Rehabbing Beans Goldeneye Drakes

A Nice Little Niche

Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to rehab – repair, restore and re-paint – some decoys made and sold by L L Bean’s.  These cork birds – originally the work of George Soule – have a real charm and have stood the test of time.  Many gunners want to keep them in service and cannot simply keep them in original “paint”.   Any paint wears over time, eyes fall out, bills, tails and “chines” break and crumble, and – most important – the cork can lose its seal and start to absorb water. All of these problems are easily solved with a bit of attention to detail.  I always enjoy putting any gear back into service – much more satisfying than simply buying new.

39 Fourteen - on bench 2 23 Sea Trials Six Gadwalls - shop floor

Thus far, I have rehabbed Mallards, Black Ducks, Gadwalls and a single Pintail. Three Hen Pintails and 5 Teal await my attention on the bench.

1 Yorke


The owner of these two birds – a Drake Whistler (Goldeneye) and Broadbill (Scaup) – wanted both made into Drake Whistlers. They arrived carefully packed but in pieces.

Gallery 1 – Repairs

The Paint

I usually follow this sequence for gunning birds:  1) Seal with spar varnish.   2) Prime with flat oil-based paint.  3) Topcoat with acrylic latex (house paint).  Because these birds are mostly just Black and White, however,  I used flat oils for topcoats as well as prime coats.  The heads got a little bit of latex for their finish.

Gallery 2 – Painting

Every Girl Crazy for a Sharp-dressed Man

The suggestion of iridescence is guaranteed to provide the gunner with an extra thrill – each time he picks up the rig.

39 38 37

All the best!


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3 thoughts on “Rehabbing Beans Goldeneye Drakes

  1. Nice one, enjoyed seeing the studio workshop on the tour, all cleaned up and everything priced out.

    Andrew Andrew Pate 896 County Route 60 Greenwich, NY 12834 518-692-7676 518-232-9247

  2. Mr. Sanford, you have inspired me to rehab 2 LL Bean black ducks that deserve to get back into the action. I sealed them with spar and will begin to paint this weekend.

    Bruce Hudson
    Limestone, NY

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