Oh LORD what have I gotten myself into... HELP!
I've was a scene designer and PAC manager for various theaters for around a decade or so, but for the past couple of years I've been more or less "retired."

My sister asked if I could help build a few "props" for my nieces HS marching band (because no other parents were volunteering) and I have plenty of time on my hands, so I figured why not pitch in.

Well turns out, it's not props, it's a full massive set they needed help building, and obviously being a marching band, it all has to be on castors that roll it on/off the field quickly.

I'm feeling WAY out of my depth here, because of the turf/grass field (not being able to anchor anything to a solid stage floor), and I've never done a "traveling show."

SO, TLDR: My questions are...with a VERY small budget.

What size/composition castors should I use on a grass/turf surface, and how do I brake the wagons?
Essentially four wagons that are 2.42' W x 8'L ramps. In sets of two, the pieces come together to make two ramps with 4' rise. Needs to be able to hold a few HS students.
My build plan is pretty standard: 3/4 ply, 2x4 compression legs, banding/cross bracing. I know how to select castors that will support the weight, but I'm just nervous about what size material is needed for a soft/uneven surface.
I'm also not 100% on how to attach the castors. I was thinking 2x6 leg to leg across the bottom and bolt the castors into that?
As for brakes I'm thinking wagon brakes/cane poles are a no go, cause they will damage the field and/or might "sink in" and be hard to unlock...
So, I was think about only putting castors on the taller halves of the ramps, and putting the lower half on hinges (stacked on the taller portion for transport and flipped down flush with the ground during use). Hoping the half not on castors possibly serves as a valid "brake"?

How do I make a narrow/tall triangle platform stable?
It's only 2.42' wide and 4.4' tall, and has to be on castors. It can be flexible on the length, but has to remain a triangle shape, cause we're using it to "cheat" the appearance of a curved stage.
I've never built a triangle platform PERIOD. Much less one that has to be 4.5' tall and on castors... I'm bugging.

What don't I know about outdoor construction/traveling shows?
I've never done "outdoor theater" or a had a set that had to travel from location to location, I'm so worried I don't know something that's gonna cause a problem.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Oh LORD what have I gotten myself into... HELP!
I've was a scene designer and PAC manager for various theaters for around a decade or so, but for the past couple of years I've been more or less "retired."

My sister asked if I could help build a few "props" for my nieces HS marching band (because no other parents were volunteering) and I have plenty of time on my hands, so I figured why not pitch in.

Well turns out, it's not props, it's a full massive set they needed help building, and obviously being a marching band, it all has to be on castors that roll it on/off the field quickly.

I'm feeling WAY out of my depth here, because of the turf/grass field (not being able to anchor anything to a solid stage floor), and I've never done a "traveling show."

SO, TLDR: My questions are...with a VERY small budget.

What size/composition castors should I use on a grass/turf surface, and how do I brake the wagons?
Essentially four wagons that are 2.42' W x 8'L ramps. In sets of two, the pieces come together to make two ramps with 4' rise. Needs to be able to hold a few HS students.
My build plan is pretty standard: 3/4 ply, 2x4 compression legs, banding/cross bracing. I know how to select castors that will support the weight, but I'm just nervous about what size material is needed for a soft/uneven surface.
I'm also not 100% on how to attach the castors. I was thinking 2x6 leg to leg across the bottom and bolt the castors into that?
As for brakes I'm thinking wagon brakes/cane poles are a no go, cause they will damage the field and/or might "sink in" and be hard to unlock...
So, I was think about only putting castors on the taller halves of the ramps, and putting the lower half on hinges (stacked on the taller portion for transport and flipped down flush with the ground during use). Hoping the half not on castors possibly serves as a valid "brake"?

How do I make a narrow/tall triangle platform stable?
It's only 2.42' wide and 4.4' tall, and has to be on castors. It can be flexible on the length, but has to remain a triangle shape, cause we're using it to "cheat" the appearance of a curved stage.
I've never built a triangle platform PERIOD. Much less one that has to be 4.5' tall and on castors... I'm bugging.

What don't I know about outdoor construction/traveling shows?
I've never done "outdoor theater" or a had a set that had to travel from location to location, I'm so worried I don't know something that's gonna cause a problem.
Voluntold, I'm familiar with the concept;
Scaffold rental companies have what they often call "Hay Wagon" wheels to support scaffolds during the preliminary / messy stages of construction sites. The last ones I rolled around were approximately 16" and pneumatic, air filled. They could be partially deflated for a softer ride.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
Last edited:

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I remember when all a marching band needed was feet.

s/Conditional Curmudgeon
 
I remember when all a marching band needed was feet.

s/Conditional Curmudgeon
Right... I was shocked at the scale of this thing.
Oh yeah, thanks!
Scaffold rental companies have what they often call "Hay Wagon" wheels to support scaffolds during the preliminary / messy stages of construction sites. The last ones I rolled around were approximately 16" and pneumatic, air filled. They could be partially deflated for a softer ride.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Oh man, I wish we could afford those, cause yeah they would be great.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Voluntold, I'm familiar with the concept;

Scaffold rental companies have what they often call "Hay Wagon" wheels to support scaffolds during the preliminary / messy stages of construction sites. The last ones I rolled around were a pproximately 16" and pneumatic, air filled. They could be partially deflated for a softer ride.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

Right... I was shocked at the scale of this thing.

Oh yeah, thanks!

Oh man, I wish we could afford those, cause yeah they would be great.
@BumbedBooster If all you need is the hay wagon wheels plus enough to tie them together and pull/steer them, possibly you could negotiate for an advertisement or credit in your program.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
I remember when all a marching band needed was feet.

s/Conditional Curmudgeon
You've obviously never heard of My ala mater and the "Pride of Broken Arrow"

@BumbedBooster
Not knowing the entire design intent or how much it needs to move.
Does it have to roll into place? Would a group of student be able to carry it out into place then run away?

Could you use a system, say a couple Bicycle wheels linked together with a flat bar, that could be used to roll the things out then removed the roll the other set on?

Could you find some place to donate a bunch of old bicycle wheels you could mount permanently to the pieces then use something like some Destaco's to make a brake similar to what is used on wheelchairs?

Oh! go steal a bunch of wheelchairs and take their wheels off... The things we'll do for art.

<disclaimer: No, do not steal wheelchairs that would be bad and stuff>

Have you got a picture of the design?
Oh, You can get a 10" Pneumatic wheel from Harbor Freight for $9. or an 8" swivel for $15.
I do think using a removable / reusable, 'system' is going to be your best bet. Our rigging wheels on one end and lifting the other.. like a wheelbarrow.
 

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Definitely inflated casters; good ideas above.

One thing, I'm going to say that a 2.42' wide x 4.4' tall platform on wheels on a soft / uneven surface is a no-go. Too unstable. Even off the wheels I don't like the ratio. I'd look for a way to make it wider and/or shorter.
 

bobgaggle

Well-Known Member
has it been that long since I was in marching band? I remember some bands had scenic props, but not actual scenery that they interacted with. I think you build what you can and forget the rest. You have no budget and minimal experience with these niche design constraints.

Build it like a wheel barrow. 2 fixed wheels on one end, nothing on the other. Set it down and it won't go anywhere. Coaches typically don't like their football players breaking their ankles, so the fields tend to be very smooth with a slight crown for water drainage. I'm not concerned about "uneven" ground making anything unstable, but soft might be a problem. so, big bearing surfaces to rest on
 

microstar

Well-Known Member
Definitely inflated casters; good ideas above.

One thing, I'm going to say that a 2.42' wide x 4.4' tall platform on wheels on a soft / uneven surface is a no-go. Too unstable. Even off the wheels I don't like the ratio. I'd look for a way to make it wider and/or shorter.
Isn't the OP making 2 ramps each 4.84'x8' from the 4 units? So they should be stable once assembled. Possible that size will not fit in his transport vehicle.
 

MPowers

Well-Known Member
You've obviously never heard of My ala mater and the "Pride of Broken Arrow"

@BumbedBooster
Not knowing the entire design intent or how much it needs to move.
Does it have to roll into place? Would a group of student be able to carry it out into place then run away?

Could you use a system, say a couple Bicycle wheels linked together with a flat bar, that could be used to roll the things out then removed the roll the other set on?

Could you find some place to donate a bunch of old bicycle wheels you could mount permanently to the pieces then use something like some Destaco's to make a brake similar to what is used on wheelchairs?

Oh! go steal a bunch of wheelchairs and take their wheels off... The things we'll do for art.

<disclaimer: No, do not steal wheelchairs that would be bad and stuff>

Have you got a picture of the design?
Oh, You can get a 10" Pneumatic wheel from Harbor Freight for $9. or an 8" swivel for $15.
I do think using a removable / reusable, 'system' is going to be your best bet. Our rigging wheels on one end and lifting the other.. like a wheelbarrow.
The "Pride of Broken Arrow". Would that be Broken Arrow, Oklahoma?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van

Chase P.

Well-Known Member
What about covering the field, not upping the size of the wheels? Plywood is the obvious go-to.

There are field protector mats for exactly this purpose. They're plastic grids that roll out to cover the turf. They are firm enough to wheel road cases and scenery over. There are floor protectors for indoor use, that may work outside, too. Some places that might have a turf/floor protector: your HS, local college, event company, heavy equipment rental, local arena/sportsball venue, possibly even a hockey rink.

Check with Facilities at those venues, and at your HS if you haven't already. You are certainly not the first person in your area who needs a hard surface over dirt.
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Last edited:

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Yes. Home of the Pride, Kristy Chenowith, and Me.
Across the border, we have Kirstie Alley, Don Johnson, Joe Walsh, William Inge...

Keeping with your theme, Robbie Roberson has a great song titled "Broken Arrow".
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van

MPowers

Well-Known Member
Yes. Home of the Pride, Kristy Chenowith, and Me.
Grew up in my teen years in OKC back in the '50s. My late father was an Oklahoma lawyer for 60 years with a little break for WWII. been to Broken Arrow many times, but not since about 1969.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van
...Does it have to roll into place? Would a group of student be able to carry it out into place then run away?

Could you use a system, say a couple Bicycle wheels linked together with a flat bar, that could be used to roll the things out then removed the roll the other set on?

Could you find some place to donate a bunch of old bicycle wheels you could mount permanently to the pieces then use something like some Destaco's to make a brake similar to what is used on wheelchairs?

Oh! go steal a bunch of wheelchairs and take their wheels off... The things we'll do for art.

<disclaimer: No, do not steal wheelchairs that would be bad and stuff>

Have you got a picture of the design?
Oh, You can get a 10" Pneumatic wheel from Harbor Freight for $9. or an 8" swivel for $15.
I do think using a removable / reusable, 'system' is going to be your best bet. Our rigging wheels on one end and lifting the other.. like a wheelbarrow.
Hahaha, I would love to see the parents faces if I was like "I'm gonna need your kids to go steal two bicycle/wheelchair wheels each"

I don't really have a picture, I have the original design, and a few sketches from along the way, but it's so far removed from what we are doing now it wouldn't be that much help...
That said, the window for set up/breakdown at competitions is two minutes, so I think wheels (and/or anything else we can do to speed it up) are gonna be pretty essential.

Is this what your referring to? These are cheaper and larger than what I was a planning to buy previously, so yeah we'll for sure go with these, Thanks!
https://www.harborfreight.com/8-inch-pneumatic-swivel-caster-42485.html

Yeah, I'm very nervous about this. The only thing is they aren't free standing, so I will be able to secure them onto other larger/more stable structures, but I still don't feel good about it.

One thing I was debating was, two shorter platforms stacked on top to get the height:
-each section would be lighter, so wouldn't need the casters
-legs would be shorter, so more stable
But I don't know that I really feel any "safer" about that...

I can cheat the width a bit (and let it stick out in the back), but these get sandwiched between scaffolding that is 2.42 wide, so there's not a ton of wiggle room

Yeah, and to their credit they are all being very kind about "Don't stress you're already doing more than we could have done w/o you. We're just grateful for the help."
I just have a hard time with projects like this, because I know there are people in the industry that would be like "Oh yeah I go this, no problem," and I just wish I was one them.

Also, thanks, the wheel barrow approach is what I was thinking too (to cut caster cost, and solve the "no break" problem) and it helps a lot of have that seconded!

I'm worried about it not fitting in the band truck for sure, but I'm trying filling that under "not my problem," because they are who picked the sizes, so it is what it is.

These mats are very intriguing and I hadn't heard of them, I will for sure sick some of these very eager helpers with no "build" experience to researching this option, because I'm hoping the casters @Van found will be hardy enough for the job, but it would be swell to have a backup plan...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
You are depriving them of a very valuable service if you swallow your concerns and say "that's what they asked for" instead of talking about safety and alternatives.
 

Users who are viewing this thread