1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Galley Bulkhead

With all of the aft stateroom walls installed, I need to get the galley bulkhead installed if I’m going to splash the boat in the fall of 2015. The panels have been cut and ready to install since 2013, but I’ve been too busy doing other things, like the exterior paint.

Bulkhead panel cut and fitted (but not installed) since 2013

Bulkhead panel cut and fitted (but not installed) since 2013

Pull the heavy panel back

Pull the heavy bulkhead out to prep for final installation

That 3/4″ okume marine ply is heavy stuff. Not as heavy as some, but it’s a handful.

Install 1"x1" mahogany cleats around each opening

Glue and screw 1″x1″ mahogany cleats around each compartment opening

I redesigned the bow seat and made a vast improvement over Chris Craft’s original design. Whereas the original design was inaccessible empty space that had no supports across its 10′ span, my design is taller (for more comfortable sitting), it’s crowned (so water naturally runs off), and the five panels that create four compartments under it also support the seat. The center compartments under the bow seat are accessible from (soon to be installed) hatches on the exterior, and the outside compartments will most likely be accessible from the interior.

Cleats in, surfaces coated...ready for panel install

Cleats in, surfaces coated…ready for panel install

All interior surfaces of the compartments are heavily coated with epoxy, and the bottom panels also have a layer of fiberglass that extends up the sides a couple of inches. It would be prettier if I fully finished the inside of the compartments, but these are line storage compartments that won’t stay clean no matter what I do.

After wetting out all of the panel edges with epoxy several times, I mixed some wood flour and cabosil with the epoxy and applied that bonding agent over the wet edge. Finally, I mixed up some Devoe 236 primer and coated the exposed aluminum. The catalyst is a few years old and it changes to a red color over time, which is why the primer that should be white is pink.

Wet out the panel and apply epoxy thickened with wood flour to the bond areas

Wet out the panel and apply epoxy thickened with wood flour to the bond areas

First galley bulkhead panel glued and screwed in place

First galley bulkhead panel glued and screwed in place

Second galley bulkhead panel glued and screwed

Second galley bulkhead panel glued and screwed

I used my Kreg R3 Jr. pocket hole jig, in addition to epoxy and the wood flour and cabosil concoction, to glue and screw the joint between the two panels. The joint in the first panel was done using conventional joinery — route out grooves, glue in a spline, then use clamps to pull the panels together — but epoxy and the wood flour cabosil blend is such a strong bond that you don’t need to go through all of that work. Just make sure the panel edges are true, and wet them out with epoxy until they won’t drink any more. Apply the wood flour and cabosil-thickened epoxy, and the pocket screws pull the panels tightly together. Just make sure your bit driver clutch is set fairly low. On my Makita, setting the clutch to 4 (out of 16) pulls the panels together just fine without overdriving the screw.

After bolting the bottom edge of the panels to the aluminum framing that supports the floor of the galley, the bulkhead is rock-solid. Booyah.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Bow Seat Hatches

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