Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Stainless Rub Rails

With the paint job done, I need to get cracking on sealing up all of the external holes around the boat. By far, the component with the biggest number of holes associated with it are the stainless rub rails that go around the boat at deck level and also down below, near the waterline. With all of the fairing work we did, many of the rub rail screw holes got filled in. But before we did the final sanding and paint, I went around and drilled out many of the holes. I still have to finish drilling out the remaining holes and run a tap down all of the screw holes to clear out the threads, but first I wanted to sand and polish the stainless.

Tools of the trade for the job ahead

Like the rest of the boat back in 2007 when we first found it, the stainless hadn’t been loved for at least two decades. There weren’t many scrapes on it, probably because the boat was only used for about 15 years before it went on the hard in Purgatory Row. But it had a white powdery coating on it that suggested some kind of oxidization. Regular metal polish didn’t take it off, so I broke out the big Porter Cable random orbital sander, the 3M soft foam interface pad, and some 500, 800 and 1000 grit sandpaper.

First run down one 12' strip of stainless with 500 grit

First run down one 12′ strip of stainless

I hadn’t sanded and polished stainless before, so I wanted to prove the process before jumping in with both feet. Always before, I’d just cleaned off paint and old varnish, then hit the stainless with metal polish. The result always seemed far better than paint or varnish-spattered rub rails. But after seeing what it looked like when I hit one end of a 12′ rub rail strip with 500, then 800 and finally 1000 grit sandpaper, I was all in. The result was almost startlingly good.

The lower piece of stainless sanded with 500 grit

The back side needed cleaning, too

The back side needed cleaning, too

That chunk of stuff on the second stainless piece from the left is 1969 vintage Chris Craft primer and aluminum oxide that came off of the hull of my boat! Notice the proximity of exfoliated old primer to the screw holes? That pattern repeats itself over and over again. Conclusion: breaches in the hull coating at screw holes and elsewhere lead to coating failure and a loss of hull material. Solution: coat each screw and screw hole with Tefgel and never cut a hole in the aluminum without immediately putting a barrier coat on it.

Scraped clean…now just needs a good sanding

Clamping four rub rails down speeds up the process

800 grit on the right, 1000 grit on the left

I suppose I could hit the rails with 1500 and then 2000 or 3000 grit, but I’m tempted to just leave it at 1000 and run it through the buffer. It’s actually shinier after having been sanded with 1000 grit than the rub rails on my other classic Chris Crafts have been where I only slaved away with metal polish. Should have done this sanding thing and saved a ton of time and elbow grease!

Sanded to 1000 grit and wrapped for protection

Sanded to 1000 grit and wrapped for protection

At this point, I’m going to hold off on the final buffing until after I’ve drilled and tapped all of the holes for the rub rails, and I might end up waiting for the final polish until next spring.. There’s one screw every 6″ of rub rail…it’s a 46′ boat with two sides, plus the lower rub rails…you do the math. Since I can only work on the boat on weekends, I might not get this done for a couple of weeks. But winter is coming on like a freight train and I’ve got to get Tent Model IX reconfigured into a small(ish) winter tent before any snow dumps on the area. The rub rails are mission critical for keeping the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe tent poles off of the new paint, and there’s lots of signs that this winter is going to be a humdinger…I’m back in a time crunch again.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wind Storm = Tent Blow-out!


2 comments on “Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Stainless Rub Rails

  1. William B. Kelleher says:

    Boat work + weather always seems to = time crunch. 😦

    Bill Kelleher

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      There’s another factor, too, Bill…momentum. Spring’s just around the corner and I want to splash and get ‘er to my home port. It feels like it’ been perpetual crunch time for about 18 months.

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