1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fitting the Transom Door

As part of the process of making the boat weatherproof, I need to have the transom door painted and get it installed. I’ve had the hinges for a long time, but I was having trouble finding a latch. Well, I finally found one that will work, so I drilled all the holes, dry-fitted all the hardware, did a test install, then adjusted the gap all the way around so there won’t be any interference once it’s painted. I also welded up the seams on top, since the guy who built the aft enclosure had only tacked them. I think it turned out pretty good, and it’s finally ready for paint.

First, tape up the opening and install spacers

First, tape up the opening to protect the paint and then install spacers

I recycled the spacers from the glass delivery. They’re 1/8″ thick rubber, which is exactly the gap I’d like all around the door.

Tape the edge of the door and place in the opening

Tape the edge of the door and place in the opening

Vix drill jig centers the bit in the hinge hole

Vix drill jig centers the bit in the hinge hole

These spring-loaded Vix drill bits are a great tool to have if you’re installing hinges and other things that require screws to be installed dead center in hardware holes.

Hinges are installed on the door

Hinges are installed on the door

I got me a transom door!

I got me a transom door!

I need to trim the latch side of the door

Next I need to install the latch and weld the top seams

Buck Algonquin 70TDLS625, polished 316 stainless transom door latch

That gap on the latch side is a bit tight

EZ-One track saw lets me make perfectly straight cuts

EZ-One track saw lets me make perfectly straight cuts

Exactly 1/16" trimmed top to bottom

Exactly 1/16″ trimmed top to bottom

Nice!

Nice!

Next, drill the latch holes and get ready to fire up the welder

The seams between the tacks might cause epoxy filler to crack

The seams between the tacks might cause epoxy filler to crack

I’m not sure why the fabricator for the aft enclosure didn’t weld continuously across the top of the transom door like he did for the rest of the aft panel. I considered using epoxy fairing compound to fill the seam, but I’m concerned that the crack between the panels will eventually telegraph through the filler. The tacks were all done in 5356 aluminum MIG wire, which is strong but also has a higher melting point than 4043. I don’t want excessive heat to warp the door, so I used 1/8″ 4043 TIG filler and my AlphaTIG to stitch weld the seams.

First, hit the seam with a stainless wire brush

First, hit the seam with a stainless wire brush

Sloppy stack of dimes, but it'll do

Sloppy stack of dimes, but it’ll do

I’m envious of the guys who can lay down a perfect stack ‘o dimes, but I just don’t have the robot-like hand motion to consistently pull it off. I understand that it’s mostly a matter of seat time, and as a hobbyist I just don’t spend enough time laying down beads to get my muscles trained. On the upside, I’m jabbing the tungsten with the filler much less often than I used to…so there’s that. And I’m convinced that in the event of a zombie apocalypse (or the living equivalent for whatever happens after election day 🙂 ) being able to TIG weld aluminum even sloppily is a useful skill to have.

Stitch weld top and bottom

Stitch welding from the right to left and inside to out to spread the heat around

I walked away from the door a few times and gave it five minutes to cool. The last thing I need is to get it too hot and warp it!

Back at the boatyard, time to grind some weld

Back at the boatyard, time to grind some weld

Flap disk on my new Makita grinder

Flap disk on my new Makita grinder

I’ve had a Craftsman grinder for ages but was impressed by a buddy’s new Makita. Compared to the Craftsman, it’s smoother and relatively quiet. I also like the paddle switch much better than the one on the Craftsman that stays on. I dropped the Craftsman once, and it took off like a Tasmanian Devil until it finally pulled its cord from the wall!

Good stuff!

Good stuff!

Need to smooth off all of the screw holes, too

Don’t forget to smooth off all of the screw holes, too

Not too shabby

Not too shabby

Good gaps

Good gaps

When opened, the hinges keep the panels from touching

When opened, the hinges keep the panels from touching

Et voila!

Et voila!

The transom door is ready for the painter. Now if only he’d show up and get some stuff done…

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing V-berth Head Moldings

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