1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Dry Fitting the Mahogany Safety Rails

With the bow safety rail dry fitted, next I need to dry fit the mahogany safety rails that go down both sides of the boat. While putting it all together, I found more clues about the rough history of this formerly abused boat. Those clues also add more challenges to getting the boat reassembled and ready to splash.

The stainless bow safety rail is dry fitted

The stainless bow safety rail is dry fitted

Nice chromed bronze rail parts

Nice chromed bronze rail parts

Nylon spacers to protect the chrome

Nylon spacers to protect the chrome

I sanded down 1/4″ nylon washers to make the spacers.

Just fits in the hole

The spacers have a snug fit in the hole

Next, I started to install the chromed bronze tops for the stanchions. The stanchion bases were stolen back in 2014 when the bastard thieves burglarized the tent, but the stainless upright pipes were under the boat in a bucket. The stanchion pipe tops were, I believe, original.

Original stanchion upright screw holes

Original stanchion top screw holes on the underside of the safety rail

Turns out the chromed bronze stanchion tops aren't a uniform shape

Turns out the chromed bronze stanchion tops aren’t a uniform shape

I had to go through the stanchion tops one-by-one to find the specific one that fit each of the original holes. There are 20 stanchions, with two possible orientations for each stanchion top. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out which ones go where before deciding it really doesn’t matter. The toe rail is new, and the mahogany doesn’t care where I drill holes. It had also become clear that at least some of the stanchions had been relocated before.

Each stanchion top gets the set screw hole threads cleaned before attaching

Each stanchion top gets the set screw hole threads cleaned before attaching

I plan to just fill the original screw holes in the old mahogany with epoxy and wood flour. You can see two old bungs on the right of the pic above, so this rail has had holes filled before. They’re not perfect, so I’m not going to try to reuse screw holes that are very likely stripped out anyway.

Another thing worth noting in the pic above is the threads on the stainless pipe. The threads aren’t full depth, and they’re not the full length that 3/4″ NPT threads should be. Strange…

More strangeness...two stanchion pipes have no threads

More strangeness…two stanchion pipes have no threads

The chromed bronze stanchion bases have 3/4″ NPT threads at the bottom, into which the pipes thread. The bases also have two set screws to lock the pipes in position. But two of the pipes have no threads at all, and they are shorter than the rest by the length of the threads. I have no idea why Chris Craft would have done this.

Pipe tops are inconsistent

Pipe tops are inconsistent

Most of the pipe tops have been ground down, but not all. It turns out there are two different styles of stanchion tops on this boat, one is sized for 3/4″ pipe and has a 1.05 opening (3/4″ pipe has a 1.050″ OD). The other is sized for 1″ tubing and has a .996 opening. The pipe with the partial threads three pix up is actually 1″ tube (not pipe), with a .995 OD. The two stanchion tops in the pic above fit snugly over the 1.050″ OD pipe. All of the other pipes have had material crudely removed (with a grinder?) from the top to resize them down so they’ll fit in the tubing stanchion tops with the .996 ID. So, either Chris Craft was randomly pulling parts off the shelf to get this boat out the door, or something funky is going on.

Either way, I’ve got to keep moving forward. Time to cut some holes.

Start each hole with the centering drill in place

Start each hole with the centering drill in place to keep the saw from moving around

Remove the drill and complete sawing each hole

Remove the drill and complete sawing each hole

Chisel out the wood

Chisel out the wood

In the pic above, you can just see the dimple caused by the tip of the centering drill.

Remove all of the wood to make a roughly flat bottom

Remove all of the wood to make a roughly flat bottom

Repeat the process three times, then lift the safety rail into place and secure it from the tent rafters.

And another stanchion in place

The forward port safety rail is dry fitted

Attaching stanchion tops to the aft port safety rail

Attaching stanchion tops to the aft port safety rail

Getting ready to lift the aft port safety rail into place

Getting ready to lift the aft port safety rail into place

1, 2, 3...lift!

1, 2, 3…lift!

The aft-most stanchion goes just in front of the helm door opening

It’s been nine long years since these safety rails have been on the boat, and they were in pretty rough condition in late 2007 when the refit began. For a minute there, I was real happy to see the old parts sitting where Chris Craft intended (albeit hanging from the tent rafters with string). But then, I attached the stanchion pipes and…more strangeness.

What the...?

What the…?

The pipes are hanging at an angle free and clear of the toe rail…not even close to lining up.

The safety rail is twisted, especially in the center

Gad…the safety rail is twisted, especially in the center

You gotta be kidding!

You gotta be kidding!

What was never apparent when the mahogany rails were on the concrete floor in my garage, or on the side decks, or even in the spray booth when we sanded them before coating with West System epoxy and the 207 special hardener was that this one rail had pretty bad twist. It only became apparent when I attached it to the boat and started putting the stanchions on. Coupled with the stanchions that used tubing rather than pipe, and the mixed up stanchion tops, this just adds to the mystery of how this boat came to be this way. A twisted safety rail is one more headache I didn’t need. But it’s not a headache I have to deal with right now. Either way, the stanchion bases need to be dry fitted and all of the holes drilled before I can seal all of the exposed wood with epoxy and get ready for the final sprayed coats of DuPont MS1 clearcoat. Gotta stay focused on the priority of getting the spray painting done as soon as possible.

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

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5 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Dry Fitting the Mahogany Safety Rails

  1. ckiefer says:

    Any chance the previous owners reused pieces from the aft railing when they removed it to build the aft enclosure? Perhaps that would explain the slight differences in parts.

    Also, I know on the runabout side that Chris Craft would sometimes use hardware from the previous model year until the stock was gone.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      That’s entirely possible. There’s so much goofiness I’ve found on this boat, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
      I can’t wait to see how the starboard side is…
      Cheers,
      Q

  2. Dustin says:

    Just a curiosity, why not use a forstner bit rather than a hole saw and chisel?

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