1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry III

The scorching hot, humid summer continues making it difficult to work on the cabinetry in the V-berth, but I’m making progress nonetheless. I now have the “desk-like structure” roughed out. I also used my Harbor Freight auto darkening welding helmet to take pix of the eclipse that happened yesterday. It was only 81% covered, but still it was kind of cool.

Mid-Atlantic eclipse, 2017

The V-berth concept

Time to make a “desk-like structure”

Sticks and a hot glue gun help make the pattern

The V-berth cabinetry has been particularly challenging, what with all of the curves and angles. I’ve had good results from using small sticks and a hot glue gun to capture the curves and angles and transfer them onto mahogany plywood.

Clamps hold panels in place

Clamping to framing squares helps keep everything square

With the panels dry-fitted in place, I marked off where to cut the vertical wall panel.

Bed foundation vertical wall panel is bevel cut to size



Make sure the vertical wall panel is square

Mahogany solid stock will back up the joint

Next, I transferred the stick template to mahogany plywood

Bevel cut and a near-perfect fit!

If anybody noticed the runs in the ICA clear coat on the curvy wall panel, that’s just the base coat. It will all get sanded smooth with 320 grit before the entire room is sprayed with ICA top coat.

Cut off the front edge

EZ-One track saw bridge guides the router for cutting edge rabbets

I also cut matching rabbets in the two vertical panels for the “desk-like structure”.

Very nice rabbet joint

The other side

Good lookin’ “desk-like structure”

The “desk-like structure” base protrudes just enough to give a step up for climbing into bed

It feels really good to have the concept turn out as well as it appears to be going. As I’ve been cutting all of these panels, I’ve been rethinking my plan for air conditioning. I initially thought I’d put a small self-contained unit up high on the shelf in the V-berth closet. But the more I think about it, it makes more sense to install it inside the “desk-like structure.” I’ve also been thinking about going with a chilled water system rather than self-contained. It’s a lot more money, but there are some benefits, too. All of this air conditioning stuff has also gotten me thinking about how to provide access behind major panels up here. I think the ideas I’ve come up with will work out OK. Time will tell.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry IV

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Paint Repair

While working on the V-berth joinery, I’ve been getting up close and personal with the porthole openings there. And the more I saw, the more I didn’t like.

It turns out that when the guys sandblasted the exterior, they didn’t do a stellar job on the porthole openings. The fairing crew did a reasonable clean-up on the flat surfaces of the aft porthole openings, and I’d cleaned up all of the aft stateroom porthole edges and primed them with AwlGrip Max Cor CF before painting. But we all screwed the pooch on the ones in the V-berth, and it was starting to show.

Ancient corrosion on the edges

That discoloration on the porthole opening edge is aluminum oxide, and it’s the last thing you want to see creeping under new paint. A rotary tool with a sanding drum cleaned up the edge just fine.

More ancient corrosion

That paint just popped off.

Sanding it back to solid aluminum

The entire edge in this area was thick with corrosion, and a bubble extended 1-1/2″ under the new paint. As I was sanding it back to where there was no more corrosion, I found orange barrier coat under the Awlgrip primer, and corrosion under the orange coat. Which means that was more ancient corrosion from before the boat was sandblasted. Everybody just missed these spots.

Filler in the round porthole opening…and what appears to be a crack on the right edge

There’s supposed to be a step all the way around this opening for the porthole to fit into. But the fairing crew loaded it full of filler and never cleaned up the excess on the inside. As it is in the picture, there’s no way to install the porthole with that excess filler there. The closer I looked, the more it appeared as if there’s a crack in the paint.

Sanding it back very carefully

Still looking for the aluminum step edge, and I’m getting closer to the crack

Just a bit more and I’ll be at the thing that sure looks like a little crack



As soon as the sanding drum hit the edge of what looked like a crack, the filler popped off, confirming that it was, in fact, a crack. The corrosion here wasn’t too bad, but it definitely would have spread once the boat is put into service.

The starboard side isn’t as bad

But there was corrosion under OE orange barrier coat right at the step

Cleaned up and ready for primer

Max Cor CF coats the aluminum and seals the paint edge


Dry fitting the porthole

That looks great with the porthole dry fitted. There are a few spots where the Matterhorn white exterior paint needs to be touched up, and we’ll spray blue in these spots at the same time. I hope to have that done this fall, once the temperature drops to a more reasonable level. By then, the V-berth joinery should be done and the room will get sanded with 320 grit and sprayed with ICA top coat. Then it will be ready for the final porthole installation.

It was unfortunate that I had to dig into the paint, but it’s better to find it now than to have much bigger trouble years down the road.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry III

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry II

The V-berth is coming along pretty well, though like everything else it’s taking more time than I’d like. The curvy scraps of the 1/4″ ribbon-striped mahogany I used for the V-berth walls are just the right size for topping the panels that attach the bed foundation to the side walls.

Putting leftover scraps to good use

Scraps will make a nice storage shelf one day

Straight cuts are the easy ones

Try making a perfectly straight diagonal cut on a curvy piece of plywood using a regular table or circular saw! This Eureka Zone track saw table really makes these cuts a breeze.

Next, mark off the panel

I marked the base panel so the mahogany panel would fit the wall curvature even better

+1/16″ here, + 1/8″ there

Clamp the panels together and break out the jigsaw

Take a deep breath and start making the cut.

Turned out pretty good!


Good fit!

The brown panel that’s vertically oriented will be padded and covered with upholstery that matches the headliner. Everything else will be ribbon-stripe mahogany.

The port side is next

These panels have been ready to install for more than a year

I need to build the “desk-like structure” in the concept drawings so I know where to cut the brown vertically oriented panel on the port side. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Paint Repair

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More V-berth Cabinetry

The V-berth is coming along pretty well. I’ve pretty much got the final shape of the cabinetry worked out and the major panels surrounding the bed foundation are rough cut and fitted. Next I need to make and install a bunch of 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats to tie it all together, then cut the top panels that will tie the bed foundation to the curvy mahogany upper walls. There are lots of compound curves going on up here in the V-berth, which really complicates the joinery for a rookie like me.

Remove the wing panels and start installing cleats

On the right side of the above picture, you can see the first of several mahogany cleats that the upright panels will attach to. That one runs from the closet wall to the front of the bed foundation. Only a couple of miter cuts, so those are easy.

New Makita angle drill helps in tight spots

I generally like Makita power tools. My track saw is a Makita, and I’m a big fan of their 18v cordless drills. This angle drill is only 12v, but it packs plenty of oomph. What I didn’t realize when I bought it is that there’s no clutch like on the bigger 18v cordless models. For drilling that’s fine, but it’s not as good as a bit driver.

Upper cleats are a bit more complicated

There’s Miter Cut No. 1, which is easy

The compound miters are the tricky ones

Compound miter cuts along all three axes

Like that!

I wrote the angles for each cut on the cleat. Once I got all of the cleats cut, I went back and cut the top panels using the same angles.

I find the metric system better for doing cabinetry

I took measurements from the top of the upright panel to the curvy mahogany upper wall every 10cm. Then I marked off those measurements on the top panel. Getting the curvature right is really hard, but I like the cleaner look of a well-fitted panel to joinery that’s covered by moldings. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but this isn’t one of those cases. It just takes time…measure twice, cut once.

Nice fit!

More cleats for the front-most top panel

Track saw extrusion lets me make straight angled cuts even with my beater Skilsaw

Two top panels down, one to go!

Cleats installed and port-side upper panel drilled and counterbored

Once I get this all built-out, I’ll disassemble the whole thing, coat the pretty mahogany panels with ICA base coat clear, seal the panel edges, insulate the backsides, and glue and screw it all together. I’ve used this approach everywhere else. It’s time consuming, but I think it will make the boat much more durable and comfortable in the long run.

I also have been spending a bit of time thinking about mechanical/electrical stuff. For example, I need to plumb ducting, electric, and water lines for the air conditioning in the V-berth. As the concept gets turned into reality, I’m finding that some of my original ideas for AC ducting won’t work. So I’m adjusting plans on the fly. The same is true for electrical (both 12vdc and 120vac), and relatively trivial things like radio and speaker placement. Now’s the time to cut holes and install wires. I also have a Webasto 12v diesel boiler and I’d like to use it for hydronic heat…which means even more forethought is needed so I don’t paint myself into any corners.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More V-berth Cabinetry

With the V-berth bed foundation and closet pretty much done, next I cut and fitted the panels that go around the V and tie the bed foundation to the curvy side walls.

Recycling the original V-berth bed foundation panels

I’ve had the two original V-berth bed foundation panels stored in my shed since we disassembled the Roamer interior in 2008. I figured the 1/2″ plywood would come in handy somewhere, and it turns out they’re the perfect size for two panels that will connect the current bed foundation to the side walls.

First, I used my track saw to square up the panels

Measure twice, cut once

Looking good!

Next I cut the port-side panel

I use a hot glue gun and sticks to make patterns of complex areas

Trace the pattern shape to the new plywood and cut


I used a router to remove some material where the boat framing protruded a bit

Cutting bevels on the forward and aft edges

My EZ-One track saw table is really handy for guiding my router and beater Skilsaw for beveled cuts. I leave out the anti-chip inserts, bring the bridge down to clamp the panel in place, and just run the tool along the perfectly straight aluminum extrusion.

This is looking pretty good!

Cutting the port panel to size

Rough cut but looking good!

My plan is to pad and upholster these three panels with the Whisper Walls ostrich (off white) material I’ll use for the headliner. The panels that will attach the top of these panels to the mahogany side walls will be topped with the same ribbon-striped mahogany.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More V-berth Cabinetry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the V-berth Closet

The V-berth closet is coming together pretty well. I just have to cut the 1/4″ ribbon striped mahogany plywood exterior panel so it will match the rest of the panels in this room. I’ve also been spending lots of time in the evening updating many early articles, since pictures I’d originally stored on Photobucket are no longer viewable. All it would show is an error picture saying you had to upgrade for 3rd party hosting or something. So I had to go back, figure out which pictures went where, download them from Photobucket, then upload to WordPress, and update  the URLs. Downloading from Photobucket was extremely tedious, since they’ve gone to an obnoxious popup and video ad model that crowds out its own navigation. The ‘download album’ feature doesn’t work. So I had to download each picture individually, and there were lots of them. gak

Anyway, that’s all fixed now and the V-berth is starting to look like I envisioned it years ago.

The V-berth concept

I made the concept drawings during the dark times of the paperwork SNAFU. It’s cool to see it becoming reality.

Pocket screws will secure the mahogany door opening parts

Glued and screwed in place

I wetted out all of the joints with epoxy, then mixed in some wood flour and cabosil and slathered it on all of the joints before assembling the parts. After wiping up the epoxy that squeezed out, I left it overnight to cure.

Looks pretty close to the concept!

I used the ugliest sheet of 1/2″ mahogany plywood in the stack for the forward closet panel, so next I need to cut the last ribbon-striped 1/4″ panel to cover up the ugly. That way, the outside of the closet will match the grain and color of the rest of the V-berth panels.

Marking and cutting the last ribbon-striped panel

Before installing the ugly closet panel, I had used it as a pattern for the pretty ribbon stripe.

Not a bad fit. Needs some trimming

A bit long on the bottom, too

Beveling the back edge to match the side panel should help the fit all around

I needed to knock more off the bottom than the top to match the curvy angles of the V-berth side wall. These are very complex pieces to make for a rookie like me. I take off a bit of the back edge, check the fit, mark where more material needs to come off, then take the panel down again, remove a bit more material, check the fit and repeat. You wouldn’t believe how much time it takes me to cut and fit just one panel!

BINGO! It just fits inside the rabbet in the closet door opening

Still a bit proud on the bottom

There’s a 5″ gap between the bottom of the ribbon-striped panel and the bed foundation. I plan to fill that gap with some pretty mahogany solid stock I’ve got, which will also cap all of the exposed plywood edges along the bed foundation top.

A little hand planing back to the pencil line does the job


Friction fit holds the panel in place

I’ll have my painter spray ICA base coat clear on this panel after I’ve built out the rest of the V-berth cabinetry. Once it’s all cut and fitted, I’ll disassemble the whole thing, seal the edges and insulate the backsides, then I’ll bond the ribbon-striped panel to the closet panel with epoxy as I assemble the whole thing. In theory, I’ll have the V-berth done by the end of August.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More V-berth Cabinetry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More On the V-berth Closet

It’s still hot as can be in the tent, but I’m making good progress on the V-berth cabinetry.

Harbor Freight featherboard is worth the price: $7

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a pro. When I started this refit, I had a fairly garden-variety set of mechanic’s tools, a really awful Craftsman jigsaw, and a Skilsaw circular saw. Since then, I’ve acquired a bunch of new tools, but when it came to woodworking mostly I was only working with plywood panels. My EZ-One track saw table has been a very good investment and it’s great for breaking down plywood, but recently I acquired a Craftsman table saw since it was clear I’d need it to make moldings. I have a Shopsmith table saw, but the table is too small and for angled cuts it wasn’t quite enough. Since I’ve been using the table saw, I have been very wary of getting my fingers in the blade. I’d heard about featherboards and decided to order one when I was stocking up recently on chip brushes, acid shop brushes, and nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight. I’m happy to report that this is a terrific upgrade to the table saw. I think I’ll order more of them for vertical positioning, too, before and after the cut.

Push stick + featherboard = nice, consistent cuts with greater safety

V-berth closet panel needs reinforcement

Mahogany cleat is recycled from the original toe rail

Utility access at the back of the closet

I want to be able to access all of the wiring, so I made a little hatch here.

Hatch panel in place

Framing out the closet back panel

A vertical mahogany panel at the back of the closet will be held in place with some visible screws. Once that panel comes off, the hatch panel comes out with a twist and a tug.

Like magic!

More framing

I plan to put a self-contained 6kBTU marine air conditioning unit on a shelf at the top of the closet. The air intake will be through the closet wall.

Back wall framing is done…time for varnish

After sanding all surfaces with 220 grit, I blew off the panels and broke out the varnish brush.

I thought I’d try a new (to me) kind of varnish inside the closet

That does not look like “gloss”

I thought maybe it wasn’t glossy because it was only the first coat. So I sanded with 220 again and applied another coat.

Funky Varathane goes on milky

I don’t like this stuff. Low odor and easy, soap and water cleanup are nice, but this stuff just doesn’t flow out like regular varnish.

Sanded and ready for another coat

Next day…this definitely isn’t “gloss”

It’s more like semi-gloss

The Varithane product doesn’t flow at all. It dries clear, which is nice, but I think I’ll just stick with spar varnish for closet and drawer interiors when I’m not having the painter spray ICA.

The solid mahogany door openings turned out OK

I apply varnish before final assembly because that allows me to wipe up any epoxy without staining the wood.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the V-berth Closet