Note: Glenn Stone was our sound and light man who trained with Carl Frisch near the end of our band days. This was the period when we were trying to change our image away from the “Beatles Band” and develop our own style. Starting this month, Glenn will be contributing his memories of those last days of Silver Laughter. Here he describes making a fog machine that I do not remember at all! Too many brain cells destroyed? – Mick Orton
O.K. everyone can take a deep breath now, this isn’t a log of leisure. They are (ahem) activities that may or may not have taken place. This is but one of the ideas Carl thought up, (he had a knack for inventing). We wanted a fog machine, but back in 1979 they were expensive, and as a band there were more pressing issues on which to spend money other than a fog machine.
Well, leave it to a couple of long haired, somewhat country boys, to devise a plan to build a rather crude, but very functional fog machine. Here are the steps:
- Start with a trip to the hardware store to purchase one 30 gallon metal garbage can, some thin gauge sheet metal, about 50 feet of flexible dryer hose, 2 under water heating elements, some wire mesh, and half dozen cans of flat black spray paint.
- Now either borrow your sister’s blow dryer or go to the second hand store and buy one. It doesn’t matter if it blows hot air, just so long as it blows! O.K. that was close!
- Now make a large square basket out of the wire mesh, and make sure it will fit inside the garbage can.Attach sturdy wire to the 4 corners and set aside.
- Make 2 holes, just a bit smaller than the dryer hose in the side of the garbage can about 2/3rds of the way up from the bottom spaced evenly apart.
- Using the thin gauge sheet metal shape it to fit the tube like flanges around the holes in the can and pop rivet in place. This is to attach dryer hose to the can.
- Fill any gaps with a water resistant caulking. Roofing tar works too. Oh yeah, you will need 2 hose clamps large enough to fit around the dryer hose.
- Now spray paint everything flat black (well not the hose or basket, just the can and lid).
- Next make a hole in the lid of said can so you can fit the blow dryer nozzle in it.
- Twist the 4 wires on the basket together and make into one long strand.
- Make another hole in the can lid to slide the wire through and make a loop so you can handle the basket which should now slide up and down inside the can.
- While setting up, place can behind backdrop curtain and attach dryer hose. Run hoses along floor and point them where you would want the fog to enter stage, (over the top of the backdrop curtain makes a cool fog fall).
- Fill can with water about 1/2 full.
- Buy 30 lbs. of dry ice (if you can find it) to store in a cooler.
- Plug both heating elements in and allow water almost come to a boil.
- When you want fog place the dry ice in basket, (which you can do ahead of time) and pull basket up out of water. Secure it to the can handle.
- Now you have 30 lbs. of dry ice ready to drop into very hot water, turn on blow dryer and you will have fog.
Depending on the temperature of the club we were in it made a difference in the fog density, but the cooler the better. I know it sounds like a lot of work for a fog machine, but not counting the cost of dry ice the whole set up was approx. $25, (in 1979). Most everyone liked the effect, but it was a bit embarrassing loading and unloading a black garbage can out of the trailer.
This is my first post to the Silver Laughter website, and I know it’s long and probably boring to a lot of readers. But to me it is one of the coolest things I got to help build and give my input on. So I apologize to readers if they think this is dull, but I used this technique with at least 5 other bands throughout my Rock-N-Roll life, and it worked every time!