The flying ghosts is a long looped string that moves around the yard with ghosts hanging from it. This gives the look of real flying ghosts around the yard. This project works like a chair lift where you have ghosts hanging from a line instead of chairs. I came up with this idea in 1995 and have seen other versions of this around.
1. Gear motor around 1/8 hp and speed around 110 RPM
2. Wheels made for V-belts work good, 5 inch diameter you need and at least one that will fit the shaft of the motor. The ones I used are from McMaster Carr Supply Company Part # 6245K52
3. Some threaded metal rod that will fit the wheels. I used 1/2inch diameter rod which fits the V-belt wheel that I used.
4. Some nuts that fit the threaded rod preferably locking nuts.
5. Some pieces of wood or angled steel to attach the threaded rod which you can get at Home Depot.
This project is very effective and I think one of the best to do. Before you buy your materials for this project you need to figure out how big of a flying ghost system you want to make. Once you draw up a diagram where you want the ghosts to fly you can start getting the correct amount of materials that you need. The picture below shows the set up I use.
These are the V-belts wheels I used in the picture on the right. The smaller diameter wheels (McMaster Carr Part # 6245K45)where used in the yard and one of the larger diameter wheels that has the spokes (McMaster Carr Part # 6245K52) was used as the drive pulley. I used a larger diameter for the drive pulley to increase the speed of the ghost line.
The picture to the left shows two V-belt wheel supports. I used two 8 foot pieces of angle bracket which can be bought from Home Depot. I bent them both in the middle giving me a 4 foot span and nailed them to the tree. I attached a 1 foot piece of threaded rod using wire to the point of the span. I attached my V-belt with a washer and locking nut. Next you need to slide the V-belt wheel on the rod and take a nut that screws on to the threaded rod. This will keep the wheel from falling off. You may want to add some grease around the shaft to keep the wheel from squeaking.
The picture on the left shows what is in the picture above but on a smaller tree. I used two, two foot pieces of angle bracket for this mounting.
Another variation in the picture on the right showing a pulley mounted between two trees.
The motor assembly can be mounted indoors or outdoors. My ghost line motor is mounted indoors and I open two windows on the second floor of my house where the ghost fly in and out. I keep the door closed to the room so the whole house doesn’t get cold. I got a used motor from a surplus company for $20. My Links page has some companies where you can find some motors to use. This particular gear motor I used for this project was from C&H Sales. The motor is mounted the same way as the rest of the wheels and a V-belt wheel is tightened to the shaft of the motor. What’s great about mounting the motor indoors is the motor will not get wet and when visitors come they can see the ghost flying in and out of your house making your house part of your Halloween display.
The line that can be used is kite string or you can use some tie line. You want a strong string that is light weight. Using theatrical tie line which you can get in black color works well but kite string will do just fine. You can tie the two ends together and if you are using a thicker type rope that is at least a 1/8 inch in diameter. Tying the two ends together will give you a big knot and it may not sit well with going around the wheels. So what can be done is to get a piece of chain where the chain links have a hole that is 1/8 inch diameter and then threading both ends of the rope through both ends of the chain. This will lock the two pieces together giving a better transition then tying a knot. Now you want to make sure you keep tension on the line all the time to keep the string from falling off the wheels. The string that you use will stretch over time so you will have to cut it and tie it again or move one of the wheels in a direction that puts more tension on the line.
The ghost that you use need to be light weight. Also to much weight and the string will not stay on the wheels. I use those ghost type bags that you put newspaper in. To tie the ghost to the line you need to make a loop using some fishing line that you need to tie to the top of the ghosts. The loop around the ghost line needs to be loose so when the ghost line itself twists the fishing line will not roll up on to the ghost line. You also need to use a glue gun to glue a bead of glue on both sides of the fishing line to keep the ghost from moving forward or back on the ghost line. The entire ghost line will twist as it moves and this fishing line loop process makes sure the ghosts do not get wrapped around the ghost line resulting in falling off the wheels. See a real close up picture below to see how to attach the ghost to the line.
Make sure to spread the ghosts out. This will help keep the line from sagging too much in one place. If you keep the line taught all the time you should have a very reliable ghost line. Also this ghost line does not work well in high winds.