View Full Version : falling walls

04-16-2009, 12:04 AM
We have a section of wall on hinges from the floor, so it kind of tips when the top is let go, giving the effect that the wall is going to fall on you. Any ideas on how we could hook up some kind of automated motor system to release it with a latch and them retract it?

Dr. Giggles
04-16-2009, 08:07 PM
A techy with a winch to bring it back up and a pull switch to let it go?

04-17-2009, 01:31 AM
thanjks for the reply. What is a techy and pull switch. I can kind of get the concept of letting it go with maybe a step pad or motion sensor that riggers some kind of selinoid (sp?) to let a latch go, but the reset is what has me the most confused. Also how would the winch know how much to pull it up?

Dr. Giggles
04-17-2009, 09:44 AM
Um you know on those old fashion tow trucks it was the chain connected to a winch, but the winch is wound by hand with a lever. A techy is an abbreviation of like a person who helps out backstage and makes sure everything runs smoothly. I use several to set of props in the haunt because it just puts to much stress on our actors and we want them to focus on getting the live scare. So yeah once the walls fall have like some sort of rope or chain attached to it through a loop attach to the cieling (through some sort of loop) and down to the winch. When the wall falls, the actor winds up the winch which brings in the rope or chain or whatever and if its attached properly to the wall you can bring the call to a standing position once again.
Oh and techy's also double as security in my haunt.

04-17-2009, 09:51 AM
A pneumatic behind the wall with a cable through a pulley or two to give the movement.

As always, don't forget SAFETY. Have redundent safety cables at each end and even in the middle in case anything breaks.

Smashed haunters are only for the conventions. lol

04-18-2009, 12:44 AM
lol there are some we would like to smash j/k. I was thinking that is what techy meant. We were really wanting to do it totally automated. You guys have given me some food for thought. Thanks for the insight.

The Mad Hatter
04-18-2009, 01:14 AM
Really cool idea I love it! Best of luck with it. post some pictures when your done, if you feel like sharing secrets! Thanks!

-Frank Balzer

Jim Warfield
04-18-2009, 06:29 AM
Build it as strong , yet as light as you can. Then have a counter weight system to help pull it back up. A large wheeled pulley with a steel continer that sand and rocks can be placed in gives you the ability to fine tune the weight of it. (Or maybe we are all "one brick short of a load" all ready?)
The counter weight should be contained inside a track to keep it moving the two directions you need it to not be free to swing all around. Grease the containment track well and your cable and pulley.
Extreme cold can affect the workings too.
If your counter weight is right you could be resetting it possibly by hand or with a small cranky-thing (Great-Grandma?)
I have spent the last 21 years trying make the walls, floors and ceiling here to stop falling!
If you really want to scare the customer look into creating some "Falling Pants"!
Make sure to hide the reset crank well.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2009, 10:06 AM
Now I'm imagining a haunt that is like running through a long line of dominos falling. Groups of six running through and it takes 3 day to reset. So they each have to pay $1000 each for the experience and show proof of a life insurance policy of $10,000 (enough to bury them) if they can't keep ahead of the mayhem. The whole haunt season could be 15 minutes of fame!

It gets filmed for Utoob with some kind of sponsorship for even more income from the internet 24/7 while I make coffee.

I have seen wall systems like this and what appears to be the rafters of the ceilng become links to keep the unit from only travelig so far and to link it to the pull back mechanics out of view. It requires solid walls to be near to harness everything to. Otherwise the whole machine requires that you build a big box that is weighted like a crane counterweight just to have something to hook a machine to.

It is easier to pull straight up like an Engine pulling "A" frame than to push laterally (sideways). For safety what the wall falls against also needs to be an outrageous counterweighted or permanent stucture that can handle being pounded on 10,000 times. Chains or straps on the back can be used but shouldn't be the only defense for it really falling as they will stress out first in the design and pull off how ever they are attatched. Hence long links with more hinge points and a soft landing, maybe a spring bumper system.

Car coil springs as a stopping point will also keep every screw in the wall from absorbing shock and coming apart. Perhaps it is metal framed with a wooden skin that matches the rest of the haunt.

It is also not safe to continously have a cylinder where the end of the travel is the rod stopping on the end cap at full extend. It will come apart as well. There must be other means of bumping to a stop. The cylinder never fully extends. I have seen some like this too and it isn't good.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2009, 10:17 AM
The safe way is that it is an L shape with the counter weights on the bottom of the L and the hinges on the left bottom of the L. Then what appears to be falling is actually being pushed against the wieght and never is really falling at all or has to crash to a stop. Then the pnuematic is released slowly bleeding down to return to an upright position.

At no time for the machine as well as for the safety does it go over the center of gravity of all the weight where it could tip toward customers uncontrolled. It should still incorporate and over head link system so the pnuematic link hits a spring to move fast against a stop and not fully extend the cylinder. Or spring connected straps in line with the cylinder to control full extent. Like how racers put nylon straps on suspensions so the shock absorbers do not fully extend over and over flying over the baja.

Jim Warfield
04-18-2009, 10:21 AM
You stress and mention numerous times needing large counter weights and or solid walls to hold everything...when I was in mere high school about 100 years ago I designed and built a "Skyhook" System.
Defying gravity is not a perminet thing, and any of our soft, floppy body parts attest to the truth in that!
Big steel washers ans steel plates bolted through wood and plywood helps the lumber survive his continius beating.
Why do I have these steel plates in my head?
Just preparing for physical haunt abuse , and my continiuos beatings!

Greg Chrise
04-18-2009, 02:10 PM
Yes, Obi one

But you are from an age and or planet where there were properly stocked hardware stores.

Jim Warfield
04-18-2009, 02:19 PM
When much younger I would become muchly excited in a hardware store. I actually met a young woman who was the same way with these stores..but it was not to be, if it would have tried to have happened ..she would have worn upon me too hard.
She found another partner to give this grief to, then she got Really Wacky!
She is a child of the Full Moon, the rest of the time she hides from the Sun.

04-18-2009, 08:43 PM
We've done the falling wall in various styles and versions. But rather than a full one piece wall, I break it into three segments with each tipping 15 degrees. It will give a little bit more of a dramatic fall, and since each segment is safety cabled to the back frame, is much easier to manage weight wise. Mine is built using a tubular steel frame with the panels attached to the front of the tipping frame. I use 1/4" aircraft cable in three places on each segment creating an extremely redundant system. Here are a couple of wall pictures where we used corrugated steel for the finish look.
I attached short lengths of small chain to the back side of the steel siding and got one hell of a racket when it fell.

And here's a short video of the same idea used for falling barrels:
These are actually steel 55 gallon barrels that have been made to look like wooden wine barrels for our wine cellar. As you can see, by going 15 degrees with each barrel in a stack of three, the result puts the top barrel just over the heads of the group. It regularly puts people into a full panic mode.

Both the wall and the barrels are manually operated by a tech. However I do have falling bookcases that operate via pneumatics that work very well. Again I use three segments to achieve a full 45 degree pitch, and each segment has it's own pair of short throw pneumatic cylinders backed up by safety cables

04-19-2009, 12:55 AM
Wow you guys are getting over my head real fast with all this lol!

Jim you never cease to crack me up and down!

This started as an accident when we were building some walls and one of them fell toward me as we were screwing it in. It is just a 4x8 piece of light ply wood painted grey. we put hinges on the bottom connect to the floor and the top rests against a stopper and also has saftey cables. it falls maybe 2 feet, but enough to get the effect, but not hit even a talll person. So a person behind it could make it work as it is now, but we want a challange. I know a guy that is an airtool repair guy, so he might be able to help.

Thanks so much and I will share any "secrets" with you guys, atleast haunted house related lol. One thing I would like to share is the air guy took an old nailer guy and put a small pvc pipe on the end, this makes a loud bang and burst of air, we used it last year to scare the hell out of people. Also we are using a lot of l.e.d. lights, makes an erie glow and lights only what you want, we stuffed some christmas lights in a bucket to make s spot light and had some single l.e.d.s with a little pvc pipe fitting around them to make a small, but effective spot light. we also collet and use the frames of kids beds, that look like jail bars.

Just some little things that are making our haunt better.

Jim Warfield
04-19-2009, 07:32 AM
Many years ago, (notice how many of my posts say that?) I was given something like 95 old bed frames from the defunct college here in town. I cut and welded them together making many things here, then years later some of the welds began popping apart because the metal they were made of was not quite your normal steel but maybe a steel/wrought iron mix?
Most of the welds have remained intact but one weld breaking at a certain place at the wrong time could cause some real problems...
Some of them were almost impossible to drill holes through too.

04-21-2009, 08:57 AM
I knew I had these drawings somewhere, but here's a couple of views of how our the framework for our walls are made:


Neither drawing shows the safety cables, but I hope you can get the idea. By breaking each segment into 15 degrees, the end result puts the top portion directly above their heads and the scare factor is increased much more than if the wall just tips out at the top.

Mad Wax Sculptor
05-01-2009, 12:09 AM
my best scare used a door hinged at the bottom screwed to the floor, When people walked in the chainsaw man kicks the door down as he comes into the room. We designed it so it was partitioned so no one was hit by the door. This was a great scare but killer on the actor (me) as the door was manually pulled up on a rope and pully system thousands of times a weekend. We later used it again in our new location but alas it only lasted our first hour as it was a thru put killer sending crazed people back into the haunt and backing up groups

05-01-2009, 02:32 AM
How about a Pneumatic piston activated by motion sensor or pressure pad,and then a switch when wall falls to activate something like a garage door type of mechanism with a stop switch to switch off the motor when the wall has been returned ? ( Like that of a Garage Door Switch )

05-03-2009, 02:07 AM
the garage door and p[iston idea makes perfect sense. Thanks for all the insight. Have been busy with other things latley, but will be getting back to it soon.

Btw you guys have been very helpfull. I have a professional compnay that makes radio commercials, voice overs ect. I was the trailer voice of Showtime's Masters Of Horror a few years ago. I am also on Sirius/XM and a bunch of radio stations ect. If you want some voice work done FREE go to my website radioimaging.com and check out my demos. If you like it, shoot me an email, jim@wggh.net. Thanks again. Just my little way of saying thanks.