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A Guide to Resurfacing Your Transom

Ghost Busters

Covering up old, barely visible names and hailing ports with Awlcraft 2000—a job best left to professionals.

I’m a handy guy, with a shop full of tools at the back of my home and several boxes, cases, and bags of tools on board my new (well, to me at least) boat. So when, a couple of weeks ago, an errant sunbeam revealed the ghost of a former name on the boat’s transom (peeking out from under the name bestowed by her most recent owner), my reaction was predictable—I immediately decided that I would address the ghostly confusion DIY-style. After all, how difficult could it be to resurface a transom painted (along with the rest of the hull) with Akzo Nobel’s Awlcraft 2000 some three years prior? And how difficult could it be to then simply slap a new vinyl name over the new paint once it was dry?

Thanks to the wisdom that sometimes sneaks up on us middle-agers, a whiff of reality eventually blew through. For starters, Awlcraft 2000 is an acrylic-urethane-based, spray-gun-specific, fast-drying product, unlike the older, and more well-known Awlgrip, which is polyester-urethane-based, amenable to all kinds of application methods, and not quite as fast to dry. So dealing with Awlcraft 2000 means rollers, brushes, and other old standbys are out. And let’s face it—boning up on the vagaries of spray-painting Awlcraft 2000 (or any other paint, for that matter), while actually doing a bit of it? Well, that’s pretty far out there, too. 

And there’s one more complexity, as well. Mixing up a batch of Awlcraft 2000 is not straightforward—while precise measurements are part of the deal, some tough-to-quantify, experientially-based intuition is also called for. Sure, combining one part Awl-Cat #2 Spray Converter with two parts of Topcoat Base Component is probably going to be fairly easy. But adding an unspecified amount of spray reducer, depending on temperature and other conditions, and adjusting the nozzle on the spray gun so it jibes with the resulting consistency—hmmmm, not exactly a part de gâteau, as my French-Canadian ancestors used to say.

So DIY? Um, not so much. Instead, I dialed up David Raymer, the service manager of Sadler Point Marine Center in Jacksonville, Florida, and scheduled a transom-painting project after asking two deeply important questions. First, how much would the project cost me, roughly? And second, would the employee doing the work (spray-painting wizard Kenny Lowe) mind if I joined him to shoot photos and ask questions along the way?

Raymer said yes, and so did Lowe. So what follows is a short photo essay of the extravaganza, from start to finish. While you’ll surely not want to tackle such a job yourself, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a handle on the process, just in case you’ve got a few ghosts hanging around your very own transom and you want to hire (and keep tabs on) a ghost buster or two from a good boatyard nearby:


Patience is key when removing letters. Here, Kenny Lowe of Sadler Point Marine Center in Jacksonville, Florida, uses a razor scraper to lift a corner of each letter. Then he pulls very slowly. Pulling too fast can leave adhesive behind, meaning more potentially damaging work with the razor.

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This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.