1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Shiny Mahogany Moldings on the Aft Enclosure

When the lead Boatamalan* talks about painting Awl Grip top coats, he refers to it as “the shiny.” He’s also quick to point out that painting a boat is a complicated thing. It’s not like a car or house where you tape off the bits you don’t want coated and do the whole thing in one go.

Boatamalan: portmanteau indicating highly skilled boat workers of Central American origin. 😉

We started out by painting the shiny and non-skid on the hardtop back in early May 2013. After a scorching mid-summer hiatus, we put Imron MS1 High Gloss Clear on the mahogany toe rail, then taped it off and put  shiny on the cabin top and side decks in early August. Then we taped off all of the painted areas again and covered them with 20′ wide Sharkskin plastic film before priming the aft enclosure; we’d already primed the helm dashboard back in May. This leaves only three areas that still need the shiny: the hull, which we’ll do last, the dashboard and the aft enclosure.

Last weekend, we knocked out two of the three. 😉

But before we could paint “the shiny,” I had to install a couple of mahogany moldings.

In preparation for painting on Saturday and Sunday, on Friday afternoon I went to the boat to install some mahogany trim pieces that cover the seam between the exterior panels of the aft enclosure and the 1″ square tube 6061 aluminum framing. The panels were stitch welded to the framing, which leaves the seam exposed to the weather. I’d already filled the seams with epoxy and faired them flat, but I wanted to cover the seams entirely to ensure water could never find its way into the seam. I also wanted to round off the corners to protect the canvas that will eventually enclose the aft deck.

So I made up some molding pieces out of African mahogany and had the Boatamalans seal them on all sides with West System epoxy resin and 207 Special Clear Hardener. With the end grain and all faces sealed in epoxy, the Boatamalans then sanded the moldings and sprayed them with eight coats of Imron MS1 High Gloss Clear.

Epoxy bonding mahogany trim to the aft enclosure

You can never have too many clamps…I need more.

I’m using the same fastener-less approach to bond these mahogany pieces to the enclosure panels as Weaver Boatworks uses to bond the teak toe rails to their multi-million dollar sportfish boats: thickened epoxy and lots of clamps. As the epoxy squeezes out of the joint, I removed it with a plastic scraper. Then, just before the epoxy kicks off, I went over the joint with lacquer thinner on a soft rag to remove any remaining epoxy residue. This last step is absolutely critical, because Awl Grip 545 primer is much softer than the epoxy. There’s no way to sand excess epoxy off without going through the surrounding primer first.

Need more clamps!

With the epoxy kicked off on the port side, I repeated the process on the starboard. Definitely need more clamps for this kind of work.

Good looking mahogany!

I finished the day at 9pm then came back at 6AM the following day to remove the clamps and tape in preparation for the next step.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Painting the Shiny on the Helm Dashboard.

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