1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Stainless Rub Rails

Tent Model IX is on life support; it won’t take another storm of any kind. So the top priority is to get the boat ready to convert the tent from a gargantuan spray booth to as small a winter tent as possible. For that to happen, the rub rails that I polished a few weeks ago have to be installed and we have to complete the prop shaft strut barrel installation.

The rub rails have to be installed because the tent will once again extend all the way to the ground, and the wooden tent uprights and 1-1/2″ PVC poles might move around during high winds. The stainless will protect the new Awlcraft 2000 paint from incidental contact from the tent structure.

First, locate and drill out all of the screw holes

First, locate and drill out all of the screw holes

Many of the screw holes had been filled when we were fairing the hull back in 2009, so the fairing compound had to be drilled out. I used an undersized drill to lessen the possibility of cutting into the threads. Because the epoxy fairing compound is softer than aluminum, the drill tended to track into the softer material.

Step 2: chase the threads with a tap

Step 2: chase the threads with a tap

There’s one hole every 6 inches. The boat is 46 feet long (plus the curve of the bow). Each hole takes 30 seconds to locate and drill, then a minute to tap. If you do the math, you should conclude (as I did) that this was one tedious job that took a loooooong time to finish.

New 316 Stainless 6-32 screws

New 316 Stainless 6-32 screws secure the rub rail to the boat

In the pic above, I’m installing the second rub rail back from the bow piece on the port side. First, I suspend the rail from the overhead tent pipes, then install a screw at one end of the rail and work my way back. While the stainless is very rigid in the Y axis, it’s a freakin’ wet noodle in the X axis. And since they’re 12 feet long, that’s a lot of wet noodle to work with. It would have been faster with a helper, but everybody was busy. Even offers of beer didn’t get a response!

Tefgel is essential to avoid dissimilar metal corrosion

Tef-gel is essential to avoid dissimilar metal corrosion

The rub rail screw holes on these aluminum boats are notorious points of failure for the paint. Back in the day, they didn’t have Tef-gel–a magical goo that reportedly keeps dissimilar metal corrosion at bay. A good sealant on the outside of the rub rail and screw, like Sikaflex 291 LOT, only protects half of the screw. The other half that protrudes on the inside of the hull is bare metal. Because it’s in the relatively humid interior of the boat, the screws will collect condensation when the metal is cold. That moisture can wick into the threads from the backside and start the process of making aluminum oxide that pops the paint off of the aluminum. Tef-gel on the threads of each screw and, using the included mascara brush, inside each threaded hole should stop moisture from getting into the threads.

Add the time required to apply Tef-gel to each screw and screw hole in the “tedium factor” calculation you did earlier. 😉

Upper rub rail is installed

Upper rub rail is installed

This is, unfortunately, an operation I’ll have to repeat. Aside from the fundamental need to get the winter tent built, the purpose of this installation is to drill out all of the holes and ensure the fit of the rails. I’ll have to remove them all and reinstall using Sikaflex for the final installation. I previously sanded the rub rails to a satin polish but did not do the final buff to make them really shine. Because the tent frames might rub up against the rails over the winter, it would have been risky to final polish them. With the holes cut and drilled, removing and reinstalling next year shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.

The lower rub rail presented a different challenge

The lower rub rail presented a different challenge

Beautifully smooth...flawless even...and totally useless for locating screws! :-(

Beautifully smooth…flawless even…and totally useless for locating screws!

While the upper rub rails had a few open screw holes and telltale marks indicating where the filled holes were, there were no such marks for the lower rub rails. The paint job was perfectly smooth. Without any indicator of where the holes were, there weren’t any starting points for the rub rails. There are three stainless sections: the port and starboard parts, which go around the turn at the transom, and the center piece on the transom. The holes for each of the side pieces are in different positions, so they’re not interchangable without drilling lots of new holes. The orientation of the center piece is also determined by the orientation of the outer pieces. There were no apparent starting points, but then I noticed the clue that told the story.

The starboard corner is sharp at the turn to the transom

The starboard corner is sharp at the turn to the transom

The port side corner is more round

The port side corner is more round

The stainless pieces have corresponding differences in the corner radii

The stainless pieces have corresponding differences in the corner radii

Problem solved! On to the tedium of drilling, tapping, and Tef-gelling!

Et Voilà

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Propeller Shafts (part II)

Advertisements

5 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Stainless Rub Rails

  1. Kent says:

    May I ask– Why did you paint before all the other work was done? The new Shinny might get scratched now..

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Hi Kent.
      The order of operations on this refit can seem unintuitive. All of the heavy bits had to come in through the salon roof hatch, but once that was done it was a priority to seal up the salon roof hatch so the roof didn’t lose any more structural integrity. But then, the trip on the Chesapeake made it clear that the Lehman engines were far too wimpy. So, since the roof wasn’t sealed up yet, out came the Lehmans and in went the Cummins engines, along with the fridge, washer, dryer, and all of the interior plywood. With the boat in a tent, there is no other way to get big stuff inside the boat. But once it’ all inside, sealing up the salon roof was still the top priority. And once it was sealed up, the fairing and paint crew was on site to finish the job. Once the paint work was done, there’s really not much activity outside, so there’s very little chance of scratching the paint.
      That’s kind of the ultra-short, Cliff’s Notes version of the Readers’ Digest version of the much longer story. Can’t wait until the final chapter!
      Cheers,
      Q

      • Kent says:

        What you are doing is Fantastic!! Not many people “If Any” Would do what you are doing to a Boat!! Save the Old The Old Girl– She is a Bute!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s