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Hello All - I thought I would go ahead and post some pics of my skeleton horse project. My brother made me a full-size, horse-drawn hearse last year and now we need a horse to go along with it. I have done a lot of research on here (the advice is fabulous) and I am trying to make a horse similar to a couple others that people have done. I am going with a plywood core, with pink insulation foam on top for the legs. I am going to carve the foam like other folks have done and hopefully it will turn out ok. I don't have the skill level I have seen on here but the people who are going to be seeing my horse won't have seen the other ones so it should be ok. DSC_0829.jpg

I started out with this skull that I found on Craigslist. The woman who I bought it from gave me a discount because it has a bullet hole on the top. I thought that actually added to its value and bought it. She told me the horse's real name was Bessie, so we are going to stick with that.

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I found an image of a horse skeleton on the internet (and believe me, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wanted one that didn't have too much detail so it wouldn't be so hard to cut out and then I also needed one with the proper leg placement. Plus, some of the skeleton drawings were just not very well done.) So, I finally found one I liked and had it transferred onto a transparency so I could use my overhead projector (purchased at a thrift store just for this project) and project it onto my plywood so I could trace the design. We (I say "We" because my husband kindly helped me with this part even though he thinks that I and the rest of my hearse-building family are nuts!) cut the legs out with a saw. You might notice that I added the full size hoof onto the image. I just didn't like the coffin bone look and didn't want to have to mess with trying to come up with forming something else later so I just drew on the full size hoof. Hope it turns out ok but so far I like it.

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Next I drew the leg patterns (8 of them) (2 of each leg) onto the pink foam insulation. I bought some rather thick insulation (I think it is 2"). I wanted the bones to be substantial. We also used 3/4" plywood. I am hoping that the legs will be able to support the horse without me having to stake it. My husband does steel fabricating so I figure we can add some weigh to it if we need to and we can counterbalance the head if necessary also. Those skulls are heavy!

I cut out the foam with a Foam Factory Hot Wire Hot Knife that I got at a hobby store (the kind that sells model trains). This cost about $35 and worked pretty well but it was super slow and you can't push it, you have to be patient. I saw on here that some people had the industrial version of this knife which I would have loved but at $299.00 I couldn't justify it (or afford it) for this project. The knife I used did make nice, clean cuts and was easy to use, so I would recommend it.

I just glued up the 3 piece legs (2 pieces of foam with the plywood sandwiched in between) last night. I used PL 300 Foamboard adhesive by Loctite for the glue. It comes in a caulk tube. If you are doing one of these projects, be careful what kind of glue you get. Be sure it is something you can use on foam because some of the adhesives can melt or burn the foam.

I am hoping today to get the seams filled with the spray foam to fill in the gaps. I bought some Great Stuff - we'll see how that works. Will update this post as I make progress. Really need to get this done in a week or so - I have to get my decorating done for my party! Sorry for the sideways pics - I am an idiot and don't know how to turn them around. Sigh...
 

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DSC_0833.jpg


I filled the seam area with Great Stuff foam. Think I overdid it a little! It isn't looking too great right now but hopefully it will be ok when I trim off the excess. I had so many gaps that I had to fill them. In case anyone else out there is going to do this project, it took me 2 extra large cans of Great Stuff for this. This is getting to be an expensive project. I already have about $110 in it and I still have to buy Liquid Nails, Dryloc, paint, etc.
 

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I love the way you just casually say that your brother made you a full-size hearse last year!!
 

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I love the way you just casually say that your brother made you a full-size hearse last year!!
I know! I'm terrible! I was so excited. I have always wanted one (and my friends and family think I am crazy). Then last year September I found a buggy base for sale with really nice wooden wheels and I bought it. I really didn't expect to get a hearse as fabulous as he made, I was picturing more just something mounted on the wooden buggy box. But he did the whole thing in about 4 weeks. I do have a thread posted here somewhere where I was asking for help finding a round window frame for the back. I will add a pic of the hearse here. My pictures aren't very good, we ended having our party inside our pole barn last year because it rained constantly for weeks. So the lighting wasn't the best. I hope the horse will do the hearse justice!
 

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I really want to do one of these. I had an idea to pipe it with a fogger and throw a 3 axis skull rider on top. My concern was storage though...
That sounds super cool. I would like to do another horse that is rearing and have a headless horseman someday. I do have a pole barn for storage but I think my husband is getting tired of all this Halloween stuff... A friend of ours told my husband last year he should build another pole barn and not tell me where it is. Very funny. I am sure I could find it! My insane brother who built the hearse is doing a cauldron creep this year. I would imagine I will be storing that too. Yeah!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
View attachment 216919


I filled the seam area with Great Stuff foam. Think I overdid it a little! It isn't looking too great right now but hopefully it will be ok when I trim off the excess. I had so many gaps that I had to fill them. In case anyone else out there is going to do this project, it took me 2 extra large cans of Great Stuff for this. This is getting to be an expensive project. I already have about $110 in it and I still have to buy Liquid Nails, Dryloc, paint, etc.
Oops - more than that! I forgot the $20 skull, the $25 projector, the $35 foam knife, the 2 x 4 and the list goes on. Don't tell my husband!
 

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Tool costs should not count as you will use them again and again (or at least that's my excuse)
 

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This looks like it going to be amazing, I would love to see the plans of the horse drawn hearse as well. Very cool
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Tool costs should not count as you will use them again and again (or at least that's my excuse)
I do totally agree but just in case I never do anything in foam again (although I think this is going to be neat enough where I will want to) I though I should mentally include them. I was hoping that I could get rid of the projector (storing all of this stuff is a nightmare) after this but I think I probably need to hang onto that as well.
 

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This looks like it going to be amazing, I would love to see the plans of the horse drawn hearse as well. Very cool
I will have to see what I can come up with. My brother did almost all of the work (I made the curtins:) so he has the plans. He was really good about taking pics too so I will see what I can do. I know that he learned a lot during the project and if he was to do it again he would do some things differently. Our hearse is actually too short for a true coffin but we were ok with that. But if we did another one we would make it larger.
 

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Sounds cool, any pics would be great! I have 4 coffins finished and live the idea of a hearse. I bought a 15 x30 storage shed just for my Halloween props so I would have the room to store it. I'm especially interested in how to do the wheels
 

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Sounds cool, any pics would be great! I have 4 coffins finished and live the idea of a hearse. I bought a 15 x30 storage shed just for my Halloween props so I would have the room to store it. I'm especially interested in how to do the wheels
The wheels were my biggest concern too. I found a Studebaker doctor's buggy from 1910 on Craigslist that had been in an accident and had damage to the box and seat, etc. But the frame and wheels were perfect. We bought that, originally just for the wheels. But we decided we could use the frame too and could mount our hearse to that. We needed to extend the wheel base because it was too short and the wheels were too close together. My husband has a steel fabricating shop so he was able to do that for us. I will see if I can find some pics of that. I know there are some people on here who have made the wheels out of plywood but that sounds like so much work. One other advantage we have is that our base and wheels is really strong. In theory we could tow it down the road if we wanted too (although because of weight considerations my brother made the floor of the hearse out of some fairly thin wood so we really can't put anything heavy inside of it.) We didn't want it to be too heavy because he made the hearse body separately from the wheel base and we had to lift the whole thing onto the base. That part got interesting but we were able to get it on. I will try to get some pics up. Having trouble with my camera right now.
 

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DSC_0835.jpg

Here are some pics of the legs after they have been carved. I am not really happy with them but I just don't have time to keep messing with them. We filed off as much of the Great Stuff out of the seams as we could (and then sometimes too much of it came off and left some gaps) so I am really hoping that the liquid nails will be able to even this up. If I did this again, I would make sure that my foam legs were a tiny bit wider than my plywood. In some spots my plywood sticks out and I can't even that out with the foam. I don't know what I will do if the Liquid Nails can't work miracles. Maybe put on more than one coat on the seams? I did the carving with a Dremel Multi Pro that I have had forever. I had a little sanding bit and that worked pretty well. I wasn't sure how deep to make the cuts so I hope this works. Everything is trial and error!
 
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