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Roofline Blowmold Mounting Project - "Erector Set"-Style


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I've been thinking about this project for about a year now, once I realized that I was reluctant to display some of my Registered Character 'molds due to fear of theft. I immediately thought of raising them out of reach, but was also afraid of damaging my roof. Various people have made some great suggestions for doing something like this (like Gregg Jones), but I don't have the metalworking and carpentry skills necessary to do some of the more exotic schemes. My level of skill is more along the lines of children's games. That got me thinking... Legos? No... Lincoln Logs? No... Tinker Toys? No... How about Erector Set? Well, yeah, that might work. Unfortunately, Erector Set pieces are waaayyy too small, but a trip to Home Depot soon revealed a suitable substitute. I used 48" long angle iron pieces that were pre-drilled with holes every inch or two; for bracing I used 48" pieces of flat steel, also pre-drilled. The whole thing fits together with 3/8" bolts and nuts.

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The final puzzle for me was realizing that I didn't have the tools or skill to measure the roof angle, which would be absolutely critical to any rigid structure. Instead, I used the joint between two angle irons at the roof's peak and didn't tighten the nut very much so that the angle would form naturally. In fact, I left most of the nuts a little loose and didn't tighten them fully until the plywood was attached.

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Speaking of plywood, I used 23/32" sheathing plywood (why can't they just sell 3/4"? 23/32? Jeez!) I had Home Depot cut the 4' x 8' sheet in half, so I just used a 48" square. I laid out the pieces I wanted to display and marked their outlines roughly with pencil. I was surprised that I had room for 12 blowmolds! My big Mickey, Minnie and Pooh(s) will have to stay on the ground for now!

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I attached the 5 largest BMs to the plywood with two cuphooks that were positioned so that they would be at the border of the large hole on the bottom. The third anchor point for the larger blow molds involves the holes that Santa's Best drilled for me into the back bottom of their molds that was designed to hold a peg pounded into the ground. Those holes will accommodate a pretty sizable bolt into them without a problem. Once the 'mold was snugged up tight against the hooks, I marked the plywood just under the pre-drilled holes and later drilled a hole in the plywood at the appropriate angle to accommodate a bolt placed throught the Santa's Best holes. I used 5" toggle bolts just because they were the longest bolts I could find and because the weight of a blowmold isn't very high. In retrospect, 4" toggle bolts would have been quite sufficient.

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The 7 smaller 'molds were anchored with pairs of shorter toggle bolts (I had a bunch of skinnier 3" ones sitting around) inserted from below as close as possible to the edge of the small bottom hole in the mold. The toggle wings were attached very loosely and then the BM dropped over the toggle bolts. As the bolts were tightened from below, the wings would, with care, pull the 'mold down flush against the plywood. When tightening these toggles, I needed to maintain an upward pull on the blow mold to keep some tension to keep the toggle wing from spinning with the bolt.

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So after carefully attaching the BMs to the plywood, I hit my one big snag: I couldn't come up with an easy and safe way to get the plywood-plus-molds assembly up a ladder. The 'molds were carefully detached and then the large sheet of plywood easily ascended to the roof balanced atop my head, held in place with one hand. In retrospect, it worked out great to have all the holes in the plywood pre-drilled and the cuphooks and some of the toggle bolts pre-attached. To try to work all that out on the roof would have made for some extensive aerial work which is bad for a man who is quite afraid of heights. Anyway, with the plywood aloft, I used 4 short lengths of angle iron and some cross braces to attach the plywood to the basic frame. Wood screws were used, obviously, but since the holes in the steel work were very wide I also used washers to make sure the screwheads didn't come clear through the holes. The board slopes downward about 4" over its 48" length, to facilitate viewing from street level. I think a steeper downward slope would have looked better from below.

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Next the blowmolds were brought up and reattached as before. Big Taz had an issue; as the rim at the bottom hole of Big Taz is nowhere near flush with the plywood, it was hard to get both cuphooks in a place where they could both help keep Taz attached, so I rigged up some wire at the rear attached to a side brace to help keep him anchored. I added some sandbags over the bottom part of the frame to help out in strong winds; doubtless more sand will make its way up the ladder tomorrow. I wonder how much sand is REALLY enough?

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[Yes, that's an airplane that Taz is trying to catch!]

I am pretty happy with the results of this project. On the plus side, no holes in my roof OR in my precious 'molds (OK, no NEW holes!), and they are (relatively) safe from theft. The down sides were the two days of labor (just me; no assistants available) and the $100 plus I spent on materials. I'm sure this can be done cheaper, especially if you have some of the materials sitting around, and I'm ESPECIALLY sure this can be done better, but probably not by someone with my limited mechanical skills. I'll be sure to post followups, especially if there are any unforeseen problems. I hope this gives some of y'all ideas to do this better, cheaper, or faster. Good luck!

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Hoyt! Wow, you've been a busy guy. That is looking very cool and I'm impressed. Now I want to do something similar to this, great thinking (you never cease to amaze me..) Thanks for figuring this out and sharing, I'll probably copy the idea next year! What a wonderful project and it looks fantastic!

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Thanks, everybody. I just checked out the window and thank God it's still up there! Now off to the sand bag store.... Hey, where DO ya buy sand bags? I see them on TV whenever there's a flood, but I've never actually bought one. The few I put up there already I had extracted from blowmolds that I've purchased.

And Carrie, feel free to use my idea, that's why I posted. Just make sure you put a sign next to it giving me credit in letters no less than two feet high!;)

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Nice job. Do you roughly know how much it costs?

No you didunh! I alluded to $100+ previously because I really didn't want to know the total (make that I really didn't want the WIFE to know the total), but here they are:

8 48" angle irons $76

6 48" flat plates $39

1 4x8x23/32 plywood $18

Various fasteners $32

With sales tax that all adds up to $179 (US dollars for all costs). Areas to save money include: use only 4 or 5 flat plates for bracing, use longer angle irons and flat plates and cut them down to size, use thinner or cheaper plywood, use a plywood remnant about 48"x48", weld stuff together(?), use different (cheaper) fasteners to attach the blowmolds to the plywood. Anyway, I hope this helps.

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Guest Matilda

Terrific idea!!! Thanks for sharing!

My hubby says he gets bags of sand (for sandblasting used in graffiti removal) at Home Depot or Lowes... or you can get bags of children's playsand at ToysRus (but it is probably off-season for that...)

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And Carrie, feel free to use my idea, that's why I posted. Just make sure you put a sign next to it giving me credit in letters no less than two feet high!;)

No problem, Hoyt..and I'll make sure its done properly, scrolling sign that says

THIS PROJECT DESIGN WAS THE CREATION OF HOYT CLAGWELL..I COPIED HIM AND WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL!!

Now what color letters do you want?;)

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... Now off to the sand bag store.... Hey, where DO ya buy sand bags? ...

Hoyt, I use old jeans to make my sand bags. You tie off the end with baling wire, fill with about 25-30 pounds of sand, the loop the wire over tie the other end off leaving a handle. See pic.

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I am thinking that I could do that next year and put a sign on it. I will give you credit in 2 foot letters underneath the plywood, will that be ok?

UNDER? I want top billing!;)

No problem, Hoyt..and I'll make sure its done properly, scrolling sign that says

THIS PROJECT DESIGN WAS THE CREATION OF HOYT CLAGWELL..I COPIED HIM AND WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL!!

Now what color letters do you want?;)

Red and green, alternating letters, with a gold border. Not yellow, GOLD!;)

Hoyt, I use old jeans to make my sand bags. You tie off the end with baling wire, fill with about 25-30 pounds of sand, the loop the wire over tie the other end off leaving a handle. See pic.

Wow, great idea, but I don't have any old jeans! Dang.

go to home depot and ask for pickup truck sand bags. They are used to weight down the backend of the pickups.

My hubby says he gets bags of sand (for sandblasting used in graffiti removal) at Home Depot or Lowes... or you can get bags of children's playsand at ToysRus (but it is probably off-season for that...)

Try Home Depot or Lowe's

Great advice, all. Let's add $15 to the total costs for 4 bags of Tube Sand; it comes in 60lb. lots, in a bag that is puncture-resistant and quite durable-looking. That thing on my roof ain't going nowhere now! (I hope I'm not tempting the gods to prove me wrong:(.)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Here's a little followup post. I had feared that I would have to tell everyone that the whole thing blew over in a windstorm but I am proud to say that my Licensed Characters spent the entire Christmas season safely aloft! Getting it down was not fun; I shoveled snow off my roof a few feet around the platform, and then dropped some magnesium chloride ice melting crystals on the cleared areas. A few hours later I had an ice-free surface on which to work. My poor planning became evident as I attempted to remove the BM's from the plywood. Remember, I installed this on sunny, shirt-sleeve days; now, in the windy cold of Winter, unscrewing the toggle bolts holding the smaller molds from below was NO FUN. I will have to work on a better solution for anchoring next year. Anyway, it was overall a success, and let me display some blow molds that i had been afraid to put out previously.

Oh, and the frame folds down (almost) flat for storage:

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