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: Installing the Starboard Salon Bilge Vent Duct

I’m happy with the way the starboard salon bilge vent duct is turning out. A fiberglass duct is a far better approach than the pressboard and painted mahogany that Chris Craft used. It only took another weekend to wrap that up. But I’d rather spend time now to do it right than to have to fix water damage in the future.

The panels are dry-fitted

Next, I need mahogany cleats for the insulated ceiling panel to butt up against.

The ceiling cleats will be perpendicular to the cabinet wall

Fitting upright panels over the engine room main vent

The ceiling panel

Not a bad fit

Good and tight

Disassemble everything, then seal the faces with epoxy

Next day, cleats get glued and screwed in place

I wet out the surfaces then apply a bead of epoxy thickened with wood flour as the glue.

Insulated wall panel is installed

I’m using Sikaflex 291 LOT to seal the duct face panel.

Lots of sealant all the way up to the vent hole

The face panel comes up from the engine room

The panel is too long to be slid in from the salon. But there’s plenty of room coming up from the ER.

Lookin’ good!

Fully sealed and waterproof vent duct

Upright panels over the main ER vent are installed and ready for more ceiling cleats

That’s one more bilge duct that’s wrapped up. There’s one more in the salon, and four in the aft stateroom. I’ve just got to keep knocking them out one-by-one.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Engine Room Main Vent panel

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

I am still waiting for the estimates to repair the damage from the recent Nor’easter. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting more panels fitted in the salon.

Outer wall panels are done. Next up: ceiling panels

I’m creating an air conditioned envelope inside the boat, with insulation on the back-side of each panel that faces the hull. The envelope wall panels on the port side of the salon and galley are installed. Now I need to put insulated ceiling panels in under the side deck.

It’s a boat…nothing is straight or square

First, I cut and fitted an angled mahogany cleat to the wall panel

That’s the underside of the side deck in the pic above.

Next, I measured the distance between the cleats at 6″ intervals

Next, I laid out the measured points on 1/8″ mahogany plywood

After connecting the dots, I set up the saw

Not a bad fit

Needs a bit of trimming

Near perfect fit

The cavity between the plywood and deck above

With the first ceiling panel fitted, I moved on to the next section at the engine room vent panel.

The panel isn’t quite tall enough

You can see that the angled mahogany cleat on the right side of the pic above is several inches higher than the top of the ER vent panel. I need to make some extension pieces with cleats for the next overhead panel to attach to.

I used scraps of 3/4″ Doug fir marine ply for the upright extensions

Then I added angled cleats

And another

Last step: saturate everything with epoxy

Once I have all of the overhead panels fitted, I’ll disassemble everything, varnish the plywood, insulate the backside, then reinstall. It’s a time-consuming approach, but I think the boat will be very comfortable in summer or winter once it’s done.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fitting Still More Port Salon Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing The Last Port Salon Vent Panels

One by one, I’m getting the salon wall panels and vents installed.

Port-side plywood panels

The last bilge vent chute needs to be installed at the corner of the salon, in the upper  left corner of this pic.

The vent chute will go in the corner

Sikaflex 291 seals all seams

Lots of welds here, where I need to attach the vent chute

It looks like somebody mis-cut the aluminum gusset here, then they welded in wedges to bring the top edge of the gusset up to the correct deck level. But the welds make it difficult to attach mahogany solid stock that the bilge vent chute will attach to.

Original 1969 cabinet part will be recycled into a vent chute

This is one of many parts of the boat I kept when we dismantled the boat in 2008 because the wood was still in good shape. There’s always a question about whether it’s worth storing parts like this, since they take up space. It turns out this one was worth keeping.

The EZ-One track saw is perfect for cleaning up rough plank edges

Looking good

Cut to fit the hull and frames

Router removed 3/16″ of mahogany to make space for the gusset welds

Epoxy sealed and screwed in place

Sikaflex tube failure

I cut and epoxy sealed the 1/4″ Douglas fir marine plywood vent chute panel a few weeks back, but it was so cold it took ten days for the epoxy to finally cure. I’m using Sikaflex to seal up the joint between the “walls” of the bilge vent chute and the plywood face panel. I used up the last of the black Sikaflex 291 sealant and reached for a tube of 291 LOT that I’d last used six months ago. I gave the tube a squeeze and it felt pliable, which told me air hadn’t gotten inside the tube and caused the sealant to cure. But when I put it in the gun and tried to squeeze out a bead, nothing came out. I ran a metal probe down the nozzle, and wet sealant came out. So I removed the tube from the gun and noticed that the bottom half of the tube wasn’t pliable.


The piston seal had leaked air

Half of the tube had hardened on the bottom end, so I used a squeegee to apply the rest along the contact points for the bilge vent chute plywood panel.


The view up the vent chute

There’s good Sikaflex squeeze-out along the joints  in the pic above, so I don’t expect water will be able to get in and rot any of the wood. The green light above is 3M 233+ tape that closes up the hole in the mahogany toe rail that runs around the deck. Any water that happens to come in through the vent will find nothing but epoxy, sealant, and bitumastic-sealed aluminum all the way to the bilge. It’s been time consuming doing it this way, but this is a much better approach than the painted pressboard that Chris Craft used.

Port salon bilge vent chute is done

That’s a wrap for the salon bilge/engine room vents on the port side. The salon below-deck wall panels are sealed and insulated on the backside. To complete the insulated envelope in the salon, next I’ll put insulated panels in as a sort of ceiling below the side deck along all of these wall panels I’ve been installing.

Sorry…that’s a very contorted sentence, but I don’t know how else to describe what goes in next. Pictures in my next post will make it all clear.

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing More Salon Plywood Panels

I had a couple of pros come by over the weekend and look over the damage the Nor-easter did to my boat. I should get estimates from them later this week. But before the storm came, I got more vent and wall panels installed on the port side in the salon.

Engine room gill vents in the hull

The gill vents look cool from the outside and are one of many signature features on Chris Craft’s Roamer metal boat line. But during the winter these vents let in a lot of cold air unless you block them off. Blocking them from the outside can be done, but you risk damaging your paint job. So I decided to make plywood panels that can be installed from the inside.

Big difference

It was near freezing the day I did this, and my kerosene heater was working overtime trying to keep the space heated. The boat immediately got a lot more comfortable once these panels were in place.

ER vent panel back in place

I cut some access hatches in the panel

The hatch openings are a lot smaller than the gill vent panels, but they only need to be big enough to install and remove the panels.

Perfect size

This will work well, I think

Epoxy sealed hatches

Lovely handiwork

These hatches won’t be visible once the settee is in place, so I didn’t spend much time making them pretty. My priority for all of these panels is to make sure they’re fully epoxy sealed and insulated on the back-side where appropriate.

Last insulated wall panel

The 1/4″ Douglas fir marine ply panel above got the usual treatment, fully epoxy sealed on the back-side with Buffalo Batt insulation applied once the wood was fully wetted out. It’s probably just my imagination, but the salon seems to be getting more and more comfortable with each insulated panel that goes in.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing The Last Port Salon Vent Panels