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Hey Guys,

I wanted to start a thread to share the progress of my horse drawn hearse build. Thank you to lewlew & jdubbya for inspiring me with their build last year to finally get this one done. I bought the lights on clearance at Lowes about eight years ago with the intention to build a hearse to mount them on; better late than never I suppose. I have designed it to be able to be completely disassmbled for storage; the top comes off, all of the sides & sections are bolted on. I had planned on painting it a high gloss black, but now I am wondering if it would be better to paint it a high gloss white. I want it to be the center piece of a front section of the yard, and I have purple LED landscape lighting which gives the yard a purple wash. I would love to hear your opinions on painting it white vs black.
First, I have to say the craftsmanship is excellent. Love the work you're doing. I plan to take on this project in the next few years, but not yet. I also plan to make mine to be disassembled, but I have to say I don't believe I'll be able to build it like you have. Your wood work is above my abilities, but if I want mine to look old and shabby anyway, I think my woodworking ability should be sufficient. 馃榿 This will be a great thread for me to bookmark for my own build. 馃槑 Sorry, back to yours. Fan-effing-tastic! I can't wait to see this come together.

As for the color, allow me offer my opinion, some of which has already been said. It's how I've thought about my own eventual build. In my opinion, from worst option to best:

  • White - Pros are that it will show up nicely at night, and based on choice of colored lighting, essentially you can make it any color you want at night. Cons are that white hearses are generally associated with new life, and if you're looking for a drab, and spooky feel, I don't feel white achieves that.
  • Black - Pros are that it's creepy as h3ll, and looks excellent in a home haunt during the day. It's also obviously associated with death which makes it most appropriate. Biggest con is when you're putting so much work into the build of your centerpiece, you don't want it to be nearly invisible until people are up close. You'd like it to stand out which is why I think it's the second best choice. Lighting black at night doesn't work well. You can see it when you're nearby, but far away it blends into the background regardless of gloss or flat finish. Colors just won't show up and you'll find yourself lighting it with white lights to get it show better.
  • Gray - This is my personal choice but in a darker shade. Pros are that gray is still drab like black and conveys death and doom, but maybe a little more ghostly. If you plan to weather your hearse a bit, it will show up much better on gray than black. If you make it white, I'd recommend not weathering at all. Gray will also show up better at night, and still reflect any colors you shine on it. Not sure how your cemetery is lit, but if you light with blue, a darker shade of gray will still be visible from a distance. Cons for gray is that it's not common and not associated with death and a general feeling of death like black is.
Those are just my opinions anyway. I'd suggest gray, but if not gray then black for sure. IMO white just doesn't have that same feeling of spookiness in a Halloween display. I'm sure it'd still look great because your design is fantastic, but I'm just thinking about what would really add to the display rather than be a distraction.
 

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Still looking great! I don't see how this will be easily dismantled for storage, personally. It seems so solid. I'd be afraid to take it apart. 馃榿

Regarding the axles, do you plan on making this hearse functional... in the sense that it will be able to roll around on it's wheels? If so, I'd probably recommend NOT doing that for a couple of reasons. Considering the weight of the hearse, rather than making functional axles and wheels which would need to bear the entire weight of what is certainly already a very heavy prop. You might be better off using PVC or wood rods for the axles just for the look, but then behind each wheel install a vertical steel pipe to bear the weight of the carriage. That way you get the look you want, and also a sturdy prop that won't crush the axles you make below. Also, if you make the wheels functional, you might tempt someone to take it for a ride, or potentially steal it. Perhaps in your neighborhood that's not a concern, but you'd be surprised how brazen some folks are when visiting from outside the neighborhood. You might want to avoid a functional carriage. Just my opinion though. 馃槑
 

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Thank you! That is the beauty in the trim work, not only is it decorative I'm using it to hide all of the seams. There are 1/4" bolts behind the blocks on the bottom of it and on the inside there is angle brackets at mid point and at the top of the walls. The top of it just slips down on the top section of the walls and the crown hides that it is a separate part. I do not plan to make the functional as the wheels I have are just decorative wheels from Tractor Supply and would certainly be crushed by the weight. I plan to use 1/2" iron pipe to make the axels and legs that will extend down to support it. I just want it to look authentic so I have the leaf springs and how I am going to attach them figured out, just working on the look of the front axel & yoke still.
This is a question that stems from ignorance... did horse-drawn carriages/hearses of that era have leaf springs? Just curious. If so, then your attention to details is fantastic. If not, then I think it solves your problem. 馃榿

Okay, before clicking "post reply" I decided to Google it. They were invented by the French in the 1700s. I'm thinking you can skip it if it becomes too difficult because at the very least it was rare and not widely used in those days. I guess it depends on the era you're shooting for.
 

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For the record, I know the night pics don't do this justice... which is the issue with black, but I'll bet in person it's fantastic even black at night. It looks like the real deal, Riff. Excellent work! I've enjoyed watching the build. 馃榿 Btw, where's the skeleton driver?? 馃榿
 

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Thank you! It was a pretty fun build, and it has definately taken the display up a couple notches.
You gotta do this community a favor. 馃榿 I was gonna say "do me a favor", but again, I'm just some dude on a keyboard. 馃ぃ Anyway, after you take it down and apart, you need to take a picture of it taken apart and stored. I honestly don't believe that sucker comes apart. The seams just seem too solid and perfect. Btw, is that a gloss finish? It looks like an automotive finish. 馃榿 Most people stick with a simple flat black. You seemed to have driven yours into a paint shop.
 
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