sheath adjusts the strength of the finished honeycomb panel.
The resulting panel can be used as a lightweight alternative to plywood in many applications. It is amazing how little a honeycomb panel weighs relative to its size.
Rolls of fiberglass
Of course, our specialty is fiberglass. We use high-strength woven fiberglass fabric and high quality resins of various kinds.
Woven fiberglass cloth is supplied on rolls as a heavy fabric. It provides the highest strength and best appearance of the different types of glass fiber material.
We apply cloth to surfaces to increase stiffness, provide abrasion resistance, and give a good appearance. The finished fiberglass can even be transparent to allow underlying wood grain to show through.
Another view of the cutting table.
Mat fiberglass is non-woven. It's not as strong as woven cloth but it's very moldable when mixed with resin.
We use mat to fill gaps and to to sculpt complex shapes. Woven cloth is used either over or under the mat for strength.