1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Re-bunging the Mahogany Toe Rail

I think the name of this boat should be “Three steps forward, one step back.”

Over the summer of 2013, we sprayed “the shiny” on the hardtop, the cabin top, the helm dashboard, and the aft enclosure; the non-skid was done, too. Before painting the shiny Matterhorn White Awlcraft 2000, the Boatamalan painter had already sprayed the mahogany toe rail with eight coats of Imron MS1 High Gloss Clear. The last step to finish the shiny paintwork from the rub rail up was to sand the mahogany toe rail perfectly flat with 320 grit Mirka Abranet and spray the final 2~3 coats of MS1. But when I pulled the protective plastic from the toe rail after the Awlgrip spraying was done, it became apparent there was a problem: The bungs that cover the 1/4-20 machine screws that mechanically fasten the mahogany to the deck needed to be replaced.

My instructions to the woodworker who put the bungs in were explicit: make sure the glue line is solid. If there’s any gap in the glue line, water will eventually wick in and cause trouble in the mahogany and maybe even the aluminum below.

But when the woodworker was done, epoxy didn’t fill the joint all the way to the top. With regular varnish, you can keep pushing it into the bungs until they finally fill up. But no matter how much the painter flowed out the MS1 while spraying the initial coats, it simply wouldn’t fill the space between the bungs and the holes into which they were driven. I recently figured out the reason why: the woodworker had only fully wetted 5 bungs with epoxy out of the 198 bungs in the rail. The rest were mostly held in place by friction. All of the those had to be replaced or the MS1 would fail in no time.

It looked pretty good from the top.

But when you looked closer, the circles around the bungs became more apparent.

White circles around each bung are from dust catching in deep crevices

We saw the rings around the bungs when the MS1 cured on the rail but thought that we could simply fill the void by applying MS1 to the gaps with a syringe. Then we’d sand it flat and spray the last coats of MS1.  But the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became that maybe the woodworker hadn’t used enough epoxy to wet out the bungs and the holes they were going into before driving the bungs home. I confirmed this concern when I pushed on a bung and it slid down into the hole! Upon removal, we found zero evidence of any glue at all! Temperature changes would have popped the bungs over time, and water would have found its way into the toe rail mahogany to cause rot and the aluminum below it, creating aluminum oxide that would push the paint off.

Out came the bungs!

This stuff is disheartening. The woodworker who did this joins the list of highly paid clowns (with great references!) whose work has to be redone.

All of the holes must be precisely drilled.

It is much more difficult to remove bungs and replace them and have it look right than it is to simply do it right the first time.

Two good bungs! Yea!!

Two good bungs! Yea!!

Removing and replacing the bungs took three days, but because I can only work on weekends that translates to two weeks. 😦

Resprayed with MS1

Resprayed with MS1

The joy of seeing the shiny mahogany toe rail is lost a bit by the fact that it had to be done twice. All you can do is sigh and move on.

Absolutely, perfectly mirror smooth


With all surfaces above the rub rail now painted and done, the only thing left paint-wise is to do the final longboarding on the hull, prime with Awlgrip 545, final sand and shoot.

Next up on our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Exhaust


4 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Re-bunging the Mahogany Toe Rail

  1. Marcus says:

    I am just reading your blog (2016) and find it very informative. Just pisses me that you are had these problems over and over with the hired “help”. Sorry for all the trouble they have caused.

  2. much better done twice and right than lelft to rot… bummer but Q my friend it will be worth it in the end… carry on. Oh I trust you Q’ed the dork right and proper?

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