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1956 20' Century Coronado

Most of you that follow this site and know classic boats already know the very popular Coronados changed their design every two years. This '56 is the second year of the '55 – '56 series, and one of the best looking in my opinion. These were the only two years they offered all mahogany decks, fore and aft. Beginning in '57 the forward decks were vinyl, retaining mahogany covering boards.

This particular boat came with a teensy-weeny six-cylinder engine...way too small, and almost insultive to an otherwise great boat. So, the first decision made was to repower, and to one of my favorite marine engines....the GM 454 with the 72C Velvet Drive transmission. This is not a period-correct motor for this boat, but the owner doesn't care. It's going to be used on a regular basis and wants something modern that requires less maintenance. This will be a perfect combo. Now this boat will have the legs to perform as she was designed to.

She's getting everything, new 5200 bottom, sides, decks, transom, flooring, upholstery, power, etc., etc. It was also decided to skin the boat with 3m Okume, then glue & screw her back together, making her nearly indestructible. Good choice on this boat, and one the owner will appreciate for years to come. As always, we begin with the bottom and see how bad she really is.

Ok, you get the idea. Some assembly may be required. This is what we like to call a 'boat in a box'. Some pieces are obviously missing, but no worries...we can figure it out as we go.
Some kind of varmint was living in there. Carolyn was there with a knife in her hand just in case something jumped out. Yes, Mike and I snuck up and poked her in the back. Don't worry, after three minutes of CPR she came to and kept working.
Yep, it's pretty bad. What to save, and what to just throw away. Only one decision here, replace everything. You only want to do this once, why not do it right the first time?

Once the bottom is down you're not quite ready to seal and paint. First the chine rails need to go on. We had to make new ones. Remember, the bevel is 15 degrees, and the flat side goes UP (down when the boat is upside down). Before those go on you need to replace the chine strake. As we're skinning the boat we had to pull the planks off first, replace the battens, attaching the 3m Okume skin with 5200, then glue & screw the chine strakes on, then attach the chine rails. Now, finally, you're ready to seal, prime, and paint. It's OK to take some time to think things through before you just jump in and begin working. It saves time and mistakes in the long run.

We'll let it dry for a few days, roll back over then begin re-planking...my favorite part of any restoration.

Coronado Update...

As always when re-planking, we use the router method taught me by my buddy Danenberg. Takes a little longer, but the results are always worth it. We skinned the boat first with 4m Okume 5200'd to the frames. This still allows some flexibility within structure while holding the planks firm. The boat will be much stronger.

Now that she has a half dozen coats of varnish on her, we'll send out for the new trailer and begin on the interior before finishing the varnish work.
1958 19' Century Resorter

Century liked to occasionally push the envelope with their designs. Chris-Craft was obviously their largest competitor...and one they were always trying to get a 'leg up' on. One way they competed was by installing larger, more powerful engines in their boats...usually making them by far the fastest boats on the lake. Or take the Coronado, one of the most 'blingy', yet well built, utilitarian, powerful, and best designed hulls to grace any body of water.

Once such design to shake up the market was the late 50s-early 60s 19' Resorter. It garnered the nomenclature as the 'square nose' or 'carrier deck' model. It featured a large overhang on the forward covering boards at the bow. In addition to the very unique look, it was perhaps the driest of all the mid-sized Centurys ever produced. Running through the water...especially on rough or windy days the water would catch the overhang and be jettisoned aside...keeping passengers dry. Even in spite of this model's many sea-worthy attributes, it proved not to be an overly popular design...most still preferring the sharper, more traditional bow. The run was short, 1958-1962. Today, however, these boats are becoming more and more popular with collectors and everyday users alike for this very unique design.

This particular boat's restoration was begun by its very good-intentioned, yet very busy owner. Sometimes one has the skills and patience to conduct one of these very complex restorations, yet their professional lives (combined with other personal commitments) prevents one for actually completing the project. Then at some point they realize if they want to enjoy the boat on the water in a realistic time frame they need some help. That's where we come in. This boat is to get the 'Full Monte'. She came to us upside down with the bottom already removed and many of the framework already completed. And may I said the owner did a very good job with the work he'd already completed. So here we go...

Although most of the structure had already been attended to by the owner, there were still some areas that needed attention. We replaced the stem/grip and reinforced with new stainless carriage bolts bedded in 5200 We pulled the sides off while she was upside down then replaced all the battens, sealed and then painted with thinned bilge paint. Now it's on to fabricating the inner layer. As most of you already know, Century's bottoms were of single plank-batten/seam construction. I will always believe their bottoms would have lasted much longer had then double-planked their bottoms. So, we always double-plank them, hiding the seams of the inner layer over the frames...it will always look original but be much stronger and obviously provide an extra layer of water tightness.
That's right...ooze is good. Get plenty of it to omit any voids. Scrap off with a putty knife and use for the next plank.
Some have asked what paints/primers we use on the bottoms. We use CPES to seal the bottom once faired (don't skimp), then we prime with Interlux 2000e 2-part primer, then use one of two bottom paints. The first is the traditional Hard Racing Bronze by either Pettit or Interlux. Both of these begin to turn brown after spending even a little time in the water, and will also leave nasty water spots. The other option is a industrial oil based enamel paint that is color matched to the original bronze color. It will not turn in the water and cleans up much easier. We've used it on about a dozen bottoms now and the owners love it...even request it over the traditional bronze.
At first we thought we may be able to use the original hullside/deck planks. After a more thorough examination it was pretty apparent they just would not hold up. We purchased some beautiful African mahogany and fabricated all new planks. Now it's a final sanding and then stain.

Work Continues...

After staining the boat we put on two coats of sealer, let sit for a day or so then tape off and do the deck seams using mahogany colored Sikaflex. Kinda messy, but it will remain somewhat flexible and always produces a good result. After we allow the seams to cure for a few days then we begin varnishing. By varnishing over the seams it produces a very smooth surface for painting white later.

These boats use a very complicated paint scheme on the decks and sides. It takes ours to correctly tape off...going through multiple rolls of tape to get it just right. Then we scuff the areas to be painted with 320 grit, clean, then paint.

The refinish work on this Resorter is now complete...just waiting for the chrome and interior, then we can begin putting her back together.

1929 26' Chris Craft Triple

Some of the coolest boats to ever come out of the Algonac plant was the early triples, so named due to the three cockpits. Long, sleek, and just plain sexy. The designs were stunningly beautiful back then, and remain so today. Chris-Craft was really coming into their own as a premier builder of pleasure boats, and these triples were quickly copied by Hacker, Bell Isle, Gar Wood, and many others. These boats were quite expensive back in the day, demanding as much as a hundred thousand dollars in today's equivalent. Sometimes more. And today these beautiful boats still bring big money.

This is the second boat we're restoring for this client. The first was a 1955 21' Capri (also on this site under the 'Recent Projects' section), which turned out quite beautiful. Now he and his wife want something more historic, truly reminiscent of the dawning of power boating. What can be better than a 1929 Triple-Cockpit. Records also indicate this boat was built not long before the entire boating industry began its unfortunate and near collapse due to the Great Depression. You gotta love it.

We had looked for some time to find a suitable project in original, or at least near-original condition with all her hardware...and preferably the same engine as well. This boat was finally located in Clayton, NY as part of an estate where the owner was a collector and had many exemplarily boats in his possession...some valued in excess of a million dollars. This Triple was one of the projects in the schedule to be restored, but not yet started due to the owners premature passing. It did not have the original engine, but it was available. After some footwork we located the original LM engine on the west coast. So, after a fairly long process we put a deal together for both the boat and engine. The owner was happy, and so were we.

We have dozens of photos of various issues with the bottom structure, so you get the idea. Most the sides were in great shape, and the sides are beautiful...so at this point we plan to reuse them. First we get the bottom structure where it needs to be, then we'll put on our 5200 bottom. Not completely original, but as the owner is going to use this boat a lot he wants something with low maintenance and added strength over the original. As long as we use Chris-Craft's original construction methods...even with the modern adhesive it won't suffer any judging points in the Preserved category.
With the new keel we of course need a new shaft hole. Take an old shaft and have it machined to accept a forstner bit. Get a powerful drill, attach the strut and then a guide block where the shaft will enter the keel to keep it from straying. Then drill at a slower speed applying just enough pressure to gradually make progress. Take your time, otherwise the bit will dull right away.
Now we'll get started on the hullsides. Fun so far.