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1956 Century Coronado

The Coronados began their production run in 1955. At the time these were quite the boats, much different than the very successful and popular Chris-Crafts that dominated the market. Century was trying to differentiate themselves from the rest of the boating manufacturers by producing a large, glitzy, and very powerful hi-end powerboat for the more affluent buyer. Thus the Coronado. They changed the basic design every two years. The 1955 and 1956 models are the only two Coronados with complete mahogany decks. From then on the front decks would always be of vinyl. I’ve owned numerous Coronados, and in my opinion they are among the very best riding boats ever produced. Plus, they are so beefed up to handle the extra power that they’re nearly bullet-proof if not abused.

This particular Coronado came with the hardtop and very powerful Cadillac 331 engine options. She had experienced very hard use which resulted in two broken chines, a bottom puncture near the driver’s seat, badly cupped rear decks, very tired bottom, and in need of a general makeover with a new finish, interior, and chrome. Where do we start first? Of course, with the bottom. We removed all hardware and rolled her over. This is a very heavy boat and it took four good sized men to accomplish the task. No one was killed or maimed, however, so we were ready to get started. We replaced damaged frames and repaired the two broken sections of the chine. Ninety-five percent of the chine was in good shape, so we believed it a shame and unnecessary to replace it entirely. We spliced in new sections with WEST, and bolted it with a WESTed back-plate for extra strength. The only way now that will break is if it hits a concrete wall doing fifty!

Moving on, all the battens were replaced along with many carriage bolts that had begun to turn green. Although Century used a single-plank, batten/seam bottom, we strongly believe in doing the double planked bottom with Lloyds BS1088 marine plywood inner and mahogany for the outer planks. It’s visually correct and much, much stronger. Once faired we applied two coats of CPES, two coats of 2000e primer, followed with two coats of bronze bottom paint. It turned out very nice, will outlast most of us, and provide the owner years of trouble-free boating with a dry bilge.

Two transom planks were replaced along with the entire rear deck. You’ll note by the photos the old and new wood did not match up very well. We bleached the boat twice, and now you can see how everything matched up nicely prior to staining. The interior kit from A&A has arrived, the gauges are now done, and the chrome should be finished soon. We have two coats of sealer and four coats of Flagship varnish on her. Will apply two more buildup coats before block sanding. Then at least four more coats before painting the attractive white accents. Stay tuned… we’re on the fast track with this one


First dry-fitting the bottom planks, then sealing them with CPES prior to attaching with 5200.

Note below the two transom planks replacement and how the old/new wood does not match up that well…ok, it doesn’t even come close. Then notice how two applications of a good two-part wood bleach brings them back to a more uniform color, making them more conducive for staining. True, we could have replaced all the transom planks and eliminated this problem from the beginning. But as our goal is to preserve as much original wood as necessary, this is only a minor concession to retain as much of its original heritage as possible. Why throw away absolutely good wood if you don’t have to?

Completing the Project …7/31/08

As always, the devil is in the details. We still made our deadline with this beautiful Coronado, but it wasn’t without some stress and some good-ole sweat equity in putting everything back together. I love the Coronados, but they have to be one of the most complicated and busy boats to re-assemble. Once done, however, they are truly stunning. The water test went fine and she runs like a banshee with the large Cadillac…speeds of 50+ mph! A great ride and much room for family and all around entertaining. The Coronados are powerful, tough, dry, roomy, and a great ride while looking fantastic. Century really got it right with these boats.

We hope to do another one just like her some day.

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