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zondag 12 oktober 2014

Roadblocks, part 1

Allright, here's the first entry in this year's batch of Halloween props! Like last year, we're part of the haunt in the local zoo. Last year we did a graveyard, this year is going to be something completely different. I'm not gonna tell what, though!
Here are some things I learned last year:

  • Styrofoam and monster mud are great for static props, but not for stuff that will be transported. It's too fragile for that.
  • Unless you're good at acting and improvising, don't count on visitor participation.
The first thing I'm going to build is a set of roadblocks, wich will be placed at the start of our spot. The roadblock will consist of a raised boom barrier with a stop sign, and two portable barriers. This post will be about the boom gate. There will also be a some sort of sign next to it, but I'm not gonna build that yet, mainly because it would give away our theme...

  • wood (34 x 34 mm, 12 x 44 mm and 12 x 93 mm)
  • plywood (large 122 x 244 sheet, 3 mm thick)
  • nails and wood glue
  • PVC tube
  • Saw & mitre box
  • paint
The boom gate
The boom gate will be constructed in a similar manner as the cemetery gate pillars I built last year: a wooden frame covered with panels. I'm not going to use styrofoam, though, because it's way too fragile. I'm going to use plywood this time. The boom will be fixed in a raised position (no need to be able to lower it), and will be made from PVC pipe.

The frame
I started by building a wooden frame from 34 x 34 mm and 12 x 44 mm sections of lumber. Here's the plan I drew, with a side and front view:

The left part of the plan is the side view. The interior of the box will remain accessible. The original idea behind it was so I could place some weight in it to keep it stable, but the box is heavy enough on its own to remain stable.
I started by building the two sides of the box. Two identical part, but mirrored. The diagonal piece was a bit tricky and required some very precise cutting to make it fit as intended. And, of course, the angles had to be exactly 90 degrees or it would wobble like hell!

Next, the two sides are joined together to form a box. Notice I put some sort of "floor" in it. That was intended for putting in extra weight in case it was too light to be stable, but that didn't turn out to be necessary.

Next up: boarding it up with plywood! When I went to the hardware store for a sheet of plywood, it turned out they only had the biggest sized sheets (122 x 244 cm). I couldn't fit that in my car, and I didn't really want to pay a lot to have it delivered at home. I could have borrowed my dad's trailer, but that would mean I had to go to my parents, unload all the stuff they always keep in the trailer, pick up the plywood, drop it off at home, return the trailer and load all the stuff in it again. It would take me all day! Luckily, I live only about 2 kilometers from the hardware store, so I just walked home with it! I took a shopping cart (I don't really think you're allowed to do that) and just took a big sheet of plywood over the sidewalk, through the city center, to my place. Not easy when it's windy, but I managed to get it home without causing any traffic accidents.
I carefully measured the different panels I would need and started cutting them. Since I don't own an electric jigsaw or anything like that, I cut everything with a hand saw! Luckily, thin plywood is very easy to cut. I used wood glue and nails to board it up. The entire frame will be closed, with the exception of a small section in the back, so the interior remains accessible.

The boom
The boom is made of two parts: the boom itself, made from PVC tube, and the assembly that holds it and connects it to the box. Unfortunately, I didn't take enough pictures of it, so here's the only work in progress picture I made:

The PVC tube will be inserted between the two boards, and will be kept in place using a PVC coupler that's screwed to the back board. On the following picture, you see how it works:

I also added some nuts and bolts cut from some MDF after taking this picture, you'll see them in the next pictures.

I started by painting the entire thing gray, and painting red and white stripes on the PVC tube.

Next, I painted some text on the front using masking tape (lots of it) and black paint. I also added yellow and black stripes.

To break up the monotone gray surface, I then drybrushed some black paint over it, followed by dark green. Finally, to finish it, I mixed some very diluted dark green and let some drops of it drip down the sides.

Here's what the finished gate looks like. I didn't take any pictures of the stop sign being made, it's simply a piece of plywood painted red and white. I screwed some screw eyes in the back, so it can be attached to the boom using cable ties.

In the next part, I'll talk about road barriers and a welcome sign.

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