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Funeral Crasher
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7,435 Posts
Discussion Starter #1






VIDEO:

https://youtu.be/fTJSfBQC-WI

This a project I actually completed for Halloween 2017, but have been lax in finding the time to take some decent pics and shoot a video of it in action.
I always loved the Grave-Digging Skeleton, but always wondered if I could re-engineer it in a new way and with a different motor. I figured that since the arms of the skeleton are already attached to the handle of the shovel, why not figure out some way to actually make the arms move the shovel back and forth, instead of mounting the motor and crank right behind the shovel.
This is what I came up with. I used this motor, which is readily available from many sources and is a bit cheaper in price than the wiper motors.



It is really a 24 volt DC, 45 RPM motor, but it can be operated at half speed (23 RPM) at 12 volts DC. (Some of the torque of the motor is lost, but it has plenty to do the job for this prop.) I’ve used this same motor to power my Swinging Skeleton and many other Halloween props for many years with great success. This same motor is available from Surplus Center, Electronic Goldmine and AllElectronics in the range of $10 to $15.

In a nutshell, the project consisted of removing the arms and using a length of ½” PVC pipe from shoulder to shoulder, with the arms attached at both ends to allow them to pivot forward and back.



This motor was mounted in the rear of the pelvic area of the skeleton, with a long crank on the motor hooked to a bracket on the backside of the PVC (the piece with the arms attached). It’s mounted right in the middle of the PVC, where the spine is located. (Had to use a Dremel tool to cut out some of the plastic ‘ribs’ of the skeleton to allow for proper movement.)
I then used some thin, flat aluminum metal stock to make my own mounts for the motor.
(The plastic protection over the motor was installed temporarily to keep Trick-or-Treaters from pinching their fingers on Halloween night.)

VIDEO:

https://youtu.be/_z5yns6YvgM



I used a heat gun to soften the wrist areas of the lower arms in order to rotate them 90 degrees for the hands to properly grip the shovel. Used the heat gun also to form the fingers in a curled position to fit around the shovel handle.

Lastly, I added a small, 6 RPM Synchronous Motor inside the head of the skeleton to give him a side to side head movement. I even figured out a way to get some added jaw movement.

VIDEO:

https://youtu.be/pBWl7p1WPCQ





The coffin you see in the video with him will eventually have another animated skeleton kneeling beside it attempting to pry open the coffin. The set-up would be a scene where the digging skeleton has partially unearthed the coffin and the second skelly is trying to free their friend from his tomb. I’m still working on that part, but it should be completed by this Halloween.

VIDEO:
https://youtu.be/sBqWbU4IJjE

Any comments are appreciated!
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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6,686 Posts
I love the movement - the jaw and the head turning is really great! I didn't notice the actual coffin creeping open until a second view tho! :D

Great looking setup - would love to see it with your other skelly like you're planning and all lit up. :cool:
 

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Registered
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864 Posts
Thanks so much for posting. We really enjoy your approach to the haunted shovel genre of props. The moving head adds a great deal of realism to the prop. As with so many props that appear here, it is so much fun to see them show up, then get tweaked by others, altered into something entirely new by others, and inspire a whole bunch of us who don't have a clue how to make anything without the help of those who started it all. :) We really do appreciate the photos and videos showing how you pulled it all together.
 

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Funeral Crasher
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7,435 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all of the positive comments!
I appreciate all of them.

chubstuff - yes, you said a mouthful. Although I have come up with many original props over the years, most of the animated props I've built were originally conceived by another haunter. It wasn't until 2002 when I was first on the internet that I realized "Hey, I could actually build my own Halloween props".
And if I built if myself, I know exactly how to repair it if it breaks.
We all inspire each other and I've never found a more helpful group of people than the haunters on this forum. They have always been willing to help out and share any information they can give.
It's a nice family to be in !
 
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