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 !
Removing the panels was easy. I have a flybridge and therefore, 4 1/4-20 bolts that go through the flybridge support tube along with the wedge block behind the tube had to be removed. The screws that attached the panels to the side of the cockpit were easy to remove. And yes, there were (I believe 2) screws at the forward edge of each panel. Because of the helm and the rectangular cable run tube, these screws could not be reached with a screwdriver. Because I was replacing the panels it was easy to wedge the panel loose and then chisel the screws out.
With the panels removed I was able to get the rough dimension for a small rearward facing panel that fits between the cable run tube on the starboard side and helm on the port side. With the side panel in place I rough cut the rearward facing panels and used a hand held belt sander to get the final fit. These rearward facing panels were used to retain the forward edge of the side panel. The photo below shows the side panel and the rearward facing panel on the starboard side.
Panel removal and replacement is an easy process. Following Paul's varnishing process was very time consuming but worth it. I have a barking dog, but hated waiting for the full moon. My wife thought I want crazy. LOL
I hope that was not too confusing and helps to answer your questions.
Good luck with your project. If you have other questions feel free to contact me.