Antique Horse Drawn Hearse - Halloween Prop Replica




Introduction: Antique Horse Drawn Hearse - Halloween Prop Replica

This prop has been the crowning jewel of my yard and haunt, and always receives compliments by the truckloads (most people cant believe we built it in our backyard). But it's construction is actually incredibly simple overall, and uses lots of "seconds" of lumbar and off the shelf detail work.

This instructable is to serve more as an inspiration to build your own, as I did not fully document the construction (just worked with what I could get cheaply), so no exact measurements will be provided. But you are welcome to ask me questions about it and I will do my best to answer them.

To keep it as easy as possible we made the sides and base out of full sheets of plywood. The base is constructed out of 2x4's and topped with a piece of 1/2" plywood.

The front seat is a box constructed of 2x2's and skinned with plywood, with common porch lights that I found in the clearance section of home depot mounted to the side (notice the fancy cutting I had to do to get them to fit within the molding in one of the shots).

The detail work/pillars are just gazing ball stands from big lots (they had a sale on them for 6.50 each so we took them on the table saw and cut the side ones in half, and cut a quarter out of the corner ones). Below these is a piece of 4" pvc pipe, cut and glued to the side of the hearse.

Its really all about sourcing materials.

Since this is a static prop, the entire structure sits on 4 pieces of 2" metal pipe hammered into the ground with t's acting as axels for the 1" pipe going between the wheels (which are harbor frieght wagon wheels with hubs made of plastic flower pots painted black).

The small fillagry around the hearse consists of the pre-made wood adornments that you can find cheaply at Lowes/home depot.

These, like the rest of the hearse, were painted in "Behr ultra, high gloss, black exterior paint" which has to be the best paint I've ever used. Covered in one coat and held up to the elements year round.

Then we came back and detailed everything with antique gold craft paint (sponged on to look aged).

The curtains are made of fake crushed velvet thats cheap and commonly available at Joanns (use a coupon for this and the fringe, because it adds up). We replaced this every year, as the sun and rain took its toll on it, but it actually gives it more of an aged look if we had just left it on.

Btw... dowels make fantastic curtain rods on the cheap (you can see them in the disassembled photos).

Lastly, wire up the lanterns, throw in some flicker bulbs, toss on a skeleton, and a home-made coffin in the back and its ready for its debut.

The point of halloween prop making is the journey and experience of making the props and sourcing the materials, finding ways to use things that were never originally intentioned be used in that manner and just have fun! This is my favorite static prop I've ever made (and favorite prop only second to the fogscreen or pirate ship), and I hope the path ahead of you brings you as much joy as it has to me!

Again, feel free to ask questions and I will be happy to support you in your endeavors!

I will also update this if I find any more photos and plans (though unfortunately many got lost due to a hard drive crash).

Happy Haunting!



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18 Discussions

2017 update on this Hearse.

We aquired this replica hearse a while ago, made some mods to it (added real weight supporting wheels and front steering) and have used it for several years at our haunt. Unfortunately it got caught in a recent flood and was heavily damaged. hopefully we can repair it back to its glory.


Hi! This hearse is absolutely amazing! I can't believe that you built this yourself. I was wondering if you would be interested in renting this out for a photo shoot/real party? Let me know if this is something you'd be interested in. Feel free to email me: Looking forward to hearing from you!

1 reply

Hi, thank you very much for the offer, but the hearse has been passed on to a new owner out in the heart of Los Angeles. It was a fixed prop though, held up by a steel pipe structure mounted into the ground so would no have been mobile for shipping. Best of luck to you!

This is amazing!!! I'm inspired and working on my own hearse now . Ever think about a skeletal horse to go with it?

1 reply

If I still had it, I would have loved to purchase the skeletal horses from home depot this year and make them animated, but I have since moved from my parents house and sold the hearse. Thank you very much!

Check with your local lumbar yard. Almost every piece of plywood used was a "second" (usually a broken corner or bad knothole out of the center) allowing us to get 3/4" sheets of plywood for only a few dollars each. It helps them out, and works out for us haunters :D

Thank you very much wmothershed1! My apologies for the delay in response, I've been finishing my senior project for Design at CSULB and its taken every moment of my time. The wagon wheels are those sold through harbor freight and I believe they are roughly 32" across. As to the foot-rest it is just a piece of plywood cut out to the desired shape. The mounting point comes from additional 2x4's butted up the the existing frame members and cut at an angle to get the desired slope of the footrest. If you decide to put actors or guests up there I highly suggest using lag bolts or a metal bracket at the connection point (though as it was it was plenty strong with the 3" wood screws). I hope this helps! I really wish I had more photos documenting the process.

This is amazing! My wife and I LOVE decorating for Halloween and have been looking for this exact thing. Two questions: what size (diameter) wagon wheels were used and how did you make / attach the foot rest?

With a real set of wheels/axels/steering it could foresee ably be used that way. Just not as it is designed now

hay I have a strange question could this be used at a real hearse of would it only be good for decoration

You could definitely make it in 2-3 solid days. It took months because I worked on it in my off time and had a lot of time just trying figure out what materials to use and where to find them cheaply :D so don't let that deter you. But room is definitely an issue haha and thank you very much for the comment!

wow, what an amazing prop. if only I had room to build and display it I would make something like this. but it took you a few months to make and ya Halloween is almost here. If only I had room to make it. I realllly like this.

What do you do with this in the "off" season? It looks like it takes up plenty of space.

1 reply

There is no off season :D its been outside all year long! People love it and take photos with it all the time, and we decorate it for Christmas too!