Tech Wiki

Packing Gland

by Ron Hill, Apache #788

The rudder-packing gland is quite different than the drive shaft packing gland. The bronze bottom portion is glassed into the PVC tube that is glassed in to the hull. The stainless rudder column rides inside that tube. There are 3 collars with female threaded holes. The top portion is a bronze ring that attaches to the bottom half with 3 bolts (9/16” as I recall). The 3/8” packing (same as drive shaft, but different size) sits inside a groove in top edge of the bottom half. The two bronze pieces are compressed (with the packing in the middle) by tightening the three bolts to just where they are snug. This seals the water from coming in.

That packing gland is above the water line when the boat is static and most of the time under sail. It’s underwater while motoring and some points of sail. So, I wouldn’t screw with it unless I found salt water in the “skag” indentation of the hull. Then I’d only turn each bolt one turn down and recheck it again. I’ve heard of more people finding a crack in the molded lower rudder PVC tube to the hull area, than I’ve heard of having to replace the packing. I have no idea on its life, but it’s not sealing a shaft that turns @ 2000rpm!! It’s wax coated flax, so I don’t think it’s going to rot and we know that it’s probably not going to wear out, so your guess is as good as anyone’s.


I have it on my TO-DO Boat List, but it way down at the bottom. It’s just after, chipping all the paint off the lead keel, shining the lead and then repainting it (smile!!).