1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Painting the Bilge

When last we toiled in the bilge it was earlier in the summer of 2008, cleaning out the hundreds of pounds of sandblast residue from stem to stern. With the dust mostly gone (getting rid of it all would take repeated cleaning), we prepared the blasted aluminum for barrier coating using stainless steel brushes and scrapers (plain steel ones leave behind particles of steel, which rusts and can also react with the aluminum) to remove any of the original Chris Craft bitumatic insulation coating that was ailing. We then used Alumiprep — an acid solution that eats any residue left on the aluminum, including aluminum oxide (which doesn’t take paint well) and Alodine — a magic liquid containing hexavalent chromium that treats the surface of aluminum, making it corrosion resistant and a paint magnet.

With the prep work done, we mixed up a batch of Devoe Coatings 231 epoxy coating as the barrier coat/primer and topcoated that with Devoe 224. I also mixed in little teeny ceramic hollow spheres that give the barrier coat insulating properties, which will be important since I’m not using coal tar bitumatic like Chris Craft did, and condensation can be a problem on metal hulls.

Blasted and ready for barrier coat

Before barrier coating, you’ve got to have a clean engine room bilge. All of the original bitumastic was gone below the chine from the ER filling with water that leaked in via the broken salon roof hatch. The rising water eventually got high enough to enter the oil pan dipstick tubes for the engines and genset. Since oil floats on water, the oil in the engines rose with the water and exited the engines, spreading across the surface of the “inboard lake” and coating everything it touched. As the water level rose and fell over over the nearly two decades the Roamer sat unloved, the oil and water broke up the bitumastic coating, which was petroleum based, and turned it into sludge in the bottom of the bilge. Scouring out the “bitch-u-mastic” and sandblasting resulted in a surface that was pretty much ready for barrier coating.

Prepping for barrier coat

After consulting with the Devoe Coatings tech dept., I determined that it was acceptable to apply the barrier coat over any of the original bitumastic that was in like-new condition and still well adhered to the hull. Basically, if sandblasting didn’t take it off, nothing would. You can see the depth range of the water line for the Inboard Lake by checking out the “goo line” on the 150 gallon, cylindrical water tank. We pulled the tank out from where my Cuban helper is in this shot so we could barrier coat under it.

Two gallons of Devoe Coatings 231 epoxy primer and one of 224 epoxy topcoat, ready for mixing.

Rolling on the Devoe barrier coat

Normally, epoxy isn’t recommended as a topcoat because it degrades in sunlight. But if UV exposure is ever an issue in this engine room, I’ll have bigger things to worry about than barrier coat degradation. 😉

When using Devoe Coatings epoxy paints, quality respirators with organic vapor cartridges are an absolute MUST. That stuff is nasty!

By October 2008, the bilge was shiny white (or original silver-painted bitumastic) all the way from the V-berth, galley (and water tank)…

…to the engine room…

…to the aft stateroom.In this pic, you can also see the new center line fuel tank cradle.

This brings us up to Autumn 2008. We had been working on the Roamer refit for 11 months.

Next up: 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Engines! (the wrong ones…)


One comment on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Painting the Bilge

  1. Marty Molloy says:

    Nicely blogged! ;0) Marty Molloy ZCCW VP, NWDE,

    Top Gear Consumer Panel 1988 300ZXT

    1991 300ZXTT Know somebody with a Z? Send them to ZCCW.org !

    Marty@Groovemerchant.org 425-367-9065


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