Every reputable cemetery needs a caretaker. We had a gravedigger for a couple of years but decided to rework him some to make him more realistic. Our existing mask head was too scary and looked more dead than alive. I had found a fantastic example of a lifelike gravedigger on www.davisgraveyard.com and pretty much wanted to replicate the look. Imitation is the sincerest form of flatery, right? I had found the same hands and head from Ghost Ride Productions which they had used. They look very good- just make sure to order early.

I also wanted to animate the head to move but preferred a simpler approach than the servos. I decided to use a Christmas reindeer motor to simply make the head move left and right. I had to start by retrofitting the motor and pivoting neck into the PVC frame I had previously made. There are photos below of that.

The base framework for him is made from 1-1/2" PVC pipe. I used 1/2" PVC for the neck mount and pivot arms. A flat aluminum bar connects the motor to the PVC. The best way to mount the motor to the PVC is to use a metal hose clamp. My pictures only show zip ties but this was replaced later on and I found the clamp holds very well. I built a cover out of foam and cardboard to keep the motor and arms from contacting the chicken wire or clothing. He stands in the yard by simply slipping the PVC legs over rebar in the ground.

Hopefully he will do a good job watching over the cemetery for many years to come!


Click for a video of the Gravedigger...



Here are photos of the build and completed project...

The existing gravedigger frame before modifications to add the reindeer motor and pivoting neck. The modified PVC frame with the motor mounted. The reindeer motor was later attached with a metal pipe clamp instead of the zip-ties.
Here is the back showing the foam and cardbord covering that keeps the motor and arms from binding on the clothes surrounding him. Our gravedigger likes pizza from the Pie Pizzeria. That metal pipe-clamp on the motor is the way to go, just don't over tighten. All put back together and ready for dressing.
He looks much more realistic than he did before. The flannel shirt we bought at the Deseret Industries thrift store fits his style (and budget) very well. He lives on a modest caretaker's salary. The newsboy cap we bought on Amazon as I wasn't lucky enough to find one at the thrift store (I looked).
Gus is all ready for the big event (yes I named him Gus). He looks totally the part of the gravedigger. I just haven't seen him actually dig any holes yet. Maybe I'm not paying him enough? More recent pic of the inside showing more detail. The lower 1/2" Tee was added to support the 1/2" PVC pipe from resting inside the lower 1-1/2" Tee below and making noise. Now it is cutoff just about an inch below the lower Tee.


Lastly, I've added a parts list for the main PVC items...

1-1/2" PVC - 10 feet
1-1/2" parts:
90 degree Elbow - 6
45 degree Elbow - 5
Tee - 3
4-way Cross - 2

If you are making a pivoting neck:
1/2" PVC - 3 feet
1/2" Tee - 1
1/2" Coupler or Tee - 1
1-1/2" to 3/4" reducer - 2

I posed the figure how I wanted and then used small screws (predrilled) into the PVC joints to hold him in place. This way they can be removed and adjusted easier than if glued.