Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

A place to share YOUR boat building story

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

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • Thanks to everyone who has recently submitted photos, emails, and (especially) articles for the WebLetter. Everything you contribute makes this WebLetter, and as a whole, more interesting, more informative, more fun, and just plain better!

  • We try to publish the WebLetter every month, but without content provided from you Glen-L boatbuilders it would be like any other run-of-the-mill electronic newsletter, so sometimes we let this "stew" simmer a little longer so that when it is released it is as tasty and satisfying as possible.

  • So, sometime this coming month, why not sit down in a comfortable place, put on some background music, pour yourself your favorite beverage and jot down a few sentences (or more) and send them in to us to share with the rest of your boatbuilding compadres? No need to worry about your grammar, or your spelling, or anything else. Just share a little of your experiences, or your ideas, or even your dreams, and we'll take care of the rest. You'll be surprised at just how much it will be enjoyed and appreciated by all of the rest of us!

Until next month . . .      

Eleven Years of Fun

by Mark Bronkalla


Opening the latest Glen-L WebLetter yielded quite a surprise. "Boatbuilder of the Month" was great fun. While I have not spent much time lately on the Boatbuilder Forum, I still hear from other builders several times each month and try to offer help and guidance. It is fun to see the progress that they have made and to provide some guidance for the next steps.

It is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since we built the boat. Boating has been a focal point of our summer activities, whether skiing, wakeboarding, knee boarding, tubing, fishing, scuba diving, sunning or just plain running around. Over the years, some of the activities have waxed and waned, as we no longer kneeboard or ski much at all. However, wakeboarding and tubing are always popular and we have taught many people to wakeboard over the years, from as little as age 6 to as much as 45 or so. Besides, it is fun to show off for the kids on other boats. How often do you see a big grey haired guy wakeboarding behind a wooden boat (with a pretty driver, I must add for Teal's sake).

We have used the boat as part of many of our summer vacations in several states including our home state of Wisconsin, as well as Michigan, Kentucky and New York. Everywhere we go it attracts comments, if not a crowd. Towing the boat long distances has been "interesting" and my wife Teal will need some extra encouragement before the next out of state trip (more stories to follow).

With a new group of folks, when it comes out that I am a boatbuilder and then show a few photos, the group is instantly engaged. This has derailed more than one business meeting and customer presentation (the boat is one of my laptop screen backgrounds).

Each spring I have refinishing, repair work and improvements to do. The overall average is about 40 hours. It has ranged from refinishing or bottom painting to adding cup holders, sound system, redoing the engine oil drain hose - which involved lifting the engine out (yuck), swim platform, wakeboard pylon, (re)upholstering, trailer maintenance and other tasks. Every so often, I good naturedly threaten to sell the boat (due to shortage of helpers) and there is then a general family revolt and the help then appears. The kids, especially David, think that the boat MUST eventually be part of the inheritance. So, I must not dare ever sell it, even if so inclined. Plus, I will do my best that he has to wait a LONG time.

This spring we have some significant refinishing work to do. The entire deck and much of the hull will need to be scraped down to the epoxy and re-sprayed with Imron. I also have some fiberglass damage to repair. This will be a "high maintenance" year compared to others. However, overall it is still not bad. Plus, I do have to remember that much of the maintenance work is due to leaving it in the water in the sun for 4-5 months per year. The convenience factor far outweighs the average maintenance overhead. Such is the price I pay for driving 10 minutes from work or 20 minutes from home, just hopping in and being able to thumb my nose at the poor folks waiting in line to put in or take out their boat every time they want to get out and play. Weekend launch lines can be very long on the weekends around here with the "boat launch full" sign going up at 10:30 am or so on most weekends.

With a little time, I hope to write a few more articles including "What would I do different" which is a very popular question from fellow builders seeking to see what has withstood the test of time and "Trailer (mis)adventures" with some of the do's and don'ts of trailering and trailer maintenance.

Best regards,
Mark Bronkalla - 50 mph furniture

Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

David Vangsness - Key Largo

I purchased Key Largo plans from Ken Hankinson in February, 2003. I know technically this wasn't a Glen-L boat then, but since you now sell his plans, and since I have purchased several items for construction from your website and have benefitted greatly from the Glen-L company, I am hoping you will post photos of my project. I also see that you haven't had a builder of the Key Largo post any photos yet, so maybe this will help sell a few plans?! I think the Key Largo is the best of both worlds giving the freedom of an open walk-around engine design and the look of a great old barrelback.

Anyway, I started in '03, and between career, house, wife, 3-kids etc., it has been a long (but thoroughly enjoyable) project. I had my "sea trial" a couple weeks ago, and will include a photo of the boat at the dock to show folks where it is going. Otherwise I will start at the beginning as I have a pretty good set of "as you go" construction photos. I also maintained a pretty comprehensive costs spreadsheet as I went along, and I think I sent that to Gayle some months back.

I built this pretty much exactly as the plans called for. The seats are at the upholstery shop this week, and the cutwater and top rub rail are the final pieces before I call it "done." I will continue to add stuff, such as a sound system, maybe a tackle locker etc., but it is pretty much complete.

Hope you enjoy seeing another project go from garage to lake!

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Believe it or not, there really is an official "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," which falls on September 19th every year. Why do we need an International Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLAP Day)?

Make no mistake. We do. But it's a little hard to articulate why, especially when you've made the mistake of referring to your wife as a scurvy bilge rat and tried to order her back into the galley.

Talking like a pirate is fun. It's really that simple.

It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers. Because of all the serious things that can make the daily news somewhat depressing, this is our way of lightening what can be a heavy burden. In other words, silliness is the holiday's best selling point.

As it happens, the Gathering of Glen-L Boatbuilders (G5) this year falls on the 3 days immediately before TLAP Day; this being the case, added to the fact that the folks who show up for G5 are a friendly, jolly lot, it has been determined that on Friday of the Gathering everyone will be encouraged to talk like a pirate for that one day (of course, the really cool people will all need no encouragement).

Now, there's something we need to be clear about; real pirates were and are bad people. Really reprehensible. Even the most casual exploration of the history of pirates leaves one hip-deep in blood and barbarity. We all recognize this. We're not for a second suggesting that real pirates were in any way, shape or form worth emulating.

So what is it exactly we're celebrating here? What is the point?

The point is, there is no point. That's what's fun about TLAP Day, and talking like a pirate in general. We're talking about the mere image of swaggering pirateness. And while this is a guys' guide, the comely wench will have fun talking like a pirate, too. It's powerful, yet harmless. Perhaps, dare we suggest it, the ultimate aphrodisiac. Try it!

When Friday of G5 rolls around, and suddenly dozens of people are saying "arrr" and "Weigh anchor or I'll give you a taste of the cap'n's daughter," it staggers us. They are talking like pirates -- not because anyone told them to, but simply because it's fun.


Designer's Notebook: …a leaking shaft gland…AGAIN!

That "?>#*/+" shaft log packing gland is leaking AGAIN. But this time you'll fix it. That big pipe wrench and large adjustable pliers should enable you to tighten that dude so it won't leak again, EVER. Do that and you'll surely have a problem, maybe a BIG problem. Let's analyze this much maligned fitting, review its purpose and how it works.

The prop shaft on a typical small in-line or vee-drive inboard motor powered boat goes through the bottom of the boat. A metal housing called a "shaft log" fits on the inside of the hull, over the hole in the boat bottom and is coupled to a "stuffing box" (packing gland) to prevent water from entering the boat. The stuffing box is coupled to the shaft log with a rubber hose and clamps. This allows minor angularity adjustment although shaft logs are commonly available to accommodate varying degrees of shaft angle.

The conventional stuffing box is in three assemblies as shown in the photo:

The prop shaft extends through the major housing. Several rings of packing - usually waxed flax (don't use the graphite impregnated type) - are placed around the shaft with their joints staggered so as to not have their ends line up together in the same position. A packing nut forces the packing against a gland and around the shaft. Tighten the packing nut by hand or with light pressure from pliers; don't wrench it down tight. Then tighten the locking nut against the packing nut. The prop shaft should turn freely without binding.

When the boat is initially launched the packing will undoubtedly leak slightly after the motor has run awhile. If so, loosen the lock nut and tighten the packing, but not using a lot of force with the pliers or wrench. Going through this re-tightening procedure may be required several times before the packing is properly seated. Over-tightening can cause excessive friction resulting in overheating which possibly may freeze the shaft to the gland and tear the rubber hose loose.

A packing gland may seep slightly keeping the packing cool, and the small amount of water that enters the bilge can be ignored. Minor seepage is tolerable; a steady drip is not.

Just don't get carried away with the packing tightening routine. Patience and accepting a little seepage is the best practice.

A packing gland is not intended to be a shaft bearing, however the prop shaft must rotate freely in it. It is desirable to install the underwater gear with the strut (or stern bearing) in place, the shaft log anchored down, the hose, clamps and packing gland in place but not tightened, and the shaft coupled to the motor flange. Rotate the shaft and allow the rubber hose connecting the log to the gland to position itself; there should be no binding.

When the shaft turns freely, tighten the clamps bonding the log to the gland.

NEXT MONTH: Using "O" ring type seals instead of packing glands.


When the season changes
And the weather does improve
A man starts thinking of his mojo
And how to get back in the groove

A young man thinks of girls
And of sowing his wild oats
An older man, with a family in tow,
Well, his thoughts turn to boats

Of building boats or playing boats
On the water just going fast
Fishing, sailing, or wakeboarding
It’s time for these at last

Winter weather held me in check
A prison with walls of white
And cold that kept me well inside
No waterskiing with frostbite

But winter is officially over
Springtime has really begun
Now I’ll get those new boat plans
And launch before spring is done

My friends, the sun is shinning
And the skies are full of blue
Warmer days are here to stay
It’s boating time again, Yahoo!


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

The Oldest L Dorado?

by William & Elisabeth Quigley, South Africa

Is this the best and oldest L Dorado in service?

Built in 1968 of Rhodesian Teak and marine ply by a craftsman furniture maker, it still runs the original 1969 Chrysler 55 outboard. We found it neglected in a boat locker in South Africa.

It does a comfortable 31 mph (GPS checked), is a dry and stable design and has NO ROT after 42 years.

See more photos here

Harold the boatbuilder

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. "

Shop Talk: Tips from Glen-L Boatbuilders


Ron Peterson of Shasta Lake, Califonia is building the Glen-L Sissy Do, a 13-foot flat-bottomed rowboat. Ron shares the following tip for anyone building a boat of similar size:

I made some "height challenged" midget saw horses for when I right the boat to work on the inside.

The tops are approximately 48" x 7" and are very soft cedar which shouldn't mar the plywood."

See photos of Ron's Sissy Do build here


G'day there.

While wrestling with the great full sized plans for my Fancy Free I came upon a great idea! In a pinch if you've run out of Transfer Paper, to easily transfer your plan lines to timber just take a piece of carbon, coal, or even pinch your kids crayons, rub this along the bottom side of the plan over the lines you want to transfer, then just flip the plan over and trace the line with a firm carpenters pencil.


Bingo, you should have a perfect trace onto your timber (Australia)/lumber (United States). Just thought I would share this, it's probably not a new idea but I found it quick and accurate for small jobs.

Happy boat building,
Mark (Banjo) Paterson, Australia

Recent email:

Subject: A Tremendous Experience

I want to send you and yours at Glen-L a special thank you. I finished my Squirt this weekend. We launched in Lake Washington, Seattle, on Saturday. The boat is beautiful, and performed beautifully.

Here is my blog If you keep going back . . . it goes all the way back to the day we received your plans.

It was a tremendous experience, and now we have a boat we will always cherish.

Thanks for all your support!

-- Larry Madison
Seattle, Washington

Subject: It Works Great!

Here are a couple of photos of fish myself and friend caught from my Glen-L 16-foot Driftboat, which by the way works GREAT.

Note: Click on either photo to see photos of David's build.

I am in the ball cap with the bigger fish, of course. They are a 22-inch Brown and an 18-inch FAT brown.


-- David Marchetti
Burnt Hills, New York

Subject: My Father

My father built this Gung Ho in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (Canada) in 1960-62. She had twin Grey Marines in her, and he added a cover over the stern cockpit as well.

You can see how much we enjoyed her!

-- Hessel Oerlemans
British Columbia, Canada

Subject: Poxy-Shield

I haven't been able to work on my boat much recently, but I use Glen-L epoxy for about everything.

I covered the oars for my row boat with epoxy and fiberglass cloth. This really seals them before painting, and makes them stronger too. I repaired a chart cart for the doctor's office where my daughter works. I glued the plywood back on it with Glen-L epoxy. I mixed in some number 1 silica to thicken it (this will seal around the screws and prevent fretting).

I love Poxy-Shield epoxy and I'll be ordering some more parts soon.

It has been great doing business with you.

-- Larry Bucher
Lincoln, Nebraska

Subject: Bull's-Eye

I had never built anything from scratch before, let alone a boat; however with the plans from Glen-L and the DVD I am now the proud owner of the Glen-L Bull's-Eye (all I need now is a small motor).

I have always had a passion for boats and my second favourite thing is watching NCIS. As I sit here watching NCIS wondering what type of boat Gibbs is building I happily googled away. I could not believe my eyes when I found out it was none other than Glen-L.

I can’t begin to say how happy I am and I am now looking forward to taking on my next project; any guesses as to what I will build next?

Many thanks for your help with my project; I look forward to start building my next boat very soon.

-- Mark Fouweather
Melbourne, Australia

Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day

  • 10. Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why me Roger is so Jolly?

  • 9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

  • 8. Come on up and see me urchins.

  • 7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

  • 6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

  • 5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?

  • 4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

  • 3. Ya know, darlin', I'm 97 percent chum free.

  • 2. Well blow me down?

  • And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …

  • 1. Prepare to be boarded.

Bonus pickup lines (when the ones above don't work, as they often won't)

  • They don't call me Long John because my head is so big.

  • You're drinking a Salty Dog? How'd you like to try the real thing?

  • Wanna shiver me timbers?

  • I've sailed the seven seas, and you're the sleekest schooner I've ever sighted.

  • Brwaack! Polly want a cracker? … Oh, wait. That's for Talk Like a PARROT Day.

  • That's the finest pirate booty I've ever laid eyes on.

  • Let's get together and haul some keel.

  • That's some treasure chest you've got there.

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