Back in May 2014, my boat project suffered an enormous setback when bastard thieves broke in and cleaned out my tools, all of the materials they could carry, and a bunch of brand new and classic Chris Craft parts. Included in the Chris Craft parts they grabbed were aluminum extrusions for the windshield and the drip rail that goes around the aft deck hard top. I assume they grabbed them for scrap value, along with a bunch of chromed bronze pieces. At the time, aluminum was getting $0.78/lbs at the scrap yard, so the bastard thieves ended up with $50 worth of aluminum for their trouble. After months of searching, I was able to find the original foundry that extruded these parts for Chris Craft. The good news was that they still had the dies. The bad news was that they only do runs of 600 pounds at a cost of $16,000 each, and there were a half dozen different extrusions total that were stolen. 6 x $16,000 = oy vey.
So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to replace items that were economically irreplaceable. I came up with a plan for the windshield and a fabricator who said he could do it. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up as well as I’d hoped (though I haven’t given up hope on that just yet). On the drip rail, after trying to come up with alternatives in wood, PVC, and other materials, I finally decided to go with what I know works and will give the best long-term bang for the buck: fiberglass, fillets, and AwlCraft 2000 Matterhorn white.
One thing the drip rail did was clamp together the top and bottom halves of the hard top. The edge between the two is relatively unfinished, so without a cap on it it’s pretty ugly.
Grinding off that brand new paint was maybe the most difficult thing I’ve done on this project. I mean, except for one day when I converted the tent, this paint job has never seen the sun. It was perfect…no bugs, no runs, nice flow…my Boatamalan painter really did a nice job.
In the pic above, you can see the remains of some of the silicon-bronze screws Chris Craft used to attach the drip rail to the two halves of the hard top, holding it all together. Many of the screws broke off when we removed the drip rail in preparation for the paint job back in 2013. The remains of the bronze screws will soon get entombed in epoxy, so I’m not concerned about removing them.
After wetting out the surface with straight epoxy, the epoxy thickened with wood flour fills screw holes and other imperfections in the original hard top, giving the fiberglass layer that’s coming next a smooth surface to adhere to.
It was difficult getting the ‘glass to lay down on the top because of the relatively sharp turn it has to take from the bottom to the top of the joint. But we kept pushing it down in contact with the epoxy on the hard top until it started to cure. Once it was good and tacky, the fiberglass layer stayed put. Then, before it cured too far, we hot-coated it with fairing compound made of epoxy thickened with 3M glass bubbles and cabosil in a 70/30 ratio.
Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fillets On The Hard Top