Monday, September 26, 2011

Narrow Boat Stern Glands

The majority of narrowboats seem to use the old stuffing box type stern gland with replaceable gland packing. They have to be constantly filled with grease which is a pretty grotty and dirty job plus they leak!

I wonder why boat builders and owners are not changing over to a more clean and modern system.
We sell stern glands of all different types and the main selling point is that the bilge keeps dry.

When I was still on the tools a few years ago I fitted a bellows type to a yacht that was going on a world cruise, he sent me a letter when he was half way around stating that he had dust in his bilge!!
I wonder if the reason they are not used is because canal water could be classed as abrasive? It would be interesting to know.

So a few types of gland seal...
The first one is a the Volvo Penta seal affectionatly known as the "dogs dick"
Dead easy to install with very little maintenance it has a built in bearing and 2 floppy seals

Volvo Penta Seal 
The next seal is a manecraft seal, English made, easy to install no maintenance pretty expensive in Oz but probably not too bad in the UK  
Manecraft seal 

The last seal is a Lasdrop Gen11 seal, we sell heaps of these, USA made easy installation and no maintenance
Lasdrop Gen11 seal
Dont get me wrong Iam no trying to sell any of these products, just wondering why they are not being fitted. 


  1. Hi Paul, my own opinion is that, generally speaking, narrowboats, and the people who own them, often prefer simplicity over high tech. The type of seal that uses flax packing has been in use for a hundred years or so, and is a basic and reliable way of doing it, with simplicity of maintenance. You could probably split narrowboat owners into two schools - those who are traditional, and have their boats fitted with vintage engines, built and fitted in the traditional style, right through to the up and coming high techers, who are now the ones where you will find the modern gland seals, as well as a lot of other modern equipment, their boats having very little resemblance to the past. On the other end of the boating spectrum, on many of the large cruisers that you will find on our lakes and coastal harbours, there won't be an old fashioned stuffing box type gland seal to be found. A large part of narrowboating on canals, for many, is about tradition.

  2. Paul,

    I'me with you and have specified a dripless seal for the drive shaft on Waiouru.

  3. Hi Tom
    What make of seal have you specified?

  4. We have a vetus stern gland so a volvo look alike. My 25g tube of grease (ie like a very small toothpaste tube size) will last me at least 10 years. It does not drip, it simply just works. I think they are great

    nb indigo dream

  5. I have a Vetus water lubed stern gland on my narrowboat, we push in about 1cc of silicone grease about twice a year. The gland used to warm up on a long days cruising until I fitted a £20 fuel pump in the gland water feed pipe to pump water from the weed hatch through the gland. Always cool and never a drip
    nb "The Wizards Sleeve"