1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Priming the Cabin Top & Dashboard

Wow.

That’s all I can say.

OK…not really šŸ™‚ , but seriously, what a slog it’s been to get to this point.

The last time the cabin top on this Chris Craft Roamer was whole, a consistent color, and shiny (to a degree) would have been sometime in the early to mid-1970s, when the boat was repowered with 534ci SeaMaster twin turbo and intercooled gas engines. TheĀ salon hatch for repowers that was collapsed has been rebuilt. The cabin top is now bullet-proof. The helm station sliding door openings are done. And everywhere you would have seen a seam between components, you now see nice fillets and rounded corners.

The problem is, though, that the closer you get to priming anything, the uglier it becomes. With complex construction based in aluminum, marine plywood and fiberglass, then topped with fairing compounds of varying colors and other characteristics, everything gets blurred together when a couple of guys spend days with six-foot longboards sanding down the high spots and making sure that every surface is true. Guide coat after guide coat of black spray paint further uglies up the project until it takes a real trained eye to see the beauty that’s just waiting to POP out for all to see.

Well, on Sunday, April 21, 2013, we got some serious poppin’ done!

Filling pinholes with Awl Grip High Build thickened with cabosil.

Pinholes are unavoidable in a faired fiberglass structure the size of a yacht cabin top.Ā  If you prime and sand, then fill pinholes, you could spend a week getting them all and even then you’d probably miss lots that you wouldn’t see until you painted the boat. My weekend fairing/painting crew used the same technique to fill pinholes on the Roamer that they developed at Weaver Boatworks, where they build multi-million dollar sportfishermen on the other days of the week.

The process involves mixing a bit of cabosil with Awl Grip High Build. It’s hard to describe the consistency, but it’s not mayonaise, peanut butter or any of the other terms generally used to describe fairing compounds. It’s not runny…it holds a bit of shape. Let’s just call it the Boatamalan Secret Recipe. (Boatamalan = Boatyard worker of Guatamalan origin, a joking reference to the fairing crew’s Latin American ancestry). Whatever you call it, this stuff works wonders on pinholes and is applied with squeegees.

Boatamalan Secret Recipe on the dashboard

It’s not pretty when applied with a squeegee, but it won’t matter.

FRP door openings ready for Boatamalan Secret Recipe

Just enough Boatamalan Secret Recipe to fill the pinholes.

Boatamalan Secret Recipe isn’t used for shaping. Its only purpose is to fill pinholes. Where it might take a whole weekend to fill pinholes individually later on, it only takes a few hours using this approach.

Boatamalan Secret Recipe gets squeegeed all over the cabin top.

Smooth and pretty doesn’t matter at this point.

A thin layer of Boatamalan Secret Recipe covers the whole cabin top.

Boatamalan Secret Recipe applied

The next step after squeegeeing Boatamalan Secret Recipe all over is to apply Awl Quik, which is basically a sprayable fairing compound. After taping plastic over all of the openings, we fired up the compressor, put filters in the vent fans, and made the tent stinky!

Awl Quik yellow…not the prettiest color

This is sooo much better than before, when all of the different colors of material made it difficult to see the final shape. Now, all of the lines, fillets and rounded outside corners POP!

Dripping with Awl Quik

The painter applied two coats in rapid succession and then one more for good measure. The idea is to put enough Awl Quik on so we don’t sand through the Awl Quik/High Build layer when we longboard it. If we sand through it, we have to spray another coat and that means waiting another day before we can sand. Since we only work weekends on this project, that means another week will go by before we can spray the final primer–Awl Grip 545.

I’m diggin’ on the fillets at the dashboard.

Much nicer than the OE dirt-catching seam.

Before Awl Quik

After Awl Quik

Windshield base is true, strong and flat where it matters.

Check out those lines!

Beautiful fillets and rounded corners at the bow seat windows.

Don’t mind the runs and rough spots!

We applied two heavy coats of Awl Quik right over the squeegeed High Build and cabosil, so the surface reflects that now. The surface imperfections will sand off easily when we longboard. So long as we don’t sand through the High Build/Awl Quik layer, we’ll be applying 545 next weekend!

The bow seat itself got Awl Quik on the 3rd coat.

The painter needed a place to stand to put the second coat on the cabin top, so he waited to coat the bow seat until the last coat.

Salon window supports in Awl Quik

These supports in the salon window tracks are the only vertical structure over the whole length of the salon window openings. They’re made of mahogany and, from Chris Craft, rely on paint and bedding compound to keep rain water from wicking up the wood and rotting it out. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t last too long.

We made new supports out of mahogany, but then fiberglassed them into place. Not only is this a more integrated approach than the original, it makes it virtually impossible for rain to ever affect the wood. The entire window channel is now fiberglass covered with Awl Quik.

Aft-most salon window opening on the port side.

The dashboard again…just because I love the way it turned out.

And that concludes our tour of the Awl Quik application

Longboarding begins anew next Saturday, bright and early. If we don’t breach the High Build/Awl Quik layer, we’ll have it sprayed in 545 on Sunday.

I’m all giddy! šŸ˜‰

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tools of the Trade.

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3 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Priming the Cabin Top & Dashboard

  1. John Ulrich says:

    Inspiring to say the least…….Carry on!!!

  2. Marty Molloy says:

    It’s Awl-Good! ;0)

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