1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Bow Hatch…or not.

The short-term plan is to keep working toward splashing the boat this fall and bringing it around to my home port. I could get a lot of things done in the two hours I waste every time I commute to and from the Roamer. Though the propellers and shafts are installed, as are the rudders, it was too cold over the winter to even think about handling the engines and finishing up their installation. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting major structural work done, like installing the aft stateroom walls. I’m also working on sealing up the exterior, which will include installing the bow hatch and windlass on the foredeck. I need to install the portholes in the V-berth and aft stateroom. But before I can install the windows, I have to install the interior wall panels around all of the porthole openings, since the panels fill a 1/4″ gap between the portholes when they’re fully installed and the window opening. And before I install those interior panels, I need to get spray foam insulation on the hull and underside of the decks. I’ll put polyester nonwoven fabric insulation on the back-side of every wooden interior panel that faces the hull to keep conditioned air on the inside of the boat. Somewhere along the way, I’ll install the engine beds, reposition the engines with the gantry, and get the engines hooked up.

But first, I need to get the boat weatherproof and that means the bow hatch has to get installed.

The 2x4 post supports the "backbone" of the tent.

The 2×4 post that supports the “backbone” of the Tent Model X has to be relocated.

I never removed the stainless flashing around the hatch opening because I figured I’d get to it when I installed the hatch. The portion of the plywood I could see behind the headliner looked solid, so taking it apart just wasn’t a priority. Turns out it should have been.

Corrosion on the flashing...first sign of trouble

Corrosion on the flashing…first sign of trouble

When I was removing the aluminum trim along the bottom of the stainless flashing, I could see that the aluminum was corroded but assumed that was just from condensation and exposure to dissimilar metal over the years. The rust on the stainless in the same areas had me a bit more concerned…and rightly so.

Houston, we have a problem.

Houston, we have a problem.

My guess is that the sealant gave up a long time ago. Water wicked down the screws that fastened the hatch to the deck and destroyed the plywood below.

It's never easy

Completely rotten on one side, and solid on the other

You can easily tell where the screws leaked and where they didn’t. The problem now is that, in addition to the screws that fastened the hatch to the deck, there are screws around the perimeter of the opening that secure the plywood to the underside of the deck. When we faired the foredeck we went right over the top of those screws, which are now safely entombed in fairing compound, Awlquik, 545, and that beautiful Awlcraft Matterhorn white. If I jostle any of those screws, it could pop the fairing compound and paint loose, and that would be very bad. Time to prep for surgery.

First, I pulled down the rotten wood by the handful

First, I pulled down the rotten wood by the handful

Makita die grinder and a cutoff wheel ought to do the trick on the screws

Makita die grinder and a cutoff wheel ought to do the trick on the screws

Compromised plywood successfully removed

Compromised plywood successfully removed

It turns out that Chris Craft used silicon bronze screws to fasten the plywood to the aluminum deck. That’s a recipe for a corrosion disaster that I won’t be repeating.

Another rotten corner

Another rotten corner, but with solid wood on either side

Completely solid plywood here

Completely solid plywood here

Bitumastic coating slightly compromised around certain screw holes

Bitumastic coating slightly compromised around certain screw holes

Bitumastic coating not compromised where the plywood was solid

Bitumastic coating not compromised where the plywood was solid

So, clearly the screws and bedding compound were the weak link in the OE hatch install. I think I’ve got a better approach for the refit.

The hatch fits the hole

The hatch fits the cutout

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wrapping Up the Bow Hatch Installation

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2 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Bow Hatch…or not.

  1. Doug says:

    Glass the hatch in?
    In restoring an old Mercedes, I fiberglassed areas where wood frames had rotted, then drilled and tapped the hardened glass to use threaded bolts instead of wood screws to attach body parts to it. That will probably be there in 400 years after the car has rotted away.

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