Learning how to pack a narrowboat stern gland

blue sky and green grass on the canal with a moored narrow boat

As a narrowboater, there may come a time where your narrowboat takes on water, and in the event of this you will need to tighten the stern gland, however, it is important to not over-tighten it as you may need to adjust again if another leak happens.

When you start to re-pack the narrowboat stern gland, you’ll be able to tell how much wear there is to the front of the gland and this will tell you how much water will escape when the packing is removed.  If there is very little wear, you can use the greaser before removing the packing as this may help to seal the shaft. In a case where there is more water, it is advised to use your bilge pump to resolve this.

Before starting any maintenance on your narrowboat, you should make sure you have all the equipment you need. For a little guidance, see our post on general boat maintenance.

Packing come in a few different sizes; 6mm, 8mm and 10mm and you should be able to find out the correct size by checking your narrowboat manual.

Ensure you get the new packing ready before trying to remove the old packing. When you are prepared, wrap the new packing around the shaft several times and keep a hold of this and then with a sharp knife, you’ll need to carefully cut across the wraps at 45 degrees.

To repack the narrowboat stern gland, you will need to use a screwdriver, or another blunt tool to push some of the new packing into the cap. When you put the new rings around the shaft, be sure that the joints do not line up with one another. If there are any more noticeable leaks, slowly tighten up the nuts until it stops or you have one or two drips per minute. As a recommendation, give the greaser a turn to help lubricate the bearing.

If you fail to keep a check on the narrowboat stern gland at regular intervals, and the water causes rust or further damage to your narrowboat, then you would not be covered on your narrowboat insurance as it is a maintenance issue, and not an insurable event, and no policy will cover you for lack of maintenance to your narrowboat.


If you would like to learn how we can help cover your narrowboat, get in touch with the team at Collidge & Partners today and we’d be happy to help.