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

I cut more 1/8″ mahogany plywood for the under-deck ceiling panels on the port side, then took them home and put on a couple coats of Minwax urethane varnish. It’s not as tough a product as the ICA two-part catalyzed clear I’ve been using for all of the major interior paneling, but for closet interiors and other places that will never see direct sunlight it’s fine.

First, measure the gap every six inches

Marked off and ready to cut

Nice fit!


Plenty of space for Buffalo Batt Insulation

Two coats of Minwax later…

Time to test fit

Not bad!

Needs a batten to join the panels

Like that!

Pay no heed to the grain orientation

I’m using up the 1/8″ plywood scraps here, and I don’t care about grain orientation since the only people who will see these panels are the owner when it comes time to winterize the boat and put the ER vent panels in place, then recommissioning in the spring. They’ll be hidden behind a built-in settee.

Another batten to join the panels

The last outboard mahogany cleat is fitted

And the last panel is cut

I’ll varnish that panel then remove all of them, seal and insulate the backsides before I do the final glue-and-screw installation.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating and Installing the Port Salon Panels


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing Still More Pantry Panels

All the sudden it’s like somebody flipped the Season switch from Winter to Spring. But only for a few days…they say it will snow again on Saturday. So much for getting a bunch of panels epoxied in this weekend. The glue just doesn’t set up very quickly when it’s freezing. But I did manage to get more pantry panels installed in spite of the cold temps.

The PVC plumbing for the black water tank pump-out fits tight to the hull

I used my kerosene heater to heat up the PVC and mold it into shape. It turns out there are electric PVC pipe blankets that do the same thing. But since I’m not a professional plumber, it’s not worth buying another expensive tool I’ll (hopefully) never use again. It’s essential that I keep the pipe as close to the hull as possible so I can maximize the space inside the galley pantry. A big pantry makes for a happy missus, and that’s pretty much my goal in life. 😉

Final pantry wall panel is glued and screwed in place

I also ran the PEX water line that will connect to the original Chris Craft chromed bronze water inlet that I’ll install on the mahogany toe rail, and I put the water tank vent line in position.

Finally! The clamps came off of the first two pantry sections

The first two pantry sections are all glued together. None of the panels there should ever need to be removed, so they’re fixed in place. This back panel on the last pantry section will be removable to give access the hoses and plumbing. I hate it when manufacturers don’t provide access for maintenance.

The 1″x 1″ mahogany backing cleats are installed for the bottom and back panels

Not bad!

It was at this point that I realized I’d forgotten the bottom panel here when I varnished all of the other pantry panels. I’ll get to that soon. I also had to do a bit of trimming on the upper panel, so it can also be removed if necessary. The fit was a bit too tight. Then I applied epoxy to the edges to seal it up. With as warm as it’s been the last two days, hopefully it’ll be cured when I arrive over the weekend. It’ll be nice to finish up this pantry and move on.

Oh…I should maybe also explain that I’ll be making a solid mahogany face frame to cover the edges of the pantry plywood panels and give the door hinges something solid to screw into. But that’s a cosmetic detail that can be done later.

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Pantry Panels

I got my truck back from the transmission shop. The shifting problem it was having appears to have been resolved, but I couldn’t tell for sure because before I got to where the roads are smooth the engine threw the same crankshaft position sensor code as before. GAAH! I’m really getting sick of not having  my truck and making repeat trips to and from the shop.

That said, I am pleased with the way the pantry on the Roamer is turning out.

All panels got three coats of Minwax Spar Urethane clear

Top and bottom panels

Insulating the back-side of all the panels

A buddy of mine sold his wooden Pacemaker 43 last year and got a 41′ Marinette aluminum boat. There’s very little insulation in the Marinette, and he said it’s been a rough winter. They can’t get enough power in the boat to keep it warm. That’s bad news for him, but it makes me more and more convinced that insulating the back-side of all cabinet and wall panels that face the hull envelope is worth the effort. It takes an extra day to cut the Buffalo Batt insulation, wet out the panels with epoxy, press the insulation in place, and wait for the epoxy to cure. But it makes a big difference.

Once the insulation is in place, I press it together with whatever heavy stuff is laying around

Wood flour-thickened epoxy is a strong glue for the complex panels

This top panel will box in the pump-out plumbing

Last prep step: build out the floor at the step to the V-berth

Next day, the epoxy is cured and the panels are finally ready to install

Gluing and screwing the framing

After wetting out the cleat framing with epoxy, I apply wood flour-thickened epoxy, then screw each cleat in place. Then the panel edges and the corresponding attachment points get the same treatment.

Galley Pantry #1 is glued, screwed, and clamped in place

The back panel is 1/8″ cabinet-grade, rotary cut mahogany plywood. It’s pretty stuff, but it doesn’t stay flat on its own. At the top, there’s a 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleat that the top panel will butt up against, and that cleat keeps the top edge of the panel flat. But I had to glue and clamp another cleat onto the back-side at the bottom to keep that edge flat, too. It looks like that will work out fine.

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

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: Still More On the V-berth Closet

It’s still hot as can be in the tent, but I’m making good progress on the V-berth cabinetry.

Harbor Freight featherboard is worth the price: $7

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a pro. When I started this refit, I had a fairly garden-variety set of mechanic’s tools, a really awful Craftsman jigsaw, and a Skilsaw circular saw. Since then, I’ve acquired a bunch of new tools, but when it came to woodworking mostly I was only working with plywood panels. My EZ-One track saw table has been a very good investment and it’s great for breaking down plywood, but recently I acquired a Craftsman table saw since it was clear I’d need it to make moldings. I have a Shopsmith table saw, but the table is too small and for angled cuts it wasn’t quite enough. Since I’ve been using the table saw, I have been very wary of getting my fingers in the blade. I’d heard about featherboards and decided to order one when I was stocking up recently on chip brushes, acid shop brushes, and nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight. I’m happy to report that this is a terrific upgrade to the table saw. I think I’ll order more of them for vertical positioning, too, before and after the cut.

Push stick + featherboard = nice, consistent cuts with greater safety

V-berth closet panel needs reinforcement

Mahogany cleat is recycled from the original toe rail

Utility access at the back of the closet

I want to be able to access all of the wiring, so I made a little hatch here.

Hatch panel in place

Framing out the closet back panel

A vertical mahogany panel at the back of the closet will be held in place with some visible screws. Once that panel comes off, the hatch panel comes out with a twist and a tug.

Like magic!

More framing

I plan to put a self-contained 6kBTU marine air conditioning unit on a shelf at the top of the closet. The air intake will be through the closet wall.

Back wall framing is done…time for varnish

After sanding all surfaces with 220 grit, I blew off the panels and broke out the varnish brush.

I thought I’d try a new (to me) kind of varnish inside the closet

That does not look like “gloss”

I thought maybe it wasn’t glossy because it was only the first coat. So I sanded with 220 again and applied another coat.

Funky Varathane goes on milky

I don’t like this stuff. Low odor and easy, soap and water cleanup are nice, but this stuff just doesn’t flow out like regular varnish.

Sanded and ready for another coat

Next day…this definitely isn’t “gloss”

It’s more like semi-gloss

The Varithane product doesn’t flow at all. It dries clear, which is nice, but I think I’ll just stick with spar varnish for closet and drawer interiors when I’m not having the painter spray ICA.

The solid mahogany door openings turned out OK

I apply varnish before final assembly because that allows me to wipe up any epoxy without staining the wood.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the V-berth Closet

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fitting the V-berth Cabinets

With the V-berth walls finally installed, the rest of the cabinetry in the room is coming together pretty quickly.

The aft deck plywood pile shrinks a bit more

Mahogany panels are pre-finished with ICA base and top coat

I had these panels painted with ICA a year or two (or three?) ago. They’ve been awaiting installation for too long.

Bed base panel fits well

The salon plywood stack gets one sheet shorter

The mahogany plywood stack in the salon is my official progress meter. The shorter the stack gets, the closer I am to finishing the refit. I’m very pleased when it gets shorter. Hopefully, that’ll happen at a faster rate from now on.

EZ-One track saw table makes it easy to break down 4×8 sheets

With the EZ-One track saw system, it’s the saw that moves, not the panel. So unlike a conventional table saw, you don’t need a huge amount of space. The track also ensures perfectly straight cuts exactly where you want them. You don’t have to worry about keeping the panel tight up against a fence or kickbacks. It’s a great tool for this kind of work.

Angled cuts are also super easy with the EZ-One

Not a bad fit…needs a bit of trimming

A snip here, a slice there…

Nice and square!

Three panels fit nicely

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More V-berth Cabinetry.

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the Top Coat on the Mahogany Panels

The V-berth and aft stateroom mahogany panels are looking very nice. Things sure go faster when my schedule aligns with my Boatamalan* painter. I might actually have the portholes installed soon!

*Boatamalan: portmanteau indicating highly skilled boat workers of Central American origin. They’re actually from Honduras, but boat + [Guat]amalan has a nicer ring to it. ;-)

Final sanding with 320 grit Abranet

The second round of ICA base clear went on nice and flat, which makes for easy final sanding. But this mahogany has some deep grain that makes it tough to fill it entirely. The strange thing is that the grain is deep on some panels but flat on others, even when the panels were cut from the same sheet of plywood. Nature apparently doesn’t have a robust Quality Control department. ;-)

I sand the faces with the Mirka Ceros sander, then hit the edges with a hand sanding block

The transom cabinetry

Sand it smooth, but don’t go too far

The deep grain I mentioned makes it challenging to get the sanding just right. Don’t go far enough, and the grain makes a surface that’s not perfectly smooth. Go too far, and you can sand through the base coat. Fortunately, I didn’t breach the base coat anywhere.

Sanded just enough, but with some pinhole and grain depressions left behind

Dust fills the pinhole and grain depressions

Full air blast takes a long time to clear the dust

It was taking a long time to blow the dust out of the little depressions that remain. So I used some lint-free microfiber towels to lightly wipe each panel while blowing it with air. That approach worked a lot better, instantly clearing all of the dust from the depressions.

A cluster of little depressions along an edge

Different panel cut from the same plywood

It’s the darndest thing: not a single pinhole or grain depression on the entire panel

Air blast + microfiber cloth = no dust

Perfect conditions…time to spray

ICA semi-matte top coat is very nice

30 minutes after two top coats were applied, it’s dry to the touch

I very carefully moved the panels inside the tent

Finding safe places to put all of these finished panels was a bit of a challenge. I’ll leave them to cure for a week, so I can’t stack them like I did when they were unfinished. I eventually found enough flat spaces on the boat to lay them all out, then carefully stepped off the boat. Next I’ll insulate the back side of all of the panels with Buffalo Batt woven fabric. Then I’ll start installing the panels into their final resting places. But before that, I’ll install the V-berth panels that only got base coated. I’m stoked!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating Mahogany Wall Panels