1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the Top Coat on the Mahogany Panels

The V-berth and aft stateroom mahogany panels are looking very nice. Things sure go faster when my schedule aligns with my Boatamalan* painter. I might actually have the portholes installed soon!

*Boatamalan: portmanteau indicating highly skilled boat workers of Central American origin. They’re actually from Honduras, but boat + [Guat]amalan has a nicer ring to it. ;-)

Final sanding with 320 grit Abranet

The second round of ICA base clear went on nice and flat, which makes for easy final sanding. But this mahogany has some deep grain that makes it tough to fill it entirely. The strange thing is that the grain is deep on some panels but flat on others, even when the panels were cut from the same sheet of plywood. Nature apparently doesn’t have a robust Quality Control department. ;-)

I sand the faces with the Mirka Ceros sander, then hit the edges with a hand sanding block

The transom cabinetry

Sand it smooth, but don’t go too far

The deep grain I mentioned makes it challenging to get the sanding just right. Don’t go far enough, and the grain makes a surface that’s not perfectly smooth. Go too far, and you can sand through the base coat. Fortunately, I didn’t breach the base coat anywhere.

Sanded just enough, but with some pinhole and grain depressions left behind

Dust fills the pinhole and grain depressions

Full air blast takes a long time to clear the dust

It was taking a long time to blow the dust out of the little depressions that remain. So I used some lint-free microfiber towels to lightly wipe each panel while blowing it with air. That approach worked a lot better, instantly clearing all of the dust from the depressions.

A cluster of little depressions along an edge

Different panel cut from the same plywood

It’s the darndest thing: not a single pinhole or grain depression on the entire panel

Air blast + microfiber cloth = no dust

Perfect conditions…time to spray

ICA semi-matte top coat is very nice

30 minutes after two top coats were applied, it’s dry to the touch

I very carefully moved the panels inside the tent

Finding safe places to put all of these finished panels was a bit of a challenge. I’ll leave them to cure for a week, so I can’t stack them like I did when they were unfinished. I eventually found enough flat spaces on the boat to lay them all out, then carefully stepped off the boat. Next I’ll insulate the back side of all of the panels with Buffalo Batt woven fabric. Then I’ll start installing the panels into their final resting places. But before that, I’ll install the V-berth panels that only got base coated. I’m stoked!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating Mahogany Wall Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the 2nd Coat on the Mahogany Panels

The good news is that I’m finally making progress on getting mahogany plywood clear coated. The bad news is that, realistically, there’s no way I’m going to splash the boat this year. I’m OK with that. Life gets in the way sometimes…gotta just roll with it and keep an eye on the prize.

Start the day sanding

The panels in the pic above are for the laundry, storage, and clothes closets on the port side of the aft stateroom.

Pretty mahogany

More porthole surround panels

I like that Mirka Ceros sander. It’s super light–about the same as an air sander–but uses a DC brushless motor.

Back panels for the V-berth head cabinet

Sanded and wiped down…ready for the second base coat

Slight modification to the filter box

The filter material was being hit directly with the air flow from the extractor fan hose, causing the center of the filter to get coated and clogged up with the thick ICA base coat clear. So I put a piece of scrap 1/4″ luan in as a deflector baffle. Hopefully, the ICA will stick to the inside of the box and disperse out across the face of the filter material now instead of concentrating in the middle.

Time to spray

Next morning…good lookin’ base coat!

Pretty panel

I like that little cabinet panel. Unfortunately, it’ll almost never be seen since it’s the back panel for the toilet paper storage cabinet in the V-berth head.

The painter really flowed out the ICA base coat nicely

I had two loads of mahogany to be base coated. So with the first load done, I sanded the second load and hung the panels in the origami spray booth. The painter came and sprayed at the end of the day. The following morning, the panels were ready to come out of the booth for one more round of sanding with 320 grit.

V-berth wall panels with 8 coats of ICA base coat clear

Very pretty mahogany

Transom cabinet panels look good

All of the panels got four coats of ICA base, followed by sanding with 240 grit to a smooth finish. We just applied four more coats of base, and everything is looking good.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Sanding and Spraying the Top Coat on the Mahogany Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Spraying Mahogany Panels with ICA Base Coat Clear

Finally, at long last, I got the mahogany plywood that’s been cut and fitted since March into the origami spray booth for coating with ICA clear coat.


I came back to the boatyard to find that a trailered sailboat had been moved onto the new patch of gravel next to my tent. Unfortunately, there’s not much room between the sailboat and the origami spray booth. Now my first priority is moving the booth.

Relocate the spray booth 10′ forward of where it was


Relocated and ready to hang panels

Unfortunately, the time it took to move the booth delayed hanging the panels. By the time I got finished hanging them, it was too late to spray…have to delay until the next morning.

The following morning, water drips on the wood

A passing shower caused rain to drip around the perimeter of the tent, where the water just happened to drop on the string that’s suspending a few panels. It ran down the string and made the wood damp…can’t spray until that dries completely.

Finally, ready to spray as evening approaches

The first four coats look good!

I’ll leave it to dry overnight

Good looking mahogany!

Transom window surround panels look great!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the 2nd Coat on the Mahogany Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Recycling the Original Mahogany Toe Rails

While waiting for my painter’s schedule to synch with mine so we can clear coat the pile of mahogany plywood panels that have been sitting since March 2017, I’ve been working on other stuff. One of the most frustrating things is that I seem to have lost one of the standpipes for the raw water cooling intakes for my Cummins 6CTA engines. I’ve been turning my garage upside down and rooting through the boat and tent but haven’t had any luck finding it. While digging through the mahogany lumber pile, I decided it was time to do something with the original mahogany toe rails. I saved them when we first disassembled the boat so they could be used as patterns for the new toe rails., but that work has been done for a while. Now they’re just taking up space and getting in my way. Time to fire up the saw and make some cleats.

EZ-One track saw will cut a perfectly straight line on the curved mahogany

Line the track up to minimize waste

Trued up edge is ready for the table saw

One section of toe rail repurposed into cleats

Repurposed 50-year old mahogany toe rails

I’ll use these cleats to secure the new wall panels and cabinets as I build out the interior. In fact, I used one of them when I installed the back wall in the laundry closet.

Old “Chris Craft grade” mahogany is still pretty stuff.

Ever seen cracks like this in old toe rails?

Ever wonder how deep the cracks go?

Turns out it’s pretty deep.

Amazingly enough, even with a crack going all the way through the board the mahogany was pretty rock-solid. In other spots, especially around the stanchion bases, where water can pool in the pocket under the base, the wood was punky. That’s why I completely epoxy sealed all of the stanchion base holes in the new toe rail. It’s time consuming doing it this way, but hopefully I’ll never have to deal with rot.

One coat of Zinzer primer/sealer on two edges

Most of the cabinetry I’m doing involves gluing joints with epoxy thickened with wood flour or gluing and screwing. All of those joints will tend to be 90° angles, so I only sealed the two edges of the cleats that won’t be sealed by epoxy. Around the time the primer dried on the cleats, I got a message from my painter: he finally got a break in his schedule and can come over and spray. Time to get the origami spray booth set up again.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Spraying Mahogany Panels with ICA Base Coat Clear

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Laundry Closet Back Wall

Since my schedule isn’t synching with my painter, I decided to get some work done in the aft stateroom. Getting the washer and dryer out of the way and into their closet is something I really look forward to. So I cut, insulated, and installed the main back wall in that closet.

Laundry closet back wall

Back wall fitted

Fitting the insulation

Insulating the back-side of each panel that faces the hull with Buffalo Batt polyester nonwoven fabric adds a day per panel, but it will make the boat much more comfortable in summer and winter. I seal the backside with epoxy, then apply the Buffalo Batt.

Pressing the insulation to the panel

Mahogany cleats epoxy sealed then topped with wood flour-thickened epoxy as glue

Epoxy sealed and ready for the panel

Epoxy seals the panel edges and contact surface

Glued, screwed, and ready for the next step

I think I’m just going to use epoxy tinted white to paint the walls in the laundry closet. I’ve already got the panel cut that surrounds the porthole, but that’s one of the panels that’s awaiting the painter so we can spray ICA base coat clear then top coat.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Recycling the Original Mahogany Toe Rails

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Taking A Break…sort of

My painter and I are still having problems matching our schedules, so the V-berth wall panels are still awaiting ICA base coat clear. But something else came up (or down, depending on how you look at it) that suddenly became the priority: old trees.

There’s an old maple with a 4-foot trunk that’s about 15 feet or so away from my house, and another one with a 3-foot trunk a bit further away that have been slowly dying since we bought the place. Most of the limbs don’t produce leaves anymore, and when wind storms come through, increasingly large branches are coming down. A tornado passed through the area not long ago, and the windstorm surrounding it brought a 6″ diameter limb down very close to the missus’ car. She was pretty rattled by that, so we decided to have the trees taken down. I’m not so dumb as to think I could drop huge trees in the right direction, so I left the falling part to the pros. $1,150 later, I had two large trees in the yard that needed to be cut up. I could have paid the tree crew to cut them up for me, too, but I seem to have a preference for DIY for less risky work. We’ve got a wood-burning stove that we use all winter long and a Poulan Pro chainsaw with a 20″ bar, so I got busy.

Turns out the Poulan Pro is more of a toy than a tool, especially when it comes to chewing through timber like this. It worked fine on 18″ logs I’ve cut up before, and it was very useful for rapid dismantling of the old aft deck enclosure on the Roamer. But when running it for hours, the bar regularly loosens up, the air filter lets dust pass into the engine, and the muffler comes loose every 15 minutes or so. I was spending more time fixing the Poulan than I was cutting, so I went to a local pawn shop and bought a real saw: a used Stihl MS362 commercial grade unit that starts on the first pull and goes through big timber like a hot knife through butter. All told, it took two weekends to get the trees cut up and stacked. I still have some 4′ rounds to cut up, but at least we don’t have to worry about the trees coming through the roof one day.

Making firewood

I also learned the value of a super sharp saw chain. I had a manual sharpener that I’d used for years, but then I found a cool tool that does a much, much better job–the Timberline sharpener.

A very slick saw chain sharpener (Timberline stock photo)

I sharpened the chain every 3rd time I gassed up. What a difference that made. But man, was I sore at the end of each weekend. I don’t know how many tons worth of maple I moved, but it was a great workout. With that out of the way, I hope to get out to the boatyard this weekend and make some progress on the boat. It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll be splashing this year. I haven’t given up yet, but…

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Laundry Closet Back Wall

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting the V-berth Starboard Side Mahogany Panel

With the port V-berth side panel cut and fitted, it was much easier doing the starboard side. It’s still challenging, but at least I got this one done in only one day.

Backside of the port panel marked for insulation

I’ve been putting Buffalo Batt insulation on the backside of all plywood panels that face the hull. Between that and the spray foam on the hull itself, I’m hoping this metal boat will be comfortable no matter the season. But insulating the back of each panel adds a day to the process of cutting and installing them. Still, I think it will be worth it in the end.

Starboard panel fit surprisingly well on the first try

Other V-berth panels I cut previously

I had these painted last year, but never posted the pix

A woodworker hobbyist buddy of mine calls this ‘wood porn’

So, both V-berth side panels are ready for ICA clear coat. Unfortunately, my painter has been too busy at work and our schedules haven’t matched up. I really didn’t want to have to learn how to spray paint, but this is getting frustrating. Hopefully, he’ll get them sprayed this weekend.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Taking A Break…sort of