1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Back to the V-berth Cabinetry

After an unfortunate week lost to adding more coats of Imron MS1 to the toe rail, some of which will have to be sanded off to respray because of professional painter incompetence, I went back into the V-berth and made more progress toward wrapping up the ‘desk-like structure.’

Flat sawn mahogany plywood wetted out with epoxy

For the V-berth cabinetry, I used 1/4″ ribbon-stripe mahogany plywood that I was able to buy at a bargain price because it was leftover from a big sportfisher build at a local custom boat manufacturer. While the flat sawn mahogany plywood I’m using elsewhere on the boat is attractive, it looks quite different from the quarter sawn ribbon-stripe. I used a sheet of the flat sawn for this one panel on the ‘desk-like structure,’ and I have some small pieces of the ribbon-stripe leftover, so I used one to cover this panel and make it all consistent.

Lots of clamps press the panels together

A little peek at the ribbon-stripe

Next day…looks great!

The last ribbon-stripe panel, back from the paint shop

The “desk-like structure” corner molding is also coated with ICA base

Wetted out with epoxy and clamped in place

The step-up for the ‘desk-like structure” is glued, screwed, and clamped in place

Next day…looks good!

Looks even better with the hatch in place

Next, I glued and screwed the air conditioner base frames in place

With sticky epoxy in the way and the weekend clock run out, that was a wrap. I’ll be covering all of the exposed plywood edges with mahogany moldings, but that can be done at any time.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More Work On The V-berth ‘Desk-like Structure’

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1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: “Mr. Good-but-slow” Strikes Again!

There was a sailor dude in the area when I started digging into the refit after the paperwork SNAFU was resolved back in 2012, and several people said he was a good woodworker. He described himself as “good but slow.” As he started doing individual projects, though, I found that while he was slow he definitely wasn’t good, so I fired him. Every once in a while, as the project continues, when I end up in areas he touched I inevitably end up having to deal with poorly fitted major wall panels, complex panels that don’t line up, and panels that hang suspended over the floor instead of being solidly attached to it. Turns out the V-berth door opening was another opportunity for “Mr. Good-but-slow” to cause me grief even years after I fired him.

The weekend began by installing the right-side panel of the ‘desk-like structure’

The mattress will be trapezoidal

I’ll use 1/4″ marine Douglas fir around the last V-berth porthole

I used up the last of the 1/4″ ribbon striped mahogany panels I had in stock, so for the porthole surround I’ll use Doug fir with a ribbon stripe veneer. I’ve only done veneer work once before on one small panel in a 1967 Chris Craft Constellation 52 I used to own, so this ought to be a learning experience.

Getting close to fitting

Need to trim off a bit more

Nice fit!

Next, I marked off the opening from the outside.

Nice!

But the more time I spent in this area thinking about how I’d do the lower cabinetry, the more things just looked…off.

“Mr. Good-but-slow” Strikes Again!!!

The door opening is several degrees out of  square in the X axis…

And it’s not square in the Y axis, either.

Why does everything have to be so difficult?

New okume isn’t the same dimension as the old stuff

I bought and paid for 3/4″ (19mm) okume from Boulter Plywood back in 2012, but it appears that what I received was actually 11/16″ (17mm). There’s no 17mm okume to be had locally, so I had to  run the new 19mm stuff through my Dewalt thickness planer.

Taking off very small increments with each pass on both sides

Proper thickness, and square to the floor

Square from top to bottom

Routing out a slot for the spline joint

Dry fitting the spline

Pocket screws will secure the bottom

Clamped, glued, and screwed

Next day…looks pretty good!

The view from the galley

While working on fixing this panel, I was thinking about the path forward. I have to make the last lower cabinet under the port V-berth porthole. That cabinet will have to be deep enough to provide access to the raw water outlet thru-hull and hose for the V-berth air conditioner. There will be a sliding door for the V-berth, so I have to make a molding for the door to slide into on the port side. I also have to make sure the molding and the cabinetry work together. I think the molding should cap the end of the plywood bulkhead, too. And then it occurred to me that I have to put veneer (or thin mahogany panels) on both sides of the okume bulkhead, since rotary cut okoume isn’t the prettiest wood, and the molding will cap all of that. But there is an unfinished cabinet in the galley just above the V-berth door, and if I’m doing veneer in the area I have to finish that first.

That’s right: to finish the woodwork in the V-berth, I have to finish a storage cabinet in the galley!

I understand that it’s all progress toward the finish line. It’ll be good to get that galley cabinet finished. And I’ve got many sheets of 1/8″ mahogany ply that I bought from Boulter in 2012 specifically for this task. But still…I thought I was a lot closer to getting the V-berth done than it turns out. And we’re rapidly making the transition from scorching hot summer to fall, which means our very narrow window for exterior painting has arrived. Mother nature’s the boss, so we’re shifting gears, taping up the whole boat, and getting ready to spray the last coats on the mahogany toe rail.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Coats of MS1 Clear Coat on the Toe Rail

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More V-berth Panels

Back into the V-berth, I’m still cutting and dry fitting panels, making hatches, and insulating in preparation for final assembly.

Nice fit on the molding

Making a hatch in the “desk-like structure” base panel

Glued, screwed, epoxy sealed, and insulated

Ready for final install…but not yet

Air conditioner space needs to be fully sealed

A 9kBTU marine air conditioner will sit on this shelf. It will draw air through a filter in a panel that will face where I was standing when I took this picture. The space the AC unit is in needs to be completely sealed from the hull envelope, so it only draws air from the interior space. So I need to cut and fit this 1/4″ Douglas fir marine plywood to closely fit the surrounding panels. The hull takes a curve here, and the panel follows that curve, which makes it really difficult to get the fit just right. The technique I use is to cut the panel close but oversized, then trim back little by little until it just fits.

That’s getting closer

…and closer

Done!

There’s just enough room for the 4″ insulated HVAC duct to squeeze into the space.

With this panel dry-fitted, next I marked off the position of the panel base and removed it.

Mahogany cleats at the base will provide a good seal

Next, insulate the panel and it’s ready to install

With sticky epoxy everywhere, I called it a day.

The process of dry-fitting each panel, then disassembling, insulating, then gluing and screwing it all together takes a lot more time than if I didn’t insulate and just went straight to final assembly. But we think the insulation will be worth it once the refit is done and the boat is in service. Condensation is always a problem on fiberglass and metal boats, but the insulation on the back-side of each panel should help avoid it. I just wish this was going quicker.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: “Mr. Good-but-slow” Strikes Again!

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