1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Repairing the Damage from the Big 2018 Nor’easter

This is the third time the project has been hit by disaster (fourth if I include the paperwork SNAFU). There was the bastard thieves who grabbed all of my portable tools, materials, and original Chris Craft parts in 2014. Then there was the boat next door that blew up, damaging the tent and my paint in 2015. There were some lesser disasters, too, but the next big one was that Nor’easter in March 2018 that whooped Tent Model XXX and damaged my brand new Awlgrip paint. After a time consuming and irritating claim process, we finally settled this week. The repairs have been ongoing for a while, but I wanted to wait to write about it until the work was basically done. After long four months, we’re almost there.

Step 1: wash the boat

A lot of dirt blew in through the gaping hole in the top during the storm, so washing the boat was the first thing I did.

That’s cleaning up rather nicely

I do like that Matterhorn white Awlcraft with the tinted windows

Next, the top skin was split so the roof could be raised

There was damage to the shiny paint as well as the nonskid on the cabin top and the hard top. I don’t want to re-skin the whole tent just yet, because once the nonskid gets sprayed the whole interior surface of the plastic skin will be covered with very coarse overspray. So instead I had the roof over the hardtop raised so there would be plenty of room for the guys to do the work.

The top skin over the hardtop is gone

That’s only the third time the sun has hit this paint directly.

Sunlight in the salon!

The tent frames over the hardtop need to be raised

Up go the frames

The new top skin got draped and battened by late afternoon

Next day, the new shrink wrap top got tensioned

Ventilator and filter box got set up

Then a lot of very expensive materials started showing up

Three cases of 3M 233+ tape, and and a bunch of Mirka Abranet  in various grits

With all of the prep work done and materials on-site, the repairs could finally begin

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fixing the Nor’easter Damage


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

The repairs from the big Nor’easter damage in March are finally wrapping up. I’ll write about that soon, but in the meantime I’ve been working  on the bilge duct vents that open at the mahogany toe rail. I finally got the last duct in the salon installed. Getting these installed is essential for getting the exterior weatherproof. There are eight vents in total, so I’m half done with them!

To install the duct, I had to remove the starboard muffler

There was just enough space between the muffler platform and the aft ER bulkhead for the duct to slide in and down, then up the vent hole in the ER ceiling/salon floor panel.

The duct passes through that hole

Kinda like that!

I’m getting too old to be spending so much time inside cabinets. I’ll be very happy when this is all done.

That looks about right

It’s a bit tight at the base

You can see on the far side of the duct that rain had leaked from the original duct and rotted out a 1″ spot on the bulkhead and floor panel. That’s why my ducts all pass through the floor by a few inches and drain into the bilge. When I install the duct, I’ll wet out the rotten spot with  epoxy and fill it with wood flour-thickened epoxy.

There’s not enough room for the duct face panel

I used my Harbor Freight multitool to open up the hole in the floor to make room for the duct face panel, then removed the duct and coated the last exterior surface with white-tinted US Composites 1:1 epoxy, leaving the contact area with the floor frames bare wood. The following day, I wetted out the bare wood areas and the floor frames and plywood with epoxy. Once that was saturated, I applied wood flour-thickened epoxy to the area and slid the duct into place. Before sliding it home, I applied Sikaflex 291 LOT to the joint area on the underside of the deck.

Sikaflex files the joint and covers the toe rail screws in the area

When I sprayed foam insulation on the hull, I took care to cover all of the toe rail screws with the closed cell foam so water wouldn’t condense on them and work its way up the threads. Water plus aluminum does a bad thing to paint jobs. But I avoided putting foam in areas where I’d be installing ducts. I’m coating these screws with blobs of Sikaflex for the same purpose. I hope it works!

I went a bit nuts with the caulk

The duct is bonded to the floor frames and panels with epoxy and sealed with Sikaflex

Next, I installed the duct face panel

I’m using Sikaflex to seal all of the duct face panels in the salon. I don’t expect they’ll ever have to be removed, but if they do it’ll be easier with Sikaflex than if they were glued with epoxy.


I considered sanding the duct face and coating it with white-tinted epoxy but decided it was good enough. It’s got a heavy coat of epoxy sealing it up, and that’s what’s most important.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Repairing the Damage from the Big 2018 Nor’easter

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct II

Slowly but surely, I’m getting closer to having the Roamer weatherproofed. There are eight bilge vents that exhaust through the mahogany toe rail. Three of the vent ducts are done in the salon, and I’m getting close to finishing the last one there.

The duct box is glued and screwed together

I just need to sand down the OEM sealing coat on the mahogany and it’ll be ready for fiberglass.

Fully saturate the interior and all exposed edges with epoxy

It’s always amazing to me how much resin these things soak up. Next…you guessed it…


I do love my fillets.

Next, I laid on the fiberglass cloth and rolled out the bubbles

I also sealed the duct face panel with a heavy coat of epoxy

Leave it and come back the next day

Next morning, trim off the excess fiberglass overhanging the edges

Not a bad looking vent duct

I decided to seal up the exterior surfaces of the duct with white tinted US Composites 635 epoxy. I’m using the 2:1, no-blush hardener for all of this. Even during the roasting hot summer, it’s got a pretty long pot life and it cures by the following morning.

I do like a heavy coat of that tinted epoxy

For places that have zero UV exposure, epoxy as a sealant and tinted top coat is a good approach.

Next day, I put a coat on the duct wall and another one on the electrical panel

That sure did turn out nice

With sticky epoxy in the salon, I got to work on some things in the V-berth. It’s been a while since I was in there, and I look forward to wrapping that room up.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

Repairs from the big Nor’easter damage are just about done. I’ll be writing about that soon, but while the repairs are happening I’ve been continuing the work to weatherproof the boat.

There are six bilge vent ducts that exit at the mahogany toe rail, and two more on the transom. Chris Craft used a combination of pressboard and solid mahogany boards to make the ducts in the salon and at the transom, but pressboard was a horrible choice for a place that’s directly exposed to weather and spray. Of course, Chris Craft wasn’t building the boats to last forever, and pressboard is cheap and easy to work with. It was probably a decade or more before the ducts started deteriorating, by which time the warranty had long-since run out. The problem for fans of old boats is that once the ducts deteriorate, the leaking water takes out the cabinetry and floors in the area. I’ve used a couple of approaches on the ducts, but the one I think is best has been to use the original design, but with fiberglassed and epoxy sealed 1/4″ marine plywood instead of pressboard. It takes a lot longer to make each duct, but I won’t have to worry about them falling apart in ten years. The last thing I want is to have to do ANY of this work again. 😉

I’ve been spending a lot of time inside this cabinet

Inside and aft is where the bilge vent duct goes

The round pipe is the bilge blower outlet. The starboard salon rear duct was completely rotted out, so I’ll have to make the whole thing.

1/4″ marine ply and solid mahogany duct boards

That ought to work

Looks good

Test fit the plywood panels

Chris Craft ran the ducts just down to the salon floor, and they didn’t seal the edges of the plywood floor there. So when rain, spray, or water from washing the boat went down the ducts, it would seep into the edge of the plywood. The wood was slightly soft in spots but otherwise in pretty good shape, so I saturated the area with epoxy until it wouldn’t soak up anymore. I’m also running the ducts all the way to the bottom of the floor frames, so water will drop straight into the bilge. I’m hopeful this will fully resolve all of the problems with Chris Craft’s approach.

The top edge needs trimming to match the angle of the deck

EZ-One track saw makes it easy to cut panels at odd angles

Test fit looks good

Screw holes got drilled and countersunk

Marked off and ready for epoxy

Cutting the fiberglass for the duct cover panel

Wetted out with epoxy, then topped with epoxy glue thickened with wood flour

Screwed together and clamped square

The duct cover panel is behind the duct, wetted out with epoxy and topped with a fiberglass layer. Once the epoxy cures, I’ll put a layer of fiberglass inside the duct and it will be ready for assembly.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct II

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More Starboard Salon Plywood Panels

Repairs from the big Nor’easter are proceeding apace, with several hiccups being tossed in the mix by the surveyor and insurance company, which hasn’t paid the claim yet. There’s a narrow weather window for painting the boat between freezing early spring and roasting hot late spring/summer, so I’ve had to self-fund the repairs to get them done during that window. Fortunately, we’ve had a longer stretch of relatively cool weather than usual, with plenty of days where the temps don’t go above 70°F, and the repairs are going well. All this effort just to get back to where I was before the big storm came…it’s discouraging. Anyway, I’ll post pix of the repairs before long.

While all of that’s been going on, I’ve been continuing the work of sealing up the starboard cabinetry in the salon.

Inside the starboard salon cabinetry

I’m trying to make sure there’s an insulated envelope inside the boat so it will be more comfortable and energy efficient in summer and winter. I’m doing that by insulating the backside of each plywood panel that faces the hull and making sure that none of the hull or decks are exposed to the air-conditioned interior space. So I need to install ceiling panels here under the side deck, just like I did on the port side. On the inboard side, the original cabinetry offers a good landing spot for a ceiling panel, but there’s nothing on the outboard side. I already installed one short panel above the ER main air vent, which you can see in the pic above, that will serve as the wall to which the ceiling panel attaches. Next I cut another short, upright panel from a bulkhead scrap panel I saved when we were doing demolition a decade ago when the refit began.

Old-school marine plywood

It’s a dirty old panel, but the wood is in great shape.

Marine-grade Douglas fir was a lot different 50 years ago than it is today

Glued and pocket screwed in place

I’ll coat it with tinted epoxy when the job is done.

Mahogany cleat recycled from the original toe rail

Back-side of the ceiling panel gets wetted out with epoxy

Buffalo Batt insulation adds R3 insulation value to the panel

Mahogany cleat is glued and screwed in place

Et voila! Good fit!

The next step here will involve removing the ceiling panel and sealing the face with epoxy before finally installing it. I have more ceiling panels to make in here, but I first need to make a new aft bilge vent duct and wall panel to attach them to.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel II

The face of the original electric panel turned out very nice with that white tinted epoxy. I was tempted not to mess with the backside, since it’s epoxy sealed and will rarely be seen. But when I ordered the white tint and thick, 150 series epoxy resin and hardener from US Composites, I also ordered their brown colorant specifically for areas like this.

Sanded, taped off, and ready for epoxy

That 150 series epoxy really flows out nicely

Great reflection

The port side under-deck panels got coated, too

These Douglas fir panels will be buried behind the built-in settee I’ll build someday, so appearance isn’t a concern. But I think I like the uniform brown better than seeing the unattractive Doug fir grain. In retrospect, a dash of white colorant to lighten up the brown might have been better.

Next day, the tape came off

Good lookin’ panel!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More Starboard Salon Plywood Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel

I’m still working on waterproofing the starboard side of the salon, which has involved remaking a bilge vent duct and fiberglassing the main engine room air inlet duct panel. To gain access there, I removed the original electrical panel and did some repairs to it. Next I sealed it up with white-tinted epoxy.

Back side of the electric panel has been sealed with epoxy

Mahogany sticks were epoxied into the hinge screw holes

Two of the six hinge screws had stripped out the plywood, in part because the two pieces of plywood weren’t epoxied together and the screws were right at the joint between the two panels. I epoxied the two panels together and put mahogany sticks into the screw holes, so the screws will have something solid to thread into.

Back side

With the back side sealed up (but ugly), I mixed up some US Composites 150 series thick epoxy resin and tinted it with their white colorant. I used this approach for the bed foundation in the V-berth, too. The epoxy is a tough coating that works great in places where it’s not exposed to direct sunlight. And the colorant allows me to end up with a shiny coating and sealant in one step…no primer, no additional sanding.

Not bad!

NOS ammeters look great!

The date on the label for these new/old stock Simpson ammeters says 10/62. A 1967 Chris Craft Constellation I used to own had an ammeter just like this in addition to the Simpson voltmeter, and I wanted them on the Roamer, too. I found them on ebay for a good price, and they’re a perfect match to the original voltmeter.


The genset hour meter cleaned up well, too.

Bilge pump switches look nice all polished and waxed

Not bad!

I have to box up the meters and switches, flip the panel over, and apply a coat of the 150 series epoxy tinted brown on the backside.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel II