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Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake

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Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake
All~


As I mentioned in the Work Bench post, I just brought this pair of Shelldrake back from Long island. Frank Zamp got them at a yard sale and I immediately lay claim to them. Both Frank and Helmuth are from Patchogue (I used to live in East Patchogue) - and about the same vintage - the carvers, not the decoys. I do not know Helmuth well, but recall him and his decoys fondly from earlier SSWA Duckboat Shows.



This pair - the decoys not the carvers - needs some attention to get them once again ready-to-hunt. "Right in my wheelhouse" as the young folks say.....


The Drake's head is turned hard to port. I like everything about this bird.







The shape is simple and lithe and the paint flows sweetly along the contours.






This shot from the bow shows his body sections. Note, too, the wood grain in what I believe is a molded foam head.







Here's his undercarriage. The lead ballast was gone from both birds.






Another view of the keel.







He does not need lots of repairs - but the bill needs some minor rhinoplasty. The contours around the head and neck - one of my favorite parts on any decoy - need their lines re-faired. Some structural reinforcement may be needed as well.






Unlike the Hen, his tail is intact.






His body shape is perfect - but noticeably slimmer than the Hen's. I will probably reshape the latter, so measurements are in order.







I'm measuring just the "extreme beam"....






He is about 6.5 inches wide.







Stay tuned for the Missus.....


SJS



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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Part 2 - Introducing the Hen


The head-forward Swimmer posture is perfect for Shelldrake - which seem to always be diving for fish.






Her bottom has suffered quite a bit of erosion to her "black" cork.






Her tail needs total replacement - maybe with heavy plastic this time around.







I'm OK with a plastic tail - for many reasons - but especially because her head seems to be plastic. Note the seam.






Like her husband, Missus Shellpecker needs some rhinoplasty, too. Her fuller sections are evident in this view.







Only measurements will guide me through her weight-loss program.






Sure enough, about 3/4-inch beamier than her husband.






So, off to she shop - with the first stop at the bandsaw. With Spring in full swing, though, plenty of other chores are pulling me - both all around the farm and then up on Champlain later this week. I will report progress as it happens.


All the best,


SJS



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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Nice find Steve. I look forward to watching progress on your garage sale trophys.
Aren't hens beamier by nature?

RVZ
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Here is my pair.




Dave Diefenderfer
Manassas, VA

"Once you set out to build a boat, throw away your square. And if you work on her after she's launched, throw away your level." author unknown

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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Good morning, Dave~


Wow! Looks like yours are in much finer fettle than mine. Do you recall where/when you got them? Did you meet Mr. Rich?


It looks like your Hen is beamier than your Drake - just like mine. If so, perhaps I will forego the planned weight reduction program and just stick to repairs.


All the best,


SJS


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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
I think these are the first Shell drake decoys i,ve ever seen. Those drakes sure do look like drake mallards coming out of the thick fog on the bayfront until about the second you pull the trigger. Opps!
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Steve, I have had these for some years. I honestly can't remember when I got them, but pretty sure they were an eBay find. The hen is noticeably beamier than the drake, just like yours is. I only hunt them at Chincoteague, we rarely see anything but Hooded Mergs along the Potomac. They were not hunted until I got them. They could use a bath, they have some mud on them, and a little wear on the edges, but far from needing touch up yet. They look sweet on the water.

Dave Diefenderfer
Manassas, VA

"Once you set out to build a boat, throw away your square. And if you work on her after she's launched, throw away your level." author unknown

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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Roy and Dave~


Shelldrake decoys have been made on Long Island for a long time. I suspect they were always made in small numbers as these fish-eaters were never desired table fare.







I could see hunting my pair of Helmuth Rich 'peckers a bit to leeward of my puddle duck rig when on Great South Bay - just for visual interest - and tradition!


One of the oddest mixed flocks of birds I ever had stool was a foursome on Moriches Bay: 2 hen Shelldrake and 2 drake Gadwall - all 4 with grey bodies, white wing patches and reddish heads. I opted for the 2 drakes....



All the best,


SJS




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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
I was able to search back in eBay, I bought this pair, in 2014, for a whopping $65! Quite a steal for a pair of cork birds unhunted.

Dave Diefenderfer
Manassas, VA

"Once you set out to build a boat, throw away your square. And if you work on her after she's launched, throw away your level." author unknown

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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
I bought three of those years ago, really unique and in great shape.
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Here's one from Massachusetts. I have no idea of it's provenance. Solid body with a bottom board.
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
I really like those birds, they scream merganser to me. Interesting that you would consider trimming that hen down, seems like it is a characteristic that the maker intentionally built in with no downside, just in interesting quirk.
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Good morning, Paul~


Yes - I think you scarfed those birds up at the Duckboat Show - moments before I could flash my cash.


All the best,


SJS

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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
The hens are very cool, the drake shape is beautiful but not so much the paint job. Remind me to show you when you come down next time, perhaps joint custody can be arranged.
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Tod~


I will likely leave her in her original "zaftig" mode - but the OCD and biologist in me may never be satisfied.



Up here in dairy country, our late seasons bring Commons - where the adult drake is significantly larger than the hen - easily noticeable on the wing. The same is true but to a lesser extent on saltwater where we see Red-breasteds. Of course, hens are generally smaller than drakes in all ducks - but gunning decoys have never bothered with the difference.



As these Helmuth Rich birds are appropriately well-regarded, I will cave to peer pressure and just do needed repairs.


All the best,


SJS


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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Mc~


I do like the Drake's paint. Although it's not "accurate" - and I will put a Sanford paint job on mine - Helmuth uses a very simple, abstract pattern reminiscent to my eye of Joseph Lincoln.


All the best,


SJS


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


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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
she is cold and puffed up, gals get colder.
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Re: Rehabbing a pair of Helmuth Rich Shelldrake In reply to
Steve Sanford wrote:
Mc~


I do like the Drake's paint. Although it's not "accurate" - and I will put a Sanford paint job on mine - Helmuth uses a very simple, abstract pattern reminiscent to my eye of Joseph Lincoln.


All the best,


SJS



I love the paint job on the pair I have from Red years ago, I'll try to post later.