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1963 21' Century Coronado

This is the first year of the '63-'64 model run for the Cornados. As most of you know, the Coronados began production in 1955 with significant cosmetic changes every two years. Many don't realize the wood Coronados were only produced a total of thirteen years; 1955-1968. The '63-'64 models were produced in the lowest numbers of all the Coronados. This was mainly due to the economic conditions at the time. That, and the hi-end boating public were not all that crazy about the model change after the very popular '61 and '62 models…which many proclaim as the most beautiful of all the Coronados.

Even though the Coronados are, in my opinion, one of the more difficult and complicated boats to properly and accurately restore, they are truly one of the greatest of all woodies ever manufactured. They're overbuilt structurally to handle the large power options, have a great utilitarian layout, fast, and are great looking.

Ok, enough of the history lesson and my own two cents on this classic. This particular boat came off of Lake Geneva and had been in storage for several years. A restoration was started and then halted due to some unknown personal reasons, and then placed into storage until she came to our shop. The bottom had been removed, and it was at that point work ceased. After we stripped the boat and rolled her over it was soon pretty obvious why work stopped. Everything below the waterline was completely rotted. I'm sure the previous owner is still recovering from what was to be a huge restoration fee.

We're replacing the bottom structure, installing a new 5200 bottom, skinning, gluing and screwing on the existing hull planks (which are in quite good condition considering how bad the bottom is). The vinyl decks will be replaced with beautiful ribbon-striped African mahogany, and a ventilating wood windshield to accommodate a large Bimini top. This boat is going to be heavily used and made to be quite comfortable while adding some cosmetic improvements.

The best part of the boat was a freshly restored Buick (Gray) 401 outputting 310 HP. So, I don't think she'll be doing much trolling for Walleye. This kind of power will turn a 14x16 prop.

Yes, every piece of wood below the water line had to be replaced…frames, chines, stem, gripe, keel, kitchen sink…ok, maybe not that. Anyway, you can see how much was involved. It took us an entire day to get all of this done (that's using the Tibetan calendar where a day is the same as a month). Now she's as good as new and will no longer need that chiropractor.
After installing the Okume inner layer (which we do on all boats, even Centurys), we dry fit all the outer planks leaving that important 'penny' gap to allow the 5200 to ooze and allow for minor expansion. They're pulled off, sealed with CPES and allowed to dry overnight. Now it's on to bedding those planks with 5200.
We decided to go ahead and skin and re-plank the boat while she's upside down.
We prefer to 5200 3m Okume to the frames & battens using drywall screws as temporary fasteners until the adhesive cures. Then we remove the fasteners and then epoxy (glue) the planks back on after all sides of the skin and planks receive a coat of CPES. This makes a much stronger hull and will eliminate the plank seam movement that occurs naturally in these old boats.

Some say this this just won't last, but the first boat we glued and screwed more than twenty years ago (a Riviera) still looks just as good as the day she left the shop. That said, I'm a believer if it's done properly.
1963 Coronado...finishing the project

Once rolled over we decided to take some liberties with the cosmetics of the standard Coronado for that year. As this is going to be our new user boat for family entertaining, river cruising, etc., judging points based on authenticity was not an issue. We're gluing and screwing the boat together to make it stronger and keep the wood stable regardless of the environment.

It already had rear mahogany decks, but the forward decks were vinyl and raised. We lowered all the forward deck frames so it would be flush with the covering boards and added battens where the live seams would fasten. Quite a task, but it worked out quite nice.

We also went for a more classic look by replacing the vinyl covered ceiling boards with ribbon African mahogany. Yeah, pretty darn nice. Now here's the tricky part. Jan often gets quite warm on sunny days behind the windshield with no air flow. Sure, we can install a bimini top...but still no air flow. Why not fabricate a wood (more attractive) ventilating windshield so we can indeed get some air flow on those hot days. Without any patterns to work from we used photos from a Grand Craft we were familiar with and made some drawings and just started making the darn thing. It's a lot more difficult than you think. There are tens of pieces in this windshield and none of them are straight. David did most of the design and fabrication. Our goal was to make it appear streamlined, porportional with the rest of the boat, extremely sturdy, and with invisible hinges for the panels that move out for ventilation. It must have taken at least 20-30 minutes to draw and fabricate that darn thing. OK, try off and on for two weeks. But it turned out much better than we could have hoped.
Once finished with the windshield we removed it as one piece, as it's a lot easier to sand, stain, and varnish. It fastens from underneath the forward deck and covering boards...so no visible fasteners.
We also fabricated new split forward seats and the rest of the furniture as well. We pulled out all the stops.
Now that we have all the fabrication, sanding and bleaching done...what colors do we use? I decided a very attractive combination would be with Chris-Craft red stain with black king planks, covering boards and sheer plank (the sheer plank was also black on the '63 Coronado). A last touch was going with black deck seams rather than white...and it was a good decision as it just sets the boat off. It does have a Gar Wood look on the decks...that was not intended but looks great just the same.
Finally, she's done...and quite beautiful if I don't say so for myself and the rest of the crew. And with the Buick 401 she scoots right along too. All this because Jan was tired of getting warm behind the windshield. I know, I'm such a putz.