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: Roughing Out the Galley Pantry

I’ve got a serious case of the blahs. It’s not full-on project burn-out, but there have been a string of things that haven’t gone smoothly and it’s taking a toll on my level of enthusiasm. More on that sometime later.

That said, I’m still making progress. With the galley bulkhead nicely veneered in mahogany, I started framing out the galley pantry.

The pantry will be to the left of the V-berth door

Original mahogany framing had to be moved a bit

Some wiring and vent hoses will need some adjusting, too

The upright mahogany sticks are where the walls and back panels will attach

One more panel comes out of the plywood stack!

Not bad…needs a bit of trimming here and there

Getting closer

And there it is!

You wouldn’t think it should take a whole day to get two sticks and one silly little panel fitted, but that’s sort of the way things are going recently. I’ll knock out the other panels over the weekend, unless we get snowed in.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Roughing Out More of the Galley Pantry

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’

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.


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


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