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The flying crank ghost is a classic and should be a staple of anyone's haunt. The flying crank ghost, FCG for short, is a motorized device with a prop suspended beneath it by one or more wires. The prop is animated by the wires much like a marionette. When used with a ghost prop, typically with three wires, the ghost slowly drifts up and down as its arms drift independently. The effect is very spooky and even more so under a blacklight.

In brief the operation is as follows, the motor is centralized in the rig and rotates a crank. To the end of the crank are attached the prop wires. The wires are routed away in different directions through pulleys and connected to different parts of the prop. As the motor turns, the wires are pulled along with the crank. When the crank is on one side of the circle it traces, the wires to the nearest pulley lower the prop, while the wire to the farthest pulley lifts the prop. As the crank turns, the arrangement reverses. The wires raise or lower the prop dependent upon their position in relation to the pulley and the distance from the crank.

While the FCG does require some assembly, it isn't complicated. Precise measurements are not critical and construction of the rig can be done with a hacksaw and a drill. While you might be intimidated it you are not particularly mechanically inclined, this project is easier than it looks and is fairly forgiving of small errors.

We'll provide measurements for our model later, but the measurements are not critical and can be modified to suit your situation without any serious concerns. The key considerations to size are as follows. The length of the crank, times two, is how far the wire will travel up and down. Wires connected to the end of a 12" crank will lift and drop your prop by 24". Each pulley should be mounted about 1" farther away from the center of the motor shaft than the length of the crank. If you use a 12" crank, the pulleys should each be mounted at least 13" away from the motor shaft to allow for movement of the crank. The distance of the pulleys from each other pulley should roughly match the size of your prop. If three pulleys are each about 24" apart, the prop attachment points should be about 24" apart.

The rig can be built from metal or wood. The drawback with wood is that in order to keep it light, smaller dimensional lumber is required and that greatly increases the risk of breakage. If you do use wood, we recommend the use of a hardwood such as oak. If you build the rig from metal, 3/4" aluminum "L" will suffice and wll keep the rig lightweight. Also, while the rig could be welded, use of bolts allows for disassembly and more compact storage. I suspect you could make a suitable rig out of a piece of 1/2" EMT conduit, but I haven't tried it myself.

Materials List for Metal Rig

  • 3/4" aluminum "L" (8 ft)

  • 1/4" x 2" "eye" bolts (7)

  • 1" x 12" 1/8" flat aluminum

  • 1/16" aircraft wire (15 ft)

  • 1/16" aircraft wire lock fasteners

  • 1/4" washers (xx)

  • 1/4" x 1 1/2" fender washer

  • 1/4" x 1" bolt

  • 1/4" nuts (xx)

  • small pulleys (3)

  • 1/4" wire clamp (1)

  • 6-8 rpm motor

  • motor mounting screws

  • lamp cord (15 ft)

  • plug

  • flat black paint

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