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Bean's Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen

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Bean's Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen
Good morning, All~




As some of you have probably gathered, my last several months have been consumed by a host of NDR projects from Lake Champlain down to Long Island. Susan and I have stayed on-the-move. Many of my customers are no doubt anxious about their decoys and duckboats left in my care.



So, I just made a bit of progress on some corkers visiting from Jersey. The dozen - 4 Mallards and 8 Blacks - were in pretty good shape. They needed some sealing and new finery after just a few minor repairs. I thought I would post most of the steps in my process to answer many of the questions I get.







Any black cork decoy needs to be sealed during its lifetime. Otherwise, the cork dries out and can begin to crumble. So, I seal with spar varnish (not polyurethane), prime with a flat oil paint, then topcoat with flat latex (mostly Behr flat house paint from Home Depot).



Bean's decoys - first made by George Soule in the late 40s (I think) - have changed over the years. Although always a nice big working decoy, the details have changed. One thing I look for is how the bill is established. Often, the bill begins too far forward. The break between the cheek and the bill can be too close to the tip of the bill. It makes the bill look too short and prevents achieving The Look of the species.



The bill on this Drake is fine.







The bill on this Hen is too far forward.







I burn the key details onto each bill: the "line of demarcation", the nostrils and the nail. I usually burn in the line between the upper and lower mandibles near the hinge, too.



Only 2 of the 24 eyes were missing. I decided to replace them "in-kind" with 9mm, brown iris, standard pupil. I use Van Dyke's glass eyes from McKenzie Taxidermy. I use flat eyes and set them in water-based filler.



When I am replacing lots of eyes in a rig of oversize decoys, I usually upgrade them to 10 mm - and I like black eyes on most puddlers, Brant and Geese.





The tail inserts - 1/4-inch plywood - were all in good shape. This area frequently needs attention on older Beans.




I re-bore the anchor line holes with a long 5/16 bit I keep for this purpose. Most of the holes were fairly open and clean. In any event, they can easily take a heavy (72-pound, approximately 1/8-inch diameter tarred nylon) decoy line.





I made the executive decision to remove the screw eyes. Most were rusted and loose. I like simplicity in my rigs: no hardware or moving parts unless truly needed.





The heads had at some point been refastened with large brass screws - but all were a little loose - and the flathead screws were a bit proud. In any event, I removed all of the heads. When re-fastened, I used s/s fender washers and longer s/s panhead screws.





Although I seal and prime the heads and bodies with spar varnish and flat oils, I take a different approach with the bills.





I base coat them with 2 coats of flat latex, then finish paint them with latex as well. After at least a full day of drying, I then protect them with a coat of satin spar varnish. This gives just a bit of "pop" to the bill where a bit of luster is natural and helps to avoid the inevitable wear. A second coat of spar varnish would probably be prudent, now that I think about it.







Continued in next post....


SJS
Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Last edited by:

Steve Sanford: Oct 3, 2021, 12:44 AM
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
Part 2:


Bottoms, topsides and heads all get a coat of spar varnish thinned with a bit of paint thinner to help penetration.

The next day, a primer of flat oils will go on bodies and heads. I use Rustoleum (Flat White, Flat Black and Flat Brown), Pettit 3303 (Dull Dead Grass duckboat paint) and a grey primer from my local hardware store.

For some reason, I had a problem with the luster when I mixed Flat Black (1 part) into Flat Brown (4 parts) to get a good Black Duck Body color. It dried semi-gloss. I am guessing I did not mix the Flat Black thoroughly enough before adding it to the Flat Brown. I will be sure to mix with my drill attachment next time I attempt this. In any event, everything will get top-coated with flat latex (Behr Espresso Beans) and restore the low sheen I want.



The major areas are limned with chalk pencil.







The Drake Mallards need some attention to the undertail area. The stock paint job carries the Black too far forward.






Here is the Flat White on both Drake and Hen Mallards. The White tails are very important species identifiers, in my view, and are an important distinction from their all-dark close cousins.





The purpose of the oil primer is both protection and to approximate the tone - but not the actual color - of the topcoat. When wear does occur to the topcoat, it'll show less when the undercoat is close in tone.





The Dull Dead Grass is both the primer and the topcoat on the bottoms. I like a mid-tone paint so that the owner can write his or her name in pencil or ink and be legible.





The topsides will be top-coated with Behr Flat Latex, mostly from sample-size jars. Note how the heads are oil-primed: Dull Dead Grass for the Blacks and Hen Mallards, Flat Black for the Drake Mallards.





Once the heads are finish painted, the bills will get their top-coats of satin spar varnish.





Here is some of the latex on the heads.





Finished Mallard paint with spar varnish on bills.





The Black Ducks get the varnish, too.





Almost done....


SJS
Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Last edited by:

Steve Sanford: Oct 3, 2021, 12:40 AM
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
Part 3:


Here is some of the completed rig on the shop floor.







I did not have time to float these birds for their portraits, so I photographed them on my Mom's lawn on Long Island. A bagfull of Black Ducks....







The other half-dozen...







I always try to get the essence of each species with the minimum of detail.







... but include the occasional flourish to remind the gunner that someone took just a bit of extra effort in getting these birds back in shape, ready-to-hunt.







All the best,



SJS


Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Last edited by:

Steve Sanford: Oct 2, 2021, 1:05 AM
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
Nice job Rooster
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A LOT OF MEMORIES IN A MAN'S STOOL........
Duck hunting without a dog is just shooting
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
Steve, I was told by a paint dealer that the paint in the sample jars were not the actual paint formulation but just for color comparison...You have any thoughts on that?
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
I have not heard that - nor received any complaints about wear - and I have been happy with the paint on my own rigs.


As far as I know, the only drawback to the sample jars is that they are available in Matte - and not dead Flat. When I buy the more common colors, I buy quarts - in dead Flat.


All the best,


SJS





Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
Heard the same thing from my local Home Depot paint mixer this spring when getting Steve's prefered samples for some Mallard/ Blk. Dk . #72 repaints. I always overspray w/testors dull coat as a protectant and that does away with any shine which isn,t noticable to start with to my eye.
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Re: Bean?s Mallards & Blacks : Rehabbing another dozen In reply to
It's good to see the proper 2:1 ratio of black ducks to mallards in this rig. And those will not hunt a lot better than they used to, so long as the owner makes sure to hunt an odd number of decoys at all times.

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold