Consistent with the theme of getting the boat ready for splashing later this year, I dug into the original, cast aluminum bow deck hatch to get it ready for paint. These hatches, which were were used on Chris Craft Cruisers from the 1960s and ’70s and manufactured by Bomar, I believe, have a shape that’s reminiscent of hood scoops used on muscle cars of the same era. I could have gone with a new hatch, but I like the period-correct parts. But like the original portlights and other old boat parts I’m keeping through this refit, this hatch was a real piece of work to get apart.
About half of the screws came out willingly, but only after weeks of applying penetrating oil to each one.
The combination of heat from welding and a blast of electricity coming through the aluminum hatch body, where the ground was attached, and into the threads of the screws effectively breaks the bond that holds the screws and kept them from loosening up.
Everywhere you see black soot, it’s from a little zap with the welder to attach a nut. With the screws out, the pieces come right apart.
What surprised me right away was that the hatch component parts were not primed or painted except for the areas that are visible. This is the same approach Chris Craft/Bomar used with the original portlights, and I think it encourages corrosion.
Again, there’s no paint or primer on the underside of the casting. While aluminum oxide is super tough stuff, I feel the component needs to either be fully bare or fully barrier coated. When the outside is coated but the inside isn’t, the paint line provides a path for aluminum oxide to creep under the exterior coating and make a mess of things.
You can see some of the original DAP-like window sealant that remains. The fact that it’s only adhered in a few spots tells me water had no trouble seeping between the hatch and glass.
I’ve had three big Chris Craft cruisers with this style of hatch, and not one of them had a functioning vent. The sheet metal vent closer thingies on all of them were stuck in place. Now I know why: they were each held in place with four plain steel screws. Just a wee bit of corrosion and they’d stick solid. But there’s more…
Again, the parts you can’t see get no primer or paint…it’s just bare cast aluminum. BUT when they coated the outside, some of that primer and paint ran inside between the hatch and the vent closer thingy, effectively gluing them together.
My plan is to remove the excess paint from the outside, then sandblast and treat all of the hatch components with Alumiprep. Then I’ll send them over to the Boatamalan painter for Awlgrip Max Cor aluminum primer and AwlCraft 2000 paint to match the exterior. Once I get them back, I’ll apply Slick Strips to separate the cast aluminum hatch from the vent closer thingy. Slick Strip is an HDPE tape that makes parts slide very smoothly. I’ve used it before to solve a grinding salon slider door on my Commander 42. It should work perfectly here, too.
It’s a bit surprising how many casting imperfections Chris Craft and Bomar tolerated back in the day. This was an air bubble, by the looks of it, and it was just painted over.
With the hatch disassembled, the next step is sandblasting. I’ve been holding off on blasting because I wanted to do it all in one go, but it was just too cold over the winter. Now, with the portlights and hatch all disassembled, I’m almost ready to get ‘er done.
Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Aft Cabin Floors
Oh, and please check out the page where I post all of my items For Sale: Refit Parts, Tools, Supplies & Leftovers.