1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Prepping the V-berth for Foam Insulation

One-by-one, I’m knocking out the honey-do list toward getting the boat splashed this fall. There have been some set backs, like the ongoing windshield frame fiasco, that might make it impossible to splash this year. But I’m still going full speed ahead in the hope of getting back on track, hopefully before I run out of steam.

With the aft stateroom all prepped for insulation, next I’ve got to do some things to get the V-berth ready for foam. And in getting that stuff done, I found a surprise left behind by a woodworking sailor who worked on the boat for a couple of months in 2012 and sold his services as “good but slow.” I found a mess Mr. Good-but-slow left behind when I was cutting the interior panels for the galley windows, and as I’m revisiting each part of the boat that he touched, it seems that all of his work left something to be desired.

The v-berth concept

V-berth major walls installed by Mr. Good-but-slow

V-berth major walls installed by Mr. Good-but-slow and wrapped in cardboard

In the pic above, I pulled up the v-berth floors to vacuum out the bilge one last time before fastening everything down. There were some surprises awaiting me as I pulled up the floor panels.

Mr. Good-but-slow's patented "floating wall" system

Mr. Good-but-slow’s patented “floating wall” system

When the woodworker initially installed the wall, he had the panels bolted to the hull frames but not connected to the deck frames overhead. Instead, they were held in place between a series of mahogany blocks that sort of pinched the panel while permitting limited up and down movement. I’d given him wide amount of discretion on how to accomplish my concept for the v-berth, so I wasn’t upset with the approach. And I understood his theory that an overly rigid structure can catastrophically fail, so permitting some degree of movement can be a good thing, as in the case of viscous couplers used to make bridges earthquake-resistant. I also knew from talking to a former Navy ship engineer that in underwater mine testing of fiberglass hulls, the engineers determined that FRP joint failures were prone to happen when explosions happen nearby. But, I pointed out to Mr. Good-but-slow, an FRP hull to engine stringer joint is a different beast than 3/4″ marine plywood bolted to an aluminum hull and deck. And in any case, I have no intention of running my boat in waters containing mines. Having a bullet-proof cabin top is one thing…I don’t need mine-proof v-berth walls!

So, Mr. Good-but-slow followed my explicit instructions and bolted the v-berth panels to the mahogany that was bolted to the overhead deck frames. What I didn’t know was that he’d left the bottom end of the panels free-floating, too. In the pic above, you can see that the panel is sitting firmly on the floor framing but it’s fastened to nothing along the bottom. When I removed the two floor panels, I discovered that he had used the same pinch approach as he used on the top!

Three large mahogany blocks bolted under the floor frames

Three large mahogany blocks bolted under the floor frames

I stared at the three blocks in the pic above for a while, trying to figure out what their intended purpose was. In the end, I was stumped and decided Mr. Good-but-slow might have wanted them to support the center floor section (which lifts out), but the blocks are under the floor frames–they don’t have a rabbet cut out so the edge comes up to the top of the floor frames. Plus, they barely stick out far enough to support anything, even if they were high enough. Finally, Mr. Good-but-slow knew I was using rounded corners on the walls, so it’s unclear why the transverse wall he installed comes out so far that the longitudinal wall that will attach to it cannot land on the floor frame.

Geesh. Time to get busy.

Everything glued and screwed together

Everything glued and screwed together

I was too busy to take step-wise pictures, but the shot above captures pretty much everything. First, I cut mahogany blocks and used epoxy to glue and screw them to the mahogany blocks Mr. Good-but-slow installed. I installed them so they’re high enough and stick out far enough to support the center floor panel. Next, I wetted out both sides of the lower end of the wall panel and saturated both floor panels along the end grain with epoxy. Then I used my Kreg Mini Jr pocket hole jig to drill screw holes, and I applied epoxy thickened with wood flour and cabosil along the joints, Next, I fastened the floor panels to the wall panel glue joint using pocket screws, which pull the whole assembly together tightly, and I fastened the floor panels to the aluminum floor frames. Next, I cut out a bit of the center floor section that will support the longitudinal wall, and glued and screwed it in place. Then, finally, I installed the solid mahogany corner piece that’s pre-coated with ICA basecoat clear.

First, install the corner piece

The overhead plywood finally gets installed

I started the day only planning to install the overhead plywood in the v-berth, then get on with other projects. Instead, it was nearing the end of the day when I finally got the overhead piece installed.

Epoxy stains on unfinished plywood won't matter

Epoxy stains on unfinished plywood won’t matter

The v-berth wall finishes will be a combination of off-white painted surfaces, ICA-coated natural mahogany, and Whisper Walls fabric. Because there’s limited light in the forward compartment, we decided there should be a lot of surfaces in white. The walls here will be finished white or covered with foam-backed white fabric, so the epoxy stains on the okume ply aren’t a concern.


With the v-berth finally ready for spray foam insulation, the next step is waiting for the foam to arrive.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Spray Foam Insulation


4 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Prepping the V-berth for Foam Insulation

  1. Kent says:

    Is there a work stoppage?

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      No, just a boat explosion next door that, coupled with other problems, has tossed me way off schedule.

      • Kent says:

        WOW– That sucks!! I don’t have to you that though..

        I knew a guy who burned his boat up while trying to start his engines for the first time in spring– Took out two other boats.. All due to stupidity on his part..

        Hope your Paint Job is OK– It doesn’t look like much heat got to your boat..

  2. Marty Molloy says:

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition (or mines). You never know. ;0)

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