Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Columns Underway!

 Hey guys,

Sorry for the late posting.  I've been pretty busy this week and although I've been working on the new gate columns I hadn't gotten around to posting pics.

For those that have been to the blog before, you've seen this process once already.  This is the building of the new gate columns for the exit.  Last year, we built gate columns for the entrance and although some of the building is different ( I used less support in the frame work as the new columns are build from 2x2 and not 1x2) the process will be more or less the same.

But, if you weren't around last year and don't want to scroll down to older posts then this may be of interest. As always, click on the pic to see a larger image...

So, this is the basic construction. I built the columns out of 2x4 that I ripped down to 2x2 and screwed together. Sitting next to the constructed column is the material for the second column.

And here is the second column constructed.

Once the framework was done it was a simple matter of cutting the foam and attaching it to the frame with liquid nail and drywall screws. The screws are really just to hold the foam in place while the liquid nail dries. Sorry, this pic is a little out of focus.

And that is all there is to the basic construction.

Up next, the hard part where the true talent comes in... the carving.  This is where the real magic is introduced and this is where my wife takes over.  :)

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Bridge Construction is Complete!

Hey guys!

Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend I stared working on the new, everyone friendly Hollinger Hollow Bridge.  This new bridge is 16 feet long, 4 feet wide and has a 1:12 slope so people with wheelchairs or walkers can now tour the Hollow along with everyone else.  

The new bridge construction was similar to the old bridge except this is bigger.  Consequentially, it needed a lot more materials and took me a couple weekends to build.

In the spirit of the Hollinger Hollow blog I thought I'd show you how it was constructed.  As with all the pictures in the blog, click on them for a larger view...

 So, here is the basic structure.  You can see the rest of the building materials in this picture as well.  That's 50 2x4's!  What this picture doesn't show is the supports at the front of the ramp.  Well, I guess it kind of does.  You can see one of them in the upper right hand corner of the picture.  You can also see the glue gun on the pile of wood.  That's right folks!  This bridge was glued and screwed.  Can't get any safer than that!

 Once the structure is done it's just a matter of cutting the top surface and gluing and screwing the boards in place.  Running total of liquid nails... 6 tubes.  Running total of decking screws... 9 pounds. 

 Once the first half of the ramp was built I built another one.  Then it was too big to keep working on in the garage (well, too crowded is more like it) so I moved both halves to the patio where I set them back to back and attached them with plates on the outside. This is done so I can take them apart easier for moving and storing.

 For the railing supports I screwed two 2x4's to make a 4x4.  Then I connected them to the deck with 2, 3" lag screws on the outside and a 90 degree plate on the inside.  I made sure to use the most crooked ones for the railing and didn't worry if everything was measure perfectly so I could give it an old, rickety look.

 With the posts in place it was a simple matter of measuring and cutting the top handrail.  

I then added a second, decorative handrail in the middle and topped off the caps of the post with these little skulls.
(In the interest of full disclosure the little skulls are not actually attached but just sitting on the top of the posts.  I'll attach them later.)

So, that is the construction.  I still have to paint it and age it to add to the old, rickety appearance any good haunted graveyard bridge should have. That will probably be shown in a later post.

As it is Monday, I have a few days to figure out what to work on next.  I know I'll need some more fencing and I still need to construct the new exit gate pillars.  As I'm typing this, I'm thinking the pillars are next, but I'll be sure to let you know.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Halloween 2012 Prep!

Hey guys,

Well, It's time to start thinking about Hollinger Hollow 2012!

That said, I made a list of the things we would like to do this year.  I say "like" because it is a pretty ambitious list and to be honest I don't think we can do everything.  Still, it's good to write this stuff down.  That way, when we don't get everything done I'll have a record for next next year!

So, what do we want to do this year?

Professional Fog Machines: Boy, do we need these.  Every year we test three fog machines and in most cases we have to buy one or two new ones.  Then, on the big night, one or two of them freeze up and we run out and buy replacements.  This is getting seriously old and quite frankly, the cheap ones we get suck.  They're great for indoors but in the Texas wind that stirs up (and adds to the ambiance of Halloween every year) we never have enough ground fog!  I'm hoping to one day get an honest, professional ground fogger that will put out enough fog to sustain the night.

New Bridge So, if you've ever visited the Hollow, watched our videos or looked at our pictures then you know we file everyone through the Hollow through a little fenced in path that leads to a bridge where we pass out the candy. I have to admit that when I designed the bridge I was more worried about it's look and didn't stop to think about it's function.  That said, the bridge is not very friendly to the handicapped or elderly.  This is something I witnessed first hand last year when a visitor in a wheelchair wasn't able to go through the Hollow because he couldn't get across the bridge.  This broke my heart and I promised him that if he comes back this year he will be able to go through the Hollow.  Everyone should be able to enjoy Hollinger Hallow and the construction on the new bridge has already started!  From now on, everyone who wants to enter will be able to do so!

 Animate Hell Hole GuyI love the Hell Hole and the charred man climbing out of it but over the years we've added some animation to our characters, but the Hell Hole Guy has remained motionless.  This needs to change.  He needs to move when he reaches out for you.  I consider animating him a "must" this year.

 New Fence PillarsLast year we replaced our entrance archway with "stone" pillars and the look was fantastic.  This year, we want to build two more and replace the exit archway.  The arches served their purpose but now they are old and we just need to do away with them.  Beside, we want the exit to match the entrance.

New Fencing: Every Halloween for the past three seasons has required me to build more fencing for the graveyard.  This is because the graveyard grows in size every year.  Last year it encompassed the entire front yard but I only had enough fencing to create the path to the bridge and the front of the graveyard.  The sides were the typical home center garden picket fencing and truthfully I hate working with it.  Besides, the Hallow will look better if all the fencing matches.

New Mausoleum Guy: The Mausoleum was our first real prop.  The mausoleum itself, although scaled down, is still very large and heavy and it just holds a special place in my heart.  Ever since it's beginning the pop-up skeleton that hides in the mausoleum has been on a remote control, but last year that prop broke the night before Halloween and I had to scramble to find a replacement.  Sadly, I wasn't able to find one with a remote control so I bought a sound activated popper but it turned out the kids going through the Hallow weren't loud enough to trigger him on a consistent basis and consequentially some  people missed out on the scare.  This year, we want to do something different.  I'm not sure what that will be, but I'll let you know what we come up with.

Swampify Graveyard: This one shouldn't be too hard.  We want to give the Hollow more of a "swamp" feel this year.  Think old, Louisiana swamp and you'll get the picture.  Too cool!

TombstonesFor the first several years we've loaded up on store bought tombstones to fill the Hollow.  Last year, we started making our own.  As it turns out, those are the best tombstones.  The ability to personalize them makes the graveyard seem professional and I love coming up with names like Hollis Weem to add to them.  We will definitely be making our tombstones this year instead of buying them.

Finish Sarcophagus GuyLast year I added the Sarcophagus Guy.  The idea was similar to the Coffin Guy but instead of a corpse popping up out a sarcophagus I wanted to have the lid rattle like something was trying to get out but couldn't.  Long story short, I couldn't find a motor to make this work (it was a last minute idea) so I just put your basic grave popper prop in it and the end result was that it looked like a cheaper Coffin Guy prop, which honestly it was.  This year I need to make the lid rattle and give it sound effects.  I really hope I find a way to make this work this year.

 New Front Facade: I've always wanted to dress up the house when we do the Hollow but it truthfully is something that gets lost when we start working on other projects.  I don't want to go crazy, I just want to make the house look a little more Gothic.  A false facade will help do this but honestly, I'm not sure if we'll get to that this year.

Upgrade Coffin Guy for ElectricityEver since his creation, Coffin guy has been a pneumatic prop.  This sounds cool and impressive but I don't have a great way to control the flow of air to the cylinder so I added a ball valve to the supply line and someone has to operate it from behind the side of the house.  This sucks if you're the guy tasked with operating the prop.  I know I'd rather be at the party then sitting in the bushes getting eaten by mosquitoes.  I also hate how loud the air compressor gets when it refills.  If I convert Coffin Guy to electrical controls then I can put a motion sensor on the coffin and he will then be fully automatic.  Again, I'm not certain I'll be able to set this up this year.

So, that is our wish list for this year and as I've pointed out in the descriptions we've already started some of them.  Look for more information in the entries to follow.

Updates coming soon...