1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Dry Fitting the Stainless Bow Safety Rail

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.

It's not easy getting a curvy piece of stainless tubing to hang properly

It’s not easy getting a curvy piece of stainless tubing to hang properly

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.

The chromed bronze bow piece has to be centered over the centerline of the boat

The chromed bronze bow piece has to be centered over the centerline of the boat

OK...now so long as nothing moves...

OK…now so long as nothing moves…

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.

This, RIGHT HERE, is where the base needs to go

This, RIGHT HERE, is where the base needs to go

Take a deep breath and drill the hole

Take a deep breath and drill the hole

Then chisel out the bits

Then chisel out the bits

Can't be too aggressive removing material...don't want to split the rail

Can’t be too aggressive removing material…don’t want to split the rail

Little by little...

Little by little…

That's the bottom of the hole

That’s the bottom of the hole…the depth of the base + ~1/8″

Niiiice

Niiiice

The hole lines up perfectly

One screw hole lines up perfectly

But not on the other side

But not on the other side

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.

Repeat the process on the starboard side

Repeat the process on the starboard side

Boom

Boom

I can’t wait to wash the boat and get rid of all that dust.

Next, the big support stanchions get fitted

Next, the big support stanchions get fitted

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.

This one takes a bigger hole saw

This one takes a bigger hole saw

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).

Continue drilling without the centering drill bit

Continue drilling without the centering drill bit

Hole drilled

Hole drilled…

and chiseled...

and chiseled…

...bit by bit...

…bit by bit…

And done!

And done!

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.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Dry Fitting the Mahogany Safety Rails

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9 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Dry Fitting the Stainless Bow Safety Rail

  1. Chris Hurley says:

    I understand using the tools you have on hand, or making due with what you have. But wouldn’t it have been easier to use a Forstner bit for cutting those holes? It would’ve saved time and all of the chiseling, imho… And maybe those were lost to the thieves. Sure makes a guy want to have about an hour with those maggots! You know, for a little re-education… 😏

  2. Kent says:

    Was your Chris you run now a “Project” Boat when you acquired Her? Would Love to see pictures of Her..

  3. Tom aka FlaBoater says:

    Boring or drilling either small or large holes in any beautifully finished piece of wood, be a boat or piece of furniture is probably one of the MOST nerve wracking things one can do. Looks like you did it up right! Bet you let out a great big WHEW when you finished. I know I would have. Looks very nice.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Thanks, Tom! But that was only the bow pieces! Today I plan to do the starboard side all the way to the helm door. Tomorrow, I’m knockin’ out the port side.
      Stay tuned!
      Cheers,
      Q

  4. Kent says:

    I wonder– Are you keeping track of “Man Hours” you have invested? And I wonder if anyone from Chris Craft has been following your Blog– There must some old man some were that worked at Chris Craft back in the day that would love see your Project.. Maybe they’re all deadnow from the Chemicals that were used back then with no Respirators..

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      You know, Kent, I could do a rough guestimate of man hours, but at this point it would be too discouraging. I still lose enthusiasm every once in a while…can’t let that get outta hand.
      On to the boatyard!
      Q

      • Kent says:

        As I have said in the past– If I lived close to the Boat I would love to help.. I’m sure there have been Many Many Times when you though a 3Rd. Hand would be awfully Handy!! I know I have..

        Keep your Head High– When I got involved with my ’67 45′ Connie She was in Tough Shape.. But within 2/3 Years we had Her going to Antique Boat Shows– Even had Her Engine Room open for viewing..

        One day I’ll get down your way and stop in to see Her..

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