Horse Drawn Hearse
This Horse drawn hearse was built to be transported and stored not assembled. My work made the square tube frames and the bases they fit into. This was made to sit on a modified conference table. I won’t be giving 100% step by step instructions on how to make it as some materials I used won’t be worth your time. I will how show you how I made it all mainly via pictures.
Exterior latex paint
Wood trim of your choice
2x2x8 get like 10 pieces
Window insulation film kits 2x
3x 45 deg angle brackets and 8x L brackets
Staple gun / staples
4x Hinges for rear door
Drill bits, nuts drivers, & wrenches
LED’s and power supplies
4x ¾” x ¾” x ½” pipe tees
½” gas pipe
½” pipe nipples, flanges couplings and caps (what you’ll need will depend on how you build the axles)
Step 1: Cut Your Wheels
I followed Jennshaunt’s youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xdMcjZyaEA) of wheels cutting. Basically get a square or long piece of flat wood 4ft or so, a nail and string and a pen. Decide how big you want your wheels. I made mine 48” diameter and 40” diameter. Drawn your circle and then drawn the inner circle. You’ll want to leave a 2-3” space from the wheel edge to the spoke start. Follow the video I linked to above on her measurements and such as I did mine similar just less spokes. Cut out the wheels and set them aside. KEEP THE SCRAPS OF WOOD from the wheel cutouts. I used them for the driver’s compartment sides! I built the axles and such at the end.
Step 2: Build the Box Base
Obtain your 2x2’s and plywood. I cut my base to be 4ft x 6ft, which you’ll need to keep the 2ft left overs for other parts of the hearse. With mine using the square tube frames I had to build a base to bolt the uprights to and then put another base piece over the uprights with notches cut out for the uprights. If you are not using square tube frames and such then just make a good solid base and put a frame of 2x4’s or 2x2’s around the base to attach your sides. Once I made my base I went on to the sides.
Step 3: Paint Paint Paint!!
I painted all the plywood and basically any wood I bought a dark dark blue. Didn’t want to do black. So I spent many nights painting wood then letting it dry the next day while I was at work. Summer time is the best to build this thing as you’ll have it up for months if you do this on weekends and nights and the paint dries much faster in the summer. Make sure you keep a half gallon or so of the paint for touch-ups and trims later.
Step 4: Build Your Sides
I cut my sides to match the base 4x6 and the front and back are 4x4. I used metal self-tapping screws to attach the wood to the square tube frames, but if you aren’t using that then again build a frame of 2x2’s around the sides, front and back of the hearse. I did the rear door last and cut the doors out of it at one time. Cut out the door shape and then attach the hinges before you mount it on the hearse. Cut out the window shape you want, some do ovals some circles, other rectangles. I choose a double window due to the frame having the middle upright. Not many hearses have the 2 window look. Attach the sides to the bottom frame with bolts and nuts and pre-drill your holes!! Now you have playpen so grab your kids and have a relaxing night with your wife or husband!!
Step 5: Windows
I used window insulation film to make my windows. This allows me to replace them easily and very cheap. Plexiglas might get that white film on it over the years and glass is just silly to use on a Halloween prop. Kits cost $10 and will cover both sides of the hearse. Use the double sided tape provided as a base but then I had to put something over the film as the tape wasn’t sticking well to the painted wood. What I used you can’t get unless you work in roofing, but maybe a piece of 1x2 glued over the top of the film material would keep it down and tight. Basically cut the film to fit the window size, seal the edges and then take a hair dryer and go around until it’s tight and no lines or stretch marks are there. Don’t sit too long on one spot as it will create a hole. This looked cool in the rain and in the daylight too as it’s still reflective like glass. I then put trim around the outside of the windows, that’s where your own creativity comes in. My friend Chris told me the hearse need to look big and gaudy so we chose big thick trim and was lucky enough to get it free from my wifes work….it’s worth over $500 total.. I will assume you will not get $500 trim for your hearse.
Step 6: Roof Build
Remember back in the beginning where I told you I was not going to make this 100% step by step…I think I lied… So I made my first mistake here and cut the roof at 4x6 as well. That obviously won’t keep it dry. I took 1x6 cedar fence boards and cut them to make a frame that would stick out from the 4x6 roof panel. Attach the fence boards like wings along the 2 sides and the back. I didn’t do the front because my seat area would have had your head hitting the roof wing. Drill holes in the roof to go through the roof panel and the wings and attach it to the 2x2 frame that is on the sides, front and back from step 4.
Step 7: Drivers Compartment
I created another base that was 4x5 and made it go under the box frame and then bolted it to the box frame. This added stability to the front. I used the pieces that were used to cut the wheels out as it gave a pretty cool shape to it. The long side went up to the box and short side went to the front. I used the length of the wheel cut out piece as my length of the driver’s compartment. Attach the sides via l brackets and short screws. Cut a piece to fit the front of the compartment and attach that to the base and the sides with L brackets. I also added a piece angled at 45 deg to cover my lights and electrical parts. I add though about adding fog but didn’t in the end. Pictures explain this better so look at those!
Step 8: Seat
I built a seat out of scrap wood from the plywood cut earlier an L shaped seat with a flange on the back and 3 seat supports on the bottom. I added a piece of 2x4 to the front of the hearse box and attached the seat to that by drilling holes in the flange piece and the 2x4 and bolting it on. The seat basically just sits on that 2x4 rail.
Step 9: Trim
When you have decided what kind of trim you want for the entire hearse edges paint those and attach them. I put corner trim on the front and back of the box to cover the seams of the sides to the front / back. I put trim on the bottom and top of each side and then the bottom of the drivers compartment and the front as well. Basically trim out whatever you want.
Step 10: Wheels Again!
This step is very hard to explain, but basically I went to home depot armed with measurements and created axles out of black pipe. Find the cheap stuff, gas pipe I think it’s called or water pipe, threaded at both ends. I measured the width of the hearse and added about 6-8”. I bought ½” pipe, flanges and couplings, nipples and tees. Take a piece of 1x4 or 2x4 and mark out a circle about 1ft in from each end. This is where the ½” flanges will be. Screw them in and then add a nipple to a ¾ x ¾ x ½ tee. The ½ side will go to the flange. See the pictures below for the best explanation. I cut a hole in the wheels to fit the pipe through and then put the pipe through it and added a ½ cap to the end. Put the pipe through the ¾ tees and then attach the other wheel. Screw the board up to the underside of the hearse front and back and you have wheels!! I made mine so the wheels stood about 1/2” off the ground. They do turn but IT’S NOT LOAD BEARING!! Again the pictures will explain this the best. Contact me and I can give you exact measurements. I’m writing this as the hearse is still up and not dismantled yet.
Step 11: Lights and Hearse Box Insides
I added a bank of Blue Leds to the front to illuminate the driver. I took a board and some plumbers tape and put 10 leds in the little holes on the tape and then wired them up to a power supply. My wife added curtains to the inside of the box on the windows using theater curtains (from my dad’s work) and then I created PVC LED flicker candles (an instructable will be out for those later), and added my ¼ casket I obtained from an funeral home(display model). I put the casket up on a half pallet from my work and covered it with black material and then put the candles all around the front of the casket.
Step 12: Table Base
I built mine in the back yard to hide it from the neighbors as I tend to install my display at night to surprise them in the morning. I dismantled the entire hearse and moved it to the front yard. I got a conference table and removed the legs and metal frame. I took a piece of 4x5 plywood and reattached the legs and metal frame. I placed the hearse on the “table” so that the wheels would be mounted at the ends of the 4x5 table base. I covered the table legs with a black fabric and that is where I kept the electrical stuff as well.
Step 13: Electrical
I drilled a big hole in the front right corner of the box and put an extension cord up inside the hearse that plugged in the candles any future needs in the hearse. This would allow no water to get to the electrical being that the cord and such was stored under the table behind the curtain. I also found a shepherd’s hook at goodwill, cut it down and drilled two holes in it and mounted it to the side of the drivers compartment. I added a swinging lantern that had flickering LED’s mounted inside. I ran the cord along the seat rail and to the back side of the hearse and under the fabric in the back. I also illuminated the entire hearse with a yard flood light with a 25 watt amber bulb. Terrible for pictures but great for the look I wanted. People used a flash and it looked fine.
I have plans to make this into an actual drive-able hearse, in a parade, but I need stronger wheels and axles. That is a plan for this winter. Zombies are going to pull it in a parade in late May and it might go on display at the West Coast Haunters Convention in 2016! As usual I am here for questions and I can guide you through any step you need. I have google hangout ability and skype. Contact me anytime! Good luck and let your creativity run wild on this. No two horse drawn hearses are the same and I know you will make yours very unique as I did mine!