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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More Salon Plywood Panels

After the beating that Nor-easter gave Tent Model XXX and my brand new Awlgrip paint job, I’ve been trying to get estimates on repairs. Since the tent is protected by a security system, I’ll have to be there when the estimators show up. So instead of getting more plywood panels installed, I’ll be doing  the tedious work of putting together an insurance claim. Fortunately, Heritage Marine Insurance (lynn@heritagemarineinsurance.com) and Chubb have treated me very well. I highly recommend both.

But before all the damage happened, I got some more panels in the salon cut and fitted.

Next, I dug into this corner of the salon

After moving the stairs out of the way, I removed the lower mahogany panel.

There’s another bilge vent hole in the mahogany toerail and aluminum deck above this corner

The big 1/4″ Doug fir marine ply panel to the right in the pic above covers the ‘shark gill’ hull vents that are the main air source for the engine room. The panel is fully epoxy sealed on all sides, but the backside of this panel isn’t insulated, since insulation would take up space and impede air flow. I cut the panel the exact same size as the fiberboard that Chris Craft used, which had warped and deteriorated from water exposure through the gill vents. But I’ve decided I need to modify the panel by extending the lower edge six inches so it goes past the engine room ceiling. I also want to add hatches so I can put panels up against the back-side of the hull gill vents during winter to keep out the cold air. More on that later.

I need to build another waterproof vent duct in the corner

Sticks and a glue gun are a big help when making complex patterns

Transfer the pattern to 3/4″ Douglas fir marine ply

Perfect fit on the first try!

I’ll attach a 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleat to this bilge vent duct panel to give the face panel screws something to bite into. I also need to cut a piece of solid stock for the right side face panel to attach to next to the big engine room duct panel.

The engine room vent panel attaches to these mahogany frames

I need to cut a piece of mahogany solid stock and attach it on the near side of this aluminum hull frame. I need to keep it on the same plane as the ER vent frames so the panels line up when they’re all installed. Rather than drilling more holes in the aluminum frame to attach the new piece of mahogany, I’ll cut it so it butts up against the existing ER vent frame, then use epoxy thickened with wood flour and screws to bond them together. As you can see in the pic above, there’s only about 1/8″ of mahogany frame sticking out proud of the aluminum hull frame.

Down at the bottom, the mahogany frame sticks out 9/16″

Good thing I have a track saw

I repurposed a mahogany stick from the OE cabinetry for this panel cleat. I have to cut a 5/16″ rabbet to span the aluminum hull frame, with the depth of the rabbet decreasing from 9/16″ at the bottom to 1/8″ at the top to match the ER vent frame. I don’t have any idea how a pro would do this, but my EZ-One track saw table made it pretty easy.

One tapered cut down, one decreasing depth cut to go

That’s a fancy rabbet: 1/8″ at the top…

9/16″ at the bottom

It’s ready to install, so next I cut the 1/4″ Doug fir plywood panel that will attach to it.

The back-side of the new plywood panel gets wetted out with epoxy

Buffalo Batt insulation goes over the wet epoxy

Lots of plywood panels wetted out with epoxy

I also cut and fitted the bilge vent chute panel, which you can see is fully saturated with epoxy in the pic above. Any water that comes through the vent will hit that shiny epoxy and head straight into the bilge. That should hold up a lot better than the plain fiberboard that Chris Craft used.

Last, I added two extensions to the ER vent panel

There are 1/4″ Doug fir plywood batten panels backing the joints for the extensions on the ER vent panel. It’s all glued and screwed together. With sticky epoxy curing on many panels in the work space, I called it a weekend and left. This was a couple of weeks ago, when winter was still in full effect and the epoxy just wasn’t curing from Saturday to Sunday. But when I arrived the following weekend, it had finally cured. That’s a good thing because it was getting very difficult to move around and get things done with so many sticky panels around.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing More Salon Plywood Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Big 2018 Nor’easter Whooped Tent Model XXX

The title of this article pretty much says it all. As I described years ago in A Celebration (and condemnation) of Tents!, on a project like this you’ve got to build a strong structure from the get-go or waste a bunch of time, like I did, fixing shredded tarps and tents. Tent Model XXX was the result of many, many tent failures, and it held up even to direct hits from thunderstorms, hurricanes, and snow storms that dumped 20″. But the winds from the 2018 Nor-easter proved to be a bit too much. Several roof frames broke, then the broken bits slammed over and over again into my brand new Awlgrip paint that has only been directly exposed to sunlight twice since we finished that part of the project.

The first sign of trouble was the aft tent frame leaning up against the hardtop

Normally that upright frame is at least six inches from the aft edge of the hardtop. It had moved forward and the plywood gusset rubbed back and forth against the edge of the hardtop roof.

The next sign of trouble was the broken 1-1/2″ PVC pipe frames

The leaves on the deck were surprising, too.

What a mess


Scratches on the cabin top paint and leaves that blew in through the open top

More cabin top scratches

Chunks of shattered 2×4

Holy smokes

The shot above is from the bow seat looking forward. See how the tent center backbone support on the blanket is off-set to the port side? See how the big, front-most upright frame member is also off-set from the centerline where the two mahogany toe rail sections meet at the pointy stem of the boat? Yeah, well, I centered the forward upright when I last reskinned the tent. The Nor-easter pushed the nose of the structure about eight inches to the southeast. I believe that’s what pulled the aft frame on the starboard side forward until it came into contact with the hardtop.

More broken frames and roof punctures

Another broken frame and the scratches it caused to the paint

Abraided powder coating on the new windshield frame

There’s so much dirt and PVC debris on the glass, I can’t tell if it’s scratched or not.


The frame broke here, and a 3″ deck screw that secured the vent fan remained in the part that was still attached to the tent structure on the NW side. The wind pummeled that side hardest, and the PVC pipe whipped back and forth, over and over again, driving the tip of that screw into the paint like an icepick on steroids.

More than a square foot of destroyed paint

The leading edge is ripped up deep into the fiberglass

Looks like somebody took a pneumatic needle scaler to it

Tent backbone over the hardtop was broken

Top side of the hardtop is also beat up at the front

Once I finished surveying the extent of the damage, I went and got some paid helpers and set to work pulling down broken frames and cutting the ends square. With the frames out of the way, the tent top skin was flapping around pretty badly in the gusty leftovers of the Nor’easter. But that allowed me to adjust the rearmost frame and pull it off of the hardtop.

Rear frame is back where it should be

The plywood gusset got scraped away pretty well

The hardtop back edge took a beating

The hardtop is a clamshell…there’s a top and a bottom half, and they join together at this edge. The plywood gusset rubbed away 1/4″ of paint, primer, fairing compound, and fiberglass. The damage is extensive enough that, by the end of post-Nor’easter cleanup, Day One, I realized I’m going to have to make an insurance claim.

QUICK UPDATE: I have to say, Lynn at Heritage Marine Insurance (lynn@heritagemarineinsurance.com) and Chubb have treated me very well.

This is killing me. I was just talking to somebody a week ago who asked if I was splashing this year. I explained that I might if I can keep up the pace. But, I said, it’s been a few years since the last disaster hit my Roamer project–when the rat bastard thieves cleaned me out–and these things seem to happen on a cycle. I was joking but…when am I gonna learn not to tempt fate???

The following morning, I picked up a bunch of PVC pipe couplers and we got busy cutting and gluing new sections in.

Frames are patched

Aft backbone restored

4″ shrink tape patches the tears

Dr. Frankenstein would be proud

I need a whole new top skin. But with the gusts still blowing, there’s no way to do it. Patches will have to hold for a while. Since shrink wrap tape doesn’t stick long to dirty old plastic, these patches won’t last long.

Vent fan reinstalled

I found the vent fan assembly halfway across the boatyard. It was in surprisingly good shape. After patching up the shredded top skin around the opening, I reinstalled the fan.

End of post-Nor-easter cleanup, Day 2

The top skin has practically no tension, so it really gets to flapping when there are gusts. I know from experience that flapping plastic doesn’t last long. But it’s March, so it’s too windy to put a new top skin on and it will be for a while. I may try my luck re-tensioning the shrink wrap with the heat gun again. But I’ve found that debris, even dust, on used shrink wrap has a bad habit of superheating, popping holes in the plastic and even causing it to catch fire instead of shrinking. That’s the last thing I need to have happen. Also, as I’ve said before, reskinning the tent is young man’s work. I think I’m going to have to turn this over to the pros.

This is one of those times when I really, really, really regret having ever started this refit project. That said…

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More Salon Plywood Panels

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

Well, winter is over and the epoxy finally cured on the last of the galley pantry panels. I also got another plywood panel installed on the port side of the salon.

The last pantry panel

Galley pantry lower panel is varnished, insulated, and ready to install

I’d forgotten the bottom panel when I varnished all the rest of the pantry panels. For all of the cabinet interiors, I’ve been using Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane clear gloss. It’s a nice product and cures to a hard finish. I’ve used ICA polyurethane on most other panels, but brush application of Minwax is much less labor intensive than spraying the ICA.

Once I finished with the varnish, I epoxy sealed all edges and applied Buffalo Batt insulation on the underside. It’s been so cold that it took ten days for the epoxy to finally cure. Unlike the other pantry panels, these last three are going to be removable to provide access to the pump-out, fresh water, and water tank vent plumbing. So it’s essential that the epoxy on the contact surfaces is fully cured before I put it all together.

Bottom panel fits nicely and looks good

The back panel is a nice, tight fit

The right side slides in first, then rotate the left side in until it seats on the backing cleats.

Last view (hopefully) of the pump-out plumbing


Good lookin’ box

I still have to make the face frame for the pantry, but that can come later. Next, I got busy on the next salon plywood panel.

I need one more panel here

The first toe rail vent duct is to the left in the pic above. One more panel to go in this section.

A scrap from the plywood stack is just the right width

I sifted through the plywood pile looking for 1/4″ Doug fir marine ply that I could use here. It was funny how happy I felt when I found a scrap that just happened to be the exact width I needed.

The EZ-One track saw is the only way to break down large panels inside a boat

That was easy

Once fitted, I removed the panel and cut Buffalo Batt insulation to fit

Fully wetted out with US Composites 635 resin and 2:1 hardener

Press the insulation in place and go home

Next day…this is getting absurd

It’s been so chilly that the epoxy just isn’t kicking. So I’ve got all kinds of sticky plywood and solid mahogany stock all over the place. I’m running out of space to put stuff!

There’s a narrow path with sticky epoxy on all sides!

Finally, the panels are installed

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Big 2018 Nor’easter Whooped Tent Model XXX

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting a Toe Rail Vent Duct

Spring has sprung! Next thing you know, I’ll be griping about how hot it is in the tent! lol

Remaking the toe rail vent ducts to the bilge spaces is one of the items that I have to deal with before the boat can be exposed to water. I’ve been installing plywood panels on the port side of the galley and salon recently, and the next panel to be installed is one that functions as a duct.

Using sticks and hot glue to make the vent duct wall pattern

Laying out the template on 3/4″ Doug fir marine plywood

Looks pretty good

It’s a bit tight on the framing

Needs a bit more adjusting so it can rotate into position

The shot above is looking up to the underside of the deck. There’s two inches of beautiful mahogany toe rail on the other side of the deck.

That’s more like it

1″x1″ mahogany cleat will give screws something solid to bite into

1/4″ Doug fir marine ply encloses the duct

With all of the pieces cut and dry-fitted, I disassembled the duct and applied lots of epoxy to all surfaces to seal the wood. I really like US Composites 635 epoxy with 2:1 hardener because it’s a completely blush-free formula. I’ll be sealing these panels to the hull and deck using Sikaflex 291LOT, and I’d have to wash the blush off before applying the Sikaflex if I was using any other epoxy product.

The duct opening got a heavy coat of epoxy

While spring has sprung, cold nights are still slowing down the cure time on the epoxy. Once it cures, I’ll get these panels installed and get to work on the next one.

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