We extend to you a cordial "WELCOME ABOARD !" Come on in, make yourself at home, we are a friendly group of enthusiasts, and we also appreciate the classic Chris Craft Roamer, Corsair, and Lancer boats too , as they are all on the same family tree and share much in common !
Paul and All:
As we aging Baby Boomers know, some things get better with age, i.e. wine, women and song for instance. Other things get, well just older.
I jumped into the old hatch repair this weekend and what a mess. I am documenting it in pictures and will post once the projects are finished. I started with minor surgery and ended up gutting the patient. The balsa wood was "rotten to the core", pardon the pun. I just left the sides (1" thick) and the bottom. I used a dremel cutting wheel to cut out the top, leaving a margin all around the top side to fiberglass back to. The dremel raises very little dust compared to other grinders, but you must still wear a mask and other protective gear. A little trick is to cover yourself, or your body with talcum or baby powder when working with fiberglass, so that the fiberglass dust can not get into the pores of your skin and start itching. The suits are good too, especially if you tape the wrists, etc.
I am now pondering just what to fill the hatches with. No more balsa wood for me, or aluminum. It will be 3/4 plywood, and I will just live with the weight factor, or use foam and some kind of metal or hardwood stiffners. I have to check out which foams to use. Regular styrofoam just melts with epoxy and the marine supply companies want small fortunes for the foam and core material they sell. I may cheat and cover the cheap dense blue insulation foam from the hardware store and wrap it with Saran wrap and then fiberglass that into place. The epoxy will not penetrate the Saran wrap and once it hardens there is no interaction to worry about. Am I cleaver or what? No, cheap, cheap, cheap.
One thing for sure is that I will use 2X4's to support the middle of the hatches so that the corners do not break off during the next 40 years of service. I may laminate them longitudinaly out of ply wood and mohogany to increase their holding stregth and decrease their bendability.
Photos to come.
One small question of a trivial nature. Did the Commander hatches ever have a rubber seal on the deck portion of the hatch opening so that, when closed, the edge of the hatch would fit in and seal the below deck rooms from water infiltration? It looks like a good place to test some seals. In Summer Palace's case, any water that hits the hatches leaks between the piano hinges or the hatch and deck, then down into the bilge. I hate that. I have noticed that no matter how often I clean the gutters on the deck portion of the hatch, the little holes right above the bilge are always plugged up. They are just too small. I am not sure I want to drill them out any larger. Some kind of seal seems a better answer, but I am not sure how to handle the piano hinges.