Coronet1885

America's Most Historic Yacht

Welcome to the Coronet Blog

Posted By on November 25, 2009

Welcome to the home page for the classic yacht, Coronet.  Coronet was first launched in 1885, and was one of the most elegant sailing yachts of her day.  She was designed for crossing the ocean in style, and featured a marble staircase, stained glass doors, mahogany paneled staterooms, and a piano in the main salon.

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Since 1995, Coronet has been on the campus of the International Yacht Restoration School, awaiting restoration.  Coronet Restoration Partners purchased her in 2006, and restoration has now begun in earnest.

We’ll be following Coronet’s team of shipwrights here as they bring this classic boat back to her former glory.  We’ll cover it all, from harvesting the timber to restoring the original interior.  If you are a builder, a hobbyist, a historian, or just enamored with classic boats, we think you’ll enjoy watching this beautiful vessel come back to life.

If you see this (more…) at the bottom of a post, that means that the post continues on another page.  Just click it and you’ll go to the rest of the post.

Progress through September 2016

Posted By on September 18, 2016

Long overdue update

The crew has finished planking the interior. You may recall that this is all double planked, so it’s quite strong and stiff. Not bad looking either…

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Back aft, a number of sole bearers (the boat version of floor joists) have been installed.

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These land on wooden pads and are secured with through-bolts through angled bronze pieces.

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Above, you can see the curved sky lights.

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The yellow pine ceiling (inner planking) stops just shy of the stem up forward.

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From the outside, you can see the gap. This is a view from the port side, looking into the stem of the boat. The starboard ceiling planking is just visible through the gap, and the built-up stem is on the left in this photo.

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Inside, the sheer clamps are reinforced where they come into the stem with a massive bronze breast hook (the dark metal).

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Back aft, the ceiling goes down almost to the horn timber and rudder post.

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The horn timber is the heavy fore-aft timber that supports the transom, and the rudder post is the large vertical timber going through it.

The crew have also been continuing their work on the exterior double planking. Here you can see the layers as they’re laid up. The blue arrow points to the inner layer. The outer layer is built up on top of that, with the out seams falling in the center of the inner plank.

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The green arrow points to a temporary batten fastened to the frames. It will come off as the planking moves upward.

Rather than have the plank ends that butt up against on another, the team scarfs multiple lengths of planking together to form continuous planking that runs the length of the boat.

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Coronet was originally built with many grown knees to brace and support the deck beams. Here are a number of these knees that were removed during disassembly. You can still see the original fastener holes in them.

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The old knees are being repaired and re-used in the restoration. Here you can see how the holes have been filled with solid wood plugs, and rectangular dutchmen (i.e., patches) are let in to ares where the wood was weak or rotted.

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The knees are then reinstalled in the boat.

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That’s it for now!

Progress through December 2015

Posted By on February 4, 2016

Hi folks,
sorry for the long delays, I have been remiss about getting up to Newport to document this project. Here’s the progress during my visit in December.

The oak lower hull is essentially finished at this point. A few planks still need to be installed, but not many.

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The inner planking, known as the ceiling planking is really moving along. The faying surfaces are painted with red lead paint (the brilliant orange color) to preserve them. The space behind the ceiling won’t be accessed for a very long time.

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The ceiling is double planked yellow pine. Looking aft,

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and looking forward.

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You can see that the port side has been finished and the starboard side is still in progress. The finished port side:

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The starboard side, showing the underlying layer and the top layer coming down from above.

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The semicircles are used to locate the fasteners in the underlying layer. Without these marks, the carpenters wouldn’t know exactly where the screws below were, and could accidentally hit one as they fasten the top layer planking.

The two layers of ceiling planking are glued as well as screwed together. These two layers will help make this a tremendously strong hull.

Planking up to early March 2015

Posted By on April 19, 2015

The topsides planking is now underway. This is the more reddish wood up above the lighter oak.

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The topsides planks will be double planked, rather than carvel planked like the oak below. Double planking, like the name implies, is made up of two layers of planking, laid so that the seams are staggered. Here’s an illustration of a typical installation (thanks to RotDoctor.com for the drawing)

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Double planking is not caulked like carvel planking. The seams are made tight, and the result is often a very smooth hull surface, uninterrupted by plank lines.  Coronet will probably not use an impregnated fabric between the layers.  Instead they will use glue (not sure right now if it will be epoxy or 3M’s 5200 adhesive).

The lower planking is moving along well.

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Staging has been set up high on the hull in preparation for the topsides planking.

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Planking progresses

Posted By on February 2, 2015

Coronet is being planked from the bottom upwards. We are using white oak both for its strength and it’s ability to bend when steamed.  There isn’t a lot of twist at the bow of the boat,

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but the stern is another story entirely.

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There is a tremendous amount of twist where the hull transitions from vertical at the keel to nearly horizontal.

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One way to cope with this transition is to use thinner (in height) planks, called stealers, in the area of the sharpest curve.

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Without the stealers, you need a very thick piece of wood to bridge the same gap that could be bridged by two thinner pieces of wood.

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In this illustration the dark lines show the thickness needed to span a curve, with the dotted lines showing the final consistent thickness of the plank.  The pink lines show the thickness needed for two stealers to bridge the same distance.  You can see that there is much less wasted wood with the two plank solution.

Each plank is cut so that there is a solid wood-to-wood connection between them along the mating inner faces.

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The angle of the mating faces changes along the length of the plank as the shape of the hull changes.  If the boat were shaped like a square box, you could make the edges of all of the planks square (i.e., 90 degrees) and they would fit together perfectly.  Since the planks are going onto a curved surface, you have to bevel the edges so that they mate properly.  Here’s an illustration.

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On the left side you see planks that are fitting up against a curved frame where the mating edges are left square.  You can see that only the outer edges touch, leaving a gap on the inside.  On the right is an illustration of the same planks, with the top plank’s bottom edge beveled to properly mate with the lower plank.  Only the innermost one third of the mating surfaces needs to actually touch. The outer two thirds are opened up to form a caulking bevel.

You can find a nice video of the plank cutting process here.

Here’s a close-up of the caulking bevel.

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It’s good practice to set up your work area with all of the tools that you’ll need close at hand and well-organized.

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While trunnells are the primary fasteners for the planks, the ends are first locked into place using a pair of bronze hanging spikes.  Once the plank is clamped into position, the shipwrights drill two holes into the ends of the plank.

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The drill creates a round hole, but the hanging spike is square in cross-section.  To avoid splitting the end of the plank, the team first drives a specially formed spike into the hole to square up its sides.

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This is driven in just far enough to change the round hole in the plank to a square hole, and then removed.

After this, the bronze hanging spike can be driven in fully.

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The hanging spike is driven in below the surface of the plank, and will be bunged over later.    A backing out punch is used like a large nail set to help drive the spike in completely.

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The ends of each of the lower planks butt up against one another.  This vertical seam is called, unsurprisingly, a butt joint.

In order to avoid butt joints in the topside planking, these planks will be scarfed together to form one long, continuous plank.  Here Eric is working on the jig that will be used to make those tapered scarf joints.

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Planking continues

Posted By on August 17, 2014

The crew has been making steady progress on the hull planking.

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Port side

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Starboard

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The planks are trunnel fastened, with a few bronze hanging spikes to hold everything in place while the trunnels are set.

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The butts are all spiked.

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So are the hood ends.

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In case you’re not familiar with trunnel fastening, it’s a great way to hold planks. The trunnels (aka “tree nails”) are made of locust. They’re often made in a machine that cuts them much like a pencil sharpener cuts a pencil. They’re cut to a set size, and then dried. This shrinks them a tiny bit. When the plank is installed, the carpenters drill holes through the plank and into the frame just a shade smaller (as in a few thousandths) than the trunnel diameter to insure a tight fit. The trunnel has a slot cut into it to accept a thin wedge.

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The trunnel is driven into the plank using a large wooden mallet called a beetle.

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Once the trunnel is driven into the hole, a wedge is set into the slot to lock the trunnel in place. The wedge widens the top of the trunnel ever so slightly and makes it act like the head of a nail.

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As the trunnel gets wet, it expands and further locks into place. Even though the end grain of the trunnel is exposed to the water, the wood is so rot-resistant and compressed, you rarely see them rotting out.

One advantage of fastening with trunnels is that you don’t have to worry about hitting metal fasteners as you fair the hull. They don’t require bungs either, so they speed up the process of planking.

By mid-June, part of the lead ballast keel had been through bolted onto the keel.

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The stairway leading down from the deck into the main salon has been set into place to show its location.

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The deck beams are installed, and lodging knees are going in to brace everything.

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That’s it for now!