1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tent Model X

With the shaft strut barrels and stainless steel rub rails installed, it’s time to tear down the scaffolding, carefully remove the old shrink wrap that’s covered with abrasive sanding dust and paint overspray residue and use the structural parts of Tent Model IX for a more robust, much smaller winter tent. This will take a long weekend to pull off (and maybe more) so I’ll have to do this step-wise. The boat isn’t waterproof yet, so I need to maintain a protective tent cover while tearing apart and relocating the structure that supports it. This is a more complicated way of doing it than to just rip the whole thing down, but if rain falls while the tent is down it could result in a bunch of problems I absolutely need to avoid.

First, I removed the bottom battons and lifted the skirt

First, I removed the bottom battons and lifted the shrink wrap skirt

Getting the skirt out of the way made it a lot easier to remove all of the scaffolding…and there was lots of it.

Lordy...what a mess.

Lordy…what a mess.

Better order another dumpster

Better order another dumpster

It seems the Boatamalans had a bad habit of throwing all of the used sandpaper, tape, plastic masking film, drink cans, bottles, fast food wrappers etc  under the scaffolding. There were also many nearly new rolls of expensive tape and a whole box of Mirka Abranet 320!

Slowly working my way back, removing the scaffolding but leaving the tent structure in place

Port side scaffolding is gone and trash cleaned out

Stbd side scaffolding is gone and trash cleaned out

The only thing left on the starboard side is my Miller Trailblazer 280NT. That will come out after I relocate the uprights closer to the hull, leaving the welder outside the new tent structure.

Port side…removing junk and relocating tent uprights much closer to the hull

Time for my paint compressor to go home

Time for my paint compressor to go home

This compressor is a beast. It’s an Ingersoll Rand T-30 with water cooling and an oil-free design. That’s not oil-less, like the cheap newer compressors; rather, each piston uses two different sets of rings (teflon air rings on the top and conventional oil and compression rings below) with air pressure piped between the two ring sets to keep crankcase oil mist from entering the air side of the compressor. The water cooling greatly reduces water in the air supply. It’s old technology but works very well. With that monster of an old-school motor on it, it also weighs a lot…and that makes moving it a real chore for one man.

Getting Egyptian

Getting Egyptian

Bits of 1-1/2″ PVC pipe worked well as rollers on the hard ground. All I had to do was keep moving the pipes to the front of the skids as I rolled it out of the tent.

Ready to go home

Ready to go home at the end of a long day

There are only a few tools from Harbor Freight that I would give an unqualified recommendation for, but their 1-ton engine hoist is one of them. Egyptians wish they had hydraulic rams back in the day!

Moving the starboard side tent frames in

Day 2 started with moving the starboard side tent frames in

In the picture above, the tent skirt is looking a bit baggy. That’s because I’ve moved the tent’s rear uprights in so they’re about 6 inches away from the stainless rub rails I just reinstalled. Also note the cloudy skies…it’s a good thing I left the tent cover intact.

Relocated starboard tent uprights

Relocated starboard tent uprights

Relocating the tent uprights forward of the Miller Trailblazer

After relocating the rear uprights, I started relocating the front ones and cutting and splicing the 1-1/2″ PVC pipes so the tent would be much narrower. I laid down a bunch of plastic to protect the paint when working with the pipes. Not only can falling pipes scratch the paint, but the purple PVC primer and glue would cause HUGE problems if it fell on the paint.

Time for the Trailblazer to go home

Time for the Trailblazer to go home

I lifted the welder with my hoist and put the PVC pipes underneath so I could roll it on out.

PVC pipes are not off-road rated

PVC pipes are not off-road rated

The pipes would allow the welder to slide over the top of them, but they wouldn’t roll over the deep gravel in the yard.

Gettin' Egyptian II

Gettin’ Egyptian II

By putting scraps of 1/4″ plywood under the pipes, the machine rolled right out. After loading the Trailblazer in my truck for the trip home, I built the new upper wooden center supports for the forward tent pipes.

Relocating the port side tent uprights and PVC

Off comes the nasty old tent skirt and top plastic

I carefully cut off all of the old plastic, taking care to keep the abrasive sanding dust off the new paint. Then I moved my two-stage compressor and refrigerated air drier out of the way; they were a breeze compared to the other equipment. The weight difference between the old school Ingersoll Rand compressor and the newer Campbell Hausfeld is about 2x, even though the lighter unit has an 80-gallon receiver (the IR compressor sits on a 30-gallon one). Since I’ll still be using air on the project, I built a new shelf for the drier and made space for the upright compressor inside the new tent structure. But then I stopped for a few minute and took in how the boat looks in natural light, since even when the top blew off the tent recently the skirt was still in place to block the view.

Stupid pipes are in the way…but she still looks pretty good!

Next, I put up the new skirt plastic

Next, after moving the compressor inside, I put up the new skirt plastic

This time, I’m using wooden battens all the way around the top of the skirt. The battens have two jobs: 1) hold the skirt up more rigidly than the shrink wrap line or tape can (which I used last year and previously); and 2) more securely fix the top sheet of plastic to the skirt. What I’ve learned is that shrink wrap plastic can be welded and taped together, but that joint inevitably fails where battens (so far) have not. It takes more time to do it this way, but that’s better than having the tent fail (again).

The sun is past its zenith, but the job's still not half-done

The sun was past its zenith, but the job still wasn’t halfway done

Short winter days make it hard to get certain jobs done. Ah well…it won’t be the first time I worked a shrink wrap gun at night.


7pm and the top plastic isn’t even tacked in place yet

It took until 11pm to get the side skirt partially tensioned and the top plastic sheet fixed in place with battens. I also welded and taped the seam between the skirt and top sheet. Then I had to clean up the mess. By 12:15am I’d been going at it for 17 hours and had to call it a day. I was so exhausted that for the first time in many, many years, I was actually concerned that I might fall asleep on the drive home. To keep myself awake, I broke out the heavy artillery and turned on liberal talk radio…better to get temporarily high blood pressure from listening to nonsense that doesn’t stand up to critical thinking than to fall asleep while driving. 😉

8am the next day...

8am the next day…

I fired up the shrink wrap gun and tensioned the rest of the tent the next day, then cleaned up more of the mess in the yard.

Battens hold the plastic securely and help maintain a tight tent covering

I give you…Tent Model X: the last tent (I hope) I ever build

Battens on the bottom, sides, and at the joint with the skirt hold the plastic securely and help maintain a tight tent covering

Lots of space in the entryway

Lots of space in the entryway

With no NW-facing exhaust fan vents to let blasts of wind in, the tent should hold up better than it has before.

6-inch gap separates the stainless rub rails from the tent uprights

6-inch gap separates the stainless rub rails from the tent uprights

Though there’s no scaffolding structure to keep the uprights…upright, each one has lumber attached at an angle and braced that should keep them from moving into the boat.

A new moving blanket and pads protect the cabin top

A new moving blanket and pads protect the cabin top

The tent is much tighter to the hull than it was last year

The tent is much tighter to the hull than it was last year

With the paint job done, we don’t need space on the sides of the boat. And as the area of the top of the tent gets smaller, so too will the snow loads if we get a bunch falling this winter.

To the left of this pic, you can see the inner batten that holds the top plastic to the skirt

OK, so the tent is a wrap. I’ve got a couple of projects up in the air right now while I wait for parts to show up. Things that have to be done before splashing next year include: install the glass and windshield, finish the engine/shaft install, install the hydraulic steering system, finish and install the swim platform,  and then start cutting plywood for interior bulkheads.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Update on the Bow Seat Windows


6 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tent Model X

  1. 47chriscraftcommander1973 says:

    Awesome job, this project is very impressive! I’m really enjoying following your progress. I’m envious of tent model X. (You’ve come a long way and I’ve learned a lot.) I need one of those! I got a good laugh at breaking out the heavy artillery liberal radio. Isn’t that the truth! If that doesn’t raise your blood pressure nothing will. Great idea, you’ve had many through out this project.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks! That’s a great looking Commander you’ve got there!

      On the liberal radio comment, I never listened to any kind of talk radio before. But it’s an hour’s drive each way to the boatyard, and I make the trip several times each week. At the insistence of some liberal friends, I tuned in to NPR because they said it’s the only place to get fair and balanced reporting and intelligent discussion. On Day One of the 2013 gov’t shutdown, I just happened to tune in and heard NPR reporters, funded by my tax dollars, state that a “radical faction of the Republican party” had caused the shut down. This wasn’t stated as a quote from someone else, which might be acceptable neutral journalism so long as a contrasting comment from a supporter was presented; rather, the reporters used the descriptive phrase repeatedly as if it was the simple fact of the matter. The NPR reporters also repeatedly used the phrase “hardliners” when describing Rep. Cruz et al. But my understanding of “hardliner” is “one who will not negotiate.” In the same report though, NPR indicated that Cruz was making offers…which the Senate and President summarily rejected…not even considering them. Having read the Constitution, I understand that the “power of the purse” lies with the people (ie the House), and it was absolutely within their right to withhold funding, especially on something as contentious and overreaching as the ACA. In the language of liberal NPR propaganda, radical factions are those that act in accordance with the Constitution, and hardliners are people who attempt to negotiate.

      George Orwell must be having a good chuckle at all of this. Ministry of Truth, indeed!

      Great! Now I’m all fired up and going to the boatyard! lol

  2. I really enjoy this project and I remember these boats in 1969! Please keep posting and you are very talented.

  3. Bill Large says:

    Love the “Egyptian” rollers. When I was a kid, that’s how they moved boats around in the yard – on big iron pipes and back then, they did it with relative ease, although it took a long time to get a boat moved and blocked up compared to today’s TravelLifts and hydraulic trailers. Tent Model X looks great, by the way.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks, Bill! I’ve never seen boats moved on iron pipes. That must have been something to watch as a kid! Back home they used trailers pulled around by what they called The Goat–a cab-over semi-truck of sorts. I’ve seen them used at logistics hubs, like UPS, to move large shipping trailers around.

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