1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: My Life Is An Old-School Country Western Song

Bad luck (coupled with bad decisions) has been a running theme over the course of this refit. Of course, there was the paperwork snafu that could have tanked the project (there are times when I wish it had). Then there was the burglary in 2014, and the uninsured damage from the big boat explosion next to mine in 2015. Deaths in the family and, more recently, my painter’s 29 year-old brother passing suddenly have made it difficult, too. My old Ford F150 had been a real trooper, but the muffler falling off driving down the road and some other issues convinced me that nature was trying to take it back (and succeeding).

So I sold the truck and got a replacement–a 2005 Nissan Frontier that needed tires, a front bumper, and an alternator. It was a great truck over the spring and summer. Then the missus misjudged distance while backing up her 2002 Mazda Tribute, folding the quarter panel into an accordion. I’d just dropped the full coverage insurance a month before, since it was old enough that the value didn’t justify it. The cost to replace the quarter panel is roughly equal to the value of the vehicle. So she started driving the Nissan truck to work daily, until the transmission failed completely driving home one night last month…on a bridge….during rush hour.  Turns out the transmission cooler in the radiator fails in certain Nissans, and the coolant that gets into the transmission kills them dead. There’s an extended warranty up to 8 years/80,000 miles, but this truck had 98,000 on it when I bought it. So, we went back to driving the crashed Mazda until the transmission gets rebuilt. With the truck out of commission, I can’t load up my Miller Trailblazer mobile welder and finish installing the main raw water inlets.

It’s always gotta be soooo complicated.

But the refit must go on, and I’m getting closer to having the boat exhaust system ready to install. I needed to weld a bracket on the showerhead so I can install a brace that will be attached to the gear. This will help support the weight of the exhaust rather than having it all hang off the turbo flange. I wanted to weld a pad for the bracket on the showerheads to spread out the load, and was using my bandsaw to cut a piece from some extra 6″ 316 stainless tube that was left over from the showerhead. It perfectly matches the curvature, so it’ll be easy to put on. The Harbor Freight bandsaw I bought earlier this year sliced the first piece while I was prepping the welding table. After I set up the second cut, I went inside the house for something…then got distracted. No biggie…the bandsaw shuts off automatically once it finishes the cut. Ten minutes later, I went back to the garage and smelled burnt electrics. Turns out the stainless tube had slipped out of the clamp, twisted, and caused the blade to lock up. The motors on these el cheapo HF bandsaws don’t have thermal protection, so it just kept grunting away until it shorted the windings and let the smoke out of the internal wiring.


Pad clamped to the showerhead and ready to weld

Pad clamped to the showerhead and ready to weld

Somebody let the smoke out

Somebody let the smoke out

I swear, I was only away for a few minutes. Both capacitors melted, and the windings are toast. I found a replacement motor on ebay for a good price. But they’re made in China, so you never know if they’ll be DOA or not after waiting a week for the new one to arrive. Oh, and it turns out that Harbor Freight advertizes their metalcutting bandsaw as having a 1hp motor, but in fact they’re only 1/3 of that. The replacement motor is accurately labeled 1/2hp though it’s got the same size case. So the replacement motor has more grunt than the OE unit, and it also comes with thermal protection.

Gotta see the bright side wherever it presents itself.

Back in business

Back in business

But not really. After getting the new motor installed, the bandsaw wasn’t cutting straight. Turns out the blade had fallen off the backing guide bearing before the old motor self-destructed, so the blade kept going around and getting pinched a bit between the three upper guide bearings. The effect was similar to what happens when you run metal through an English wheel–it  put a curve into the blade. So now I’m waiting another few days for new blades to arrive. But that didn’t stop me from welding up the one pad and bracket. I ran out of argon just as I finished the last section. Now, if only I had a truck so I could get another bottle of gas…

Ready for insulation

Ready for insulation

Also, we had two warm days last weekend, and my painter indicated he was coming out to FINALLY paint the v-berth head. His car is in the shop (it needs a transmission, too!), so he was getting a ride from his cousin, who works at the same place. They hit a patch of black ice on the way in, skidded off the road, and smashed the car into a tree. Nobody’s hurt, but they had no way to come to the boatyard. So…that’s stalled again until further notice.

Oh…one more thing…I mentioned previously that some of the panes of glass didn’t fit. It took months for the glass shop to finally get around to fixing their errors even though I was happy to pay for mine. They just contacted me to say that the machine that cuts finger notches for the slider windows broke last month and they have no plans to replace it, so the three sliders I’ll have made in this batch won’t match the others on the boat.

Sheesh. If there isn’t an old-school country western song in all of this…

Next up on our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating the Starboard Exhaust Riser


8 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: My Life Is An Old-School Country Western Song

  1. frontierhermit says:

    Oh man Q I’m feeling ya brother. There are some months that I’d swear that there are gremlins sent to punish us!

    Stay strong in the new year dude and hope you had a great Christmas.

  2. Tom aka Florida Boater says:

    The song:

    Gloom, Despair, Agony on me;
    Deep, Dark, Depression, excessive misery! (Ohhhh!)
    If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all, (ohhhhh!)
    Glooom, Despair, and Agony on me….

    I grew up watching HeeHaw every Saturday Night…this was on the show every week..I has followed me on and off my whole life…

    Welcome to the club!!!

    Tom aka Florida Boater

  3. Dustin says:

    keep up the good work. if this where easy, everyone would do it.

  4. Colin says:

    Been there, I rebuilt a 87 searay express. I found that it paid to stop for a week and re-group sometimes. There are a lot of incompetent people in the industry who get it wrong but still want top dollar, after all, it’s a boat! The worst are the canvas people. You never know what you’re going to get.

  5. Marty Molloy says:

    I’m wishing for the best of luck to be bestowed upon you guys for the new year! Keep on keepin’ on. ;0)

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