Skip to Content

Home : Main Forums : Duck Boat/Hunting Forum :

How To: Flapper Boards

Quote Reply
How To: Flapper Boards
A buddy of mine is looking to have flappers installed on his TDB. Any advice on how to build a flapper set up that can be removed easily when not in use? Looking to build something that will last not just a couple of pieces of plywood on cabinet hinges. Checked on line and couldn't find any info whatsoever. Any instruction, pics, advice is greatly appreciated.
Quote Reply
Re: How To: Flapper Boards In reply to
Bimini hardware and aluminum. Cover with fabric and install grass loops
South Jersey
Quote Reply
Re: How To: Flapper Boards In reply to
Good morning, Jason~

I have not made flappers for a TDB - but do design them in my head every time I hunt in my partner's TDB-17.

If I owned one, I would replace all the tubing and canvas above the coaming with removable wooden frames. Here is the concept on a South Bay:

Here they are thatched up:

A very important feature is to have the gunning-side (port on my friend's vessel) flap with somewhat open thatch that a hiding gunner can see through when birds are approaching. The "weather flap" should be opaque - to hide the gunners' silhouettes and to keep wind off their necks. The weather side could be solid plywood (1/4-inch) or canvas. On this boat I sewed up weather cloths that could be snapped onto the inside of either flap.

I used Lift-the-Dot fasteners - as they are much easier to use under gunning conditions than snaps. (Although, if one always shot over the same side, they could be snapped on for the season.)

So, here it is in gunning mode.

I lash bundles of thatch to 2 lines of tarred nylon decoy line. Here is the outside:

Here's what the lines look like inside.

One of the benefits of using such flaps on a tall-sided vessel like a TDB is that the grass is protected when the flaps are down - as for picking up stool or trailering.

BTW: For a long-cockpit boat like a TDB-17, I would probably make each flap in 2 pieces - so each half could be raised or lowered by gunners as needed. We usually sat with the flaps down with this blind on my Sneakbox - and slowly raised the flap when we saw birds approaching.

I make most of my South Bay flap boards easily removable with solid brass door hinges and 1/8-inch brass rod bent into a hair pin shape. The pins are lashed to the flap boards so they are not lost. No tools needed to remove or install.

Other thoughts:

1. As I have not made flaps for TDBs per se, I am not sure how tall they should be. I am thinking somewhere between 10 and 14 inches might be about right.

2. I am not sure how I would handle the ends of the cockpit. Because the forward end is rounded, one might need to fasten a rectangular board to the coaming so that a hinged flap could be dropped downward. The aft opening might need a hinged "door" that is fully removable during the hunt. For the blind I showed above (on my Sneakbox), I made a wooden upper half and a canvas lower half. Both were thatched up - but the whole thing was removed and stowed when getting in and out of the boat or operating the motor.

3. I would sew a storage cover over the cockpit opening and down over each flap to keep rain, snow and leaves out when not in use. I'd probably use my pushpole as a ridge pole for this purpose.

Hope this helps!

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY

Quote Reply
Re: How To: Flapper Boards In reply to
Steve, if anyone can accomplish this to achieve both a functional as well as aesthetically pleasing design it would likely be done via your work. That said, these hulls provide a pretty wet ride, as you have experienced in Kessler's TDB-17', consequently the blind plays a dual role in concealment and ride comfort when underway. Plus the cockpit combing is an arch, not a straight shot like that of the South Bay you used for illustration. This complicates the hinge point layout. I would opt for a piece of removable canvas on both sides to enable the crew to minimize both wind and water intrusion, while still keeping it lighter than a solid panel, as well as not having to fight having it jerked out of your hands by a wind gust while erecting it or lowering it. We use a pair of folding chairs for gunning stools and extend the thatching high enough to break-up our facial/head movements. I can sit and shoot over the top of my TDB-17 blind panel. With my TDB-14 classic I was obligated to stand and shoot. The other aspect of the solid blind panels I like is how nice and toasty I can keep the blind's interior to aid my comfort and the dog's with just the use of my trusty rusty Coleman catalytic heater. it's quite reassuring to look over and see the dog "steaming" in his neoprene jacket as he keeps vigil near the bow, looking-out from the split in the blind panel and also not inhaling the heater's exhaust products.
Quote Reply
Re: How To: Flapper Boards In reply to
 Steve, like your idea but do not like the wind blowing in either side. I like the frame idea, but would put canvas on the frame to attach grass. The ends could be canvas? I still like one man boats.