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

Are you counting the days like we are until the 2010 Gathering of Glen-L Boatbuilders?

In only a few short weeks more than 100 happy, friendly, excited men, women and children will be gathering at Hale's Bar Marina and Resort at Lake Nickajack, Tennessee.

Thanks to the efforts of some wonderful people who one day opined "It's obvious that through our postings on the Glen-L Boatbuilder Forum (even though we've never met face-to-face) we've become good friends and comrades-in-boatbuilding, let's pick a time and a place where we can meet, share our boatbuilding experiences and fully enjoy one another's company."

Thus the Gathering of Glen-L Boatbuilders was born 3 years ago and has each year grown larger and more enjoyable due to the continued efforts of a great bunch of people. This year we're expecting upwards of 40 home-built boats!

Don't miss this FREE time of great fun on (and off) the water, thanks to the continued efforts of a gracious group of amateur boatbuilders whose finished (or partially-finished) watercraft are absolutely gorgeous "works-of-art" and who are anxious to share their skills and techniques with you!

Until next month . . .      

Midlife Crisis?

by Ian Gruber, Leduc, Canada


A funny thing happened over the weekend.

I was busy in the garage, sanding excess filler epoxy off the sides & bottom of my Malahini while getting ready for fiberglassing next week when I had a thought pop into my head.

You know those random thoughts you get when working away solo on the boat…doing relatively low-brainpower work like sanding for hours...your mind wanders a little…or at least mine does.

I got to thinking "I wonder if my wife thinks this is my mid-life crisis?"

Hmmm.. I don't think so personally. I mean, I am only 39 years old... 2 young kids (5 and 10), and really it's just a boat. Sure, it's a handcrafted boat... probably going to cost around $10k give or take a few thousand. And yes, I am in the garage more evenings and weekends than ever before in my life, but hey, that's just a hobby, right?

Wouldn't you know it, on Sunday, on the way to the family farm, while my wife and myself are talking (again) about buying a new vehicle to replace our old Ford Windstar when she says "I want a truck, I've always wanted a truck and it can be my mid-life crisis thingy?"

Now, I am all for getting a truck, but that "mid-life crisis thingy" comment got me wondering...

Me: "Honey, you don't think the boat is MY mid-life crisis thingy do you?"

Her: "Sure it is."

Me: "No it isn't..."

And off we went…not an angry discussion but I found myself trying to explain how a mid-life crisis would be something more outrageous than just building a boat.

See, I was trying to "save" my actual mid-life crisis as an excuse to do something really silly... like dye my hair blue and buy a lime green Porsche or something like that. You know, use it up on something outrageous that I could simply blame on "mid-life".

But a boat, or even building a boat, does not seem that outrageous to me. Unusual maybe...but off-the-wall blue-haired with green sportscar crazy… no way.

But then again, I can't think of myself as totally normal… it's not like everyone out there builds boats for fun (most of them should... but that's another topic).

Regardless, the jury is still out, for me, anyway.

Editor's Note: Ian, AKA "Iggy" on the Glen-L Boatbuilder Forum, posted the above story in the Forum, which has led to a multitude of comments and "midlife crisis" stories by other builders.
See what you miss when you don't visit the Boatbuilder Forum?

Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Fernand Bouchard - Tornado

Well, yesterday was the big day, the First Launch! The boat is very stable and rock-solid. Despite the water was not so calm and that there were many boats around, the ride was very enjoyable. You can look at some videos on YouTube and some pictures in Customer Photos. We rode in the boat all the afternoon, until the velvet drive transmission broke on the last ride (that was the only part of the drive train which my father did not rebuild...). The whole day was classified as a "Big success"!!

A genuine Glen-L TORNADO my 61-year old father, Fernand Bouchard of Napierville, Quebec, built himself. The Tornado plan was bought more than 20 years ago from Glen-L. We still have the old Glen-L catalog at home and if it falls on the ground, it always falls open at the Tornado's page!

The building started in 2006. The boat frames are made from white oak and the rest is Brazilian Mahogany. The motor is a 1961 Ford FE 390ci. This motor was also brought more than 20 years ago; the pistons had to be hammered out of the cylinders, the engine was completely disassembled and stored for about 15 years, then my father successfully rebuilt it himself in 2003.

My dad did not only build the boat but, as being a machinist, built also all the metal parts (except the gas pedal), including the trim tab control lever, the steering hub, the shifter and all brackets and mounts. The transmission is a Velvet drive 70C or 71C, with a Casale V-Drive (before the split case).

If you look closely at some of the photos, on the wall in the background you can see pictures of another Tornado; many pictures of Rob Kauffman's Tornado as inspiration.

I am very proud of my father, and you can contact him if you have any questions or comments at . Please watch all of our Tornado videos at YouTube for the pleasure of your eyes and mostly your ears!

Just to be sure you don't forget, all congratulations go to my dad, who built the boat (he doesn't speak English very well so I translate for him).

Yes, another Glen-L boat is born!

-- Joe Bouchard, Very Proud Son

Bob and Billy's Mini-Gathering

by Bob Perkins & Bill Cunningham

The past few years Bob Perkins and I have been throwing out the idea of getting his gorgeous Biscayne and my Belle Isle together for a day of boating and celebrate our launches over a beer or two. We had been cyber building together on the Boatbuilder Forum, sharing our ideas and helping each other keep our builds alive.

As I was not a happy camper this week, having to cancel my 2010 Gathering vacation (had a floating cabin reserved since last December) - the Gathering is going to be such a great time; I envy you guys who can go - getting together with Bob was great timing.

Anyway, this past Friday Bob trailered to the Back Bay launch at Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire and we took the girls out for a spin. For those of you who like pictures Bob and I took a few of our day together.
           -- Billy Cunningham

This was a lot of fun - Thanks for writing, Billy. It was great to meet you in person!

We could have stood on the dock all day and just fielded questions from passers by...
           -- Bob Perkins

Meeting other builders is so therapeutic. Someone that can talk building boats and more is heaven!

The Admiral and I will be retired by the next Gathering so nothing will stop us from attending!

Thanks, everyone, for letting us share our boating adventure pictures with you!

Editor's Note: See all of the spectacular photos Billy and Bob posted, along with comments from other Glen-L boatbuilders in the Boatbuilder Forum.

Designer's Notebook: Rudders for Inboards

We all know that thing-a-ma-bob at the back end of the boat is a rudder, and it pivots to turn the boat. This discussion will primarily cover the typical inboard rudder on a small runabout or cabin cruiser with the bottom of the rudder unsupported.

For greatest efficiency, a rudder is best mounted completely under the bottom of the boat. However, especially on shorter runabouts, a portion of the rudder blade often projects aft the transom in order to keep the shaft angle as small as possible. When a rudder is not under the boat and it is turned, air can be induced resulting in loss of rudder action. When turning the bow will drop, the boat refuse to turn, and a wall of water can be induced; this is both scary and potentially dangerous.

One cure is to use a rudder (Fig. 1) that has the upper aft portion reduced. This helps sometimes, but the best cure is to extend the boat bottom, often with a bracket, to keep solid water over the rudder.

Initially, rudders were almost always square, or close to it. At first the rudder post was at the front like a barn door. However, particularly as speeds increased, the effort to turn the rudder became excessive. A portion of the blade was left in front of the rudder, about 20% of the total area. As speeds increased, the 83%/17% type of rudder with only 17% forward of the shaft became common. Excessive area in front of the shaft exerts such a force it can cause the boat to suddenly turn. A rudder should be restricted as to the amount it can turn, usually 30 to 35 degrees each side of the centerline.

Older rudders were made from wood, and then later they were made with steel plate. As speeds increased a flat plate could vibrate. Once rudders began to be made by casting a better shape could be induced, but that contour was somewhat restricted due to weight. For moderate speeds a foil section with thickest point about one-third from the fore end proved to work well. When still higher speeds became common, a 4 degree wedge-shaped section proved to be more efficient.

As speeds continued to increase, the profile of the rudder changed from a simple rectangle to one with greater area toward the base (Fig. 2). This made the boat bank better on turns and also lessened the possibility of air being sucked to the rudder blade.

Rudders are usually mounted on the boat centerline, however, this may prevent the prop shaft from being able to be removed without dropping the rudder. Some rudders are cutaway enough to compensate for this. The alternative is to offset the rudder so the prop shaft will clear, usually no more than one shaft diameter from the centerline. The offset direction is opposite the rotation of the prop; to the left with a right hand prop and vice versa.

A power boat will always turn better in the direction the prop rotates due to the torque reaction. Offsetting the rudder will compensate for this torque reaction to some extent; seating the driver on the side the prop rotates is also helpful.

A rule of thumb for rudder blade area sizes for small planing boats is 0.03 x hull draft x waterline length. The slower the boat the larger the rudder blade area; the faster the boat the smaller the area. Most inboard runabouts won't turn well at slow speeds because there isn't enough rudder blade area, but a large blade causes more resistance at speed, so there is a compromise, usually on the side of speed. Owners of such speedboats find that by giving the boat a little more throttle when turning the boat helps; rather tricky when approaching a dock.

The rudder post extends through the boat bottom and is encased in a bronze sleeve topped with a packing gland, much like the one on the prop shaft. This sleeve acts as a bearing but the rudder shaft usually extends well above the rudder stuffing box. Due to the high forces caused by the turning of the rudder, a bearing near or at the top of the shaft is desirable, usually mounted on a bracket extending between stringers or other boat structural members. A collar, riding atop, locks to the shaft preventing the rudder from dropping out through the boat bottom.

An alternative to the above eliminates the packing gland and is generally used on slower boats. A tube fitting firmly around the rudder shaft, going through the bottom of the boat and extending well above the waterline (as shown in Fig. 3). This tube can be made from fiberglass laminates wrapped directly around the rudder shaft and epoxied into the boat bottom.

Noah Had a Plan

Noah had a very special plan
Given to him by God
To build a really large boat
Today, that does seem odd

The instructions were quite clear
But the plans were very basic
“Build it 50 cubits by 300 cubits
And don’t worry about being seasick"

Noah had to work on the plans
That is, all the details of the boat
How to fit in all those animals
From A to Z, including goat

He finished the ark on time
Though it took him 20 years
He had never built a boat before
But he toiled on without fear

Noah completed this difficult task
With minimal help, he found a way
But there is a lesson to be learned
For the novice boat builder of today

If you consider building a boat
Know that detailed plans are available
Expert help and advice abound
For you to build a craft that’s sail-able

As long as the boat you want to build
Is a tad smaller than Noah’s Ark
Glen-L probably has a plan to build it
It will be as easy as a walk in the park.

Building a boat from Glen-L plans
Is like climbing a ladder rung by rung
But if animals start collecting nearby
Work faster, and watch out for the dung


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

Glen-L Walk-in Customer of the Month

Thursday, July 15 brought a special surprise to us at Glen-L Corporate Headquarters in Bellflower, California, when in walked Martin, Mia, and Yvonne Lundqvist of Stockholm, Sweden.

Martin and his posse were vacationing here on the west coast of the United States, and prior to visiting Glen-L had made stopovers to see the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Forest (looking for boatbuilding material?) as well as enjoying the scenery and fruits of Napa Valley in the heart of California's wine country.

As a multitude of Swedish tourists do, Martin wanted to make a special point of touring the expansive grounds of the Glen-L World Headquarters while in America, and after a fun (for all of us) visit left with a set of plans and patterns for a "fast boat" in hand.

In all seriousness, Gayle, Darla, Buckshot and I tremendously enjoyed meeting and getting to know the Lundqvist clan, and we hope they'll one day drop in on us again.

We truly hope that all of you will come visit us, too!

Harold the boatbuilder

"I don't think anyting is unrealistic if you believe you can do it."
--- Mike Ditka, Hall of Fame former football player and coach

Shop Talk: Evening Caulk Lines
& Marking Dark Wood


Laying out an even line of caulking compound can be a challenging job for even the most experienced boatbuilder. The "perfect bead" of caulk requires an even squeeze, steady motion, and a little luck. If your caulk line needs help, an old spoon may be the tool for the job.

The tip of a spoon is the perfect tool to remove the excess caulking compound. Simply scrape the tip along the groove, frequently wiping the excess caulk into a moist rag. A moist finger can clean up "lap marks" in the caulk.

Most hardware stores also sell caulking tools that work well. Some of these store-bought tools are designed to leave only the smallest line of caulking compound exposed. These tools are great if you have one handy, but in a pinch a spoon is a great tool to have around.


Use a white pencil from an art supply store or a soapstone used in metal work. You can also find soapstone markers at your local sewing/quilting supply store. The light color will stand out against the dark wood.

Recent email:

Subject: 3 Generations

Hi all at Glen-L. I just wanted to send a few pictures of the Minuet I have been building.

I had never even been in a sailboat before but got the urge to try sailing so thought this would be a good way to learn. I spent about 3 years working on this, putting in time as I can, and working with my father. I must say it has been an incredible journey, and I can't think of a better way to have some father and son time (I am in my forties and my dad is 74) to give you an idea.

I would also like to thank you guys for being so friendly and helping when I have called.

This is my version of the Minuet, splashed on July 4, 2010. The photo shows 3 generations of "boat builders" - my father and my son (7) helped on the construction of our Minuet.

-- Mike Miller
Painesville, Ohio

Subject: A Soft Spot

I look forward to receiving your catalog. Like so many of your customers, I too have a soft spot in my heart for Glen-L boats. My first was a gift from my father. He surprised me with a beautifully built Tiny Titan for my 10th birthday. It was quite fast with that little 10 HP Johnson. I remember the first time I took it out. It would hardly get up on plane. Turned out that the prop was way too deep in the water. If you look closely you can see the riser block we had to install on the transom.

My next Glen-L was the slightly larger Super Spartan hydroplane. It was about 90% complete when I had to leave it behind with a good friend as a result of my move across the country.

I have the bug again to build another Glen-L - maybe a small runabout. I'm going to need a bit more room now with my wife and two small daughters.

-- Dan Doss
Defiance, Missouri

Subject: Early 1960's Missile Conversion

I wanted to give you a report on conversion of my early 60's Glen-L Missile from inboard to outboard. We've had it in the water for a week and a half now. It is fantastic! This is the first time this boat has ever been in the water. It was started years ago and never finished.

I removed the inboard transom as there was some bad wood in it from outside storage over the years. I had a 135 hp Mercury tall stack short shaft that was looking for a home, so I decided to convert the boat to outboard. I built a 2" thick transom; I did NOT angle the transom as is typical with outboards because I think it would have destroyed the beautiful tumble home lines on the Missile's transom. I built an enclosed rear deck with hatch that hides 2 fuel tanks and the battery. The Missile has automotive style seating with everyone facing forward.

Once the prop gets its bite the boat is onto the water like a rocket. The boat is bone dry, it rides beautifully flat, no porpoising, and is fast as blazes.

People have stopped and stared at this whenever we dock, want to know what it is, etc. It is going to be in the Antique Race Boat Regatta in Clayton, New York Aug 11-15th making its formal début. I will have a story board of its history and conversion.

I am thrilled with the boat, and love its clean lines. Please let Glen know how well this conversion worked. I've sent in a few photos to you. The one of the boat underway was taken with a cell phone last night coming back from our favorite restaurant in the 1000 Islands. It's not the best photo but at half throttle you get the idea of what a hoot this boat is to drive.

-- Brian Lawson
Ravena, New York

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