Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

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Glen-L Marine Designs - 9152 Rosecrans Ave. - Bellflower, CA 90706

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • Don't miss the very special New Year's message from the founder of Glen-L Marine Designs in the "Designer's Notebook" section of this month's WebLetter (below). He has some very important thoughts which he'd very much like to share with all of you.

  • Have you made your reservations yet for The Gathering of Boatbuilders 2010? It will be held this coming September and last I heard even thought it's only the 1st of January, more than 25 floating (on the lake) cabins had already been reserved by Glen-L boatbuilders - don't wait too long and miss out on what every year becomes a larger, friendlier, more fun event!

  • Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year from all of us at Glen-L!

Until next month . . .      

Fitting Oars to the Boat


Shaw & Tenney, longtime oar manufacturer in Orono, Maine, has published a guide for sizing oars to your boat. The aim is to come as close as you can to achieving an oar length that gives you a 7:18 leverage ratio. Using this ratio will put 7/25 of the oar's length inboard of the oarlock and 18/25 of the oar's length outboard of the oarlock.

To calculate your boat's best oar size, begin by measuring one-half the boat's width between the oarlocks in inches. Add 2 inches to that measurement and then divide the sum by 7. Next, multiply the result by 25. Then, divide by 12 to get your distance in feet. Finally, round your answer to the nearest half-foot (6 inches) to get your proper oar length in feet.

The skiff illustrated above is 9'6" long and has a total width between oarlocks (measured at the amidships rowing station) of 3'10" (i.e. 46 inches). One-half of the width between oarlocks is 23 inches.

To apply the formula for best oar size:
Begin by adding 2" to that 23" measurement, which gives us 25 inches.
Then divide 25" by 7, which equals 3.6 inches.
Next, multiply the result by 25, which is 90 inches.
Now divide by 12 to get your distance in feet, in this case: 90"÷ 12 = 7 ft. 5 inches (7' 6").
Finally, round your answer to the nearest half-foot (you're already there). Your oars should be 7' 6".

Shaw & Tenney website

Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Peter Tonkin - Bo Jest

Hi Glen-L Team - Greetings from down under!

As you will see by the attached pictures my Bo Jest is now complete and on the water. I can tell you that the build from start to finish has been an absolute joy and I have had very few moments of frustration or disappointment.

She is officially named "ShellyKeel" after my twin girls Shelby and Keely. We took her away on holidays and the 20HP diesel inboard and 80 litres of fuel carried us over 400 Kilometres with still an inch of fuel left in the bottom of the tank when we finished.

Anyone who has owned or built a Bo Jest knows that they are not built for speed. Her average speed over the 400k was 5 knots with an absolute top speed (with tail wind) of 9 knots....but why bother; she does 6.5 knots at 2300 revs (silently) and top speed at 3400 revs for a lot of noise and bluster.

I have had her out in the open ocean and while I wouldn't say she is an open water boat she preformed fantastically well in two metre seas.


A ZIP-Builder's Diary

by Dave Coleman, San Francisco Bay Area, California

"The little boat is GREAT! We took it out again and got lots of nice comments.
Like, "What year is it?" - they couldn't believe it is a 2009.
The little 25 horse Honda pushes it up to about 25 mph even with 4 adults, a baby, 2 ice chests, and a bunch of picnic gear."

Here are the notes from my ZIP building experience to date, more or less in chronological sequence. I've declared the boat DONE since I launched it August 2009.

I expect some more fine-tuning as I use it. Any comments or questions are welcome. It was a great project, larger than I expected, but I had fun and I'm very pleased with the result.

Location - My garage is way too small even for a ZIP so I built a small 8x15 deck on the side of the house. I built the deck frame to last but I know the top would be thrashed by my boat building efforts so I put down cheap 3/4" flooring ply and painted it. My plan is to pull it up later after it rots (I give it about a year) and put down better decking. It was raining here in Northern California when I started building the boat (Feb 2009) so I'd work when it was dry then cover the boat with a tarp.

Frames - I used Sipo, real nice hardwood, not quite as expensive as Honduran mahogany, but looking about the same. For screwing into it I had to predrill giant holes and wax the screws. I struggled for a while with the Frearson screw heads, trying to use Phillips drivers. I finally saw the light and got a Frearson (Reed Prince) screwdriver and ordered the Frearson bits from Glen-L.


Designer's Notebook: … a belated "THANKS"

As a New Year comes into being, most take time out to do a little contemplating. While doing my share the other day it suddenly came to me that I have been very neglectful and unappreciative.

I have always liked building things, especially tangible usable things, like boats. I started as a kid and through the years have been able to do what I like most and earn a living doing it. The fun of being able to start off with an idea and a white sheet of paper and transpose that into a useable product, for me is heaven on earth. And then, to see others take my fun (work?) and use it to create their own enjoyment, well, that's truly a double blessing.

But all this would not have been possible without builders like you. Yes, each and every one of you Glen-L builders have contributed so much to my well-being over the years.

So PLEASE, may I offer my belated THANKS and APPRECIATION for what you have done for me? Without you it wouldn't have been possible.

To each and every one of you I wish a VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON.

A New Outboard

My boat plans specified
Only a modest outboard
Since that's what I had
I was in complete accord

But as the years went by
That engine got weaker
A new one is required
I am now a power seeker

New outboards abound
All have power to spare
They have now gone green
For true environmental care

These motors are complicated
Their fuel is often injected
Computers are used to see
Air and water are not affected

Four stroke is what most are
Though one or two are not
But they all weigh a good deal
I'll have to give that some thought

Their shafts are longer too
Short shafts are getting rare
I must strengthen the stern and
Raise up the transom with care

When I have the new outboard
I'll show it off with a splash
All the effort will be worth it
Now, if I can just find the cash


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

Inboard Propeller
Installation Procedures

  1. Push propeller snugly onto shaft taper WITHOUT key in either keyway (propeller or shaft).

  2. Make sure the propeller is snug and there is no side to side movement by gently moving propeller back and forth.

  3. Make a line on the shaft with a non-graphite marker at the forward end of the propeller where it stops up against the shaft taper.

  4. Remover propeller.

  5. Put key into keyway on shaft taper with radiused or chamfered corners down in shaft keyway (if propeller shaft keyway has radiused corners).

  6. Put propeller onto shaft taper.

  7. Check to see that the propeller moves back to the forward line made in Step 3. If it does, skip down to Step 8. If not, perform the following:
    1. Remove propeller from shaft.

    2. Place a file on a flat surface area or work bench.

    3. Run opposite end of chamfered key back and forth over file (to remove any burrs) with a downward pressure on key until side being filed is clean.

    4. Install cleaned key in shaft keyway with chamfered corner side down in shaft (the cleaned, filed side up in keyway).

    5. Replace the propeller on the shaft and fit snugly on taper. Check to see if it reaches the line made as in Step 7. If it does not line up then repeat Steps "a" through "e".

      NOTE: A vise can be used to hold key while it is being filed, but care must be taken not to overly tighten the vise which can cause burrs and irregularities on the key.

  8. When propeller hub moves to correct position, install propeller nut on shaft and torque to seat the propeller. Install the torque jam nut also, if your shaft is so equipped.

  9. Install cotter pin at end of the shaft.

Harold the boatbuilder

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.

The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."

Shop Talk: Useful Racks

Overhead Tool Rack

If your project or workstation is in the middle of your shop/garage/carport/barn, there often isn't an electrical outlet nearby in which to plug your power tools. Of course, trailing an extension cord across the floor is a safety hazard, so why not hang a strip of outlets above your workstation? With the cords running up there is less of a chance of tripping on them or accidently cutting through them. To make it even more useful, attach the outlet strip to a plywood tool rack which can also store tools and clamps near your work area.

As you can see in the drawing, there's not much to this tool rack. You just cut a piece of ¾" plywood to shape and screw a power strip vertically in the middle of it.

Then to hang it from the ceiling, drill two holes in the long end and hang it from a pair of bicycle hooks that are screwed into a cleat attached to the ceiling. This way the power strip/tool rack can be easily removed if you need the extra space for working on a tall project.

Next, make a couple of shelves and holders for the power tools you use most often, such as a sander, drill, and/or jig saw. All that's left is to run an extension cord across the ceiling and plug in the outlet strip.

Pickup Plywood Rack

You may have discovered that hauling large sheets of plywood in a small pickup truck isn't a good match. So to make your truck a little more accommodating, build a simple plywood rack.

The rack is made from common 2x4s. As you can see in the drawing, it's nothing more than three supports connected with two cross rails. The rear cross rail is positioned just behind the tail gate to keep the rack from sliding. Be sure to position the front rail to clear the wheel wells of the truck.

The detail drawing shows how the supports and rails are fastened together with hex bolts and lock nuts. The heads of the bolts and nuts are counter-bored to prevent damage to the sheet stock or the truck.

You can also place washers between the supports and cross rails. This will allow you to easily fold the rack and store it out of the way when it's not in use.

Recent email:

Subject: A Poem for your WebLetter

"BOAT NAMES" by Ernest Bumby

A name for my boat
Has been a chore,
Many different names,
Yet each was a boor.

I tried "Will of the Wisp,"
"Dry Waves Clapping,"
"Mechanic's Dream."
Then "Tap, Tap, Taping?"

"Aweigh In A Manger,"
"This Boat's For You,"
"Lofted to Float,"
Or "Just Blue."

The inter-net I looked
There were names aplenty,
I wanted one special,
Not just any.

Then I thought
It just could be,
The right name is
"Poet's Tree!"

-- Ernest Bumby
Farmington, New Mexico

Subject: Glen-L Calendar

Thanks for the great calendar this year!! I'll have you know the Glen-L calendar has replaced my long-standing subscription to the "Ghosts" calendar (vintage WWII airplanes) as the "official" calendar in my office.

Now, if I could just find a copy of "I've Got Boats to Build" to play in the background, I'd be set!!!

Happy New Year to you and yours.

-- Dan Crummett
an Oklahoma boat racer and boat builder wannabe

Subject: Fond Memories

Hi Gayle. I sure enjoyed your bio on your fond memories of boating. My experience with boating is that of a licensed skipper for 65 ton vessels, most of which were stink pots. I delivered yachts up and down the East coast and on the Great lakes.

Whenever I was hired to deliver a rag bagger I was in my glory. Sailing is the fondest of all my memories. Especially in the fall when the winds are steady and moderate.

As you know I am building the Fancy Free. This boat has become my "other woman", however this has not disturbed my wife as she is just as proud of the "Alexandria" as I. I am about two-thirds done and plan on a May launching.

My sons reminded me the difference between a power boater and a sailor is the power boater is in a hurry to get to a party; the sailor takes the party with him.

Merry Christmas and a very happy prosperous new year.

-- Gale Elenbaum
Marietta, South Carolina

Subject: 2009 Gathering of Glen-L Boatbuilders

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed "The Gathering" this year. Meeting you, John and Allyn, as well as all the "boat people" was a delight.

The DVD of the weekend looks great and the interviews are just wonderful.

Thank you for allowing me to do this project for you. It was truly a great experience, and I'm blessed to be able to work with such nice people.

-- Chris Dixon
Vineyard Productions, Marietta, Georgia

Subject: Sissy Do

Just thought that I would drop a line and show you a few pictures of a Sissy Do that my dad and I built about 22 years ago in our basement. Though not used much, this boat has taken lots of punishment and is still going strong!

I just re-powered it w/ a 9.9HP Suzuki. I had a blast in it when I was younger and now I hope my kids take an interest in it in the next couple of years.

-- John Hankinson

Subject: ?

My name is Markus Trapp from Sweden and I just got my plans for the Barrelback 19.

I’m 39 years old and work as an Art Director at my own Advertising Agancy. I have a lovely whife and two wonderful daughters and live in a town call Östersund in the middle of Sweden.

I really appreciate that you are following up the order as you do and your interest in our building success. In Sweden we are not used to that.

I have wanted such a boat since I was 12 years old and then saw one for the first time and this project has grown in my head for a couple of years. Now is the time to start building. Our house is in order, the company is going great and my father-in-law has a comlete set of tools that I can use. Could not be better. I look forward to showing you the proceeds of my work.

I have also a good contact with a guy from Stockholm who built the same Barrelback a couple of years ago which became a beautiful piece of work. It´s because of him that I find out about your company and the Barrelback plans.

Yours sincerely,

-- Markus Trapp
In the middle of Sweden

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