1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tent Model IX Transformation Complete

It has been a very busy two weeks since I last posted. Too busy working on the Roamer when I’m not doing my day job, then too tired from working on the project to write articles about it. I have, however, been taking pix along the way.

With the scaffolding finally done around the waterline, the next step was to put a shrink wrap skirt around the boat from the ground to 10 feet up. I was able to reuse the clear shrink wrap from the winter tent for my 1968 Chris Craft Commander 42 by splitting the tent lengthwise from stem to stern. I put the clear plastic on the sides of the Roamer starting at the rear of the tent, which faces north. This will let lots of light in but the greenhouse effect shouldn’t be too bad–now that spring has arrived and summer is on the way, we don’t need more heat from direct sunlight in the boat.

Toward the front of the boat I used white shrink wrap for the skirt that was recycled from another person’s winter tent. The bow faces south, so reflective white plastic helps keep the heat out. To keep the shrink wrap secure along the bottom and sides, it’s important to use battens screwed from the outside, through the plastic and into the tent frames–I use 1×2 pine or even scraps of 1/4″ plywood. I know battens are the key to tent longevity because a previous humongo tent that I built –Model V– didn’t have battens and it blew apart on a fairly regular basis!

Once the skirt was done, I put the top shrink wrap plastic back on and re-shrank it.

Believe it or not…this is all according to plan.

I ran a line of shrink wrap woven cord around the frames 10′ up and tensioned it. Then I installed the clear skirt on both sides, using screwed battens to hold the bottom in place. I then used the shrink gun to weld the shrink plastic to the woven cord and taped the seam to make it permanent.

I also added a new set of frames over the hardtop. Let me tell you, that’s a long ways up and there’s no way to get a ladder up to square or connect things. With a powered high lift with extended reach (because there’s no room between the boats) I could have had the tent up in a day. But I don’t have that particular tool, so it took two days+.

End of a long day…the tent frames are done.

Putting in and attaching the two outboard PVC frames at the rear was a real challenge. A jet pack would have come in very handy. 😉

White plastic at the front to keep out the sun, and plenty of headroom for the painter.

Note the use of battens. They don’t have to pin down the full height of the plastic from ground to top, but 4′ strips vertically on every upright frame and small battens every 4′ along the ground seem to do the trick.

The skirt’s done, so on went the top.

I reused the shrink film from the winter version of Tent Model IX. It’s dusty as can be inside and out, but we still have lots of longboarding and priming to do before the final paint gets applied. The old plastic will work just fine.

It’s a little baggy on the rump.

There’s only so well you can fit plastic film to frames 25′ in the air without a jet pack or Ivy High Lift. The heat gun should tighten that up well enough

Trimming off the excess bits.

After cutting the top plastic to size, I welded it to the skirt with the heat gun and taped it while the plastic was still hot. This was a difficult job because, as with the last six weeks or so, the wind in the Mid-Atlantic region has been brutal–10-20kts pretty much every time I pull out the shrink wrap or heat gun.

In fact, it’s been so bad that I’m considering quitting my day job and offering my services as Windmaker to sailors who are stuck in the doldrums. Want an exciting regatta? Pay me to break out the shrink wrap and light off the propane heat gun for a few bursts. You’ll have breezes in no time! It’s kind of like being a Rainmaker–all you do is pull out a can of varnish and a brush, and the weather gods send a squall your way!

Finally…tented but baggy

You might be able to see in the photos how the wind coming from right to left is causing the tent to act like a bunch of sails between the frames…hard to describe but incredibly irritating to experience.

This should shrink up quite nicely.

On the lee side of the boat, the tent puffs out…just like a sail…but not fun at all!

Finally shrunk…

There were about a dozen times when the wind puffed the shrink film out just as soon as I put the heat to it. This causes the film to balloon out and, depending on how fast it happens, stick to the heat gun. Other times it just balloons out far enough to get closer to the fire than is wise. The effect is the same either way: you get a big hole in the film. And because you’ve heated the shrink film, as soon as you cut the heat it begins to shrink–making an even bigger hole!

I cannot express in words the frustration, but it’s safe to say that I will burn in hell for shouting condemnations at the weather gods for the last six weeks. Probably scared some of the other people in the boatyard, too, with all the hollering! 😉

The lee side was easier and turned out quite nicely.

I’m thinking of calling this one Boatyard Burka.

See? The heat gun cured most of the rump sagginess.

Tent Model IX Transformation Complete

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Helm Door Openings, Rounds, & Fillets.

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2 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tent Model IX Transformation Complete

  1. Art G says:

    Q. Looks great! Do you think this is the last tent ‘Model’?

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks, Art! It’s good to hear from another over-the-top Roamer refitter!

      Unless something truly horrible happens — zombie apocalypse, giant asteroid strike, or the complete transformation of America into a socialist people’s republic — this tent will be the last. In fact, we hope to have the boat completely painted by the end of May. If that happens, windows and canvas for the aft deck enclosure will be in by June, which means the boat will be rain-proof for the first time since about 1985. Propulsion should be done by then, too. So, in theory, I’ll be splashing her in the fall and bringing the Roamer around to our home port in DC. We’ll finish up the interior there.

      That’s the plan, anyway. You know how it goes…always subject to change.
      Q

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