The addition for 2003 was my version of Scott Axworthy's effect, the "Axworthy Ghost". I decided I wanted to make it a double-axworthy, having one motor that drives two independent lines each with a ghost or two. I used ideas from the various other Axworthy project pages on the Internet, including the "Triple Axworthy" by Tom Bardash. See Mark Butler's Monster Page of Halloween Project Links for similar projects. The basic idea is to make a suspended pulley track above the yard that you can fly ghosts, bats, or any other lightweight objects of your choice. The principle components are a motor to drive the unit, bicycle wheels for the track points, and a bunch of trial and error to get it all to work right.

I tested this in August of 2003 to verify that I could get it to work reliably for the week of Halloween. I tried monofilament for the ghost line but found it stretched way too much. Since 2003 I have been consitently using a 50 lb. test braided fishing line that claims to have near zero stretch. It's called SpiderWire Stealth, and my tests have shown their claims to be true. It is very strong and the moss green color makes it hard to see day or night. Since the line is Teflon coated, you need a knot that won't slip. I am using a square knot to join the line with fishing swivels.

In 2005, I removed the wooden supports I originally used on the house, and replaced them with conduit poles in the ground like the one used at the front of the yard. I cemented a 28" piece into the ground with the threaded end sticking out. In the off season they are capped, but for Halloween I can attach the 14 foot above ground pieces to it. Instead of using 1" Rigid Metal Conduit (RMC) like the front pole, I am using 1 1/2" Intermediate Metal Conduit (IMC).

The IMC was cheaper and lighter than the equivalent RMC. It's lighter because of the thinner wall thickness. Many people I asked seemed to think it wasn't as strong or rigid because of this, but the manufacturer claims that it is as strong or stronger based on the materials. I found the newer poles worked very well. There still is some flexing but not enough to be a problem for my light and simple ghosts, and the flex gives a built in tensioning system. In 2011 I replaced the 2x4 that the motor/drive system was attached to with another IMC conduit pole. So now all points are freestanding poles that are removed after the show.

I have gotten more questions about this project than any other. Many of them asking what motor and drive pulley I use (see the captions for the 3rd and 4th photos below for the answers). I also get asked how fast my ghosts travel, and how to calculate the speed for a given motor and pulley size. Another point of confusion is how to connect the ghost line to itself, and to the ghosts with the fishing swivels. I have created the following two diagrams to help provide the details. I hope you will find them useful.

Click the thumnails for the full size images. You may then have to click them in your browser to show the full size image.


Axworthy Help Diagram:
Connecting The Ghost Line and Ghosts

Axworthy Help Diagram:
Track Speed Calculation


The Axworthy project takes a lot of time and patience. Each person's design is different, and requires much testing and trial and error to get it running well. Give yourself plenty of time to attempt it, and allow for improvements each year. Hopefully the information, photos, and video here will help you in your implementation.



Here are some video clips of the ghosts.
One during the day so you can better see the workings, and another at night:


Daytime Axworthy Video


Nightime Axworthy Video


Below are some photos of the track layout and components. There is also additional info on my version of this project below, such as the type of motor I used. Click each thumbnail for a larger image.
Here is an overhead diagram, to give you an idea of how the track is laid out over my front yard. There are 2 separate ghost paths, that are each back to back triangles. Each is driven by the same motor off of the main drive unit (attached to the fence on the front-left side of the property.
One of the most essential items to this kind of project, is a really tall ladder. Luckily I had access to this 12 foot stepladder.
An updated 2013 photo of the main drive unit. The motor and bicycle rims mounted to a 3 foot piece of angle stock. The motor is from Grainger.com. It's a 200 RPM Dayton gearmotor, part# 2Z812. My drive line is the .160" diameter screen door rubber wire that I tie in a loop with a square knot.
Here is a closeup of the sheave pulley attached to the motor spindle from Grainger, part# 3LC11. It is a 3 1/2" outside diameter (the actual belt surface diameter is closer to 3") with a 3/8" bore size. I used this size pulley specifically to increase the linear speed of the track since the motor speed was fixed at 200 RPM. The resulting linear speed is about 2.5 feet per second. The metal surface of the pulley was a bit too smooth, so I put some rubber-bands around the pulley first. This made the rubber drive-line wire grip much better. This photo was taken in 2003 before the black paint and the separate drive pulleys were added.
A closeup of one of the drive wheels. I originally had trouble with the drive line and ghost lines stepping on each other, so I made a separate track for the drive line out of 1/4" clear acrylic plastic. It's attached to the top of the rims with small screws and it solved the problem.
The track wheel point up by the house. The biggest problem with my yard for this effect was that I have no sizable trees. Originally I had wooden supports anchored to the side of the house. These were replaced in 2005 with the IMC conduit poles that attach at the ground.
Another angle of the support pole by the house. The one on the other side of the house is pretty much identical to this one.
The conduit riser pole at the front of the yard.
Another shot of the conduit riser. Even in the daytime you really can't see the SpiderWire fishing line I'm using. The conduit pole was also painted flat black.
I had some great plans for my original ghosts. There were to be 4 all the same with Styrofoam heads with lightup LED eyes. Well, I was too greedy as these turned out to be too heavy. So I had to scale way back and make my ghosts from a simple 6" Styrofoam ball covered with a 3' square piece of fabric. While these didn't look as real as I wanted, they worked flawlessly without weighting down the line over the long spans. So, speaking from experience, the key to making the Axworthy ghost setup work reliably is light ghosts!
Here's a closer look at the ghosts, brightly lit with the flash of the camera. This shot is from the driveway, where the ghosts pass directly overhead. Again, lots of snow.
A final shot from 2004 without the flash so that you get an idea of the lighting on the ghosts. We stopped them too so that they wouldn't blur with the slower shutter speed of the camera. You can clearly see 3 of the 4 ghosts, but the 4th is there. Can you spot it? It is just above the mausoleum, but a bit in front of it where there is no blacklight on it.