I discovered a twist problem when I tried to dry fit the port safety rail. The starboard rail went a lot faster, mostly because I’ve given up trying to use the original stanchion top screw holes. While getting the starboard side done, I came across some substantiating evidence about this boat’s very unloved past.
I attach the front of the West System-coated mahogany safety rail to the stainless bow rail, then support it with line tied to the tent rafters.
These two sticks haven’t been lined up since 2008 when the refit began, and the rails were pretty much bare mahogany back then that had been weathering for decades. With them nice and shiny, it’s clear that the forward and aft starboard safety rails were made from similar mahogany. Contrast that with the same joint on the port side:
And this off-colored aft safety rail is also the one that has twist to it. And the curve doesn’t quite match the hull curve. And then there are those four stanchions I mentioned in the last article…the ones that used 1″ tubing (.95 OD) rather than 3/4″ pipe (1.05″ OD).
The pic above shows the threaded ends of some of the stanchion pipes that fit on the port aft safety rail, only one of which is the Chris Craft original 3/4″ pipe. Notice how the threads aren’t full length on the tubes? See how the threads aren’t full-depth, either? They’re sort of squared off rather than being sharp? That’s because they’re not pipe, they’re tube, and there’s not enough material on the .995″ OD of the tubing to make proper NPT threads.
My theory: These stanchions and that port safety rail aren’t the originals. I think this boat was damaged and repaired back in the 1970s, when the first owner still had the boat. I think the boneheads who used the wrong parts for the stanchions and made the twisted safety rail also did that lousy fiberglass repair under the port helm windshield that I first discovered when I was rebuilding the salon hatch opening. I also talked about it when we were making the bullet-proof cabin top. There was also the obviously shoddy repair on the port side that was visible from inside the salon when I removed the windshield, as well as the missing and loosely installed windshield frame attachment screws I discovered there. My earlier theory, from when I fiberglassed the dashboard and found still more damage on the port side, was that maybe the boat had been run hard through rough seas. But when I add the safety rail replacement on the same side to the equation, clearly, the boat had been damaged on the port side and the windshield frame had been removed to do the repair. Something big clobbered the heck out of the port side of the boat near the helm windshield, broke the fiberglass cabin top and dashboard, trashed the mahogany safety rail, and bent four stainless stanchions.
I wonder if they dropped one of the original engines when they were doing the repower to the twin turbo SuperSeamasters? 1,100lbs of Ford 427 and marine gear falling on the windshield area of the cabin top and rolling off onto the safety rail might explain it. Or a travel lift strike…but wouldn’t that have tended to hit the side rather than the cabin top? I guess the actual cause will remain a mystery unless somebody who knew the boat back then steps forward to volunteer info.
In any case, after locating the starboard safety rail front to back, I started drilling holes for the stanchion bases.