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Building a self standing wall on wheels

Discussion in 'New Member Board' started by stagedoorinc, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. stagedoorinc

    stagedoorinc Member

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    Hi i am trying to build a 16x8 or bigger self standing wood wall! that splits in half! 2 8x8 walls... on casters! the only way i could figure out is putting them on a 4x8 wood platform. any suggestion? i am thinking i might need a track on the roof ... but i would like to know if there is another way to do that!!!!
  2. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Build it like one would an actual house wall, vertical 2x4's about 2 feet apart, framed, plywood on the front for the front surface, and a diagonal support on the back.
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Do you have the ability to weld? If so, this is much easier to do. If not, you can built just a standard Hollywood flat and skin it on both sides for extra support. 8' is not that high, but you will need to put in some extra support. If you can, run a piece of 2x4 through the entire flat and through the platform you are attaching the flat to, and attach the 2x4 to the frame of the platform. This will create a "mast" that will help support the flat, hopefully avoiding having to put jacks on the piece.
  4. curtg

    curtg Member

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    Western Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley
    If you have a foot of space behind the walls (more would be better), make a long narrow wagon and put the wall on the edge of it. Stage brace the wall to the wagon, and add weights to the wagon to lower the center of gravity.

    My fixed sets usually consist of 12 foot tall canvas flats that, in a pinch, I support with a brace being less than a foot from the line of the wall. These are securely fastened to the floor. The key is appreciating the weight of the object and it's center of gravity.

    How long is the wall on stage? Two 8' X 8' Styrofoam walls could be carried on and off by two crew members. I did a cut out of a pirate ship that was 24' by 12' this way, using four crew members.
  5. 1kfresnel

    1kfresnel Member

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    Buffalo, NY
    In our recent production of Guys and Dolls, the Save-A-Soul Mission consisted of 2 12x8 flats, and 2 4x8 flats all on wagons. One flat had a door, while the other had a giant 9x3 storefront plexi window with Save-A-Soul painted on it. The two 4' sections were set at an angle to help define the interior space. The whole thing was masked by a traveler on the ends. I was a bit hesitant with the plexi and lighting, but it worked out incredibly well.

    In this case, we mounted the flats flush against a long edge of a 4x12 wagon (4x8 + 4x4 married together), which became the interior. On the exterior side, the wagon was painted to resemble a sidewalk, the wall brick, etc. Under the wagon we added some extra 2x4 support members then lag bolted the footer of the flat to the wagon before skinning the other side. We also used metal L-braces on the ends to help stabilize it vertically. Because they needed to join together, we put two strips of 1/2 plywood attached to one of the two, to create a channel for the other wall to slide into. This also gave some added rigidity to the finished piece, which was needed with the amount of people storming and and out of the door. A massive wall loses its effect when it starts swaying! The channel was painted to resemble a pillar on the inside, and just became part of the brick outside.

    The framing was 2x4 construction, skinned with lauan. Because of the window and door, we had to make this wall a bit more rugged than we normally build. Most of our hard "wall" flats, have a 2x4 header and footer, but use aluminum studs for the interior to keep the weight down. These get put on wagons, flown, or just moved on stage and L-braced depending on the situation.

    It only took 2 bodies on each of the 12' rolling walls and one on each of the 4's to do the changes, which was reasonable with the side of our deck crew.

    The 12' flats were recently resurrected, but placed center on a 4x8 wagon, rather than on edge, for a production of A Christmas Carol. They were used one or both at a time to define different "areas" on stage.

    Using wagons is the easiest way I've found in many high school theaters, depending on their capabilities in the space. If your set doesn't need to be two-sided, you're at an added advantage. If you do put a wall on edge, double check the balance so that it's not going to topple upon someone. It was never an issue for us. If you need to, you can secure some form of weight under the non-wall side if it needs to be hidden, or just place sand bags or weights if not. Obviously a center mounted approach is more balanced than an edge mounted approach, but it depends on the needs of the production.

    I'll see if I can pull up some photos as examples. Hope this gave you some insight, and good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
    Portland, Or.
    Heya stagedoorinc!
    I responded to your pm but I think it's good to have these out in the open where all can learn.
    Depending on the availible footprint size you could do this a bunch of different ways. 8x8 isn't all that big, I once did a 14't x 20'w wall that rolled in on a roller skate, practically. It was in a sort of captured tracking unit, complete PITA. If you have the space an 8't wall could easily be supported by a 2'6" wide platform / wagon. A couple of jacks and a couple of pigss just for safety. Alternativly you could easily track these on through the use of specialized theatrical track systems, or by obtaining "Barn door" track from your local hardware store. I do not suggest rigging this yourself. Rigging is only to be done by qualified individuals.
    Again with the size that you are dealing with I suggest the easiest thing would simply to build your flats studio style, mount them on the downstage end of a wagon put a couple of jacks on them and be done with it. Oh BTW when building the wagon, if at all possible use dumb casters. straight , non swivel casters are your friends when it comes to moving scenery straight on and off stage.
  7. Erin Bennett

    Erin Bennett Member

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    I know this is from several years ago, but this is definitely the closest thing to what I want to do!
    I am not a TD but I have to wear the hat of one :-/ and I need help!
    I am "designing" our next show (The Matchmaker) which has four acts, each a different set.
    My goal was to use modular set pieces that can be moved in various combinations to allow for variety and maximum use of materials; I was was thinking two sided flats attached to 4 x 8 wagons ... or even 2 x 8 to save material costs - is that safe?? I am not sure about the height and wagon size ratios for safety.
    I have a professional space - 50' wide proscenium with a 24' depth (main to back traveler).
    I am thinking my flats need to be 10' tall (I have use this height in the past for stationary jacked walls and it seems to be a good height for our space).
    Please any suggestions, references, ideas etc would be greatly appreciated!!!!
    Any chance you can give me some sage advice???

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