Mix flour, 2 cups sugar, salt, and baking powder; add shortening and milk. Beat well. Beat in eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread batter in three greased and floured 9 inch round pans.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cool, and remove from pans.
Mix 3 cups sugar, corn syrup, and 1 cup boiling water in a saucepan; boil until mixture spins thread. Beat egg whites until stiff. Pour syrup over egg whites, beating constantly. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla to flavor the icing. Frost cake, and sprinkle with coconut.