1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing More V-berth Panels

The V-berth is coming together quite nicely, though not as quickly as I’d hoped. I thought I might have it done by the end of August, but then I realized I had to do HVAC, wiring, and plumbing in addition to the cabinetry. Otherwise, I’d find myself retrofitting after the space was built out, which would be even more time consuming.

New speakers for the V-berth

I know next to nothing about audio systems, but these Kenwood speakers had good reviews and the price was right. The boat originally had speakers in the forward bulkhead that were wired to the radio in the salon, with a volume control knob in the berth. I’ll just install a car stereo in the room, so whoever is in it can listen to whatever they like.

The original V-berth bulkhead

When I installed the new mahogany panel over the existing bulkhead, I left the speaker holes so I could use them later…which is now.

Making a hole pattern

This piece of plywood fits inside the original speaker holes. I drilled holes at each intersection in the grid, then used those holes as a guide for drilling holes in the mahogany panel.

That’s kind of what I had in mind…not exactly a perfect grid, though

Without the bright backlighting, it looks just fine

I temporarily hooked the speakers up to the stereo in the salon. They sound a LOT better than the ones in the salon ceiling. I’m guess it’s because they’re in this enclosed space. I wonder if the big holes that will one day have cabinet doors over them boost the sound? I’ve seen holes on woofer boxes but never knew what purpose they serve. Anyway, the speakers are installed now.

Next up: the big closet panel

Wet out the panels with epoxy, then slather with epoxy thickened with wood flour and cabosil

Ready to install


Every single piece of this Rube Goldberg clamping system is essential

Clamping the leading edge is easy: a couple of thick wood scraps covered with waxed release tape and held firmly in place (but not too firmly) with some Harbor Freight F clamps. Along the lower back edge, the new upright panel is glued and screwed in place. But the middle of the panel and the back edge…that took a combination of thick boards, clamps, levers, and fulcrums to press the pieces together and get just a bit of squeeze out all around.

Give me a long enough lever…

Next day…looks great!

The proof of a solid joint: no air gaps

Drilling holes for the V-berth head HVAC duct

I’m using 2″ PVC as the V-berth head HVAC duct

Off-the-shelf PVC parts will last forever as HVAC duct

The V-berth head won’t need lots of heat or AC. It’s insulated extremely well, and it’s a pretty small space. So 2″ PVC should provide plenty of volume. Before I close up these areas with the pretty mahogany top panels, I’ll wrap the PVC with Buffalo Batt insulation to keep the heated or cooled air on the right side of the pipe.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Spraying More Parts with AwlGrip Matterhorn White


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the V-berth Bed Foundation Panels

Getting the V-berth done will be a major milestone on the way to finally finishing this project. I’ve been cutting and dry-fitting all of the cabinetry around the bed foundation, then I disassembled it all, and sealed and insulated the back-side of each panel that faces the hull. Next, I have to glue and screw all of the parts together all while making sure I’ve left space and access for HVAC, electric, and plumbing lines.

Start by roughing up contact points, then gluing and screwing 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats

4″ insulated HVAC duct looks like it will fit just fine

Cleats are glued and screwed

Bed shelf cleats are next

White-tinted epoxy seals the face of the forward cabinet wall

Port side wall goes in next

Next day, the shelf is ready to be installed

Looks about right

This shelf opening also acts like a hatch, providing access to the frames and bilge where the stem transitions to the keel.

Slide the base panel in diagonally, then rotate into place

That’s a very snug fit, which is exactly what I want here.

Line up the rabbets that the wall panels slide in…

…and push the panels into place

The HVAC vent will go here in the top panel

Next, I glued and screwed in the last port-side upright panel

Done for the day!

That went together rather well. With sticky epoxy everywhere, I called it a day.

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Prep on the V-berth Bed Foundation Panels

With the last of the bed foundation panels cut and dry fitted, I have just a bit of prep work to do before taking the whole thing apart and then doing the final installation.

White colorant makes epoxy a nice interior sealant/topcoat

I’m using US Composites thick epoxy resin and 2:1 hardener to seal the backs and sides of each panel. The 2:1 hardener has a very long pot time, which gives the mixed epoxy more time to saturate into each panel. I add white colorant (also from US Composites) for the top coat on the visible faces of panels. I found that with West System epoxy, there’s always a bit of blush (a somewhat sticky substance that forms on the surface of the epoxy) left behind. But the US Composites 1:1 and 2:1 hardeners leave no detectable blush. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than West.

One heavy coat yields a shiny sealed surface

Next day, the side panels are ready to install

Minwax Helmsman Spare Urethane clear gloss is my new favorite brushing varnish

This Minwax product brushes out really nicely, and keeps a wet edge longer than their spar varnish product. It also cures a lot faster and seems more scratch resistant than the varnish.

This is the top panel for the shelf box I built recently

Epoxy bonds the panel to the cleats

Buffalo Batt non-woven fabric provides R3 insulation on the back-sides

Press the Buffalo Batt into the epoxy that seals the backside, then go home

Once the epoxy cures, the bed foundation panels are all ready for final installation. It’s taking longer than I expected (as usual), but I’m making good progress.

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

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

While building out the V-berth, I’ve had to think ahead to electrical, plumbing, and HVAC issues I didn’t flesh out in the original concept drawings. I need to make sure that what I’m building today will work with all of the systems I need to install. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to install these systems now as I build out the space. I also need to make sure that hatches are in all the right places for access should I ever need to do maintenance or repairs behind the cabinetry. The forward bulkhead and bed foundation upright wall were a big challenge, but I think my solution works and looks pretty good.

Prepping the forward bed foundation upright panel for yet another dry fit

The big circular hole on the left is for the insulated air conditioning duct. I centered the rectangular opening for the cabinet shelf in the panel, but had to “adjust” the right side so the pretty mahogany panel that fits there doesn’t interfere with a structural member on the forward-most bulkhead. The idea here is to make a cabinet shelf for the V-berth bunk where there will be a 120v outlet for a clock, plus 12v and USB outlets. But I want the shelf and its walls to be removable for access to the keel as well as the air conditioning vent connections.

Looking through the rectangular opening as installed

The 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleat on the bulkhead is what the shelf base will rest on.

Rabbets will allow side panels to slide in and out

Something like this

The top and base panels have rabbets that the wall panels slide in

The base panel goes in diagonally…

Then you rotate it and align the rabbets with the sides of the rectangular opening

Next, slide in the 1/4″ mahogany side panel

The panel slid smoothly before I applied a coat of varnish. With one coat it tightened up quite a bit. I’ll need to open up the rabbets just a bit to make space for additional coats of varnish.

Not a bad fit…needs some trimming on the bottom back edge

1/2″ panel on the starboard side where the power outlets will be

Not bad!

After a bit of trimming and the second coat of varnish

I also added a mahogany cleat on the bulkhead that will support the wall panel vertically. You can see the cleat in the pic above.

Zero gaps and a very slight friction fit

I’ll tack a molding around the rectangular opening eventually. To remove the panels, just pop off the moldings and slide out the side and¬†bottom panels.

“Draft proof” electrical box must be removed to pull the wall panel

Final dry fit

30 seconds later, the shelf panels are out

That’s the last of the cabinetry that needs to be dry fitted before it all gets sealed up and installed.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Prep on the V-berth Bed Foundation Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Helm Windshield Opener Cover

I took a bit of a break in the V-berth cabinetry to fix and repaint the cover that goes over the actuator that will open the helm center windshield. The actuator and cover are original equipment. They worked fine and looked fine from a distance , but the cover had a design flaw I needed to fix before repainting it in Awlgrip Matterhorn White.

48-year old actuator housing has seen better days

No reinforcement at the screw holes

This looks like just a typically brittle plastic housing. It’d been repainted with what appears to be an oil-based paint a long time ago. Somebody tightened the screws just a bit too much, though, and broke off bits of the housing. Where bits weren’t broken off entirely, there were cracks.

Cracks at each screw hole

First, start removing the old paint

I used a sander and a Dremel tool to remove the paint and rough up the textured finish. I also Vee’d out all of the cracks.

Wooden “dams” covered with waxed shrinkwrap tape will hold thickened epoxy in place around the screw holes

Wet out the surface, then fill the gap with thickened epoxy

Top up the screw holes with the same thickened epoxy

Next day, ready for shaping

Sanded and primed with Awlquick then 545 primer

Next, sand with 320 grit and spray the shiny!


Ready for install…someday

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sealing and Insulating V-berth Panels

I’m still plodding along in the V-berth. Sealing all sides and insulating the back-side of all panels that face the hull adds a lot of time to the process, but we think it will be worth it in the end.

Mastermind fine kerf plunge saw is great for cutting hatches in panels

The laser on the saw isn’t very useful since it doesn’t perfectly align with the blade. But the metal guide that comes with it works well. With a 1/16″ kerf, it makes nice, tight hatches.

Jigsaw finishes the cuts in the corners

48-year old coating needs to come off

These panels were originally the V-berth bed foundations. Some water had come in through the hatch and ruined the sealer coat, but the wood underneath is in great shape.

Old school marine plywood

It took a lot of epoxy to fully wet out the back-side

The old plywood just kept drinking up the epoxy. It took four coats before it was finally saturated. Then I applied the hatch frames and Buffalo Batt insulation.

Press the insulation into the epoxy and go home

Next day, looks good!

Ready to paint the front side

Nice insulation!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Helm Windshield Opener Cover

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Marine Air Conditioners

The V-berth cabinetry is coming along nicely, but as it transitions from concept drawings to reality, it’s become apparent that I need to pay close attention to certain details…like electric and raw water supply, as well as ducting for the air conditioners and heat. While building the V-berth closet, I initially planned on putting a 6,000BTU AC unit up on a shelf. But after looking into marine air conditioners, I decided to go with a 9,000BTU unit that could also help cool the galley. That’s when I realized it would be better to put it in the “desk-like structure,” on the other side of the room. That meant I’d have to relocate the wiring…I wish I’d done that before making the V-berth head. I’d also have to build a robust shelf in the “desk-like structure,” and I might as well go ahead and choose the specific models I want since the unit needs to fit in the space.

After reading a bunch of brochures and reviews, I decided to go with either Marinaire or Flagship self-contained units. Marinaire sells quite a few units through ebay and their pricing is by far the lowest around. They apparently had problems with earlier models that used aluminum tubing in the evaporators, which rotted out fairly quickly. The current models have copper tubing, and reviews are generally good. Marinaire are manufactured in China, and use proprietary controls that can be quite expensive to replace if they go out.

Flagship is an American company that uses American-supplied materials, off-the-shelf HVAC controls, expansion valves for refrigerant “throttle” rather than capillary tubes, and a very slick angled condensate tray under the evaporator so the tray drains and dries rather than staying wet all the time. The feet for each component stay dry that way, as compared to Marinaire and other manufacturers that use the unit base as the drip tray, and everything gets wet. The spreadsheet below summarizes each one.

Unlike the bang-for-the-buck table I made when deciding on insulation, this isn’t as straightforward. On a simple BTU per buck basis, Marinaire is the clear winner. But there are a many features that one manufacturer offers that the other doesn’t. Marinaire has a dehumidifier function, for example, while Flagship doesn’t. But Flagship offers built-in resistant heater coils, while Marinaire only has reverse cycle. In my area, reverse cycle heat is only useful for about six weeks per year, then we have to haul oil-filled radiators onboard. Built-in heat would be nice. Where the two manufacturers have different approaches to specific issues, like capillary tubes vs expansion valves or rifled, thin-wall heat exchangers vs thick, smooth-walled, Flagship was the clear winner on every point. Since I never want to have to replace an air conditioner again, Flagship’s commercial/military-grade approach ultimately led me to go with their products. The new units should arrive in six weeks.

Marine Air Conditioner comparison
BTU Marinaire Model Flagship Model
9 $1,195 MSBA9K2 $1,850 FM9R, TOP 1.7kw heat, 230v
11 $1,365 MSBA11K2
12 $1,850 FM12R, SIDE, 1.7kw heat, 230v
16 $1,515 MSBA16K2
18 $1,949 FM18R, TOP, w/ 2.0kw Heat, 230v
Shipping $175
Total $4,250 $5,649
Drip tray 316SS wet 304SS dry
Refrig. Control Cap. tube Txv
Tstat Included Included (but I can supply my own)
Compressor Toshiba Matsushita
Mode AC AC only
Heat rev cyc Resistant
Dehumidifier Yes
Noise sound shield (44db) 48db
Air outlet Rotating Fixed
Controller Proprietary Off-the-shelf
Hex Rifled, thin smooth, thick
Gauges Hi & Lo extra

Digging into the “Throne Room: wiring

1-1/2″ PVC pipe works as a wire chase

This isn’t the most elegant solution, but it works and keeps the wire run much shorter than going around the perimeter of the V-berth.

AC and 12v DC lines are relocated to come out under the “desk-like structure”

Building robust structure for the shelf

And then the step up for the AC shelf

That will do

I cut that shelf panel from a sheet of 1″ thick marine plywood that Chris Craft used for the original V-berth bathroom bulkhead. I’ve kept a big sheet of it since we disassembled the boat back in 2008 knowing it would come in handy somewhere. I’ll sand the ugly paint off of it and seal it in epoxy before the final installation. But first, I need to disassemble the all of the cabinetry I’ve been building, epoxy seal and insulate the backsides, and get it installed. The project would go quicker if I didn’t seal everything and insulate, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sealing and Insulating V-berth Panels