Dadamama, cluckygirl and albertagirl - welcome, and thanks for following my blog!
I hope all you new followers like construction projects, because this one is a doozy!
Since the squirrels really took it to some of the tomato plants this year (and apparently I can't shoot too well), something had to be done to keep them under control before next year's planting. So, I decided to invite them to a game of 1-on-1 with "the mad scientist gardener" and one of his backyard creations in rural Alabama. Ha! Yep, I was gonna build a live squirrel trap - of which would be like no other on the internet. Why not? I figured I could build one as good as anyone on the planet......So, a few pieces of scrap 2x6's were ripped longways to create 2x2's, and a frame for a box was created. I stared at it for days, wondering what could become of it, because I normally build things from personal ideas. Enclosing it with wire mesh would be the easy part, but coming up with a trigger mechanism that could activate a trap door would be quite a challenge. (especially something that was a one of a kind.) Anyway, several items were recycled for this project, and I hope you enjoy it.
A little door was made for the front that was hinged at the bottom - but these were no ordinary hinges. They had torsion springs built in - which would cause the door to snap back to it's original position, when lowered. Spring strength would indicate closing speed, and we certainly wanted this door to shut pretty quick when activated by a squirrel interrupting the trigger mechanism....Anyway, it turned out well, and it was on to the next part of the project.
This, of course...is when my brain began to hurt........Oh gosh, tons of ideas came to mind, but there was something mechanically impossible about each and every one of them. So, I thought about closing it electrically - which would be really easy to do, but kinda pricey when compared to what a trap could be purchased for on the internet. The first thing to figure out, was what to use as a bait-holder, and how to make it pivot from any added weight on top. Well...wouldn't you know it? The answer was right in my pocket the whole time...Ha! The entire bait-holder is constructed from a welding rod, 3 wire ties, a section of spray wand from a 1970's pump-up sprayer, a piece of flat plastic from a computer that says "Pentium Inside" on it, and of course an empty "Red Seal - fine cut, natural" smokeless tobacco can. Hehe....I know you're probably laughing, but it's all I could find laying around - and it works fantastic!
Photo below - here's the part that sent my brain activity into hypermode - the latch mechanism. It was constructed from a welding rod, piece of white plastic leftover from the lid of the 5 gallon propagation unit, a spring, a piece of communications wire, a deck screw, a fence staple, and a small piece of galvanized angle bracket.....If you enlarge the picture by clicking on it, you can see that the end of the spring is inserted through the welding rod. (Drilling a tiny hole through a welding rod is quite a challenge!) So, pulling on the green wire makes the rod follow - but has tension from the spring applied to it. When you let go, it goes right back to it's original postion. (Kinda like a ball point pen, but without the lock to keep it in place.)
Photo below - the green wire then runs underneath the bait-holder, loops around a fence staple - then attaches to a deckscrew attached to the low side of the hinged piece from the computer (imagine a tiny seesaw.) Applying downward pressure on the high end of the "seesaw" (where the bait will be) will cause the lowest end to raise upward, thus pulling the green wire, which will in turn pull backward on the spring loaded welding rod that will be holding the trap door open. Are you with me so far? I hope so......
Photo below - these well-placed wire ties create a "spring action" against the box floor, which causes the bait end to stay up in the air - so that the squirrel will be forced to actually use it's body weight to pull it down so it can be easily reached. This is what causes the welding rod to be removed from the door latch, and makes it's gluttonous ways the end to tomato terror in my garden. Hehe....(Hopefully)
Photo below - here's the other end of the welding rod protruding from the front of the box, and into the piece of angle which is fastened to the door. It's the only thing keeping those springs from automatically closing the door - until the rod is pulled backward from a hungry squirrel, of course. All it has to do is move about 1/4", then it snaps closed. Due to a little bit of binding between the edge of the welding rod and the hole that it protrudes through, something had to be done to make it easier to pull out, though.
Photo below - here's another view of the trap door set for action. I know it's really weird, but you have to remember who built the thing....ha! I'm sure this one will get emailed to hubs...hehe...
Photo below - The binding of the welding rod against the hole in the angle bracket (and also the hole through the wooden frame caused by the spring tension from the door) created another difficult challenge to overcome. This was solved by constructing a homemade roller from a welding rod, a small piece of the same spray wand used for the bait holder pivot, and a couple of teeny tiny bearings that were removed from a burned out cpu fan motor. At this stage, I was beginning to think that it would be easier to just build a homemade space shuttle than this thing. Ha! By chucking the welding rod up into a cordless drill - then holding it against a large file that was clamped to my work table, I was able to machine the rod down to where it would fit inside the tiny bearings. Talk about really digging deep into my personal arsenal of tricks! Sheesh! It was a first time for that one, but it gives me an idea for a new project for the future. Hehe..here's the tiny bearings, and shaft. (That cut on my hand is from where I stabbed it with a flat head screwdriver while tightening a screw - I hate it when that happens)
Photo below - here's the tiny roller, fully assembled. Yeah, i've never created anything this small before, but necessity gives birth to alot of firsts for people such as myself. I just had to lay the dime beside it for perspective....Thankfully, this would be the last problem to overcome with this project. Whew!
Photo below - Here's the tiny roller installed just above the welding rod. Even though the door springs still put pressure on the welding rod, it doesn't bind against the wooden frame now. This is because the roller allows the welding rod to easily move backward when tugged on by the trigger. The little brackets that hold it in place were modified from a larger piece of angle bracket, and the ends of the rod inside the roller were bent to keep it from coming out.
Photo below - here's the finished product - except for the wire mesh, of course. Installing the wire mesh with 1/2" holes is the easiest part of the whole thing, and i'll use fence staples to secure it in place.
Wanna see a video of it in action? Here ya go....(BTW, the loud noise you hear is an acorn falling from a tree onto the metal storage building)
Photo below - A little ramp was then made with a scrap piece of thin cedar that leads from the door to the baitholder. This way, the squirrel won't feel the trigger wire as it walks into the trap, and it hides the wire as well. It could also keep the trigger from working correctly - so this was really important. A small groove was cut into the board at the lowest point, so that the trigger wire wouldn't be affected....
Photo below - 1/2" wire mesh was then attached by using poultry net staples and a hammer, and this part took a little bit of time to complete. The main thing was that I didn't want any ends of wire to snag anything (or anybody). There were only enough staples on hand to attach the wire mesh every 6" or so, and i'll need to pick up some more the next time i'm at Lowes.
So there ya have it, my freaky homemade squirrel trap - which is the only one like it on the internet.
Ya know...I wouldn't mind having my own tv show someday - maybe about having to construct something useful from just a handful of miscellaneous parts? I think it would be alot of fun, but don't know anyone in the broadcasting business, though. Oh well, if any of them ever have an interest, i'll be glad to....Maybe I could get "discovered" by some form of media someday. I doubt they would let me chew tobacco on the show, though...Ha!
Some have said that if they were ever to get stranded on a deserted island they would want me to be there too, because i'd build something from nothing to get us rescued. Well, after the last 4 stressful weeks at work, i'd like to be on one right now...I need a vacation! Hehe....It's been pretty rough!
Take care, and happy building!