Ruddy Duck






Someone gave me the remains of a riding mower, and I decided to use the engine to power a paddlewheel boat. I started thinking of a 16 foot sternwheeler, but figured I'd have trouble getting the balance right, and designed the Duck instead. Within about a year, the original engine and transmission were upgraded as well.

The Ruddy Duck is a "real ASA boat" with running lights, VHF radio, air horns, pumps, and a whistle, but she is short on accommodations.

The boat is a veteran regatta machine, with over fifty regattas in at least ten cities on the books.

The hull was built using the "Instant Boats" technique devised by Phil Bolger and H.H. "Dynamite" Payson, and described in their books. The hull lines are based on a Gold Cup racer from the years before planning hulls evolved.

The engine and transmission are mounted on a steel plate, and located between the helm and the smoke stack. A vertical loop of #41 chain runs from the transmission sprocket to a "go-kart" sprocket on the wheel shaft. Both wheels are driven together, with no differential.

The exhaust leads up the stack, and a "stunt aircraft" smoke system gives the impression she runs on steam.

A small sprocket is fixed to the steering wheel. This moves light roller chain, which is in turn attached to light steel cable connected to the stern-mounted rudder.





Boat Type: Sidewheeler

Owner: Wallace Venable

Home Port: Barn near Morgantown, West Virginia

Hull Type: Flat bottom, vertical sides

Hull Material: inch plywood plus 1x2 chines and shear

Length: 20 ft.

Beam: 62 in. (Hull 33 in.)

Draft: about 6 in.

Displacement: 600 pounds empty

Wheel Diameter: 36 in

Wheel Width: 12 in.

Buckets: 16

Engine Type/Size: Single cylinder vertical shaft Tecumseh - 10 HP - stock configuration

Drive Train Type: centrifugal clutch, v-belt, garden tractor transmission, then chain drive

Built by: Wallace Venable

Built at: Morgantown, WV

Construction Date: 1986-87