1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: A Mahogany Board Gets Pretty

We’ve been making lots of progress in recent years on this massive Chris Craft Roamer 46 refit project, and most articles I write tend to cover big stuff–sandblasting the hull inside and out, building the aft enclosure, making the salon roof bulletproof, installing an engine, or (recently) making the salon pretty. But every once in a while I like to focus in on some of the detail work and useful trivia–the moldings, more moldings, the occasional shout out for cool tools, and tools of the trade. So with all of the recent focus on big jobs (like the salon mahogany), I wanted to zoom in on the transformation of just one mahogany board.

As found, circa 2007

It didn’t look too bad at first–just needs to be cleaned up, strip the wood, a couple of coats of varnish and she’ll be good as new.

Or not.

On the right side of the picture above, just below the bow seat windows, there’s a spot of rotten bulkhead from where the window leaked. As we dug into it, we found the rot went all the way across. The original design of the bow seat windows was destined to fail and take out the wood below. But the solid mahogany board below the side windows in the galley…that was a keeper.

Out with the rotten wood, and the project grew

Rotten plywood and cabinets all removed

With the rotten plywood and cabinets gone, it was clear that one mahogany board was solid. It was also clear that the whole galley bulkhead needed replacing in order to turn the interior concepts I came up with during the paperwork SNAFU into reality.

The project grew still bigger, and the board was removed

After removal, the board sat in the lumber stack awaiting its time.

fast forward

Fast forward to September 2014

While the salon got sanded, stained, and clear coated, we gave the same treatment to lots of moldings, fascia boards, and other smaller pieces. The galley board also got hauled out of the lumber stack.

Fast forward to 2015

The old board fits up against the new galley bulkhead pretty well.

Fits just like before

Fits just like before, and that wood has great potential

The original bonding material is still stuck to the back-side of the board and the cabin sides. Once I grind that off, the board will fit much better.

The fit at the front isn't perfect

The fit at the front isn’t perfect, but it’ll do

The leading edge of the board will be mostly hidden inside of cabinets, like the original layout. Plus, I’ll be gluing and screwing the board in place; the wood flour-thickened epoxy will fill the gap between the board and the bulkhead.

Original bonding material isn't rock-hard

Original bonding material isn’t rock-hard

I don’t know what Chris Craft used to bond wood to fiberglass back in the day, but it definitely wasn’t anything like modern epoxies. The grey stuff is hard and sands well, but if you pry off the big blobs they bend like soft plastic before breaking. It’s not rock-hard like epoxy.

First cut clean-up with 36 grit on the Makita sander looks good

First cut clean-up with 36 grit on the Makita sander looks good

Back of the board is pretty much done

That dark stain on the salon end of the board will take some work to make it go away

Chris Craft's thick, white primer came off nicely, too

Chris Craft’s thick, white primer came off nicely, too

The remaining white primer will come off as we sand with 120 and 220, before we hit it with 320 grit and stain.

Test fit

Test fit looks good

Much better fit at the salon end

Much better fit at the salon end with the OE bonding material out of the way

But there's a fit problem in the galley

But there’s a fit problem in the galley

In the pic above, the board is seated against the bottom of the upright cleat, which is sticking out proud of the piece of wood at the bottom. Nice fit Chris Craft! 🙂

Scribe a straight line

Scribe a straight line

Need to knock off ~1/8" from the bottom

Need to knock off ~1/8″ from the bottom

The big, ugly galley board got pretty!

The big, ugly galley board got pretty!

We stained the board and sprayed it with ICA base coat clear along with all of the rest of the trim pieces.

Sprayed with ICA clear–right side, all the way at the bottom

While the ICA cured, I prepped the fiberglass

While the ICA cured, I prepped the fiberglass

Good lookin' board!

Good lookin’ board!

Buffalo Batts provide R3 insulation

Buffalo Batts provide R3 insulation

I really like working with this Buffalo Batt fabric insulation. It’s easy to handle, takes glue well, and you don’t get bits and pieces of itchy stuff falling off of it like you do with fiberglass. Plus, it’s cheap and doesn’t absorb water like fiberglass batts. Best bang for the buck of all the insulating materials I looked into.

Insulation is fitted; time for glue

Heavy coat of wood flour-thickened epoxy on the fiberglass

Heavy coat of wood flour-thickened epoxy on the fiberglass

Wet out the contact points on the back of the board

Wet out the contact points on the back of the board

Chris Craft didn’t coat the back-side of big pieces of wood like this one, though they did coat just about every other piece of mahogany used for framing. My theory is that not coating the wood permits moisture in through the back side, which can cause the varnish on the face to come loose, especially at the edges. So we gave the back-side of the board a few good, heavy coats of ICA. I ground the ICA back to bare wood at the contact points, so there will be a good epoxy bond all the way around.

Glued, screwed, and clamped in place

Glued, screwed, and clamped in place

The epoxy that squeezes out cleans up with a squeegee and alcohol on a rag.

Good lookin' board!

Good lookin’ board!

Fully clamped and waiting for the epoxy to cure

Fully clamped and waiting for the epoxy to cure

Insulation doing exactly what I'd hoped it would do

Insulation doing exactly what I’d hoped it would do

I can’t wait to unclamp the board and see how it looks. Then, I’ve got to install new plywood above the board to replace the rotten stuff we removed back in 2009 when the refit began.

Next up on our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer Refit: New Galley Plywood Panels

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2 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: A Mahogany Board Gets Pretty

  1. A labour of love! Q’s the man!

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