America's Most Historic Yacht

Back in the saddle

Posted By on May 5, 2013

Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve updated.  We’ll be doing monthly updates very soon now.  In the meantime, here are some progress shots from January 2013.


This is the main skylight at Jeff’s workshop in California.  Pretty impressive, I’d say!

The boat is almost entirely framed now.  The last frame will go in over Memorial Day weekend, and there will be much celebrating to mark this milestone.



The shape of the boat is very clear now.

More soon!

A look back

Posted By on December 23, 2012

Here’s a collection of photos from throughout the restoration. We’ll start with some old pics just to remind us of where the project started.


Ok, that’s going back quite a bit. Maybe not that much.


Here we go. This is the day that Coronet arrived at the IYRS campus. She’s just now coming off of the barge. One of the first tasks once she was in the building was to assess the condition of her structure.


This required taking off planking to see how the frames were doing. Most of them were not doing well.

The interior had been carefully removed, catalogued, and stored earlier. The deck was pretty much gone, so it was removed.


You can see a deck beam here, bracketed by two lodging knees. Any parts that could be saved, were marked and stored.

The same went for any of the mechanicals or hardware.


The team had access to a a half-model of Coronet. In the old days, the patterns for frames and other major parts didn’t come from a naval architect’s drawings, they came from the half hull. The half hull was made by the ship’s designer, and then measured as accurately as possible. These measurements were then scaled up to create the full-sized patterns used to build the boat.


Here, Eric and Chris are measuring the model using instruments that will give them measurements in the thousandths of inch range. These, along with measurements of the actual hull, were used by the project’s naval architect to create the drawings that are now used for the restoration.


Those early measurements eventually led to patterns that give us this:


While many of Cornet’s new floors are bronze, all of her original floors were of the “long arm / short arm” variety.


One of the problems facing the team was that the massive stock for these types of floors is nearly impossible to find. The bronze floors will last longer, be less expensive, and be stronger than the original floors. Nevertheless, wherever feasible, the traditional floors are incorporated into the boat.

Bob, Coronet’s owner, is an avid woodworker.


The team in Newport has built the forms for the skylights and steam bent wood for them.

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Bob has worked with Jeff (the project director) to construct the mahogany skylights and companionways.


He also carved Coronet’s name into the transom.


You don’t normally get owners who enjoy getting into the building aspect of the boats that they own!

More recent pics coming soon.

Progress through the October 2012

Posted By on November 28, 2012

There is always a variety of work to be done around the shop. Since good wood is always at a premium, it’s practical to fix good stock that has a simple defect rather than reject it outright.

This shipwright is cutting out around a knot. He’ll glue in a triangular patch, called a “dutchman” in its place.

The frame pattern will only cut through a part of the patch, and since the futtocks are doubled up, there will be a negligible loss of strength in the frame.

As the framing progresses, the sweep and curve of the hull become more obvious.

There are also little side projects that make the shop a better place. This shipwright is cutting out dados for a new sandpaper shelf.

This is what he ended up with.

Organization helps the shop run much more smoothly.

And of course, there’s the daily work of patterning out futtocks,

and then setting up the building floor

with the mylar patterns of the completed frames.

Leading of course, to putting the frames together.

The new floors are being attached as the frames go in.

Everywhere we can save an original floor, it’s incorporated into the structure.

The same goes with deck beams.

By August, fifteen frames had been installed aft.

Sixteen by September.

Eighteen by October


And so the work goes steadily on. Here the crew are cutting rolling bevels into the frames.

Coronet’s last captain, Tim Murray, had commented earlier about the skylights that were positioned in their approximate locations during the transom reveal in July. Bob, Coronet’s owner built these.

Awaiting the day when they’ll be installed for real…

Progress through June 2012

Posted By on November 24, 2012

In an effort to keep things more current, I’ll be doing shorter posts to keep the task at a manageable size. I may also include less text, since sometimes the thing that stops me is coming up with a coherent theme for each entry.

Thirteen frames have been installed at the aft end of the boat.

Eighteen frames are now up at the forward end.

Remember those huge piles of futtock stock? You may have wondered how they keep track of all this material. No? I did. Each end has been numbered and that number is connected to a particular futtock.

And is there a map of where each piece is located on the shop floor? Only in the heads of the shipwrights…

One of the challenges of working with long lengths of wood arises when you have to join two edges together along a long span. Take the planking that makes up the transom skin for instance.

The inner and outer layers are edge-joined, and you want those joints to be perfect. In the old days, the edges would have been planed flat using a jointer plane.

The long bed of the jointer plane rides over the slight bumps and hollows of the work, planing off only the high spots. This eventually leaves a very flat, straight edge that can be joined seamlessly to another flat edge. The boards were held stationary and the tool was moved over the edge to be jointed.

With the age of power tools came stationary power tools that did this same job.

The board to be jointed is moved over the long beds of this tool, and a rotating cutter head (hidden underneath the orange guard) cuts off the high areas, just like the hand plane would. So, instead of moving the tool over the work, the work is moved over the tool with these big machines. This is fine as long as the board is not so long as to be unwieldy. For longer boards, it’s easier to keep the board stable and move the tool.

However, using a jointer plane is slow, so the crew use a third method to get a dead-flat edge along their boards. They get one board perfectly straight using hand tools, and then use that board as a guide for a power tool like a router.

The top board is the guide, and the board underneath it is being worked on. The guide is tacked to the work so that it doesn’t move. The router has a bearing that rides along the edge of the top board, and a cutter that is exactly in line with that bearing.

Image courtesy of

As the bearing rides along the upper guide, the cutters below cut a perfectly straight line in the wood below. The result is an edge that mirrors the shape of the guide. This method is not just good for making long, straight edges, it’s good for replicating any shape from the guide to the work.

When you have as many boards being joined as are in the transom, you want to have a method that is fast and accurate like this.

There are always side project to be done as well. Here, Jono is working on a metal working vise.

He’s cleaned everything and is now putting on a coat of protective metal paint.

Big vises like this have a long foot that extends down to the ground. This stabilizes the vise and keeps the jaws from flexing down when parts held in the jaws are struck with a hammer. If the vise was simply mounted to a table top, each blow would flex the table top down a bit, and you’d lose some of the hammer’s energy into that flex.


Coronet’s transom

Posted By on November 10, 2012

Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve managed to get an update in.  My apologies to all.  Expect more frequent updates in the future!

One of the biggest changes over the summer has been the installation of Coronet’s transom. By June, Eric had completed the framework and hoisted it up to check the fit.

The structure is massive once you get close to it.

Here’s the view from just forward of the transom looking aft. The diagonal bracing is temporary. (more…)