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PVC Tunnel....Big lots find!

3554 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Fright Zone
So I'm at big lots today, i found some of the black fabric for gardens. 3' x 50' ONLY 4 DOLLARS! So i got 5 rolls. I think thats a lot more than i need...

My idea is to take 2.5' 3/4" PVC lengths stuck in the ground with rebar. Theyll be across from eachother, probably about 6 feet. Between two will be 1/2" PVC bent into an arch. These will be every 3 or 4 feet and covered in the black fabric. My plan for it is a 2' black light on each of the arches and a load of cheesecloth + rit. Probably LED stuff too. gotta have fog too of course in there.

So any ideas for structure or content?
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Plan on spanning the arch pieces with a few "spine" pvc lengths to hold everything together. How tall are you planning on making the tunnel?
I have got to get to BL! Ours hasn't had landscape fabric in 3 years and I've used up the load I bought long ago!

I like your tunnel idea. I would like to incorporate one into ours. I will keep a close eye on your progress! Bwahahahaha!
Oh man, I've got to stop by BL after work today! That landscape cloth is a bargain and a half.

Your tunnel sounds great, I think PVC will work just fine. It will also be highly store-able since you will be able to break it down into really small pieces. As for content, you probably want to avoid any startle scares since structurally it won't be able to handle people bouncing off of it. But since you'll have a completely controllable enviroment (not tained by streetlights and such), you will be able to pull off some great lighting effects.

Let us know how your tunnel works out, it's a great idea.
yeah im going more for effect definitely so i dont have anyone freaked and tearing it down ><

oh and my town? no streetlights....but still this should be cool....and yeah i do need some spine pieces to hold it all together

im thinking 8 feet tall and wide....need room in there!

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hahahaha i KNEW you were gonna say that wormy! way too much work for me....i would never finish it
PVC tunnels/quonset huts are awesome shelters for the price, and nicely storable on the breakdown, but 1/2" is WAY undersized. Even if the weight of the fabric and center beam alone don't flatten it, the first puff of wind will mash it flat. You need 1" schedule 40 PVC; this is the size favored by people making PVC tunnel shade structures at Burning Man. If you want some detail about making a good weather-resistant tunnel using PVC, let me know... I did a lot of research on that building technique and could pass along some excellent pointers.

Burning Man participants are an excellent info resource for haunters who want to build temporary structures; they are faced with the annual talk of setting up shade structures in the desert capable of not only blocking intense light but withstanding windstorms that can get up to 70-80 mph.
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Revenant, I'm very interested in your ideas on PVC structures. Any info you could share would be great.

I have never been to Burning Man, but would love to go one day...or would have loved to go one day. Or something like that. Have you been (OT, sorry)?
maybe im just really weak, but i cant really bend anything but 1/2" into an arc...the rest is gonna be 3/4" or 1"

I dont have a heat gun to bend any PVC either, Ive never seen 3/4" sch40 bend, only shatter...and I dont get wind luckily....but 1/2" is pretty weak I see what you mean.

Maybe if i took 1" going straight up about 4', then put some 45s and continued up to my 8' height and met them with a 90 degree connector...
Beepem, Harbor Freight has a heat gun for $9.99. I'm sure it's nothing special, but might solve your problem fairly cheaply.
No need to heat it, Beepem... the bending is all in the length. PVC pipe breaks if you try to put a sharp bend in it, but spread that bend gradually over a full length piece and you'll be surprised how flexible it is. 1" seems pretty rigid... until you get 20 feet of it. Two full length pieces of 1" schedule 40 joined will bend into an arch roughly 12 foot wide by about 8 or 9 feet tall. It just takes 2 people to do it, not because of strength required but the awkwardness of the size; it wants to fall over and it helps to have an extra set of hands to stabilize it. You can go with a box design, too -- like a carport -- but then you'll need even heavier pipe for the uprights, like 1-1/2", and at that point the connectors start getting so pricey you're better off just plonking down the bucks for a carport at Costco. My digital camera isnt working, dammit... I'm going to see if I can rig my camcorder to shoot some stills and I'll get some pics together to illustrate; I still have my PVC pieces for the tunnel test project I was working on.

Gotta mow my lawn and wash the car first, tho... aaah, spring at last...
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hmm, i was working out some math earlier (geometry class came in handy for once!) and it seems like my best bet will be 5' uprights and 5' pieces at 45 degree angles....im not very good with words so i drew this:

a 12' arc would be much too big for what i need....keep in mind im 15, lol

from the 5' up and 5' in ill be using the 10' efficiently, it should be about 7 feet wide and the ceiling will clear 6' (tallest ToTs) in 5 of the 7' feet.

so if i went with the 5' sections, how many feet would you suggest another support thing? in the picture i have it labeled as 4', clearly not to scale

thanks for the help
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Here's some lo-resolution screengrabs from my camcorder of my 2006 yard haunt. It shows some indirect shots of my entry archway I built at the last minute similiar to what you're thinking about:


I had more video frames showing ToT's in white costumes & wigs glowing underneath the archway and a close-up of the roof inside but I'd have to go back and recapture the video which I'm not going to do anytime soon but you get the idea from these. I'd add another 24" blacklight bolt to the roof for more of an effect. I tied jute twine around the flourescent tube just in case it might pop out but it was fine.

The way I put it up was to put the roof together then set it on the ground where it would be then marked the 4 corners with the rebar then pounded the rebar into the ground then twisted the 4 vertical PVC corners into the ground then lifted the assembled roof onto them then pressure fit the roof to the vertical posts.

If I wanted to make it go all the way back to the house I'd just add another section or pull this one apart and add some PVC Tees to connect the two but two separate sections would be a lot easier to put up and take down for what it is. But I only have storage space for this section and it did the trick.

7 ft tall total height
6 ft tall to the crossbrace
4ft 6 in wide to stradle a 4 ft walkway
5 ft 6 in deep
2ft long rebar in ground in corners

(14) 1in dia PVC Tee - Home Depot
(8) 1in dia PVC 45 elbow - Home Depot
(8) 1in dia PVC x 10ft lengths to cut - Home Depot
(1) PVC cutters - Home Depot
(2) cans Krylon Fusion Ultra Flat Camo Black Spraypaint - Walmart
(1) Paint respirator - Home Depot

(1) electrical drill
(1) philips screwdriver
(mult) No.8 wood screws - Walmart
To screw the roof pieces together
Note: The roof PVC is pressure fit onto the four vertical peices

(1) 3ft x 120ft Black Weed Proof Plus - Walmart
(1) 4oz ClearNeon UV paint white - Alan at Quantum Leap Unlimited
(2) 1in foam paint brushes - Walmart
(2) 2in foam paint brushes - Walmart
To paint UV dots on underside of roof
(1 or 2) 24in blacklight fluorescent bolt - Walmart
To light white sheet strips and UV paint dots and any white ToT costumes and wigs that pass thru

(1) Full white bedsheet cut into 3" wide strips - Walmart
Loop the strips around the PVC and staple
(1) stapler
Cut the lengths or fold up to desired lenght and staple

(1) plastic skull strobe light -Walmart
(1) roll rebar tie wire - Home Depot
To hang skull by threading thru the skull and tie to the PVC
(1) black hook for skull strobe light - Walmart
To hold the electrical cord

(1) extension cord taped up to roof
For blacklight plug

(1) iPod Shuffle with music and sound FX from my CD collection into iTunes
(1) DLO iPod Shuffle Action Jacket
Velcro wrapped around PVC roof piece
(1) Set of Altec Lansing computer speakers - Walmart
Secured to PVC frame with rebar tie wire
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WOW! thanks! that looks great....those pictures help

thats really neat, i really like the bedsheet cut up like that....I think ill do some RIT'd fabric hanging down! im definitely gonna have tons of black lights from walmart....cant beat 24" for 10 bucks!

thanks again!
Thanx. I'd add that the bed sheet from Walmart didn't have to be bleached. I didn't use any RIT just hung it up and it glowed.

Also as someone else noted 1" dia Schedule 40 PVC is what I recommend for strength. I took my PVC cutters shown here and cut the 10 ft sections down in Home Depot's parking lot. I had figured out the measurements ahead of time including compensating for the fittings so I could mark the PVC with a Sharpie marker and cut it right there since (14) pieces of 1" dia x 10 ft PVC wouldn't fit in my Honda Civic.

If I had time I'd add blinking lights or small plastic skulls inside but as it stands not a lot of ToT's even noticed they just walked right thru. It only scared a couple little ones. Some pre-teens stopped to take photos underneath it and one girl noticed her white costume glowed. The older ones were the ones that really liked it. Some kids looked up but most didn't.

I almost added strands of fishing line hanging down. People can't see them but they feel like cobwebs when you walk thru them. But I thought that would be a bit much and bother people more than make it fun.

The funny thing is the 24" blacklight bolts at Walmart are in the home lighting section for $10. Their 18" ones for $20 are in the novelty lighting section by the furniture. The plastic may be sturdier but there's no reason not to buy the 24" bolts.

Update: I found some of my Blacklight Archway Construction pictures by bpesti - Photobucket I put online. I didn't photograph the black tarp roof when it was taped onto the frame with black duct tape due to time but it took (2) sections taped together.
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Hey that actually helped me a lot, i was tryng to figure out a way to have a crypt this year cheaply and i think this might work. That way next year when i actually make one out of wood, i can use the pvc one for a dot room OOO HOOO
I'm on my way to work, so I'm going to have to study this later. Thanks for posting!
That's a good design!
The main reasons why I suggested round tunnels is mostly expense and ease of construction. And smaller footprint. Building with pipe, if you're using straight (un-stressed) runs you need thicker pipe. For anything 5 foot or longer you really should have 1-1/4" or larger, and the cost adds up fast. By bending into stressed arches, you can use narrower (cheaper) pipe. And when standing uprights and attaching crossbeams, you definitely need help. A round quonset hut is easier to put up; you can do it yourself with ease. And with straight-up supports you usually either need hella big long stakes or a lot of angle bracing or guy lines pulling outwards, which are a tripping hazard and can as much as double the ground space required. The round tunnel is pretty much self supporting and doesn't need any outside bracing unless you've put a lot of heavy covering on it.

I finally made it outside to take some pictures of the setup process for a round "monkey hut" PVC tunnel today; I've been trying to since friggin' MONDAY but it has rained nonstop for the past 5 days here! The backyard was like a bog... at least the stakes were easy to drive into the ground! LOL:googly:

I have a thread set up now in the "How To" section if anyone's interested in making round tunnels or archways for their haunt.
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Thanx. I actually did see your monkey hut in the how-to section yesterday. I saw the same shape at a place selling flowers outside. That makes me wonder how deep you'd make the hut if you could make it deep enough to make it a tunnel for kind of a static half of a vortex dot tunnel with blacklights is what I can picture.

For my part I decided on the dimensions and shape a week prior to Halloween. I saw an inflatable Gemmy tunnel that was 5 ft deep and had slit pieces of thin black plastic at either end. Inside it had a motion detector for small white lights and a canned sound FX.

Based on that I decided to make the entry archway. I knew I didn't want an A-frame nor a curved shape. I'm just not comforatable with bending PVC I think it would snap even if it doesn't. the crypt keystone shape seemed more Halloween-ish to me. You see some haunted houses with roofs shaped roughly like that also.

I wanted thick PVC that was straight and sturdy that could be screwed together on top of it being pressure fit so it could be dissasembled and stored easily. 1" dia PVC is plenty strong enough for that design. The four corner vertical supports are in place with 2 ft rebar in the ground with the PVC twisted into the ground a few inches so it won't go anywhere even in the wind.

I put the bare minimum of supprts going front to back in the roof to make it structurally sound but still not overdo it or pay too much to build it and still allow the roof covering to follow the shape. And to not make the roof too heavy.

The 5.5 ft depth seemed to be a good depth both visually, structurally and a good sixe to store.

I knew from experience that a plain white bedsheet would glow under a black light wothout bleacing or RIT becasue I made a sheet ghost a couple years ago. The idea of cutting strips then was partially based on the Gemmy inflatable archway entrance. Otherwise is reminded me of a ghost or Mummy or somehthing along those lines.

In the future I'd be interested to try a hut design if it could be deep enough to make it a blacklit dot room. I don't know if it would be structurally sound to put blacklights in the celing but they could definitely be on the ground inside. I think that's what intrigues me about the half circle shape is it's more like a tunnel. The reality is I don't have room to store anymore props so I'm downloading the instructions for future consideration ; )
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