1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Turning Sheets of Aluminum Into Side Decks

The more we tore into the Roamer, the more trouble spots we found.  I think I’m starting to notice a pattern here…  😉

With the interior demolition complete, the previous aft deck enclosure gone (thank you, Mr. Chainsaw) and the hull sandblasted, we had reached  the end of the teardown phase. The rebuilding phase began on the side and aft decks, where factory design flaws and the poorly installed previous aft deck enclosure caused us to completely rethink this very precious piece of real estate on our 46′ Roamer.

The 46′ Roamer designers’ greatest sin: the aluminum to teak side deck seam

The seam compound here inevitably fails, allowing water to go below the teak and do nasty things that remain hidden from view…for a while.


This shot is the underside of the port side deck, from inside the salon cabinetry looking aft.

This shot shows the same area as the previous pic, but from the underside. The big hole is where the bulkhead separating the salon from the aft stateroom had rotted out when the teak-to-aluminum seam let loose above it. The same leak also took out all of the plywood underlayment for the teak decking in the area (the teak was fine!), as well as the ends of the transverse overhead beams in the aft stateroom.

Surely, there must be a better way…

The old aft enclosure wrecked the teak under it.

This shot shows the extent of the damaged teak deck, basically extending from the aluminum deck back behind where the old aft deck enclosure wing door used to be. Clearly, all of this would need to go. I wonder why Chris Craft didn’t just extend the aluminum side deck back all the way to the transom?

On the inside of the helm station area, the original cabinetry wasn’t too bad.

An unmolested sister ship to our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46

If you look closely at the aft-most sides of the cabin top, you can see that the helm side window opening follows a 45* line down from the hardtop. That 45* line continues down the fiberglass cabin top to a point at the side molding, then reverses direction until the cabin top meets the side deck. That pointy end of the cabin top is a characteristic design element on these boats, but somebody cut it off between 1973 and 1985.

Unfortunately, whoever built the old aft deck enclosure cut off the back part of the fiberglass helm enclosure.

What they replaced it with wasn’t very attractive even when new. It was cut off vertically where the big C-channel beam comes down from the roof. With that 45* angle in the C-beam, the helm roof cannot possibly be as well supported as if the support beam were simply vertical. And the decking around the C-beam base was rotten from the poor aft deck enclosure install. It was around this time that I started thinking sliding doors to either side of the helm station might be the way to go.

Moving some sailboat boat stands up into the helm station, we raised the roof just a touch.

Remaking the roof supports

I removed the big C-beam upright, cut it and welded it back together as a straight beam, with the 45* waaaay up at the top, where it will be out of sight once the headliner goes back in.

I also cut an additional three feet off of the original fiberglass enclosure. We now have the beginnings of the sliding door opening.

Bye-bye rotten teak deck

At around the same time, I cut out the teak side deck and commissioned a local Southern Maryland welder/fabricator to cut and weld up the 1/4″ 5052 aluminum sheets.

The square 6061 aluminum extrusion will be the base for the sliding door.

From the underside, the fabricator framed out the aluminum to replicate Chris Craft’s original design.

Mahogany overhead frame ends that were soft from the failed teak deck got treated with Cold Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, since the aluminum deck and frames rendered that portion of the beams completely redundant. Later, I’ll bolt the mahogany frames to the aluminum ones to tie everything together more securely.

Et Voila! No more teak side decks!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Turning Sheets of Aluminum Into an Aft Enclosure.


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