Rockin' Santa animated prop

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  • Rockin' Santa animated prop

    1/4/2017 NOTE: This thread is old and the links to the photos have been lost. If I can find the original photos I will replace them. I apologize.

    This is a prop I made for Halloween, and then recycled for Christmas by putting Santa in the chair. I got the original plans from scary-terry's website,
    but instead of a skeleton I put Santa in the chair and instead of a wiper motor I used a gearmotor. It still works on the same principle. It took me about an hour to build this prop. Plus about an hour to make Santa.

    This is a picture of the mechanism we'll be making. It consists of a plastic chair, a "T" shaped piece of wood, a wiper motor and an aluminum bar to connect the motor to the chair.

    Following is a parts list.

    * One wiper motor

    * One each 6mm x 10mm screw and 1/4" (or 6mm) lock washer (for attaching motor to bracket).

    * One 5 Volt, 2 amp (minimum) power supply

    * Two 2 1/2" wood screws

    * One 3 1/2" to 4 1/2" range, hose clamp (for holding motor to mounting board)

    * One each 3/4" x 1 1/2" x approx. 18" wood, 3/4" x 3" x 19" wood (base of rocking mechanism). Hardwood works best

    * Two each 1 1/2" x 1/4" flat head machine screws, 1/4" tee nuts and 1/4" lock nuts (for attaching the chair to the wood)

    * One 16" x 3/4" x 1/8" aluminum bar

    * Two each 2" angle brackets, #10 x 1 1/4" flat head screws, #10 nuts and #10 washers (primary motor mount).

    * One 5/16" x 1 1/2" bolt, two 5/16" nuts and three 5/16" washers (for attaching aluminum bar to motor).

    You'll also need a plastic "patio" type chair.

    Additionally, you'll need hardware and possibly a piece of wood to attach the aluminum bar to your chair.

    First step is to measure the span of the rear legs of your chair. You'll want to cut the 1 1/2" wide piece of wood just a little longer than this span. In this case, my chair was 16" wide and I cut the wood 16 1/4" long.

    You'll also need to drill a 5/16" hole in the end of each rear chair leg. You may need to alter this procedure due to the design of your chair.

    Drill a hole in each end of the 1 1/2" wide board to match the holes in the chair legs. This hole needs to be big enough to accommodate the "T" nut, which should be about 5/16" diameter.

    Countersink the hole so the 1/4" screw will fit flush with the bottom of the wood. Insert the "T" nut into the top side of the wood and then screw in the screw.

    Next, we'll join the two boards together. Line them up with right side of the 3" board aligned with the center line of the 1 1/2" board (this will place the drive side of the motor below the center of the chair).

    Pre-drill and countersink for the 2 1/2" wood screws, then using those screws, join the two boards together.

    In this step, we'll install the angle bracket that will be used to mount the motor. Mark a line on the 3" wide board about 16" from the back edge of the 1 1/2" board (this distance may vary depending on the chair). Hold the angle bracket on this line, mark the two holes and drill them out for the #10 screws. Counter sink the holes on the bottom side of the board, insert the screws, and mount the angle bracket with the #10 washers and nuts as shown at right.

    To mount the motor, you'll need to enlarge the top hole in the angle bracket to accommodate the 6mm screw for mounting the motor. Use a 1/4" drill bit (or 6mm) to drill out this hole.

    Next, place the hose clamp over the angle bracket as shown left.

    Using the 6mm screw and 1/4" lock washer, mount the motor with the gearbox forward and the motor housing to the rear.

    Now slide the hose clamp over the motor and tighten securely, but not too tight or you'll dent the motor casing.

    We need to remove the ball from the arm that's attached to the motor

    * Start by removing the nut and washer from the motor shaft (don't loose these!!). Gently tap the arm with a hammer and it should come off easily.
    * Clamp the arm in a vise and center punch the backside of the ball as shown below left.
    * To drill out the ball, I find it easier to start with a small drill bit (1/8") and finish with a 5/16". This should remove the ball and give a nice clean hole in the arm as shown below right.
    * Reattach the arm and tighten securely.

    Next, drill a hole in each end of the 16" long aluminum bar. One hole should be 5/16" diameter, the other should be the appropriate size to accommodate the hardware you'll be using to attach it to the chair (see below).

    You need to attach the aluminum bar to the motor. Using the 5/16" bolt, three washers and two nuts, assemble as shown left, through the 5/16" hole in the bar. Leave a little play in the mechanism so the motor is free to rotate, then tighten the nuts against each other. You could also use a lock nut in this case, but I've had one gradually tighten before and seize up the mechanism, so I prefer the "jam nut" technique.

    Some chairs have ribs that run from front to back which make for an easy installation of the aluminum bar. My chair did not have these ribs so I had to add a 2x4 block of wood for the mount. You'll have to adapt your chair as necessary. I used a 1" #8 wood screw and washer to mount the bar to the block of wood.

    To complete the project, place the chair legs over the screws on the rear board and then install the 1/4" lock nuts. Tighten the lock nut just enough to engage the locking material but be sure to leave a gap as shown right to allow the chair to rock freely. The nut is just to make sure the chair does not come off the screws.
    One more addition I make is to add an angle bracket to the front of the main board. This allows us to attach the rocking mechanism to the stool so that the dummy can prop his feet on it and helps to keep everything together.

    The final step is to wire the power supply to the motor. You want to connect to the top two terminals of the motor as shown right. I find it easiest to cut away some of the connector housing so I can solder wires to the motor terminals. You could also use some push-on crimp type connectors. Polarity is not critical as a polarity reversal just changes motor rotation direction. The second terminal is attached to the motor housing, so it's probably best to connect this pin to the negative side of the supply.

    Even though this is a 12 volt motor, I've found that it runs just fine on 5 volts and gives the "rocking" effect at just the right pace.

    Building Santa

    Making the Santa was fairly easy. I bought a pair of red sweat pants, size large, at WalMart. I also bought some heavy red fabric and some white fluffy fur for the edging to make the jacket. I don't sew much so I did it elementary style.

    Turn fabric wrong side out, fold in half and draw jacket outline. Use the fabrics fold as the top of jacket. Sew along bottom of arms and along sides. Turn right side out. Sew fur on edge of sleeves, along bottom, and up center of front.

    I used a wig form to make Santas head. I painted it flesh color with latex paint. I added a wig, beard, cap, and a pair of cheap reading glasses. To finish his outfit I attached cheap black wool gloves for hands, a leather belt I had laying around, and an old pair of black tennis shoes. Feel free to upgrade his ensemble if you have better grade clothing and accessories available. I went for cheap.

    To help keep Santa from sliding down into the chair I made a "stand" that helps prop him up. Take a small scrap piece of plywood, about 8" square. Get a shelf bracket, the kind in an "L" shape, not more than 8" long and 8" tall. Attach a piece of PVC to the bracket using screws so that it extends upward to the height of where his shoulders will be (see diagram). Attach a cross fitting to this piece, then add a piece of PVC to each side of the cross fitting to form shoulders. Add one more piece of PVC to the top of the cross piece about 6" long. Slide the head onto this piece. You may have to adjust the bracket depending on the shape of your chair and what your Santa is doing. I bent mine backward a bit so he was in a reclining position. Slide this whole assembly into Santa's pants and shirt. Stuff the whole thing with whatever you can find. My favorite thing to stuff with is large bubble wrap. It is easy to manipulate, it's waterproof, lightweight, and easy to find.

    Attach his shoes to a dowel or piece of pvc. Run the dowel up into his pant legs for stability. In my video I did not have the leg dowel long enough and his legs were droopy. You can even add another piece of pvc/dowel to make a 90 degree angle (or knee joint) and then insert into pants. Make sure it is flexible. Then attach his feet to a small stool or bench. I used a small stool, drilled holes on each side of his feet and used heavy gauge wire to attach his feet. This gave him flexibility as his chair rocked back and forth.

    I have more step-by-step pictures available if you need them. Just ask.
    Last edited by Just Whisper; 01-04-2017, 08:53 PM.

  • #2
    I'm asking I'm asking! I would love to link this to the SP site. Do you have a webpage for this tutorial?
    People really act weird at Christmas time. After all, what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat nuts and sweets out of your socks?


    • #3
      Just found your site. Thanks!
      People really act weird at Christmas time. After all, what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat nuts and sweets out of your socks?


      • #4
        Just Whisper, That is a nice Santa you made. You might want to add a photobucket link to the thread showing the extra pictures for those that want to look at them Thanks.


        • #5
          Awesome prop! Does he look like he is on a rocking chair?
          "Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. "


          • #6
            Mummy, he is actually in a chair that rocks back and forth, it is motorized. Blinky, if you go to the section on Homemade Christmas Decorations there is a link to my actual How To web site that has the entire how to on it. I was not allowed to link to it on that thread. it has a video on the web site also.


            • #7
              Sorry, I think I didn't express myself right. I realized he was motorized, but as I've never done a moving prop, I can't really visualize what it looks like in action. Does it move forward and backward, kind of like a rocking chair, or in a up and down type motion?
              Hope that explains better
              "Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. "


              • #8
                Oh, my bad. sorry. Yes, it moves forward and back in a rocking motion, so as to appear to be in a rocking chair sleeping. This year he will be reading his naughty and nice list. Did you watch the video yet?


                • #9
                  where do you find the video at?? Hugs


                  • #10
                    People really act weird at Christmas time. After all, what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat nuts and sweets out of your socks?


                    • #11
                      Thanks sickie buddy ol' pal of mine,you always have my back Hugs


                      • #12
                        That's me. Ninja Sickie Ickie. Hyiiiiiiiiyah!
                        People really act weird at Christmas time. After all, what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat nuts and sweets out of your socks?


                        • #13
                          ahhhh, didn't see the video til now. Thanks for the link!
                          Very cool!
                          "Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. "


                          • #14
                            I try to tell people that all Christmas stuff is is Halloween stuff tweaked. (Or visa versa) But for some reason Haunters are hesistant anyway. I think this is a great take on the haunted chair.
                            People really act weird at Christmas time. After all, what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat nuts and sweets out of your socks?


                            • #15
                              Just whisper nice job on the details, I love how you have it set up with the dog and the tiny elf on the tree. Do any kids ever come up to it and try to wake up Santa?


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