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1956 20' Century Coronado

All of you know my warm feelings towards the Coronados.  This 1956 model is the second year of this versatile and powerful utility classic.  It will always be one of my favorites.  My own user boat right now is a Cadillac powered ’56.  This particular ’56 comes from my home state of Indiana and is powered with the 331 Hemi…a popular option that year.  The stock Hemi, though, weighing in at nearly 1200 pounds with a rating of 195HP makes it a rather inefficient engine.  Most owners with this engine have had them ‘boosted’ up…some with more than 300HP.  That’s the beauty of the Hemi; you can do so much with them.

Anyway, the owner and I had talked some time earlier about his boat needing some attention when, during vacation with his young family, he called to say the boat took on much water to the point of it being unusable.  After dropping the boat off at the shop it was clear to see why.  As with most original-bottom Centurys of that vintage she had much rot near the transom, including a fairly significant hole on the rear chine plank.  Our task is to replace the bottom, complete strip and refinish, re-chrome, tweak and detail the Hemi power, and new upholstery and flooring.  So, let’s get started on the important stuff first… the bottom and overall structure of the boat.

The Coronados are ‘over-built’ boats in many respects to accommodate for the large power plant options they offered.  In other words…they are very heavy.  Once we got her properly braced up it took five of us to roll her over, and three got hernias.  (No, not really…it was just one.)  More bottom problems became apparent once upside down.  The photos tell the tale.  As always, we repair what we can and replace the rest.  The chine had pulled away from frames in a couple of areas, so we also had to pull that back in with long bar clamps, and then re-bolt to the frames.  Old battens are never reused and always replaced with new, and then the framework is sealed with CPES and painted with thinned bilge paint to get those in-accessible areas and provide a better surface for the inner Okume ply…which we always do on Centurys.  Again, Century used single plank batten-seam bottoms, but we will only replace them with double planked bottoms.  It only makes sense while you have it in this condition and the cost differential is insignificant.


Allllll-righty-then.  I guess a photo really is worth a thousand words.  And guess what?  Most of these problems can exist without the owner even knowing about them…other than gobs and gobs of water finding its way into the bilge.  It’s clear the Hemi was leaking some pretty major oil as its residue was over everything.  We had to spray the bottom structure with de-greaser and then power-wash to clean it up before proceeding.  Once we could actually see the bottom we noticed a few cracked frames, the always infamous triple-laminated bottom transom frame was trashed, along with the stringer plywood supports, and finally a 1” hog in the keel.  All was dealt with before moving on to replacing the battens.

Ok, now the bottom is looking like it should after applying the inner with 5200 and dry-fitting the outer mahogany planks.  Next…putting them down.

After we applied two coats of CPES we let dry over night and begin the next day putting down the planks over a liberal layer of 5200.  We just do one side a day, as it takes a lot of time and can be quite exhausting.  Don’t want to overdo all in one day as that’s when accidents and mistakes occur.


Be sure to apply enough of the adhesive to allow ample ‘oozing’ between plank seams and the butt joints.  If you have to error, do so on using too much and not too little.


Now it’s on to the topsides.  Some could be saved, but most not.  So while we’re here it’s just better to replace and not worry about it later.


Ok, I’m jumping from the final fairing, staining, and varnishing right to our final painting of the white sections. 


Here’s the before and after photos of the marvelous 331 Hemi…


This was a pretty big project with a classic on it’s last breaths, but with some patience and perseverance she turned out quite beautiful.  Hope you like her as much as we do.


Here’s a good shot of one coming out and one getting ready to come in…


Yep, I just love these boats… who wouldn’t?