I’m still waiting for the 1-1/2″ stainless tubing I’ll use for the raw water inlets, so I can’t weld the exhaust risers together just yet. There’s plenty of other stuff to do, though. My painter wants to get all of the exterior painting done in one go, since covering the whole boat with plastic is time consuming and expensive. We’ve got a couple of touch-ups to do from the boat explosion last year and a few other spots on the Awlgrip Matterhorn White, and we also have to put the last coats of DuPont MS1 on the mahogany toe rail. But before we can spray the toe rail, I want to dry fit the stanchions that hold up the mahogany safety rail and all of the other toe rail parts that just came back from the chrome shop.
I’m sure Chris Craft assembled the entire bow safety rail and then had a few guys lift it into place. I don’t have a few guys, and assembling the pieces on the bow was not easy. I eventually ended up using the tent framing to suspend the tubing at what looked to be the right height.
But, you see, the problem is that everything moves. Tweak something just a bit on one side and it translates and magnifies through that one-inch noodle of stainless to the other end of the rail on the far side of the boat. After a frustrating hour or so, I finally got everything placed just so.
I remember that many of the safety rail screws were stripped out when I removed it, and I suspect that’s because the screw holes weren’t centered in the base holes. I may end up having to weld up at least one of the holes for each base then drill and tap new ones.
I can’t wait to wash the boat and get rid of all that dust.
Another big surprise was that some of the inside diameters of the rechromed bronze pieces were significantly smaller than when I sent them to the chrome shop. The plating really seems to have gravitated to one or the other opening in these pieces, which made it difficult to slide the pieces over the stainless tubing. One of the intermediate stanchion fittings was so tight, I couldn’t slide it over the tube at all. Once I polish these pieces of tubing, a tight fit will leave scratches and I don’t want that. A little work with a die grinder opened them back up and let me continue with the dry fit.
I only leave the center drill bit in place when doing the initial drilling. Once the saw gets to 1/4″ depth or so, I pull the saw out, remove the drill, and continue cutting. That leaves the bottom of each hole flat, without the centering drill hole dropping deeper into the mahogany (and potentially into the aluminum deck).
It sucks that it took a whole day for me to make four holes, but that’s pretty much what it comes down to. On the other hand, I’ve removed stanchions before to refinish a rail and then replaced them in the same holes, but this is the first time I’ve positioned a safety rail and drilled the holes. Getting it just right is important because the position of this bow rail decides the positioning of the far end of the mahogany safety rails, where the openings have to roughly match the helm door openings, which aren’t in the original locations. I think I nailed it.
Ultimately, I plan to cut all of the stanchion base holes and drill slightly oversized holes for the fasteners (but without drilling through the aluminum deck), then saturate the holes with epoxy so if any water ends up in the bottom of the stanchion base it won’t be able to soak into the mahogany and give rot a chance to start. Once the epoxy is cured, I’ll clean up the fastener holes with a proper-sized drill, tap the aluminum for the fasteners, and do the final assembly with Tefgel on the stainless fasteners and Sikaflex 291LOT sealant.