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1957 Century Coronado

We’re always excited when we get a Coronado in the shop, and part of the reason is my love of these boats.  Please don’t misunderstand, I have a passion for all of these classic powerboats… it’s just that I have a special place in my heart for the Coronados as I own two of them and believe they are about the best wood boat ever manufactured.  

The ’57 was the first year of the new design change in the ’57-’58 models… and they were pretty awesome when they came out.  Larger in length and width than their ’55-’56 predecessors they were still very fast, offered even more interior room, and continued to provide that great ride.  Bottom line… they’re just cool boats and increasing in value every year as more and more boaters are recognizing their finer points. 

A gentleman from Alabama had seen a couple of these on his lake down south, always admired them and then decided he was going to have one.  He contacted us about finding one with the Cadillac power (good choice) and in complete condition.  We looked at more than one before deciding on a boat located up in Michigan.  It had a Hemi in it, but we felt confident a Caddy could be found for power.  We brought the boat back to the shop and started making our list of all that needed to be done… which is a lot.  After pulling the Hemi (which we’ve since sold to another client who’s having us put it in his ’55 Coronado project), we heard Dave Van Ness on the east coast had one.  He did indeed have one in rough condition and is now remanufacturing the motor for this boat.

Ok, enough of the background on this classic.  The bottom was leaking quite badly and part of the reason is fiberglass was laid over the original bottom.  As always, the wood has rotted from the inside out and the fiberglass just started falling off… I mean really (as in literally) falling off.   So you know by now that’s where we start.  When the bottom is done we are going to re-plank the boat, do a glue & screw, new interior, flooring, gauges, chrome, etc, etc.  The only thing we’re not going to do is put back on the hardtop.  The owner does not want that on, so we’re going to put that up for sale in case anyone out there is looking for one.

Ok, Ok… so she needs a little work.  A couple hundred dollars and a few weekends should do the trick.  Oh yeah, will you pass me another pint of Grey Goose while you’re at it?   Actually, we love these kind of projects… the ‘Full Monte’ as we call them.  Nothing is more satisfying than taking a tired ole gal like this Coronado and giving her the full makeover.   Now, let’s get started…

So that’s where the water was coming in…

I think we can re-use most of this… just add a little epoxy.  (Only kidding)

A new bottom transom frame, keel, chines, multiple frames, chine splash rails, etc. were badly needed before the new 5200 bottom could be put on.  May as well do it right the first time, then she will not be problematic down the road.

Now, it’s rolling her back over and moving to the hullside planks.


Once we rolled her back over the old planks were removed, battens were replaced,  framework checked and repairs made, and new planking fabricated.

You can’t beat the router method for getting the tightest plank seams possible.  Yes, it does take longer as you need to have the proper set-up.  But once you see the tight seams it makes all that extra effort worthwhile.  Just take your time and do it right.  Be sure to have the proper width spacers and change your router blade every few planks, otherwise you’ll get splintering.

We always stain the decks first, masking off the bottom section to catch any drips.  When preparing your stain, make up 30%-50% more than you think you’ll need, as boats always take more than you plan on.  Then when you have stain left over put it back in one of the cans and mark it for your boat.  That way if you need some later for touch up you’ll have the same mix and it’ll match.  Be sure you have all your rags cut and ready before getting started.  We like to use old varnish brushes for staining.  It’s a better quality brush and makes applying the stain much easier with no shedding of the brush.

Now it’s on to sealing, varnishing, and finally painting the white accents.
******UPDATE****** March 26, 2012
This Coronado is really coming together. The refinish work takes a little longer with the white accents…getting the shapes exactly right. You tape off, pull off, then tape off again…pull off again, and so it goes until you step back for the umpteenth time and compare it to the original factory photos to make sure it's correct. It took hours just to tape off correctly. But, as always, taking your time and giving all your attention to details results in the look you want.
Now it's on to the chrome, upholstery, engine, and re-assembly before she's ready for the water. Not long now.
Finishing the project...
We've done a lot of Coronados over the years, and this '57 may be the most difficult yet. A lot of flash and 'bling' makes these particular models both breathtaking when done yet quite challenging to finish. Fortunately our Alabama client was most patient with us while we required some extra time to get her just right, which she deserves. A lot of time was spent making some engine compartment modifications to accommodate the large Cadillac power, including the addition of a hatch scoop to allow proper breathing of the dual quads. Still, pretty awesome. Anyway, we're very proud of the boat and how she turned out I'll let the photos do the talking. Oh, many have asked what the transom name 'Junipero' is for. Well, it's our client's favorite gin.
Just love these Coronados! And it drives/handles just as nice as it looks.