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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Electrical transformers are accents you could use in a laboratory scene or electrical room at your haunt. You can make these using some funny things around your workshop. Hey, just like a mad doctor would :p

For a quick rundown of how to put this together, please check this video out:

Materials Needed: (for 2 transformers)
Two trash cans in a good transformer shape
One pool noodle
14" thick manila twisted rope
Four 18" lengths of 3/4" PVC pipe
Two 12" lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe
Two 1/2" PVC elbow connectors
Two 19" lengths of plastic plumber's tape
Two scraps of 1 1/2" foam (6 1/2" long, 3" wide)
Two 12" metal strappings
Four car model wheels or something similar
220 volt sticker
Bullet hole stickers
Portable strobe light
Hot glue sticks
Gray latex Drylok
Monster mud colors (see Grime Up tutorial: http://www.halloweenforum.com/blogs/terra/696-grime-up-props-tutorial.html )

Tools needed:
eXacto knife
Hot glue gun
Dremel with cutting drill bit
Stanley SureForm Shaver
2" paint brush
1/2" paint brush
Small roller

The right and left pictures are of real transformers. You can use these as a basis for your design. The center picture is the beginning stages of assembly using miscellaneous things found and made in the workshop. Yep, that's a pool noodle!

Insulators: Measure 3/8" on the pool noodle. Insert the eXacto knife into the noodle at an angle and cut off. To start fresh on the pool noodle, cut away the remaining angled section of the pool noodle. Measure another insulator disk and cut off. Repeat until you get 68 of them :eek:

Cut from the pool noodle four 3/4" thick (no angles) sections for the bottom of the insulators that will be at the top of the transformer. Hey, you think this is confusing reading...try writing it! ;)

For the insulator stack that will be off to the side of the transformers, you will be further angle cutting 24 of the disks you already made. Insert the eXacto knife at the 1/8" thickness while angling the knife to meet the inside cut that is already there. Basically you are shaving off some of the pool noodle to make a more severe angle.

Cut two 1 1/2" thick disks (angled) for the top of the side insulator stacks.

Top of Insulators: In the real pictures there's some strange attachments at the top of the insulator stacks that need to be replicated. Cut off four 1 1/2" sections of the pool noodle and draw the approximate shape you are after. Cut out and continue to carve away until it looks good enough. Be sure to keep the center intact so you can mount that to the top of the PVC pipe. Just make it a bit skinnier so it doesn't look like the other insulators. In the right picture, the left piece is complete and the right piece is waiting to have the inside ring made smaller to match and a small hole put in it.

Carve Wing-nuts: In the real pictures you will see what looks to be giant wing nuts mounted on the front side of the transformers. Again, cut out four 1 1/2" sections of the pool noodle and draw out the basic shape with the marker and cut away. Continue to carve them until they look like what is pictured. Finally, cut out a donut hole from a spare piece of pool noodle and insert into the opening of the wing-nuts to help fill in the void.

Foam shelf: The stack of insulators off to the side of the transformer looks to be sitting on a shelf of some kind. Take the big chunks of foam, mark the general shape and carve away just like you did with the pool noodle sections. Use the Stanley SureForm Shaver to help get the angles. Cut a hole so you can insert the PVC elbow so it will be hidden inside the foam but you will be able to push the PVC stack of insulators into it later.

Assemble insulators: Four of the stacks of insulators are on the larger diameter PVC (3/4"). Place the 3/4" no angled disks onto each PVC pipe leaving the bottom 6" clear. Divide the 44 thicker (angled) insulator disks into four piles and stack evenly onto each PVC pipe. Top each with the strange toppings you carved earlier.

Two of the stacks of insulators are on the smaller diameter PVC pipe (1/2"). Divide the 24 severe angled disks into two piles and stack them evenly onto the 2 PVC pipes leaving the bottom 1/2" clear. Top with the thick disks (angled).

Car Model Wheels: Find four identical items that would work for the small circular items on the front of the transformer. I used four car model wheels.

Drylok: Paint all of these assembled pieces with two coats of Drylok using the 2" and 1/2" paint brushes. Ignore the scrap of fabric in the picture. It was an idea that was not used.


Top Insulators: Turn your trash cans upside down. Measure out where the four stacks of insulators will go on the top of the transformers. If your trash can had handles, try to align the holes with that so it makes a bit more sense. Make the mark for the hole 2" from the edge. Place the PVC pipe where it will go and trace around it. Using your Dremel, cut out the hole 3/4 of the way through leaving the flap attached near the edge. Push in the stacks of insulators. The remaining flap will help angle the stacks and help hold it in place.

Bullet holes: On one of the transformers place three or four bullet hole decals on it.

220 volt sticker: On the other transformer, place the 220 volt sticker on the front.

Hit damage: On the transformer with the 220 volt sticker, draw with a marker the outline of damage from shrapnel. Use the Dremel to cut out 2/3rds of it leaving the flap on the left-hand side. Push in slightly.

Cut the manila rope in half. For both pieces, unravel them at one end. Glue one piece at the top and one at the bottom of the hit damage from the inside of the trash can so it looks like wires were blown out of it.

Foam Piece and Third Stack: On the left side of each transformer, dry fit where the foam piece with the PVC elbow would be on it. The hole for the PVC elbow is about 2" from the top of the transformer. Mark out where you need to cut out the hole for the elbow to insert into the trash can. Try to be sure it will be a snug fit and cut out with the Dremel. Hot glue the foam and elbow and hold in place onto the transformer until the glue cools. Insert the final stack of insulators on both transformers.

Metal Strapping: Mark the metal strapping at the 2 1/2" mark. Clamp it at the edge of your workbench where that mark is and fold it over with a hammer so it's now bent at a clean 90 degree angle. Hot glue the strapping vertically along the transformer where it will help support the foam piece and stack of insulators.

Plumber's tape: Glue one end of the plumber's tape to the underside of the bent metal strapping. Glue the other end to the strapping on the transformer about 1 1/2" down from the bend. Be sure that the plumber's tape keeps it's natural curve so it basically forms a circle. On a real transformer, this is what attaches the transformer to the telephone pole.

Wing-nuts and Wheels: Glue these into place.

Grime Up: Follow the instructions for griming up a prop: http://www.halloweenforum.com/blogs/terra/696-grime-up-props-tutorial.html to give it the final battle damage look. Don't forget to put the battery-operated strobe light inside of the one with the shrapnel damage...

For a video version of how-to Grime Up props:

All done and thanks again for checking out my tutorial...

450 Posts
Very nice. Great tips and technique. Always luv your work. Thanks for taking your time to post. You gonna be at Hauntcon this year?

Emperor of Candlewood
4,331 Posts
Well now.... As you may have read in my previous blog comments for ya..... Lol! Its always amazing once again, and again, and again... Come on already give me something to critique or a flawed prop that needs anything! Geez.... HaHa J/K! Lol! Triple Krispier Kudos to ya Terra! ;)

Beware of the wand!
2,313 Posts
This is a great tutorial Terra! I'm working on my mad scientists lab and had no clue how to beef it up. I find/do little things, but I needed some BULK. My other half (who is a regional industrial electrician/electrical instrumentation, etc. manager) is out of the state with work, so when he's here he has no time to do my bidding. I could get some awesome "working" things for my haunt if I only knew how to tighten the reigns a little bit. Muahahahahahaaa! But this project is DEFINITELY more my speed. I know I won't set the house on fire. :D

16 Posts
Now that was really cool...Love it! :cool:

Typical Ghoul Next Door
7,980 Posts


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