What's all this, then?

Each Halloween season, when the Greenwood Reaper inhabits my yard, people ask me “How did you make it?” and “What is it made from?”.

Since I’m making a bigger and better reaper I figured I’d make this blog to answer those questions. This is also a way for interested parties to ask questions and see the progress of the project.

The only regular time I spend building is on the week-ends, so it’s likely posts will appear early in the week.

The posts appear with the newest on top, so if you're new to the sight scroll to the bottom to read the beginning.


Monday, March 24, 2008

The Spine

The original Reaper had a frame that was bent at the back to mimic a spinal column. It worked ‘ok’ but it was a lot of effort for not much pay-off. It took hours to get the bends right and to weld it all together.
Since the shape of the new frame does not lend its self to the lines of a human skeleton I need to add some non-structural parts so that the costume hangs right.
I started off with a 10 foot long, 4 inch diameter piece of ABS (black plastic) pipe.
To get a decent bend I applied heat, first with a small space heater, then with a heat gun.*

Once it was hot to the touch (and my work space had a very vague odor of plastic) I used a ratcheting tie-down strap to apply compressive force on one side (in other words I put one hook on each end and ratcheted away). I only used as much force as I was able to using one hand.
Over the next few hours I moved the heater and heat gun around to various places and tightened the tie-down strap enough to get a nice gentle, spine-like bend.

I used the same method to un-bend the base of the spine (the lumbar curve).

I made the individual vertebrae using some cheap irrigation pipe (white).

After consulting my friend Deb (a licensed massage therapist, who has forgotten more about anatomy than I will ever know) I used more of the cheap irrigation pipe to make the Spinous Process and the Transverse Process.

I used ¾” drywall screws to attach all of the vertebrae pieces directly to the ABS.

*IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Do not, under ANY circumstances, use an open flame to heat plastic pipes. ABS, in particular, catches on fire quite readily. Nothing will ruin your day faster than a ten foot chunk of blazing plastic in your workspace. Such a dramatic event didn't happen to me, but I did set a 1 foot section on fire a few years back (I was trying to smooth out a badly drilled hole by using a MAPP gas torch) ...dumb.

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