Introduction: Mod Out Your Own PUPPETEER'S DOLLY!

About: My girlfriend and I run a company called Deville's Workshop in Toronto, Canada. We build weird props for film and television and love this website - such a great resource for inspiration and discussion!

Hi peoples! OK, so we just got a nifty job, to make a puppeteer's dolly for a new show that has a puppet from the Jim Henson's Creature Shop!! There were a couple of requirements - it had to be comfortable, it had to be silent and it had to run smoothly. It also had to be set up so that either the puppeteer or other people off-camera could control the rig. So, to this end, we modded an automotive creeper - this is the cart we made and how we made it:

This build involved cutting and welding steel. If you attempt to do this you should work with (or be) a trained professional and always wear proper safety equipment.

-MIG welder (Millermatic 211)
-angle iron
-eye hooks
-threaded tee nuts
-3" neoprene casters (medical grade)
-G1S 3/4" plywood
-chop saw
-table saw
-industrial strength double-sided tape
-kneeling pad foam
-black paint
-automotive creeper

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Step 1: Casters and Plywood

I decided to use really thick plywood as a base material for a number of reasons: it was readily available, it looks really sexy when it's doubled up and I thought it might add some weight to the cart (and possibly add to stability???).

I also got some interesting feedback from a great guy at Majestic Casters. He had worked on a number of theatre and stage productions and supplied casters for shows like Phantom of the Opera. He advised me to use 'medical grade 3" neoprene casters'. They are a bit expensive (at $25/each) but they have a metal guard on them to help keep hair and other debris out, they turn with a double ball bearing system and the neoprene is soft enough that it can run over small objects without screeching to a halt.

Step 2: Add a Comfort Fairing and Eye Hooks

Now I drilled some holes in the creeper and added eye hooks. If it works I'm hoping to use retractable dog leashes to help pull the cart along.

Step 3: Paint and Finish It!

We just recently built a spray room in our shop so I'm always excited to paint things. I use a clingy kitchen wrap to mask off areas I don't want to spray. Then I hit the creeper and the new fairings. Once the paint on the chassis has set I start to attach the plywood base. There are some hardware bits from the creeper that I've recycled.

Finally, I cut the kneeling foam to spec on the table saw and mounted it using 3M outdoor mounting tape.

Step 4: Put on a Puppet Show!! You Be Done!

And that's it! Just a quick mod to an automotive creeper and now you can lie low and puppeteer a show. If you aren't familiar with this site, here is a link to Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Man, this team of amazing people influenced how I view the world. Kudos!!!

OK, enjoy!


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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    No, actually, I just handed the dolly off to the production last night; they will begin filming next week I think. I haven't seen the actual puppet that will be on the show yet.
    That weird little puppet 'Jeremy' is something my brother made for me. He totally freaks out whenever anybody plays the Andrew Sisters or any number of Benny Goodman tracks. I mean, the puppet, not my brother. Well, I guess they both do.