by Scary Terry

  This is a how-to for making a set of dancing skeletons for your Halloween window display. It uses a pair of cheap, glow-in-the-dark plastic skeletons like you can get from Oriental Trading or, during Halloween season, from many local stores. Play a little Monster Mash in the background and it looks like the skeletons have taken over. Here's a short video of them in action .  

  Here's what my Dancing Skeleton rig looks like. (You can click on any of the images for a larger picture). It's really just a modified Flying Crank Ghost mechanism. It consists of a metal frame that's used for mounting a wiper motor and arm. It's attached to a pair of wooden 2x2's that allow the whole thing to be mounted to the ceiling, provide a place for hanging the skeletons and allow the moving pieces of fishing line to be routed to the skeletons.  

  Here's a top view of the mechanism showing the wiper motor and eyebolts that are used for attaching the thing to the ceiling. Mine goes in a room with an inverted "v" ceiling, so the ends of the wooden 2x2's go up against the ceiling and there's still room for the motor and mounting hardware under the peak of the ceiling. The design I'll present on these pages will be one that can be mounted to a flat ceiling. If you have a different ceiling, you're on your own to figure out how to mount it.  


Here's a video that shows a behind-the-scenes view of the dancing skeletons in action .


Parts List:
Note: With the exception of the motor, power supply, speed control and skeletons, these items should be readily available at your local home center/hardware store or sporting goods store for the fishing line and weights. Sources for the other items are described in the text.  
1-Saturn wiper motor (see wiper motor page)
1-power supply for motor (see text)
1-motor speed controller (optional-see text)
15'-18 gauge "zip cord" or other wire to connect motor to power supply
1-8' 2 x 2 lumber
1-6' aluminum "L" 1" x 1" x 1/16" thick (actually need 2-20" and 2-12" pieces)
1-12" flat aluminum bar stock 3/4" wide x 1/8" thick
1-4x4 post cap (Simpson BC40 or equiv.)
3-6mm x 12mm screws for motor mount
8-#10-32 x 1/2" machine screws with nuts and lock washers
8-#8 x 1" sheet metal screws
4-#8 x 2 1/2" flat head wood screws (or drywall screws)
1-1/4"-20 x 1" machine screw
5-1/4"-20 nuts
4-1/4" lock washer
3-fender washers with 1/4" hole, 1 1/2" diameter minimum
7-#210 screw eyes (guides for fishing line-approx 1 1/4 long)
2-2" eye bolts (attach points for ceiling mount)
2-large screw eyes (for mounting into ceiling)
30 LB fishing line (or larger)
6-1oz or larger lead fishing weights (to add weight to skeletons)
1-18" black light (fixture and tube)
2-plastic skeletons (Oriental Trading IN-25/730 or equiv.)

  Now, on to the construction details........  

  Halloween Home last update 12/2016