1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Polishing the Bow Rub Rail

It takes pretty much a full day to sand and polish each 12′ stick of stainless rub rail, but I’ve got most of the pieces done. The only ones remaining are the V-shaped one at the bow and a 7′ long piece that for the life of me I can’t find. The pictures from late 2007, when the refit began, show there were rub rails all the way around. Hopefully, that last one will show up in my garage before long. If anybody in the Mid-Atlantic region has some spare 1″ rub rail, please let me know in the comments below.

Anyway, I made another polishing jig that I thought would speed up the process for the V-shaped bow rub rail. There were a lot of scratches there, presumably from the 6′ chain on the anchor rode. Which has me thinking I need to make a bow pulpit/roller so I can raise and lower the anchor easier and without damaging the shiny paint and aluminum. All in due time…

Good news!

Good news!

The uninsured boat that exploded next to mine, damaging the tent, my new Awlgrip paint, and blowing out a window in 2015 finally got hauled away. It was still there on the day I polished the bow rub rail, then gone the next. Good riddance to bad rubbish, if you ask me.

I needed two jigs to polish the bow rub rail

Two jigs to polish the bow rub rail

Lots of 1970's paint residue on the stainless

Lots of 1970’s paint residue and staining on the stainless

Then there are the scratches and gouges

Then there are the scratches and gouges…time to break out the sander

First, I remove the scratches with 150 grit

First, I remove the scratches, paint residue, and stains with 150 grit

It was around this time that I realized two jigs were going to make the process longer than just one. While using two jigs allows me to clean up the top edge, which has lots of paint residue on it, I have to do the bottom edge separately after flipping the rail. Then it occurred to me that the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid) was the way to go.

Turns out one jig works best

Turns out one jig works best

With one leg of the rail on the ground, the portion attached to the jig is at the perfect angle to sand and polish the face and both top and bottom sides in one go. I’ll just do all of the sanding and polishing on each leg separately.

After one pass with 220 grit , I follow up with 320 Wet or Dry and a dab of water

After one pass with 220 grit , I follow up with 320 Wet or Dry and a dab of water

Next I hit it with 400 grit

Next I hit it with 400 grit

Next is 600 grit, where the shine starts to come out

Next is 600 grit, where the shine finally starts to come out

1000 grit makes it shinier still

1200 grit makes it shinier still

I've had this stuff sitting in a drawer for 10 years!

I’ve had this stuff sitting in a drawer for 10 years!

The final sanding is done with 1500 grit.

The last sanding pass with 1500 grit

The first polishing pass with black ebony compound

Nice polish

Wrap up the buffing with brown Tripoli and then white diamond compounds

Gouges at the bow? What gouges at the bow?

Gouges at the bow? What gouges at the bow?

In the pic above, I’d finished the sanding course with 1500 grit. Even without polishing, it’s a lot shinier than the rail was before I started.

First buffer pass with black ebony compound

First buffer pass with black ebony compound, then brown Tripoli

Final pass with white diamond

Final pass with white diamond compound

And that's a wrap!

And that’s a wrap!

Speaking of wrap, notice that in the pix above I’ve wrapped my buffer adapter (a commonly available 5/8″-11 coupling nut) and the bolt that holds it all together with masking tape. This acts as a pad so that when (not if) the buffer slips off the surface I’m polishing, the tape protects the surface from the rapidly rotating steel. I also double up the buffing wheels, which gives me more polishing surface to work with and seems to keep the pads on the stainless. With just one wheel, it was slipping off pretty regularly.

Well, until I find that other piece of stainless rub rail, I’m done polishing outdoors at the boatyard. I still have to polish the stanchion poles, but I’ll be doing that over the winter in my garage.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Exhaust Showerhead Parts

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One comment on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Polishing the Bow Rub Rail

  1. Kent says:

    You must lay in bed at night thinking about what to do next !!

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