1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Disassembling the Bow Hatch

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.

Your basic 1969 Chris Craft bow deck hatch

Your basic 1969 Chris Craft bow deck hatch

About half of the screws came out willingly, but only after weeks of applying penetrating oil to each one.

Lotsa busted screws

Lotsa busted screws that came out with the help of some welding

To remove: weld nuts to screw heads

To remove: weld nuts to screw heads

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.

The first screws to come out

The first three screws to come out

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.

The grill casting looks really good

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.

With the grill removed, the hatch top piece comes off easily

With the grill removed, the hatch top piece comes off easily

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.

Threads looks surprisingly good

Threads in the cast housing looks surprisingly good

Next, drive out roll pins and separate the hatch halves

Next, drive out roll pins and separate the hatch halves

Glass out from the underside of the hatch top

Glass out from the underside of the hatch top

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.

Again, window sealant only adheres in a few spots

Again, window sealant only adheres in a few spots

That DAP-like sealant is hard as a [sedimentary] rock

That DAP-like sealant is hard as a [sedimentary] rock

Dirt on the glass retainer ring shows water was getting in.

Dirt on the glass retainer ring shows water was getting in.

Sealant? What sealant?

The vent that never moves!

The vent that never moves!

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…

Not exactly a smooth surface for a vent closer thingy to slide on

Not exactly a smooth surface for a vent closer thingy to slide on

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.

50 grit on a sander removes three layers of paint

50 grit on a sander removes three layers of paint

Minor pitting in the casting, which should fill just fine with Awlquik

Minor pitting in the casting, which should fill just fine with Awlquik

Casting imperfection

Casting imperfection

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.

 

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8 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Disassembling the Bow Hatch

  1. Marty Molloy says:

    Q, how about doing the exterior up like one of the old German Battleships? ;0)

  2. Eric Vardek says:

    Bomar, relly? Never knew.
    Essentially a dorade boxed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorade_box) hatch cover – which, if you think about it, is a pretty advanced approach to the ingress/egress solution of yore. They certainly dont do this anymore – and we do miss the “ram air” look, eh?
    Anywho, great work and documentation as always – I always learn alot from your informative posts as always.
    Never quit – cheers!
    -Eric

  3. William B. Kelleher says:

    I clicked on your link ( For Sale: Refit Parts, Tools, Supplies & Leftovers. ) and it asked for a password. LOL

    Bill Kelleher

  4. Timothy Miller says:

    The po of my boat removed the hatch and inserted an RV A/C in its place. Before I re-installed the hatch I repainted it but did not do the daunting disassembly you performed. If blasted with water it will leak, probably from the glass seal. The slider thingy still slides unless the mud dobbers have made roadblocks. At that point there will definitely be water in the vee while the homes are destroyed.
    Best luck on the splash date and all other schedules.
    Tim

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