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

I’ve been knocking out the V-berth cabinetry one panel at a time, starting on the starboard side with the head (AKA the ‘throne room), followed by the bed foundation, the curvy side walls, the forward bulkhead, the closet, the upright walls around the bed, and finally the ‘desk-like structure‘. I just have one more cabinet to make, a few moldings, and some veneer work, and the V-berth cabinetry will be wrapped up. But as I was cutting the panels for that last cabinet and thinking about what shape to make the V-berth door moldings, it occurred to me that I’ve got to finish up the galley storage cabinet before I can complete the V-berth.

The porthole surround panel fits very nicely

It will look a lot better after I put the mahogany veneer on.

Next, I cut the lower cabinet upright panel

For angle cuts on plywood, I use the edge of my tracksaw as a guide for my old beater Skilsaw.

Not bad for the first cuts!

A few more slices, and it fits nicely

Yes, I use a level on a boat

Every six months or so, I check that the floors of the boat are level fore to aft and port to starboard. I adjust the boatstands as necessary. This allows me to use a level, which is something you could never do with a boat that was on the water. I used the level to mark the height of the lower cabinet panel on the porthole surround panel, so I could take measurements for the top panel.

Pocket screws will secure the aft edge of the panel

A mahogany cleat and screws will secure the forward edge.

Looks good

The reasons this cabinet is this shape…

The aluminum frames stick up proud of the floor here, and there’s an aluminum pipe welded to the hull that was originally the V-berth head sink drain outlet. I’ll use that as the raw water outlet coming from the marine air conditioner that will be inside the ‘desk-like structure.’ I need access to the raw water outlet for hose maintenance, so I’ll make a cabinet space in here with a removable bottom panel.

Then it dawned on me: gotta finish that galley storage cabinet

As I was doing all this cutting and fitting, I was thinking about the molding that will go around this door opening. There will be a sliding door, so on the left side the molding will have to have a pocket for the door to slide into. The molding will also cap the edge of the plywood. But the okume plywood is not pretty, which means I also need to cut and fit the 1/8″ mahogany plywood I bought for the galley bulkhead walls. I have some leftover ribbon-stripe veneer that I’ll use on the V-berth side of the door opening. But to install the mahogany plywood on the galley side, I first have to wrap up that storage cabinet over the door opening that I haven’t touched in more than a year.

So…that’s the path forward.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wrapping Up the Galley Storage Cabinet


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

The V-berth is coming along slowly, but it’s looking pretty good so far. I just got a call from Flagship Marine, and they say my air conditioners will be on the way soon. So I need to get the HVAC space in the V-berth ready. Since there will be plumbing going to and from the unit, unlike most other panels on the boat, I need to make sure that the panels in the HVAC space are solidly attached but can also be removed if I have to do maintenance, like hose replacement.

The V-berth concept drawings didn’t have a lot of detail

What I called the ‘desk-like structure’ is turning out to be more of a decorative HVAC cabinet and step-up to climb into the bunk.

The air conditioner base frames are glued and screwed in place

Insert (or remove) the base panel by rotating it diagonally

Slide the base panel under the two cleats on either side, then rotate it to square it up with the sides.

Squared up…then push back

Nice fit…with a coat of epoxy on all the edges, it should be just slightly snug

Final test fit for the back panel

The back panel must be removed in order to remove the base panel. Because the HVAC unit draws room air from within this space (after it goes through a return grill with a filter), there can be no leaks to the bilge or hull envelope. So every joint has a cleat backing it up or is otherwise tight to adjacent panels. The fit looks good, so now I’ll seal up all faces and edges.

A heavy coat of epoxy seals up the wood

I’m not worried about making this panel pretty. It’s a 1″ thick piece of 1969-era plywood that was originally part of a bulkhead on the boat. I removed the latex paint that somebody rolled on, but since it’s inside a mechanical space that’ll rarely be seen, that’s as clean as it’s going to get.

The marine grade Douglas fir back panel gets white-tinted epoxy

Cutting the final panel

This panel will have the HVAC filtered return air grill in it

Flagship is a dealer for Marine Systems, Inc., a company that makes HVAC grills and ducting parts for marine and RV applications. I considered making my own grills, but some things are just better off left to specialists. And I like the fact that their ducting parts are plastic. Metal duct parts would have been a lot cheaper and readily available locally, but then I’d be dealing with rust eventually.

The side to side fit is looking good

Need to lop a bit off the top

EZ-One track saw makes straight cuts a breeze

Next, I glued and screwed the top and rotated the base in place

Not bad!

That turned out OK

Looks better with the step hatch in place

Ribbon-stripe mahogany panel tops the whole thing

I was tempted to epoxy the 1/4″ mahogany  top panel in place and call the ‘desk-like structure’ a wrap, but it occurred to me that the back edge of this panel will hide the corner joint for the panels that go to the left of it. So I’m holding off on finishing this until I get the porthole window surround panel and the base panels below it done.

Oh! And if you’re looking for 12v LED overhead lights, an online buddy alerted me to these Quick brand marine overhead lights on ebay for $25 a pop. They put out a lot of uniform light for only 6 watts. I bought ten for the salon!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting More V-berth Cabinet Panels

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: Final Coats of MS1 Clear Coat on the Toe Rail

We finally got a break from the roasting hot summer in the tent, so my painter showed up with a helper and covered the boat, taped off the mahogany toe rail, and sprayed what should have been the last coats of Imron MS1 clear coat.

Sharkskin plastic and a lot of 3M 233+ tape cover the boat

The (reportedly) good thing about MS1 clearcoat is that with eight coats sprayed in two sessions, it needs no maintenance for five years even in the brutally hot sun of southern Florida. Spraying can also produce a very flat surface with terrific shine. But it takes a lot of work to get ready to spray.

Sanded with 320 grit and ready for the final top coat

Ready to start spraying

Next day…looks pretty good

As I walked around the scaffolding, I noticed a lot of junk in the MS1. At the bow, I noticed that the painter hadn’t switched the air line to the filtered supply. There’s a small filter/bulk water separator before the refrigerated air drier. But I have a Tee in the air line, with a valve that controls air to two outlets, one of which has a big Devilbiss filter/drier. The filters are expensive, so we only use that side for painting. The other outlet is used for air tools and blowing things off. But even though I positioned the supply panel with the filter up on the scaffolding, the painter didn’t switch the supply to the filtered side. I’m pretty sure the little bits of junk in the MS1 came through the air line. There are also a few spots where the paint gun dripped. And I found four pinholes (roughly 1mm diameter) that appear to go all the way to the wood.

This is frustrating. It’s expensive to pay a professional crew to come in and spray. I can’t understand how they didn’t see the pinholes when they were sanding and taping off the toe rail. Swapping the air line is something the painter has done many times since we sprayed the boat with Awlgrip. He knows what he’s supposed to do, he just got careless and forgot. And now I’ve got junk in the clearcoat. The drips could be sanded and polished, but with the pinholes scattered around the toe rail, he’ll have to sand and spray once more.

It’s always something.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Back to the V-berth Cabinetry

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: Spraying More Parts with AwlGrip Matterhorn White

We took a brief break from the V-berth cabinetry to spray a couple more essential parts with Awl Grip Matterhorn White. I also made a new roof vent for the tent. The heat the tent captures in summer is making it very difficult to get woodwork done. Sweat running onto newly shaped mahogany is not good!

The porthole for the laundry room

The Roamer 46 came with two round portholes in the V-berth, and ten rectangular portholes with screens, two in the V-berth and four on each side of the aft stateroom. The transom also has two windows built in, but they were originally framed in painted mahogany and could not be opened. In a gas boat, where station wagon effect can draw carbon monoxide into the boat and kill people, windows that don’t open at the transom is probably a good idea. But I moved the exhaust so it exits out of the sides of the hull of the engine room, and my Cummins engines are, of course, diesel. So there aren’t any down-sides to having more windows that can open. So I searched for two additional rectangular portholes and eventually found them on ebay. One of them has no screen flange, so it’s perfect for the laundry closet, where the dryer exhaust will vent.

Kinda like this

I’ll use a piece of plastic H channel as a seal between the glass and the plywood, which will be fiberglassed and painted after I cut the hole for the dryer vent.

The transom door finally gets painted

I fitted and finished welding the seams on the transom door back in November 2016, but that was during a stretch of bad luck for my painter. He’s finally back on his feet and was recently able to fair, prime with Awlquik, fillet, reprime with Awl Grip 545, and then paint the transom door with Matterhorn white. It turned out very nice!

Painted and ready to install

In addition to the heat build-up in the tent during summer, which I’d like to vent better, we also have to spray the last coats of MS1 on the mahogany toe rail. There are also numerous places where defects have shown up in the paint job. I’ll cover those in more detail later, but it seems that the 3M Premium Marine Filler we were using had some issues that 3M has since resolved. Unfortunately, they only cover the replacement of their product, not the paint repairs that have to happen when their product cracks due to formulation errors. On the bright side, I’d rather have small cracks appear while the boat is still in the tent instead of having rain get under the paint and start growing aluminum oxide powder under ever larger areas. So…to better vent the tent, I’m getting rid of the passive vent at the roof peak and installing a vent fan under a hillbilly rain deflector.

20″ box fan mounted to 1/4″ luan plywood scrap

Cleats outline where the rain cap will go

Don’t laugh…it works…and it gets even uglier

I initially had another piece of plywood across the top, where the short pieces of 2×3 are attached vertically, but it really choked down the flow. So instead I put a 2×3 across the top from side to side to give it strength.

Don’t laugh…it’s almost ready to install

I folded the shrink wrap under the duct sides before securing them with screws, leaving 18″ of plastic flapping all around the base. I can’t climb up on top of the tent, so the duct will go up through the current passive vent hole, and I’ll push the plastic out to (hopefully) drain most of the rain that hits it onto the surrounding tent plastic. The flappy plastic covering the rain cap duct opening will work like a shower curtain: it can’t stop all water from coming in, but it’ll stop most of it.

After I installed it and turned the fan on high, the temp dropped inside the tent over the afternoon by ~10°F, from ~120 to a cool 110. Booyah.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More V-berth Panels