A huge thanks to fellow Woody Boater Ned Protexter for sending us in this wonderful story about his barn findish. Man oh man, its so cool to see this going on! There is Hope! Long live Ned Protexter and his Century!
Barn Find…Kinda 1963 Century Coronado – Lake Okoboji, Iowa
Three years ago, I was sitting at my desk when my dad called and goes “I found you a wood boat.” Now we usually use the “I found you a ….” When we either find something that is a complete wreck or something way outside our price range, so I didn’t get too excited at first but told him to send me some pictures. What he sends me are some out of focus phone pictures of a 1963 and a 1964 Century Coronado that had been taken out of storage and put by the side of the highway with a for sale sign on it. Couldn’t really tell the condition but it didn’t look bad.
Let’s rewind a bit to how the boat got to that spot to begin with. The owner had a 1964 Coronado and on the night of the 4th of July, 1967 was coming out of Arnolds Park docks and headed home. He hit an anchored boat that didn’t have any lights. Seeing that he was taking on water, he headed for shore but sank a couple hundred feet out. They brought the boat up the next morning and it had a hole in it that you could stick your head through about where the bilge pump drains but on the starboard side. The owner must have liked this style of boat but not enough to have it repaired. His neighbor had a 1963 which he bought and used into the 1970’s as the last registration sticker on it is 1978. At that time, I am guessing it went into storage alongside the 1964 around that time where they sat until 2016 when the building was sold to Parks Marina of Lake Okoboji, Iowa.
So back to April of 2016, here are two Coronados sitting on the side of the highway with for sale signs on them, both priced the same, the 1963 in decent shape, the 1964 with a hole in it with some broken frames and things pushed out of alignment. At this time, I’m living two states away but hear about this guy named Royce Humphreys so I give him a call.
He says the 1963 looks like a good boat and shouldn’t be too different than bringing an old car back to life for the most part. I called up Parks, told them I’ll take it and to put it back in the building until I can come pick it up. At this point I start to wonder if I did the right thing. I bought a boat sight unseen two states away from where I now live based on blurry cell phone pictures and a recommendation from at that time a stranger. What is the saying about a fool and his money?
Fast forward a couple months and I am back in Iowa and the Iowa Great Lakes chapter of the ACBS is having their rendezvous. I went down to the show and met Royce and Alex Kent who said he could get me into the building where my boat was to see it. Up until this point, I had only seen the phone pictures. The next weekend, we went to the building and this is what I saw: (Picture)
All in all, the boat was in sound shape. It was filthy, having sat in a dirt floor building since the 1970’s but it was all there and not beat up. The bottom seemed solid enough, the only thing that looked rough was the interior. The engine was free and didn’t have any visible freeze cracks and everything moved and shifted that should. I left there feeling pretty good about it.
Over the next month, I found a rickety old rusted out trailer, took measurements and made a couple trips to the lake to make sure the boat would fit on the trailer. After some late nights welding and praying, I thought it would be good enough to make it the 100 miles home. The Saturday came to pick up the boat and it fit right down on the trailer. The trip home was uneventful and luckily for me, it fit inside the garage with an inch to spare.
Over the winter, my brother Nate did a lot of the cleaning and drop light holding and I replaced the wear parts, hoses, filters, ect. The gas tank was practically empty with very little in it, so I sucked out what was and dumped in some diesel fuel to clean up the bottom of the tank. In the spring I pulled the boat out of the garage and fired the engine up. Besides it blowing a cup of rust out, it ran better than expected and we were ready to start soaking the bottom.
It is a little troubling putting a hose in the haul and the water leaks out as fast as it goes in. After a day or so it decided to swell enough to hold water for a while. Over the next week I would spray it down in the morning, at lunch, evening, and right before bed. Each day got better and better. We were scheduled for that weekend to bring it to the lake and put both my boat and Alex’s 25 Sportsman in the hoists.
The weekend came and we got up to the lake without any problem. Friday night I backed the boat down the ramp for a final soak before the big day. That Saturday morning, we sent the girls off to yoga and we moved boats around for most of the morning. Alex’s sportsman went in the water and onto the hoist just how it should. Next was the Coronado. The trip from the ramp to his house was short and uneventful. Once we got it on the hoist, I noticed it was leaking in the driveshaft, so we tightened that up. Also, the new bilge pump was not working which turned out to be a fuse. We let the boats soak and went for a ride later that day. It was a good feeling knowing the last year of work payed off.
So far, we have only used the boat for that summer but use it we did. we waterskied, tubed, and used it like we would a modern boat. The plan is to do work on it over the winters and still be able to use it in the summer. I bought a new interior kit from A&A Marine and they did a great job. I’d like to refasten the bottom if it needs it and then refinish all the brightwork and painted wood before installing the interior.
I’d like to thank my dad for spotting the boat and letting me use some garage space for storage and brother Nate for helping me get it going again. Royce for help along the way and Jon Brooks for helping tune the Chrysler 426. I’d also like to thank Alex for all the help both physically and mentally keeping me going on the boat. Having a friend with the passion for the same things really helps you stay motivated.
Finally, I’d like to thank my wife Jill who puts up with things such as “Would you want to go to a honeymoon down in Florida in the middle of March? Yes, it’s for a boat show” and “Hey can you work the registration booth for the boat show tomorrow? Yes? OK great, it starts at 7am but I’m leaving at 5am so be on the dock at 4:50am.” Without her being accepting and willing to help with the boat it would not have been as enjoyable as it has been.