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I’ve always wanted a ghost that would fly throughout my haunts, and last year I finally got my wish!!
Enter the Axworthy ghost.
The Axworthy ghost is basically a suspended pulley track above the ground that you can fly a ghost from. I built mine out of old bike wheels attached to conduit that was pounded into the ground.
All of the guests at my haunted Halloween party were awestruck as they watched this ghostly spirit silently float throughout the quiet graves. Then, without a sound, would return to the party, hovering high above their heads…it was a hit to say the least!
Here’s my Axworthy ghost in action!
Putting the Motor Together
We used an old hand drill (bought at goodwill) that we attached to a simple homemade platform (made from 2in wide flat strap welded together) to run the whole pulley system
Here’s a closer look at the motor in action:
- Approx. 6ft of 2in wide flat strap
- One old hand drill (this will be the motor)
- One adult sized bike wheel (Smaller bike wheels work, but they tend the whip the ghost around the turn faster than a larger wheel does)
- One Variable speed controller (to control the speed of the motor)
- Welder (any kind)
- Chop saw with a metal cutting blade
- Grinder to grind off sharp edges of metal after cutting
- Hand drill or drill press with metal drilling bits (to drill holes into mounting arms and motor plate)
These are the approximate measurements of the homemade motor platform we welded together (the whole platform is actually upside down in the pic)
It’s pretty simple…screw the mounting arms onto something stable that will hold the weight of the whole contraption (like the edge of a roof or an awning). Then mount the old hand drill (the motor) onto the motor plate at the other end
We attached the drill to the motor plate with a large U-bolt
One more note…make sure the shaft is long enough so that your ghost won’t hit the wall when turning. You want your motor to overhang far enough away from any walls so that you won’t have this problem
I had to build a makeshift awning out of a couple of 2x4s so that the ghost wouldn’t hit the wall when turning on the wheel. I think if I were to build another motor platform, I would make the shaft at least another foot or foot and a half longer so the motor would overhang out further from the wall, preventing the ghost from hitting the wall while turning
Attaching the wheel (or pulley) to the motor was a cinch…I simply inserted the axle of the wheel into the drill where you would normally insert drill bits, and then tightened.
Plug in the Variable speed controller to the motor to control how fast your motor will spin
Here is a close look on how the variable speed controller works: (you’ll notice that the wheel and motor platform are a little different as it was one of the first ones that we made)
Making the Pulleys
- Bike wheels (Decide on how many bike wheels you’ll need…for every turn your ghost makes, you will need a wheel. At first I used a couple of kid-sized bike wheels and I found that the smaller the wheel, the faster the ghost will flip around the turn) I like my ghost to turn slow and graceful, which is why I prefer adult-sized bike wheels. Also, make sure all of the axles on the wheels spin freely. If they’re rusted and seized, they won’t work!)
- Wing nut on each axle for each wheel (Make sure all of your wheels have a wing nut that will screw onto the axle (with the exception of the wheel that attaches to the motor which you won’t need the wing nut)
- 3/4in diameter conduit pipe in 5ft lengths (you will be pounding these into the ground) You’ll need as many of these as you have bike wheels
- 1/2in diameter conduit pipe (cut your lengths the height that you want your ghost to suspend in the air) You’ll need as many of these as you have bike wheels
- Eyebolt and nut (you will need as many as you have wheels)
- Pieces of scrap metal (approx. 1in x 2in) Doesn’t need to be fancy as this will be welded to the bottom of each 3/4in conduit pole to prevent the poles from spinning and twisting when they are pounded into the ground
- Black spray paint-I painted all of my poles and wheels to help hide them in the dark
- Chop saw or grinder with metal cutting blade
- Welder (any kind)
- Hand drill or drill press with metal cutting bits
Unscrew the wing nut from the axle of the wheel
Weld the wing nut into the end of one of your 1/2in round conduit pipes.
We used a screwdriver to hold the wing nut in place while welding
The wider part of the wing nut should be facing out
Now screw the wing nut back onto the axle (sorry for the blurry pic!)
The wheel is now attached to the 1/2in round conduit and should spin freely
With the 3/4in round conduit pipe, drill a hole slightly larger than the shaft of the eyebolt (but not larger than the nut) The hole should be about 8 or 10 inches from the end of the conduit
With the nut screwed onto the eyebolt, place the shaft of the eyebolt into the hole (the eyebolt should just slide right in since the hole is a little larger)
Weld the nut onto the conduit, making sure NOT to weld the eyebolt also… The eyebolt should be able to unscrew from the nut after the nut is welded
At the other end of the 3/4in round conduit pipe (the bottom part that will be pounded into the ground), we made a ‘T’ by welding on a rectangular piece of metal to keep the poles from spinning while in the ground (something we were having an issue with until we figured this out)
Now pound the 3/4in round conduit about 1 or 2ft into the ground (far enough in so that it’s sturdy)
To avoid chewing up the ends of the conduit while hammering, we used a homemade metal sleeve that fit over the conduit, but a tee-post pounder would work just as well
Slide the 1/2in round conduit pipe (with the wheel attached) into the 3/4in conduit pipe that is already pounded into the ground.
Find the height that you want the wheel and then tighten the eyebolt
I spray painted all of my wheels and pipes black to keep it all hidden at night
Making the Ghost
Since I wanted something with a little more flare I put more work into my ghost, but you can make a really easy light-weight ghost by simply draping some cheesecloth over a round ball of Styrofoam and hanging it with a piece of strong fishing line.
I can’t stress enough that the ghost needs to be as lightweight as possible, and after LOTS of trial and error, this is what I came up with:
Tools & Supplies:
- Acetone-free fingernail polish remover and cotton ball (to remove the date that is stamped on the milk jug)
- Sharpie marker
- Low Heat Hot Glue gun (used when it’s time to hang ghost high above onto the main pulley line)
- Clear plastic bag
- Milk carton
- Heavy grade fishing line (I used 50 pound grade)
- Black paint and applicater for blacking out eyes
- Cheesecloth (you will need two pieces at 3ft x 8ft in length )
- Box cutter
- Small sewing button
- Ball bearing fishing swivel with interlock snap
- Green glow bracelet-(A regular sized glow stick is too heavy)
- Life-sized skull for molding the milk jug to (it must withstands high heat from the heat gun) You can use a ceramic skull or do what I did and use a Bucky skull
- Heat gun
With the sharpie, draw around the handle and top as so…
Cut along line with scissors or knife
In order to fit the milk jug onto the skull, make two more lines (about 2 or 3in in length) on the top sides and then cut along lines
Draw and cut one more line at the bottom (about 2-3in in length)
Set up your skull that you’ll be molding the milk jug to. (I used a piece of pvc pipe and an umbrella stand to keep it propped up)
See my video on how to mold a milk jug skull with a heat gun…
After you’ve made your milk jug skull, punch two small holes in the back and tie together with a piece of fishing line. Let about 2ft of line dangle from the back. (I also blacked out the eye sockets with my black paint)
Tie another piece of fishing line (another 2ft) to your small button
Punch a small hole in the top of the skull and poke the end of the fishing line through. The button will stop at the hole which will allow the skull to hang.
You now should have to pieces of fishing line sticking out from the skull (one from the top, and one from the back
I used some fingernail polish remover and a cotton ball to remove the stamped date that was on the milk jug
Gather both sheets of cheesecloth and starch and iron it
Drape each piece of cheesecloth over the milk jug skull
Pull the two pieces of fishing line up through the cheesecloth. The line on the top is the main hanging line that will support the weight of the ghost. The line in the back basically stabilizes the ghost so it wont twist and turn while flying. Tie a ball bearing fishing swivel to the ends of both the lines, leaving the main hanging line about 6in long and the stabilizing line about 8-10in long
Here is a look at how the ball bearing swivels will hang onto the actual pulley line that will allow the ghost to fly
I trimmed the cheesecloth to get rid of some weight. In the pick the cheesecloth is really long, but I found out later that it was just too heavy and I had to trim it down as much as possible
I cut large triangles up into the fabric, which also gave it a more tattered look
To make the ghost head glow, I used a glow bracelet wrapped up in a clear plastic bag. I simply lifted up the ghosts’ skirts and stuffed the bag up inside the hollow head of the ghost
The bag stays put stuffed into the head, and I didn’t even have to glue it in. This makes it simple to remove and replace the glowing bracelet for the next night
…and here he is with all the lights turned out!
Putting it all together
It’s time to hang the pulley line. (It’s easiest to get a helper for this part)
Have your helper hold one end of the fishing line (keeping tension on the line), and string it all up going from one pulley to the next. You’ll need a ladder for this! After it’s all strung up you’ll end up back where you started and will have to make a strong knot in both ends of the fishing line (I went on YouTube to see how to correctly tie fishing line so that it won’t slip out of the knot)
Hang your ghost onto the line with the swivel hooks. I use a few pea-sized blobs of hot glue on the pulley line to work as stoppers for the swivel hooks. When you turn the motor on, the pulley line will move. The stoppers basically ‘grab’ the swivels, taking your ghost with them. If you don’t have these stoppers, the pulley line will start to slip through the swivels, causing the ghost not to move.
I actually use two stoppers for each swivel hook. The arrows show how the swivel can move freely in-between each stopper. I leave about 4-6inches in-between the stoppers. The lone middle stopper you see in the pic is just an extra one I added if I wanted to adjust anything.
- If the pulley line keeps falling off the track…
- Ghost may be too heavy. Main line should be pretty straight after ghost is hung and not be sagging from the weight.
- Line isn’t tight enough
- Pulleys aren’t angled correctly. Notice the pulley on the left, how it’s angled ever so slightly so that the fishing line lines up with the wheel. We angled it by simply bending the conduit a little bit.
- Line is too tight and is bending the conduit so that the pulleys are not angled correctly with the fishing line
- Motor is running too fast and ghost whips off the track
- Ghost is hitting or snagging something
- The conduit poles are rocking back and forth too much and one or two will need to be stabilized. We attached a 2×4 to this conduit pole and it stopped the rocking.
- Hot glue stoppers are too big causing the line to jump off. Make sure they are no larger than about the size of a pea
- Pulley Line is moving, but ghost isn’t
- Hot glue stoppers on pulley line are too small and are slipping right through the swivel hooks
Wishing you all a Happy Haunted Halloween!!!
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