1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbishing Stainless Stanchions

The safety rails need to be installed before a surveyor will sign off on the boat being ready to splash. We sanded and laid three heavy coats of West System epoxy with the 207 Special Clear hardener on the original mahogany rails back in August 2013, and they’ve been sitting ever since. Now that the safety rail hardware has been rechromed, I’ll install all the pieces in their old locations on the safety rail and use them as a guide for where to install the stanchion bases. Then I’ll remove the stanchion tops and bases, and we’ll put the final coats of Imron MS1 clearcoat on the mahogany toe rail and safety rail. But before I do the final installation, the stainless safety rail tubing needs to be sanded and polished. It’s not the most exciting work, but the results are visually apparent pretty quickly.

Unloved stainless steel safety rail stanchion

Unloved stainless steel safety rail stanchion

This stanchion has been sitting in a 5-gallon bucket full of other stanchions that easily came apart from their chromed bronze bases when we disassembled the boat way back in 2008 (YIKES!).

My new Porter Cable quarter sheet sander

My new Porter Cable quarter sheet sander

I like this sander so far. It’s lightweight and fits well in my hands. The locking tabs are robust, and the pad can be used with stick-it or plain-backed paper.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The other two stanchions in the pic above did not separate easily from their bronze bases. While the rest of the stanchions were in a bucket under the boat, these sat in my garage, where I applied penetrating oil to them over the last year. When I finally got around to applying heat to them and separating them from their bronze bases, I got a bit of a surprise. One foot away from where they were sitting was a closed gallon jug of muriatic acid that I’ve used to clean heat exchangers. The side of the stainless that was facing the jug of acid had clearly been attacked by acid vapor. There’s extensive pitting and surface rust, but only on that side. I have no idea how acid vapors escaped the sealed plastic jug, but that’s clearly what happened. It’s going to take a lot more than a light sand and polish to clean these up.

The center one is the worst

The center one is the worst

The stanchion at the top with all of the surface rust actually cleans up pretty easily. That center one, though, has pretty deep pitting.

Even the nicest one has deep gouges

Even the nicest one has deep gouges

I assume that at some point, somebody put a pipe wrench on this one and gouged it. I hit it with a buffing wheel on my modified Makita polisher, and it shines up pretty well. But the gouges don’t look good, even shined up. It’ll take some pretty course sandpaper to remove that.

150 grit does a pretty good job on the deep gouges

150 grit does a pretty good job on the deep gouges

A little bit more...

A little bit more with 150 grit, then switch up to 220

Pits with

Then switch up to 400 grit wet or dry paper

pits

The stanchion with surface rust cleaned up nicely with just 400 grit

After sanding down specific rough spots,  I sanded the entire surface of each tube using 400 grit wet or dry. After clamping the paper to the pad, I dip the paper in a shallow pan of water and roll the tube back and forth while rotating the sander to use the entire surface of the paper. It doesn’t look especially coordinated in the video below, but the hand I’d normally use to steady the tube was occupied holding the camera. I was at the 1,000 grit stage in the video, but the motion is the same for all of the grits.

 

Next, switch from 400 to 600 grit and repeat

Replace the paper, dip the paper, sand and roll…then repeat

Tedious...but the results are looking good

Tedious…but the results are looking good

Pits

Rust and pipe wrench gouges are gone at 400 grit

600 grit starts bringing out the shine

The pitted stanchion isn’t perfect, but it’s getting there

600 grit starts bringing out the shine

That’s about as much time as I’m willing to spend on the pitted stanchion

There are still some pits visible, but I spent an hour just on this one and removed quite a bit of material. Once it’s polished, I think it’ll look fine.

Surface rust? What surface rust

Surface rust? What surface rust?

600 grit starts bringing out the shine

600 grit on the center stanchion starts bringing out the shine

1000 grit looks even better

600 grit on the pitted stanchion…not too bad

1000 grit on the right side, 600 on the left

1200 grit

1200 grit is looking pretty good

1500 grit on the middle tube

1500 grit on the middle tube…pits? What pits?

It took a solid six hours to get these three stanchions ready for the polisher. Fortunately, none of the rest of the stanchions have the severe pitting and rust problem, so depending on how badly the gouges are I’ve got the sanding process down to about one hour per tube. I’ve also got two much longer, curved tubes that serve as the bow safety rail, so they will take more time. Fortunately, they only have surface stains, so I can start with 400 grit there. Unfortunately, my modified Makita polisher doesn’t work well with tubes. For that, I need to use my bench grinder/polisher in my garage, which I’ll be doing over the next several weeks in my spare time.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Polishing Still More Stainless

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6 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbishing Stainless Stanchions

  1. Karl says:

    I have been following your progress for quite some time and have to say great job! Watching your video polishing the sanctions, did you try and chuck them up in your shop smith? Thinking it might be easier to sand and polish.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks, Karl. Unfortunately, I don’t have any accessories that would permit me to use the Shopsmith, so I’m getting by with what I’ve got. Using both hands makes it a much smoother operation than what you saw in the video. 😉
      Cheers,
      Q

  2. Doug says:

    Good work!
    Re: windshields – I saw this product and thought it perfect for motoryacht windshields.

    Doug

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks, Doug! That product is pretty wild! At first, I thought it’d be great on any painted surface. Then it occurred to me: what if you ever needed to repair the paint!?! Silicone is bad enough…that stuff would make silicone look like a paint magnet!

  3. alloyed2sea says:

    excellent work.
    If you ever need original CC railing parts (stanchion bases,etc) call Marine Sales:http://www.marine-sales.com/catalog/index.php
    dont know how,but they can find’em

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