DYI Mermaid Tail Stands

DIY Instructions:
Mermaid Tail Stand

* This is what worked for me. I do not know how it will work with your tail as they are all different. Measure and make your own changes as needed. So far my tails have been fine on the stand but I do not know how they will hold if displayed long term. For now I am using these stands to dry my silicone/silicone hybrid tails after swimming in them.

Made out of wood and steel.


Measuring:

Step 1: Measure for the height of the stand. I measured from the foot pockets to the waist of my tails. Mine were around 4 feet. Initially I thought we could use a 3 foot (36″) piece (with the fork on top of that) but I forgot to factor in space needed to allow for air flow or a fan under the tail. So for me the 4 foot (48″) pipe worked best for me. To make it taller you could go to a 5 foot pipe but it will make the stand less stable.

Step 2: Measure the length of the foot pockets. Mine are about 9-10″ long. So the fork needed to be around that size. Initially I was trying for about a 12″ fork. But these are my final numbers that work are: Stand 1’s fork is 10″ & Stand 2’s fork is 9″ without padding.

Step 3: Measure the width of the foot pockets. Mertailor tail is wider at 9″ and MerNation tail is a lot more narrow at 6.5″. This made me have to have 2 different size forks (you can probably find a universal size that will work for several tails wanted 2 stands).


Tools:

  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Pipe wrench (you don’t really need this but it is helpful if you really have to screw the fork tight to make it fit in your foot pockets or to un-screw the pipe if you make it too tight)
  • Cleaner/Acetone to remove pipe grease
  • Painting supplies: foam brush, paint brush, gloves, drop cloth, etc.
  • Wood stain & polyurethane sealant
  • Clear coat spray paint

Tools


Parts:

All the parts were purchased at Home Depot (Tampa, FL Jan 2018).

First Stand:
made for my Mertailor Spellbound Tail
(34 lbs, heavy fluke)

Since this tail is a bit heavier and more heavy in the fluke area with wider foot pockets I decided to go a bit beefier. I went with 3/4″ pipe and regular elbow pipes. I up-sized the floor flange to a 1″ because it has a wider footprint and it will be more stable on the base.

Pieces:

  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 3/4″ 48″ $16.38
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x close nipple $1.68 each / $3.36
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x 8″ nipple $5.33 each / $10.66
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ elbow $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ cap $2.97 each / $5.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4 Tee $3.70
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $4.26
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ Floor Flange $13.20
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18

Total cost: $74.91 plus tax

Second Stand:
made for my MerNation Signature full silicone tail
(25 lbs, heavy body)

This tail is very narrow at the foot pockets. I had to downsize to 1/2″ pipe & use the “street” elbows that screw directly into the Tee. I couldn’t find a up-sizing (bushing) piece to go from 1/2″ to 1″. The 1/2″ Flange seemed very small to me but I compromised by using the 3/4″ Flange. It seems to be stable enough to hold up the lighter tail. I also couldn’t put metal caps on the top of the stand (they got caught on the silicone & didn’t fit very nice) so I used some plastic caps that were on the long pipe at Home Depot as a cap to keep the edges of the metal pipe from digging into the silicone while sliding the tail on the stand. Later I put padding over them.

Pieces:

  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 1/2″ 48″ $12.98
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ x 8″ nipple $4.26 each / $8.52
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ elbow “90deg street” $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1/2″ Tee $2.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $3.18
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4″ Floor Flange $8.42
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18
  • Keep the 2 little red plastic caps that sometimes come on the pipe. (This will help protect the edges of the top of the fork they are free)
  • Something for padding (I used old socks) & tape (I used athletic tape)

Total cost: $53.75


Assembly:

Step 1: Screw the pieces together. See diagrams below.

Step 2: Measure the forks to make sure they will fit in the foot pockets. At this point I folded my tails down and carefully slid the forks into the tails to see if it fit. I needed to screw the elbows into the Tee on the First Stand a lot more than I thought I would. This was difficult and took a lot of muscle. (Just be prepared to put some elbow grease and leverage into it. My Fiancé brought me his pipe wrench to help.)

Step 3: Find the center of the wood base (use your measuring tape). Screw the Flange into the wood base using a drill. Screw the Bushing into the Flange.

Note: Now you have 2 pieces: the fork (It kinda looks like a Triton) & the base. You can store it separately like this when not in use.

Step 4: Screw the fork into the base.

Step 5: Add padding to the top of the fork.

I only did this on the Second stand (for my MerNation tail). I thought the 3/4″ caps on the First stand had a nice round surface area that wouldn’t dig into the foot pockets too much (if needed I’ll add padding later). I used 2 old socks and rolled them up so there were several layers covering the top of the stand. Then wrapped them with athletic tape.

NOTE: If you are going to seal the steal pipe with Rust-Oleum, add the padding after the paint is dry.

There are many different options for padding and I’m curious to see what you guys decide to use. My way isn’t likely to be permanent and I’ll probably have to redo it whenever the socks or tape come off.


Finishing:

The wood and steel need to be sealed (especially since water may be dripping from your tail as it dries). The wood may warp or do weird things. Eventually, the steel pipe will rust (it will take many many years…but eventually it will happen).

Step one: Stain wood and seal with polyurethane. Or paint with a water resilient paint.

Optional Step two: Clean the steel with Acetone to remove the grease from the pipes. Seal with a clear coat of paint. I used Rust-Oleum Clear Spray Paint. I didn’t want to use a colored paint because I was worried it would transfer onto my tails.


Final product:


Final thoughts:

When I put my tails onto the stands, I roll/fold them down so I can see the foot pockets. Then I lift (or attempt to lift) them onto the stand. Or you can keep the tail on a table with it folded over and lean the stand into the tail. Once you see the fork is in the foot pockets than lift the tail and stand upright. Be very careful with your tails so you’re not allowing the stand to poke into the silicone bodies and potentially making holes or weak points.

Note: My MerNation tail had been dry for almost a week (or so I thought)…Then when I put it onto the stand for the first time there was hidden water that had dripped from it. I realized how much I needed a new way to dry my tails. I hope these will help. This is also why you should seal the wood base…to protect from water damage.

There are concerns about monofins cracking or the weight of the silicone body pulling away from the fluke. Remember that each tail is made differently. They are connected differently. They weigh differently. I do not recommend leaving your tail hanging unobserved for too long. Please check for possible damage. I do not know how your tail will react with the long term use on the tail stand.

I would like to hear the good and bad experiences that you’ve had with tail stands. Please leave me a comment.


There are also several options to making tail stands. The above just what I have done. I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. I got the idea from a Pod member who posted a picture of an already made stand. Then I asked my Fiancé to help me make one. These are some of the pictures I used for reference. *Please let me know if these are your designs or pics and I will give you credit (or remove the photos, if you request). A lot of the popular tail stands are made with PVC and maybe a good and less expensive option for you.


Side note: I also attempted to hang my tail on the wall using guitar hooks. It worked well for about 3 months then one day as the tail shifted one of the hooks pulled out of the wall. The tail fell and one of the heel fins tore. Sooo, I decided that wasn’t the best option for me to dry or store my tails.

If you have a tail stand or you build a stand like mine, please send me a photo and/or post on Instagram and tag me (my IG mermaid site is MermaidAerialPrincess). I’d love to see how everyone else is doing it.

 

Advertisements

Update to Portable Aerial Rig Pulley System

If you are up to date with the rest of my Aerial Equipment blogs – Great! This is an update to the pulley system I use with my Ludwig Portable Aerial Rig. If you are just starting out please go back and read my other posts then come back here when you’re ready for more info about pulley systems.

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource to find the professionals.**

I was contacted by Peter Boulanger, the Artistic & Tech Director of The Underground Circus. I think you can see his comments in the comments section of my blog. I’m going to post his concerns and say that going forward please consider using tandem pulleys opposed to the double pulley in your system. Please read his attached documents and then read our comments from The Underground Circus Facebook post (I’m Amy, if you’re curious.) If you already use the double pulley beware of the rope abraiding while lifting heavy loads. Also keep an eye on the outside safety plates of the pulley for any deformation that may be tell tale signs to take the pulley out of service.

I have not seen this large of a twist in my setup  (I’m not lifting people with my pulleys just the equipment so I don’t see the abrasion of the rope at all) but I do understand that the twist is there and it is putting extreme pressure on the sides of that double pulley that it is not designed for. It would be awful to have something unexpected happen to that pulley in a drop…

Luckily I’ve been playing with different ways to set up pulleys and I have additional pulleys in my arsenal so I can swap out my double pulley without much pain. Ooh, speaking of pain…I did learn a valuable lesson the other day. I DO NOT recommend ever trying to take down the Ludwig rig (from full height) ALL BY YOURSELF. Although, I did get it down to a manageable height so I could swap out the pulleys it was not fun, pretty, or easy. There was a ton of swearing, straining, and a few “OMG what just happened!” moments as the rig started to topple to the side almost crushing into my house. (And that is a major conversation I never want to have with my insurance company bc as you know these rigs are about as coverageable as a trampoline in Florida…use at your own risk). Get someone to help you take that rig down. Learn from my mistake…plus you’re going to need someone’s help to put it back up again anyway.



Additionally, I said above that I’ve been playing with different pulley ideas. This is because I want to be able to use my new Aerial Animals Trapeze as a static trapeze but with the current system it only has one rigging point. Discussing it with my Fiancé he decided to make me a spreader bar with 3 rigging points and we’d use a complicated pulley system to make it work. Well … complicated is rarely the best way to do things and it did not work.

I don’t have many pics of it because I really wasn’t going to write about it…but here it is. The steel spreader bar being painted and getting ready for eyebolts. (The spreader bar is perfect but just not used with the pulley set up that I had in mind.)


I used one rope and 4 single pulleys. I could raise and lower it just using one side of the rope. It looked great.

It seemed to work ok at first if I pulled it up to the top. But it wasn’t real stable and wobbled back and forth and the pulleys would bump each other. Then the final “oh crap, this definitely isn’t going to work” moment was when I put the trapeze up. Even if I used span sets and pulled it to the top the trapeze rocked back and forth (side to side) as I shifted weight from one side to the other. It wasn’t fun…oh it could be worked with as a unique apparatus but it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Finally, I’ve gone back to the original pulley system (until I change the double out for a tandem set up…). Plus a seperate system for the trapeze: a single pulley for each side. I cut a 100ft rope in half and knotted a loop to attach the trapeze. Then I level each side equally and tie it off on the cleats. So now I have 2 pulley systems on one rig…this only works if you have 5 eyebolts on the top and I have 4 tie off cleats (one on each leg). I choose to tie off the trapeze pulley to the opposite legs of the single-point pulley.

Any questions or comments?

Aerial Equipment Part 6: Portable Aerial Rig *1 Year Outdoor Review

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

It has been over a year since I purchased my Ludwig Aerial Rig. I still love it and I’m glad I have it. It has been kept up outdoors the entire time. Recently, I took it down and inspected it, then put it back up. I took photos of how it has weathered over the past year.

Ludwig Rig

Purchased and first installed February 2016.

Complete inspection March 2017.
(I do regular inspections of the legs, tie downs, rope, and climb to the top to visually and physically inspect pulleys and connections on every use.)

My biggest concern was to look for rusting on any of the welds on the rig and to make sure all the screws were tight on all connections on rig.

  • There was NO rust on any of the welds.
  • All screws on the legs pieces were still screwed down. There was one screw on the header leg that was not super tight but it was still secure. All quick connects (the buttons) were in place and secure. The header eye bolts were tight (unmovable) and free of rust.
  • There was some surface rust on the inside of the tube of the header and on parts of the legs that were inside the other pieces of leg. There was not not a huge amount of rust. I will continue to monitor it.
    Note: My Fiancé used some grease on the connection legs to reduce friction and be another barrier to prevent rusting (likely not needed but he wanted to do it).
fullsizerender 16

One year: Surface rust on the leg beam where it was inside of other beam.

img_1824

One year: Surface rust on inside of header beam.

  • The area with the most rust were the tie down cleats. These are untreated steel and get wet almost daily from our sprinkler system. I cleaned them with Navel Jelly (soaked them for 15 minutes then scrubbed them off with a green scrubber, did this 4 more times-soaking for 15-25 minute intervals & then scrubbed them before they were clear of the rust.) Then I sprayed them with Rustoleom Clear Primer to slow down future rust.
    Note: I also ordered a brand new set just to have available, if needed. 

Before and after: Tie off cleats.

Soaking cleats in Navel Jelly.

One year: Rust on leg from cleat.

Pulley System

I decided I was going to change out all the hardware on the pulley system when I took down the rig for inspection. I did this for 2 reasons:

  • I was concerned about weathering of the pulleys, carabiner, quicklinks, and rope. The labeling on the carabiner & pulleys say: “For intense use the pulley should be replaced every 12 months, for normal use the pulley should be replaced every 24 months.” I was not intensely using it. (I consider something like zip line use all day long to be intense use. I was only using it to pull aerial equipment up one or twice a week and on the equipment for a few hours at a time.)
    img_2177

    Pulley labeling.

    But I wasn’t completely comfortable with leaving them out in the elements (sun, wind, and rain) all year and not taken them down for cleaning/thorough inspection.
    AND on my regular inspections, I’d noticed that the top carabiner had some rust on it that concerned me…

  • Aesthetic purposes: I found that Fusion Climbing had come out with all black pulleys. I like that look so much more than the Blue/purple/orange pulleys and the price wasn’t much different on Amazon.
    Note: I confirmed with Fusion Climbing that the Amazon “Shop For Lifestyle” fulfillment company was a licensed distributor. Fusion Climbing also sent me additional information about the pulleys so I was able to confirm the packaging & product was legit.)
    Fusion Matte Black Pulley Flier

    I purchased a new all black rope. The old rope had a yellow stripe in it that I didn’t really care for.

I adore having the pulley system because it is so easy to switch out apparatuses and to take down and store equipment. But it is definitely a piece that requires more inspection and maintenance than if I didn’t have it. That is something to consider when putting together a portable aerial rig system.

fullsizerender 35

One year: Eyebolts, side pulley and quick links.

fullsizerender 24

One year: Middle eyebolt, carabiner, and double pulley. Note the rust on the carabiner.

img_1808

One year: Side eyebolt, quick links, and pulley. Note how the top quick link doesn’t look like its all the way tightened.

During my big inspection I was curious to how they weathered. This is what I found:

  • The quick links weathered phenomenally. No rust. No damage. I noticed that one wasn’t fully screwed tight. It was closed and the threads engaged but just not fully tight. See above photo.
  • Pulleys
    • The pulley’s color (blue, purple, orange) had faded from the sun.

      One year: Paint color faded.

      One year: Paint color faded.

    • The spinning mechanism did not stick at all. All of the pulleys moved freely. Only slightly less freely than the brand new pulleys.
      fullsizerender 26

      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

      fullsizerender 39

      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

    •  

      The only rust on the pulleys was a small amount on part you clip into where it was being rubbed metal on metal. Other than that the pulleys were very clean after being left up outside all year.

      fullsizerender 47

      One year: Small amount of rust and wear.

    • I cleaned, dried, then lubed/oiled the old pulleys with silicone oil. They now run smooth as ever. I bagged them and will store them for later use.
img_1902

Silicone oil. Bought off of Amazon.

  • Top carabiner = Rusted.
    • This was the piece I was most worried about. It was the most ugly. I had noticed it getting rusty about 2 months prior to taking down the rig but did not realize it was as bad as it was until it was off and in my hands. The shine had disappeared. There was visible rust. However, the triple locking mechanism worked fine and was not fused shut and it opened and closed fine.
    • I cleaned it up and lubricated it with graphite. Then I did some research. I found that this rusting is called “Surface Oxidation.”  It is a steel carabiner and they are plated finish to prevent this. After time that coating wears off and they do begin to rust. See last paragraph of this link to Fusion’s Carabiner Information.
    • I’m keeping it for minimal use (I.e. I used it when rigging for an underwater photoshoot.). I think it is fine to use but it is kind of ugly so it won’t be used every day.
      Note: I was also informed that I could use clear nail polish to protect it.
    • I initially replaced it in the pulley system with the same type of steel carabiner because that’s what I had on hand. I have now changed my pulley configuration and have a Maillon Rapide Quick Link 10mm to take its place.
      fullsizerender

      New and one year old carabiner.

      fullsizerender 11

      One year: Wear on carabiner.

      fullsizerender 3

      One year: Rust on carabiner.

      fullsizerender 40

      One year: Wear & rust on carabiner.

      fullsizerender 29

      One year: Carabiner after cleaning and oil.

  • Rope.
    • The old rope is still in excellent shape. There is no deformities, breaks, bends, kinks, or abrasions to the outside sheath.
    • It does feel slightly stiffer than the new rope but I think with a wash it will be back to normal.
    • I did research on climbing ropes. Here is an “How to inspect a climbing rope” guide.
fullsizerender 30

One year: Rope.

Final Thoughts

First question:

I have heard people ask if they can keep their rig up year-round.

My opinion:

For the Ludwig rig in Florida is YES

  • BUT make sure you are constantly inspecting it for wear, rust, screws that are loosening, etc.
  • Ludwig has also commented that he has kept a rig up year round in Colorado and it has not had issues. If you have more questions, I refer you back to the makers of the rigs. Please read all the info on his website about his rig. Ludwig Rig
  • There is also a lot of information on the Safety in Aerial Group on Facebook. Please join and use the search function to look up questions. (Outdoor, aerial rig, portable, pulley, free standing = these are good places to start.)

Second question:

Can the pulley system be kept up year round?

My opinion:

For my pulley system in Florida is also YES with a few considerations.

  • Think about how much use and weathering the pulleys and the rope are taking. My rig was used only by myself for a few hours once or twice a week (so not that much use). You may want to change out parts or the entire system once a year or do a complete inspection/cleaning of the system and evaluate replacing the system (at least once a year).
  • I feel like with cleaning and lubrication of the pulleys and cleaning of the rope I could continue to use the old system. I have changed out my system for aesthetic reasons not purely because I needed to retire the other system.

Note my shed that holds all my mats and other aerial and circus equipment.

Save


Save

Save

Save

Save